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Law Pro
Law Pro, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 23606
Experience:  20 years experience in business law - sole proprietor, partnership, and corporations
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I am considering suing a bank for breech of contract and would

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I am considering suing a bank for breech of contract and would like to discuss this with a lawyer.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Pro replied 4 years ago.
What is the contract about and how did they breach the contract?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

1.5 years ago, I applied for a secured credit card with a major bank. I went into a branch was very intentional about ensuring that the terms of the agreement made sense. We agreed that if payments were made satisfactorily for a year, the 5K security deposit would be returned and the card would be converted to an unsecured card. The branch person printed off the terms at the time. All payments have been made on time for 1.5 years now. When I call their customer service dept, I am told that I have to apply for a new card, that conversion is not automatic. I went back to the branch and the same person is there and agreed that was her recollection as well. When she calls her credit card department, they are not telling her the same thing. She said she would escalate through her branch manager but nothing has been done. I checked the terms and conditions on their website and there is no reference to any of this. The website does say to call a number for updated terms and conditions which tells me that, for them, verbal commitments are as good as valid as traditionally written ones. I am thinking of going into the bank to today to tape the discussion with the bank employee confirming our discussion 1.5 years ago in case I need to go to court over this. They have had the 5K for the entire time and if I thought they weren't going to fulfill their part of this agreement, I would have gone elsewhere. I had some financial difficulties a few years ago but I have a well paying stable job and don't intend to sit back and allow them to unilaterally change the terms of our agreement without my consent nor being notified. While for me this is about getting an unsecured card and or my 5K back (without having to wait 90 days...'incase additional transactions come in'....no transaction in the 1. 5 years I have had the card has taken more then a week to appear on the card), there is a larger issue at stake here of the bank not honouring its agreements. Do I have a case here? Thanks.

Expert:  Law Pro replied 4 years ago.
Are they paying you interest on the $5k?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I just check the January statement and see I received 20 cents for last month...so $2.40 a year which is .048% annually. It wouldn't be hard to earn more pretty much anywhere else. For me, it isn't the interest issue but failing to honor their agreement. They ran a credit check (score 640) and said that they don't offer unsecured cards below 680. Credit scores weren't part of our agreement, timely payment was.
Expert:  Law Pro replied 4 years ago.
Do you have a copy of that original agreement?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Unfortuantely not. The bank employee (Maria) printed off the terms from her intranet and I read them. I didn't see reason to question the terms as they were from her bank's system and because she said they do this all the time. This is why I am considering taping her acknowledgement of our original discussion. Particularly since their webstate states for their current terms and conditions..."Information contained in this xxx bank disclosure is accurate as of 1/27/10 and is subject to change thereafter. To obtain more recent information, please call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX". I would think that this has created a precedent regarding verbal agreements which would be in my favor. I went into the branch last week and she knows this is wrong which is why she agreed to escalate through her branch manager. However, nothing appears to be happening.
Expert:  Law Pro replied 4 years ago.

First, to tape her - you would have to get her consent prior to such or you can't.

 

Second, oral agreements are valid - so that original agreement is still valid.

 

Third, have you ever gotten notice from them as to a change of your situation or anything to do with the card at all?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I recall getting a detailed update to terms and conditions in one of my statements. Never anything specific to my situation but I just read the terms and conditions on their website for their secured card and there is nothing reference to converting to an unsecured card, nor a requirement to submit a credit application to converting it nor a timeframe the deposit will be held from the time a request is made to either cancel card/reduce limit until the funds are released (not my first choice but if I can't get this converted to an unsecured card, I am wasting time holding onto it at that bank).
Expert:  Law Pro replied 4 years ago.

I understand your dilemma.

 

That usually secured or unsecured open accounts (credit card accounts) can be changed at the whim of the company. That they must pay you interest on your secured monies is mandatory - although they don't have to pay much.

 

I hate to say it - but if you don't have a written agreement from back then - I don't think you have a case against them because it's a matter of them now wanting to change loan terms into the future - nothing as to a loan already given.

 

We can all thank our legislature by giving into the lobbyists and credit card companies for this credit card debacle. Years ago the credit card companies would have been considered loan sharking and their activities illegal. Today - they are just performing banking services.

 

 

 

 

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

You had mentioned that verbal agreements are valid. If the bank representative is acknowledging our original discussion (i.e. loan terms already given), does that not help? If she were to be called to testify, should would be required to confirm in court what she already confirmed (in front of another bank employee) with me...our original agreement. Would this not take care of your comment about not having a case due to it not being in writing? Thanks.

Expert:  Law Pro replied 4 years ago.

Yes, oral agreements are valid. For there to be a breach of contract action against them you need the following:

 

Offer

Acceptance

Consideration

Damages - this is then your issue - what are your economic damges here?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Not having an unsecured card is affecting my credit score which affects the financial terms for purchasing a house, car etc.. Them running an application to tell me I am denied which is what drove this in the first place affected my credit score. If they won't give me an unsecured card, I they are holding my money which, if invested, would generate a greater term..granted..not much on that one. But I am thinking more in terms of punitive damages as they are likely doing this to tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of people and creating consequences for them as well.

 

I appreciate the time you have spent and will add a bonus amount when we are done but I do want to close the loop on this discussion. Thanks.

Expert:  Law Pro replied 4 years ago.

Punitive damages although theoretically recoverable wouldn't be applicable here.

 

Punitive damages are damages intended to reform or deter the defendant and others from engaging in conduct similar to that which formed the basis of the lawsuit. Although the purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate the plaintiff, the plaintiff will in fact receive all or some portion of the punitive damage award.

 

Punitive damages are often awarded where compensatory damages are deemed an inadequate remedy. The court may impose them to prevent under-compensation of plaintiffs, to allow redress for undetectable torts and taking some strain away from the criminal justice system. However, punitive damages awarded under court systems that recognize them may be difficult to enforce in jurisdictions that do not recognize them.

 

Because they usually compensate the plaintiff in excess of the plaintiff's provable injuries, punitive damages are awarded only in special cases, usually under tort law, where the defendant's conduct was egregiously insidious. Punitive damages cannot generally be awarded in contract disputes. The main exception is in insurance bad faith cases in the United States, where the insurer's breach of contract is alleged to be so egregious as to amount to a breach of the "implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing," and is therefore considered to be a tort cause of action eligible for punitive damages (in excess of the value of the insurance policy).

 

I just don't think you have damages as that would be foreseeable by a judge.

 

Sorry.

Law Pro, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 23606
Experience: 20 years experience in business law - sole proprietor, partnership, and corporations
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