Editor 's note: This story has been updated. Please see our
final update at the bottom of this
previously reported story
, banks pay customers' bills. Or, at least, one might.
An interesting case has surfaced in Voronezh, Russia, where a man
is suing a bank for more than 24 million Russian rubles (about
$727,000) in compensation over a handcrafted document that was
signed and recognized by the bank.
DmitryAgarkov said that in 2008 he received a letter from
Tinkoff Credit Systems
in his mailbox. It was a credit card application form with an
agreement contract enclosed, much like the applications Americans
receive daily from
).Agarkov filled in the form and returned the signed application,
though what he sent back was not exactly the same document the bank
had sent him.
A promotional image from Tinkoff Credit Systems'
Agarkov changed some parts for his own benefit -- most notably, the
small print. He opted in for a 0% APR and no fees, and added that
the customer "is not obliged to pay any fees and charges imposed by
bank tariffs." He also changed the URL of the site where the terms
and conditions were published from
. Additionally, he added a special clause that would protect him
should the bank break the agreement in a unilateral manner. For
each unilateral change in the terms provided in the agreement, the
bank would be asked to pay the customer (Agarkov ) 3 million rubles
(about $91,000), or a cancellation fee of 6 million rubles
Agarkov then sent his updated agreement to the bank, and shortly
thereafter received the bank's signed and certified copy, as well
as a credit card.
However, after two years of active use, the bank decided to
terminate Mr. Agarkov's credit card in 2010 because he was late
paying the minimum required amounts. In 2012, the bank suedAgarkov
for 45,000 roubles ($1,363) - an amount that included the remaining
balance, fees, and late payment charges. The court decided that the
agreement Agarkovcrafted was valid, and requiredAgarkov to settle
only his balance of 19,000 rubles ($575).
DmitryAgarkov , the customer who rewrote the rules for his own
credit card. Photo republished with permission from
Despite the apparent victory,Agarkov fought back: On August 1, the
Kominternovsky District Court of Voronezh launched hearings about
Agarkov 's countersuit against the bank
. As Tinkoff Credit Systems had not honored eight clauses in the
agreement,Agarkov now wants the bank to pay amends of 24 million
rubles ($727,000) total. The law firmKonsultant , which is
representingAgarkov , says that the bank's decision to terminate
the agreement cannot be lawful because his client was not paid 6
million rubles, as per terms of the amended agreement.
The bank has so far
that the case was related to "a nonrecurrent technical issue," and
it is willing to have its day in court. The next hearing will be
held in September.
The dispute between Agarkov and Tinkoff Credit Systems escalated
when the bank's chairman, Oleg Tinkov, took to Twitter to respond
to media interest in the case. (See:
Russian Bank Chairman Comments on the Fine Print Case:
'Nobody Will Win Anything From Us.'
Then, on August 14, both sides
announced a settlement
on undisclosed terms.
"The conflict is counterproductive, so we agreed to settle it by
withdrawing our mutual complaints," said Oliver Hughes, president
of Tinkoff Credit Systems.
"This started as a joke in 2008... but the joke has gone too far,"
"Of course I won't recommend other people do what I did. Before you
opt in for credit, you must think multiple times and carefully
study your bank's terms. But if you agree, you'll have to stick to