When completing a credit card application, most people have two options; either sign it and send it in to the company or don’t agree to the terms and throw the application in the garbage. However, a Russian man took an alternative route; he changed the terms of the contract to his specifications then wound up with a credit card that offered him unlimited, interest-free spending.
Russia Today has reported that Dmitry Argarkov, of Vornonezh, Russia, did not find the terms on a credit card application from Tinkoff Credit Systems acceptable. So instead of destroying the application, he scanned it into the computer and rewrote the terms in his favor. He then printed out the new application, signed it, and mailed it in to the company. That was back in 2008. Under the new terms he wrote for himself, he would have zero percent APR, no fees at all, and no credit limit. The bank would also be subject to huge fines every time his terms of agreement were violated.
When the bank got the application, they approved the credit card and apparently did not bother to check the fine print. When the bank terminated the card and tried to sue the man for unpaid balances and fees, the court ruled in Argarkov’s favor, requiring him only to pay his unpaid balance, which was $575 U.S. dollar, and waived all other fees.
According to Argarkov’s attorney, Dmitry Mikhalevich, the bank said what customers usually say in court, “We have not read it.”
Argakov is not done with the issue. His contract calls for $182,400 termination fee as well as a three million ruble fine for each agreement violation. Since the bank canceled his card and tried to charge him fees and interest, he is now suing the bank for 24 million rubles, or $730,000 U.S. dollars. The bank has pledged to fight the case.
Russian businessman Tinkoff Credit Systems founder Oleg Tinkov tweeted: “According to our lawyers, he is going to get not 24 million rubles, but 4 years in prison for fraud. Now it’s a matter of principle for @tcsbank.”
As the civil suit proceeds in court, it will be a wait and see situation. Experts disagree on the outcome, indicating that the fine print is a two-way street and both sides are responsible for reading the document before accepting it.
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