If a company makes a promise when a consumer first buys an item, must it continue to keep that promise for years to come? The complaint for this class action says yes. It claims that Tricopian, Inc. sold a portable charging product and then made “such a fundamental change in the nature of its support of the product as to deprive consumers of the primary benefit of the bargain.”
Tricopian does business as SaveMe Products and SaveMe Batteries North America. It appears to be a subsidiary or division of Tricopian (Switzerland) Sarl. The company sells portable chargers at self-service kiosks in airports, hotels, theme parks, zoos, and other locations where travelers go. The chargers can be used for mobile phones, tablets, and other devices that can take a USB cable.
The Tricopian FuelRod chargers are not the cheapest. They do not have the highest capacity or the fastest charging speed. However, they did have one attractive feature. As the complaint puts it, “you [paid] for their portable charger once, and could thereafter exchange it when it was depleted for free and get a fully charged replacement charger. The ‘Free Unlimited Swaps’ was an integral part of the marketing message, and was the primary benefit of the product…”
The original product costs around twenty to thirty dollars. Chargers are usually valued according to capacity and charging speed, and the FuelRod chargers had decidedly worse performance than other chargers. However, they were able to sell for substantially more than other chargers—which sometimes go for as little as $10. The complaint claims that this was because of the free swapping promise.
However, at some point in time (possibly January 2019), the company ended its policy of free swapping and began to charge customers for swaps. The complaint says, “In many instances however, Defendants have not changed the signage on their kiosks…” Now, the complaint says, the kiosks simply advertise that the chargers are “swappable,” although some do not specifically disclose the charge for the swapping.
The complaint alleges, “Any language in the Defendants’ terms of service purporting to permit Defendants to so radically change the nature of its agreement with [customers] is void and unenforceable…”
The class for this action is all individuals and entities in the US who bought a FuelRod from a kiosk, with the statutes of limitations, that contained signage indicating “Free Unlimited Swapping,” “Unlimited Free Swaps,” or the like.