When I was in college, I spent money like it grew on trees. Though in fairness, it’s easy to act like money is no object when you’re not the one paying the bills. When it came time to graduate, I think my parents were honestly more excited to be done footing my expenses than they were for the major life accomplishment I had just achieved. My memory may be failing me, but I’m pretty positive that as I crossed that graduation stage, my mother was standing on the other end, hand out, ready to take my American Express card.
Making that switch from Dad’s card to my card was eye opening to say the least. Gone were the days of throwing down an AmEx and telling everyone in my group that shots were on me. Doing that now would mean not eating for a week. Thus, I learned pretty quickly that I needed to make a budget and stick to it. I’m not one of those losers that has an Excel spreadsheet documenting every bar tab or Starbucks latte, but I do check my bank account balance with enough alarming frequency to make onlookers think my identity has been stolen every three hours.
Anyway, after giving up my parent’s credit card, I had a choice to make. Would I fall into the slippery slope of credit card debt that so many of my peers had succumbed to, or would I be a responsible adult and live within my means? Maybe I watch too much Fox News, perhaps I’m one of those shitty people that get’s in fights over happy hour about the looming economic collapse (I said perhaps), or it just might be that I feel like you’re an asshole if you buy stuff now and expect your future grandkids to pay for it. Whatever. Regardless of the pivotal reason, I hate credit cards. I allow myself to have one card and one card only. It is to be used for emergencies that include neither bar tabs nor shoe emergencies. But this isn’t the norm, and that doesn’t mean that it’s an easy rule to abide by.
Just like most of you, it seems like every day I receive at least one credit card offer in the mail. AmEx wants me. Chase wants me. MasterCard wants me. At first I felt so popular, but then I realized that they didn’t just want me, they wanted anyone. Actually, no, they wanted everyone.
Getting those cards and letters in the mail is a test of self-control, especially because many of them claim that you’re either pre-approved or you’re guaranteed to be approved. It’s hard for even the most money wise person to decline these “buy now, pay later” cards that seem to be at your disposal every day.
Until yesterday, I believed there to be two types of people: those that cut up the credit cards and move about their day, and those that sign the contracts and push themselves and our economy further into decline (also see: assholes). However, after stumbling across a news article, I learned that there are actually three types of credit card people.
A man in Russia was really goddamn tired of the credit card offers he was receiving. Not only were they coming almost every day, but the interest rates and credit lines were offensive. Here he was, a solid guy with a good credit score (or so he claims), and yet these companies were offering atrociously high rates. And the limit they were giving him? Too low, claimed this vodka enthusiast.
Thus, he decided to take matters into his own hands. After receiving yet another credit card offer from Tinkoff Credit Systems, Dmitry Argarkov took the offered contract, scanned it into his computer, and changed the terms to his liking. After some successful Photoshopping, Mr. Argarkov had created a contract that included no credit card limit, no fees, and no interest rate. He then signed the contract and mailed it back to Tinkoff. Likely having never encountered such a clever customer, the bank signed the form and mailed our mischievous Russian his card.
A few months after receiving his magical credit card, Tinkoff Credit Systems sued Mr. Argarkov for overdue payments, a contractual term that was in Tinkoff’s version of the agreement, but not Mr. Argarkov’s. And get this, the judge ruled in his favor. The credit card company had signed the contract (someone’s getting fired) and thus was legally bound to it. The only slap on the wrist for Mr. Argarkov? The judge reminded him to pay his minimum monthly balance.
Having successfully channeled his inner, albeit more Russian, Ferris Bueller, Dmitry Argarkov was not done messing with the company that tried to screw him. No, he had a few more tricks up his sleeve. So, our most favorite Russian (though it’s not exactly tough competition) is now suing Tinkoff Credit Systems for failing to abide by their agreement and breaking the contract. And apparently he has a pretty good shot at winning. Three cheers for Dmitry, you clever son of a bitch, you.