Score one for the little guy in a fight against the banking industry—a 16-year fight to be exact. The Supreme Court in London has ruled in favor of a 44-year-old man who got severely penalized over a small loan for a laptop that he never actually owned, reports the Guardian. Richard Durkin's case began in 1998 when he bought a $2,400 laptop at a store called PC World. He put $50 down and signed a credit deal with HFC Bank, a division of HSBC, which handled the store's in-store financing. Durkin returned the laptop the next day, as he was told he could do, when he discovered it didn't have the appropriate modem. The store (eventually) returned his deposit. The bank? Not so much.
HFC insisted that Durkin still had to honor his loan payments on the laptop he didn't possess. He refused, and the bank destroyed his credit rating in turn, reports the BBC. Durkin won about $13,000 in damages, though he estimates that he's out far more than that because of his lousy credit. He says, for instance, that he was unable to buy a home. "It's victory, but they didn't have jurisdiction to help me in the end, which is disappointing," he says. "But I'm pleased for the consumer. A lot of people will benefit from this—it's massive." Both stories suggest that his victory could pave the way for others to challenge their credit ratings in court. (Read more credit rating stories.)