Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against FuelRod Over Phone Charger Swap Fees

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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.

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

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

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.

About the author

Jason Diffendal

Jason has been a lifelong fan of the Disney parks since his first visit at age 2. His biennial pilgrimages during his childhood accelerated into semi-annual visits by the year 2000, when he also Joined the Disney Vacation Club. Luckily, Jason’s bride-to-be was also a Disney fan, which allowed his infatuation with the Disney parks to continue, and ultimately culminated in their wedding at Disney's Wedding Pavilion in September 2003. Early in 2007, Jason began his involvement with the planning for what became Celebration 25, the unofficial fan gathering to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Epcot®. Soon thereafter, Jason met Tom Corless at a pin trading meet in New Jersey, and became part of the WDW News Today podcast starting with Episode 17. Jason has been involved with the WDWNT Network ever since, and can't seem to escape no matter how hard he tries.
Contact Jason at [email protected]

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Andrew
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Andrew

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.

Austin
Guest
Austin

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.

Thomas McCarthy
Guest
Thomas McCarthy

Exactly and on there website they have always said that charges can vary by location.

Tom T
Guest
Tom T

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.

Skywise
Guest
Skywise

What part of “Free UNLIMITED swapping” do you not understand?

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

I think that the word “unlimited” implies “forever”… but that’s just me.

Brad Cohen
Guest
Brad Cohen

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.

Amy
Guest
Amy

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.

Michael L
Guest
Michael L

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.

Bock'sdMacAndCheese
Guest
Bock'sdMacAndCheese

I…I wasn’t grandfathered in to that? I still have to pay for my limited data?

Joe
Guest
Joe

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.

ROBIN
Guest
ROBIN

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.

Kristi Lu
Guest
Kristi Lu

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.

Margy Younkin
Guest
Margy Younkin

I called fuelrod to complain and both fuelrod and disney get a cut if the new swapping fee

Alan
Guest
Alan

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.

Dolph
Guest
Dolph

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.… Read more »

Stottiecake
Guest
Stottiecake

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.

Emily
Guest
Emily

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… Read more »

Ray
Guest
Ray

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.

Who Dat
Guest
Who Dat

Andrew definitely works for FuelRod.

Will C
Guest
Will C

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.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

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… Read more »

Bob from Toledo
Guest
Bob from Toledo

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

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

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

Natasha
Guest
Natasha

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! 😡

Eddy
Guest
Eddy

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.

April
Guest
April

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.

Progressive Music Lover
Guest
Progressive Music Lover

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!

Shari
Guest
Shari

It’s not disney

Angel
Guest
Angel

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.

Old School Music Lover
Guest
Old School Music Lover

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.

Thomas Smith
Guest
Thomas Smith

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.

Brian
Guest
Brian

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.

Dolph
Guest
Dolph

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’…

Rodrigo Orta
Guest
Rodrigo Orta

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.

Catherine
Guest
Catherine

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.

Moq
Guest
Moq

Why do you need to purchase anything? Disney has plenty of phone chargers around the parks. Just bring your charger you normally use and charge during breaks.

Bock'sdMacAndCheese
Guest
Bock'sdMacAndCheese

Don’t chargers usually come with your phone?

Evil Blue DVC puppet Rob
Guest
Evil Blue DVC puppet Rob

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.

Mike G
Guest
Mike G

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

Anonomouse
Guest
Anonomouse

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.

Sick of Universal always getting a pass
Guest
Sick of Universal always getting a pass

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

Shari
Guest
Shari

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

Tom Corless
Admin
Tom Corless

FuelRod is claiming Disney gets a cut

Shari
Guest
Shari

It’s NOT disney. It’s the company that puts out the chargers. Also available at universal and airports

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Unlimited = “without limits”.

Anonomouse
Guest
Anonomouse

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?

Bob from Toledo
Guest
Bob from Toledo

Dont forget the all you can eat salad

Princess Coldheart
Guest
Princess Coldheart

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… Read more »

Rachel
Guest
Rachel

I hope fighting this lawsuit bankrupts them. They have crappy chargers and a rip-off business model.

Jmd
Guest
Jmd

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… Read more »

Tracey Wells
Guest
Tracey Wells

How do you add to the file this wS the only reason I paid $30

Natasha
Guest
Natasha

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! 😡

Eddy
Guest
Eddy

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.