If you don't like the terms of your bank's credit card agreement, just change them.
This is was the strategy Dmitry Agarkov used, writing his own fine print into a contract with Tinkoff Credit Systems, and his alterations held up in court after two years of using the card his way.
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On top of that, the Russian man is now suing Tinkoff, the country's leading online bank, for more than 24 million rubles ($727,000) in compensation.
Agarkov, 42, from the city of Voronezh, didn't like the terms of the company's unsolicited offer in 2008, so he scanned the bank's document and amended the fine print. He signed up for a 0 percent interest rate, unlimited credit and no fees, and added a stipulation that said the bank is required to pay steep fines for changing or canceling the contract.
Like millions of consumers worldwide, the bank didn't read the new agreement and issued Agarkov a card, effectively approving the new terms, Agarkov's lawyer Dmitry Mikhalevich told the Russian online newspaper Kommersant.
"The opened credit line was unlimited," Mikhalevich said. "He could afford to buy an island somewhere in Malaysia, and the bank would have to pay for it by law."
Agarkov used the card for two years before the bank canceled it and sued him for $1,363, triggering the trap he set. The bank argued that he owed them charges, interest, and late-payment fees, but a court ruled that Agarkov was only responsible for his unpaid $575 balance.
Now Agarkov is suing the bank for $727,000 for not honoring the contract's terms, which the bank is claiming is fraud.
"They signed the documents without looking. They said what usually their borrowers say in court: 'We have not read it,'" Agarkov's lawyer told Kommersant.
The bank's founder, Oleg Tinkov, doesn't feel that Agarkov is entitled to damages.
"Our lawyers think he is going to get not 24 million, but really four years in prison for fraud. Now it's a matter of principle for @tcsbank," he tweeted. "We don't have small print, everything is clear and transparent. Try to open a card — then we'll talk. Stealing is a sin — in my opinion, of course. Not all in Russia think so."
The next hearing is scheduled for September.
Many on the Internet sided with Agarkov.
"Any contract amendment made between two parties on a loan/credit application is valid if accepted," wrote poster Jon Volk at RT.com. "This method isn't stealing; rather it's called contract negotiation and was formally processed. ... Regardless, if it didn’t read the returned and amended contract, it's a completely valid contract. This bank can't handle its own medicine."
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