Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against FuelRod Over Phone Charger Swap Fees

Jason Diffendal

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against FuelRod Over Phone Charger Swap Fees

Jason Diffendal

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against FuelRod Over Phone Charger Swap Fees

A California law firm has filed a putative class-action lawsuit in the Southern District of California against Tricopian, Inc. and SaveMe Batteries North America, the companies behind the FuelRod portable charger and swapping machines at Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort.

From the court filing:

…This class action seeks compensatory damages, restitution, disgorgement of profits, costs of suit, actual damages, attorneys’ fees, costs, declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and any other relief that this Court deems just and proper arising from Defendants’ breach of contract, and unfair, unlawful, unethical, fraudulent, misleading, unconscionable, and/or deceptive business policies and practices related to Defendants’ manufacturing, advertising, marketing, and/or sales of their FuelRod product and related service.

The case, filed by the law office of Francis J. Flynn, Jr., with named plaintiff Gabriel Veasey, of Sarasota, Florida, claims that FuelRod’s “unilaterally making such a fundamental change in the nature of its support of the product so as to deprive consumers of the primary benefit of the bargain.” The marketing message of “Free Unlimited Swaps” was the primary benefit of the product, the suit claims, since the FuelRod charger itself was quite inferior to other chargers costing much less.

We’ve covered the upcoming changes to the FuelRod kiosks, and the lawsuit shows photos of other kiosks located at airports that, just like the machines at the Disney parks, advertised Unlimited Free Swaps.

fuelrod airport

The suit also includes photos of a FuelRod kiosk at Epcot prominently advertising the Free Unlimited Swapping.

fuelrod epcot

The suit goes on to reference our article when the kiosks were changed to eliminate the “free” moniker in relation to swapping.

fuelrod lawsuit wdwnt

fuelrod kiosk wdwnt

The court filing claims this is a violation of California False Advertising Law, California Unfair Competition Law, California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and Breach of Contract.

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54 thoughts on “Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against FuelRod Over Phone Charger Swap Fees”

  1. Someone help me understand what I’m missing. Fuel Rod can change its policies at any time. Just because I got a charger with “free swapping” today doesn’t mean it’s applicable tomorrow. It’s only applicable at the very time in which I got the charger. In no way did Fuel Rod promise “free swapping FOREVER.” The issue of “it gave me a cheap way of charging my devices and I’m outraged that it’s no longer cheap” is circumstantial.

    • I may be wrong but the word “Unlimited” may be the issue. Unlimited means, “not limited or restricted in terms of number, quantity, or extent.” A judge could see them using “Unlimited Free” and then changing it as misleading.

    • Agreed, however there is no disclaimer that it could be changed. If this went by legal, there would have been an asterix stating this could change at any time. This was sloppy.

    • You are correct. It never said “free forever”. Also, it seems like most people did not read the original disclaimer on their Website. So sad, too bad.

    • The suit is claiming that the free swaps were a “primary benefit” of the product. If that’s the case, then it’s not just a policy change – it’s a fundamental change to the product and its benefits. That’s what the suit will decide.

    • But the thing is, that fundamentally goes against the grandfather clause. Sure they could charge new customers with swap fee, but every customer who bought it under the old policy should get free swaps. Remember when Verizon Wireless changed from Unlimited Data to limited data like ten years ago, Imagine how much more of an uproar there would have been if everyone was immediately cut off from their unlimited plans instead of being grandfathered in to their old one.

    • There’s a pretty easy argument to make that it’s false advertising. The phrase free unlimited at the very least implies that you will be able to swap them out for free forever via the “unlimited”. If they’d just said free swapping rather than free unlimited swapping (and if it wasn’t plastered all over everything), they’d probably be in a stronger position. I could absolutely see them losing this case in court.

    • The primary reason I purchased the device was due to the free swapping. Had I known that they would change the terms, I would not have purchased a round device that does not have high capacity. There are better portable chargers on the market. Also, it’s not as if Disney pays much or electricity. I used to work for the Mouse and know some of the ends and outs regarding his electric bill.

      • It’s not Disney, it’s FuelRod that’s making the changes. My guess is the rods aren’t making enough profit to pay for the employees they send out to swap them out of the machine every day.

      • The FuelRod units are not charged in the kiosks. They’re stored in a tank of sorts, where they are picked up and taken to a distribution center to be cleaned and tested to ensure their capacity is maintained.

    • I think you missed the word “unlimited” in your analysis. FuelRod’s OEM signage clearly said “free unlimited swapping”. Interpreting “unlimited” to mean limited in scope to only be contemporaneous to the time of purchase renders the word “unlimited” virtually meaningless. They also didn’t include any sort of readily apparent disclaimer that the “unlimited” nature of the swaps included any limits on the timeframe over which the swaps could be effectuated for “free”. Also, in contract law, any ambiguities in the terms are construed in favor of the non-drafting party (here, the consumer). FuelRod did a terrible job on this one. I’m not going to claim that FuelRod won’t ultimately prevail because of some disclaimer buried deep in the terms and conditions of the clickwrap, but this lawsuit does not appear to be frivolous to me based on the facts presented. I also will state that I am not a customer of FuelRod and don’t really care how this lawsuit is ultimately decided.

    • Fuel Rod promised ” free, unlimited swapping”. this was displayed as people made their purchase. By imposing an exchange fee, they have ceased the “free unlimited swapping” they had offered as part of the purchase package. The phrasing they originally used (unlimited being comparable to forever, unlike if they had said ” multiple free swaps” for example ) does leave room to debate the point in my opinion.

    • They can certainly change their policy at any time but I don’t think that’s the point. The point is, a ton of people purchased FuelRods with the idea that they would be able to swap them for free. Otherwise there’s no need to buy one as they’re grossly overpriced. There are better options out there that provide more of a charge for cheaper. The only reason why FuelRod was so successful is because of the free swapping. When you take away that perk, you’re taking away value of the product and also making those that bought it previously feel like they were ripped off, and they were.

    • Circumstantial maybe. In essence it is false advertising at the very least. It is also a breach of contract. They are only doing it for an increase in profit which is not what was promised to the consumer. We bought them under the impression that it would be unlimited swap. They cannot just change the terms at their discretion if that was what made the customer attracted to it in the first place.

    • I’ll help. I bought my fuel rod at DLR in May. I did so because the employees told me to try that after the GOOD battery I bought in the park for $10 less didn’t have any charge. This one is a quarter of the battery size but I paid $30 for the refills. Living near WDW I’ve been able to swap it 3-4 times since. So the upcharge I paid to use a sub-par battery means I wasted money.

    • Wow! I had +10 kudos yesterday afternoon and now -10 kudos this morning. Where to start…
      #1 I don’t work for Fuel Rod.
      #2 Terms can be changed at any time without notice. Want to know how often the terms on your Disney parks tickets change? You’ll be flabbergasted. Go sue Disney.
      #3 Fuel Rod will likely defend that “unlimited” refers to a quantity rather than a time period. For example, you can swap chargers 1x or 100x in one day and still pay one price. The time period is everlasting UNTIL Fuel Rod states otherwise. The # of swaps is everlasting UNTIL Fuel Rod states otherwise. There is absolutely no signage implying that you’ll have free unlimited swaps for life.
      #4 Fuel Rod will argue that the primary benefit is product availability…that there’s no other service like it in the park. The judge can rule otherwise.
      #5 The amount of customers affected, the $ amount involved and the “implied” terms contract is nowhere near comparison to the billion dollar Verizon. Fuel Rod will likely give you your money back rather than incorporate a grandfather clause. That’s silly.
      #6 If the judge rules against Fuel Rod, the best case outcome for everyone here is that Fuel Rod will reimburse you the initial cost of your charger. You’re not getting a penny more.
      #7 Fuel Rods inferior-ness to other chargers is arbitrary. Fuel Rod nor Disney cares about your phone or if you buy an outside charger.
      #8 Who cares who gets the extra $3? Complaining about Disney costs on this website won’t get you anywhere.

      • Stop using analysis and some common sense. This is an off shoot of Distwiiter. Logic it not allowed here.

    • Andrew why would someone pay $30 to recharge their phone? I think your missing something alright and its between your ears.

    • Umm yes it does! Notice the 16 thumbs down 👎 you’ve accumulated? What part of UNLIMITED swapping do you not comprehend? This means FOREVER! I don’t remember seeing a disclaimer on this! This was false advertising period! 😡

  2. I totally agree with the claimant. The fuelrod is an inferior product that never would have cost 30usd if the free swapping wasn’t allowed.

    It’s good that someone stands up to companies that try to change the rules in their advantages whenever it suits them.

  3. I still don’t understand the whole concept of them vs just buying a better, cheaper one. You still have to carry it around with you after you use it until you take the time you go swap it out and use another one. You can’t just return it when you’re done and pick up another one later when you have a need (am I wrong?). It’s the convenient-but-not-actually-convenient thing that I don’t understand.

  4. This lawsuit is totally justified and should send a message to Disney that they can no longer continue to financially molest it’s customers. This is hopefully only the beginning of the customers fighting back and telling Disney that we will no longer be taken advantage of and treated with contempt by the likes of Bob Iger!

    • Disney, and Fuelrods are a completely different company lol. Disney is no way affiliated nor involved with the new policy that they had now incorporated.

    • Frivolous, Everyone knows how crappy the chargers are. If they were smart people already bought a better one off Amazon or Itechdeals and prepared for the battery drainage at Disney.

  5. A Little Fuel Rod Told Us…

    These “charges” will go absolutely nowhere simply for the fact that the lawsuit is using “unscrupulous” sources that gives “free unlimited” bad information. This lawsuit will last about as long as a charge from a Fuel Rod.

  6. Wrong! The lawsuit is wrong. If you do not agree with the price or services offered then do not purchase. Terms, products and services can be changed at any time, especially with notice ahead of time, as in this specific issue. The problem would be if someone purchased in the morning and then that same afternoon the free swap was no longer honored.

    • So according to your definition, “unlimited” means during the same day? The point is that their advertising was, at best, misleading. The very nature of the FuelRod and only likely needing to use it once (maybe twice?) per day makes your argument have a very limited definition of “unlimited’…

    • Actually, the plaintiff might have a point. The Fuel Rod machines offered free “UNLIMITED” swaps. The word unlimited makes all the difference in this scenario. It was advertised as unlimited and nowhere does it say that the conditions of swapping can change anytime.

  7. I feel they have a good point as Fuel Rod advertised themselves as ‘Free UNLIMITED Swapping’. It’s the word ‘unlimited’ that makes all the difference.

    I have a newer phone so have not needed and external power source lately but during our Disney trips if I’d needed it my plan was to purchase a Fuel Rod. Since they make this change I’ve started looking at alternative sources to refuel my phone that I will purchase elsewhere.

  8. I think they should sell Fuelrod points on a 50 year contract with a monthly swapping maintenance fee that is higher or lower based on the home station you pick with your first check in swap not being ready until 5pm or later.

  9. It is pretty dumb that the Disney corporation wants to charge even more for something that is $30. The whole reason you buy a fuel rod is for the free exchange once the charge has been used up. Just more of a money grab by Iger

    • This has nothing to do with Disney or Iger. Fuel Rod is a 3rd party company that also has kiosks at Universal and major airports. In fact the free swapping ended everywhere but Disney at first and everyone praised Disney for continuing the free swapping.

      • Finally someone said this. Doesn’t the $3 also apply at Universal? Why do they always get a pass?

    • Just so you know it’s not disney doing this. Is the company selling them inside the parks. They are also in airports.

  10. For all the people complaining that unlimited means forever, do you return to an all you can eat buffet and expect to continue eating without paying again? Do you expect you can just pop into Olive Garden at any time and continue your unlimited breadsticks?

    • This is not an apt analogy.
      There was a specific case where a customer did in fact sue a buffet for false advertising after being kicked out, unable to satisfy his rather large appetite. The outcome was not in his favor, but the circumstances are different.
      “A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties. One party promises to do something and the other party promises to do something in return. Some but not all contracts need to be in writing. However, to be enforceable, every contract must consist of three components:
      • offer – a serious proposal which will lead to a contract being formed
      • acceptance – an unconditional acceptance must be given that follows the terms of
      the offer. This acceptance can be either spoken or clearly indicated by actions
      • consideration – something of value exchanged to fulfill the contract

      When going to an all-you-can-eat meal, a contract is being entered into with the restaurant. The offer is the restaurant’s invitation to purchase the all-you-can-eat meal, the acceptance takes place when the meal is ordered, and the consideration is the payment exchanged for the food.

      In the eyes of the law, fraudulent misrepresentation of the facts surrounding the offer can void a contract. But the other party needs to have relied on those representations. Is it reasonable for a Mr. Wisth to expect to receive all the fish he could actually eat, without limitation or restriction of any kind? According to a spokesman for the Iowa Attorney General’s office, commenting on a somewhat relatedcase, the answer would be no: “Businesses are obligated to live up their offers, but implementation needs to be reasonable.”

      So. People had been buying the fuel rods under the impression that they would have unlimited swaps for all time (unlimited). That was the product’s selling point and the model they have been operating under. So it is reasonable for consumers to expect free swaps forever, since that is what they were promised when they bought the rod in the first place. With buffets there’s already an expectation that the consumer knows it is not a lifetime of all you can eat for one price. However, with Fuel Rod that’s exactly the expectation. Like I said, that was their main selling point, and consumers had already been operating under this unlimited swapping for some time, so it is reasonable in this case for the consumer to expect “unlimited” to mean “forever”.

  11. Not sure what those that disagree are missing?? This seems pretty cut and dry:

    The company didn’t just sell its consumers a portable charger, they sold portable chargers with unlimited swaps. That was their selling point and it’s hard to argue otherwise.

    They now no longer offer free unlimited swaps and therefore customers do not have the product they were told they would receive.

    This is unique in that this wasn’t a one time purchase. The purchase included future use. That is where they hurt themselves and the point i think that is being made. By charging for swaps it is a different product than what was purchased. They must either give the consumer the product they purchased or allow them to receive a refund.

    May seem petty but in principal it is hard to disagree with the lawsuit.

  12. This is a bunch of bs! I purchased my fuel rod under the guise that was FREE to swap out FOREVER! It stares UNLIMITED swapping which implies FOREVER; not.. until we decide to. Start charging fees! There should have been a disclaimer about this! There was NOT! This is false advertising! I want my 30$ back! 😡

  13. I am stunned that some people try to defend fuelrod. Free Unlimited is explainable in only one way in this case. The should only ask new buyers $3 for a swap and honour already made sales.

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