According to a news report, Dmitry Argarkov of Voronezh, Russia, received a letter offering him a credit card. He didn’t like the bank’s terms, so he scanned the application into his computer and made a few alterations, then sent it off to the bank. In due course he received back a copy of the contract – signed by the bank – and a shiny new credit card.

The bank later tried to close the account because payment was overdue. It sued Mr Argarkov for 45,000 roubles of fees and charges.

Unfortunately for the bank, apparently no one actually read Mr Argarkov’s altered version of the contract before they signed it. The new terms were definitely not in the bank’s, er… interest:

  • a zero per cent interest rate
  • no fees
  • no credit limit
  • every time the bank failed to comply with the rules, he would fine them 3 million roubles ($A100,000)
  • if the bank tried to cancel the contract, it would have to pay him 6 million roubles

This week a Russian court found in Mr Argarkov’s favour, and ordered him to pay only the outstanding amount due on his account.

“The Bank confirmed its agreement to the client’s terms and sent him a credit card and a copy of the approved application form,” his lawyer, Dmitry Mikhalevich, said. “They signed the documents without looking. They said what usually their borrowers say in court: ‘We have not read it’.” Mr Argarkov is now suing the bank for 24 million roubles for breaking the agreement and not honouring the contract.

The bank has launched its own legal action, accusing Mr Argarkov of fraud. I’m sure the bank would argue mea culpa (“my mistake”) if Mr Argarkov had signed an agreement without reading it. They’d be quick to deny liability for the customer’s mistake.

But I guess that’s different.

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