Wednesday, August 14, 2013

And You Can Take THAT to the Bank ...

Are you fed up with exorbitant fees for banking services that used to be free? Tired of the 75 page notices in 0.00629-point font that tell you all the ways the bank can screw you and all the rights you waive for the privilege of being screwed? Had it up to your ears with mortgages foreclosed on the basis of forged documents, or processed by robo-signers who don't bother to read what they're signing?

This story is for you.

A Russian gentleman named Dimitry Agarkov one day received an unsolicited offer for a credit card from an online bank called Tinkoff* Credit Systems. Instead of just shredding it like most of us would, Mr Agarkov scanned the agreement, changed the terms to suit himself, signed it, and sent it in. A few days later, the agreement was accepted - apparently without having been read - and he received his new credit card**.

It took a while for Tinkoff Credit Systems to realize what they'd agreed to. The amended agreement that Mr Agarkov submitted - and the bank accepted - contained these conditions:

1. A 0% interest rate; 

2. Unlimited credit;

3. No fees; and,

4. A requirement Tinkoff Credit Systems pay a very large fine for changing or canceling the contract.

Mr Agarkov used the card for two years before the bank discovered what had happened and canceled it. In true bank fashion, Tinkoff Credit Systems also sued Mr Agarkov for $1,363, claiming that he owed them charges, interest and late-payment fees. A court ruled that, because of the no-fee, no-interest stipulation Mr Agarkov had added to the contract, he owed only his unpaid $575 balance. Mr Agarkov then sued Tinkoff Credit Systems for 24 million rubles (about $727,000) for not honoring the contract's terms.

The bank, as you might expect, is spewing vast clouds of righteous indignation, and has accused Mr Agarkov of fraud. An attorney representing Mr Agarkov doesn't take that any more seriously than the court did. He's quoted as saying, "They signed the documents without looking. They said what usually their borrowers say in court: 'We have not read it.'" 

Take that, bank!

I would advise that you not try to do the same thing yourself, because this story almost certainly has already resulted in the big banks adjusting the ultra-fine print of their contracts to protect themselves from their own ineptitude. But at least one fellow seems to have beaten them at their game ... a hero for our time.

Have a good day ... but not on credit, if at all possible. More thoughts coming.


* No apparent relation to the testicle-eating fish Mike wrote about today, although their credit terms might remind you of them.

** Model not included.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

Sometimes the little guys win, but seldom with banking. They also pay very little interest on savings accounts. Corporate-wise they're scoundrels!

Grand Crapaud said...

It's always good to read stories like this!

Mike said...

I'd often thought of doing something like that. There goes my plan down the drain.

Duckbutt said...

I'm not fond of banks, but who is?