Would you change the fine print and would you get away with it like this man did?
One of our favourite credit card news stories in recent years recently came across our desk, and it would be a shame not to share. Just don’t try it at home, OK?
It concerns the case of a Russian gentleman called Dmitry Argarkov living in the city of Voronezh in the south-west of the country. Mr Argarkov, presented with a credit card application form, didn’t fancy the terms and conditions on offer so instead added a few of his own.
Among those terms he wrote in were those giving him an unlimited credit limit, with an interest rate set at 0.00 per cent with no fees. Not only that, there were huge punitive fines against the bank if they broke the terms of HIS agreement
Who can tell whose fault it was, for the applicant did a pretty good job of scanning the original document and re-writing the terms in his favour that it was put through on the nod by the credit card issuer. If people in general are guilty of never reading the terms and conditions, then the bored bank clerk had just done exactly the same.
Of course, all went swimmingly until the bank noticed a large unpaid balance of Mr Argarkov’s account and tried to shut it down. The court case was a PR disaster for them. Although the card holder was not a big spender (the amount in question was somewhat less than S$750), the court ruled in his favour, saying that while he should pay back the balance, he was completely free from paying any extra fees. His lawyer told the press pack: “They signed the documents without looking. They said what usually their borrowers say in court: ‘We have not read it.”
Hoisted with their own petard, indeed.
He’s still arguing with the bank over his self-penned S$250,000 termination fee, and he’s sued the bank for four times that amount after they cancelled his card. This one could run and run, especially after the bank’s owners are now pushing for a four-year prison sentence for fraud.
So. The lesson here: Whether you’re a customer or banker – Read the small print.
Article by Jason Taylor – [email protected]