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September 17, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

TD Bank sued for a buck, over paperwork

A TD Bank customer in Orange County has sued the financial institution over a $1 fee.

The Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based bank allows checking account customers to avoid paying $1 a month for paper statements by switching to online-only statements.

“Going paperless,” TD says, “is convenient, safe and green.”

And illegal, when forced on customers by threat of a fine, John Melackrinos claims.

He filed a class action complaint in federal court in White Plains on April 6, claiming that more than 5 million $1 fees have been charged illegally to customers who get paper billing statements.

TD spokesman Matthew Doherty responded that the bank does not comment on litigation.

Melackrinos, of Chester, has had a TD checking account since 2010 and has been charged $1 a month for paper statements since 2015. He said a state law enacted in 2011 bars businesses from charging consumers an additional rate or fee on accounts when they choose to receive paper statements.

Such fees are unfair to people who do not have access to the internet, according to a legislative memorandum cited in the complaint, or who are uncomfortable with using the internet out of concern for privacy. Low-income customers are affected disproportionately, because they are less likely to have internet access.

Violations are deemed deceptive acts according to the state’s rules, Melackrinos claims.  The legislative memo also describes a possible fix. Businesses may offer a credit or incentive to consumers to elect a specific billing option.

What constitutes an incentive, versus an additional fee, is not explained.

Melackrinos’ attorney, Philip L. Fraietta of Bursor & Fisher in Manhattan, wants the court to stop TD from charging a fee for paper statements. He is demanding compensation for Melackrinos and other TD customers in New York for actual damages or $50, whichever is greater.