In a bizarre plot twist, a 42-year-old man from Voronezh, Russia, turned the tables on the banks and tricked them into signing a contract without reading it. Dmitry Argarkov had applied for a credit card at Tinkoff Credit Systems, and when he was sent their contract, he modified the terms & conditions to suit his needs, signed it & mailed it back to them. The bank agreed to the client’s terms, and signed the contract without reading it (confident that the client wouldn’t change anything).
Argarkov had modified the contract so that it contained a 0pc interest rate, no fees and no credit limit. Not only that, but in perhaps some poetic justice, he also included a clause that every time the bank failed to comply with the rules, he would fine them 3m rubles (£58,716). If Tinkoff tried to cancel the contract, it would have to pay him 6m rubles, thus effectively assuring him a large amount of money.
The Bank sent him a credit card after agreeing to all his conditions and also sent a copy of the approved application form. His lawyer, Dmitry Mikhalevich, said “The opened credit line was unlimited. He could afford to buy an island somewhere in Malaysia, and the bank would have to pay for it by law.”
But it is not just this man’s imagination, but the legal system of Russia looks to be supporting him as well. A Russian judge ruled in Argarkov’s favor and he was ordered to pay just an outstanding balance of 19,000 rubles (£371) instead of a mountain of money that the Bank was claiming in fees & fines. The judge said that as Tinkoff had signed the contract, it was legally bound to it.
You cannot help but feel admiration for the man and what he has done. As human beings we always feel for the underdog, and taking on Banks that are “too big to fail” is something monumental. Also, I am pretty sure there is a very good Hollywood script somewhere in this story if only someone makes the effort.
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