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I'm Asking: Have You Ever Terminated Your Cell Contract?

I'm Asking: Have You Ever Terminated Your Cell Contract?

Whether you got a shiny new iPhone for Christmas and need to break your contract, or you think you want to upgrade your cell phone service in 2009 you should check in with your carrier about their early-termination fees, the status of your contact, and any deals they might be running for the new year. (Honestly, I hope you checked the tiny print before you signed that dotted line!)

Consumer Reports notes one in seven survey respondents said "they were seriously considering a switch to a better carrier but were discouraged from doing so by penalties that can run as high as $200 per phone line." As we all know, termination fees can be a real bugaboo.

Have you ever played the eat-the-cell-contract game?


Join The Conversation
PiNkY-PiNk PiNkY-PiNk 8 years
ugh, yes! my bf and I wanted out of crappy t-mobile. they've gotten better since but I still would never go back. in my area, sprint really is the best deal around... great phones, service, and price. I wish they made those early termination fees illegal or that cell phone companies would come up with better deals so that people don't have to be stuck with the same phone for 2 yrs.
geebers geebers 8 years
I have verizon and while they have great network service (these phones work in many supposedly dead areas)...they have AWFUL in-store customer service and terrible phones. Their plans are expensive too. I am seriously debating if I want to re-new with them when I am eligible for a new phone in March. I know people complained here about AT&T but I have heard from friends that switched that they have cheaper plans and nicer phones so I am not sure. I also live in the city so I don't really have to worry about dropped calls much.
shiningeyes shiningeyes 8 years
Blah. I certainly wouldn't break my cell contract to go to AT&T. They are seriously the worst business I've ever had the misfortune to deal with in my life. I'd trade in that iphone for a ipod touch, thankyouverymuch.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
We used to have US Cellular and had planned to just go month to month after the 2 years was up. When we had about one month left to go on the contract (we had one with 2 lines), my husband's phone broke and he went to US Cellular to get a new phone. They gave him one, but he had to renew his contract for 2 more years. My phone held out for an additionaly 2 years. Once my husband's second phone was almost 2 years old, we looked into switching to a different carrier. My phone was on a month-to-month, but my husband's phone expired at the end of the month. We paid the final month's bill to US Cellular and notified them that we would not be renewing our contract with them. They assured us we wouldn't have to pay the $175 early termination fee and we got our new phones from the new company. And what happened? Freakin' US Cellular charged us the $175 fee because we signed up for the new contract with the other place 3 days before the end of the month! So we called US Cellular and told them what happened and they dropped the charge. If they wouldn't have, I would've gone to a higher level of management to dispute it though.
Antioxidant Antioxidant 8 years
I've never had a cell contract. I use Tracfone and just add minutes whenever I'm about to run out. Costs me about $30 for 3 months worth of minutes (obviously, I'm not a huge phone person).
esmerb esmerb 8 years
I have not and that was a really hard thing to do cause I patiently waited for my T-Mobile contract to end so I could get my iphone. But it was really worth the wait, cause I was not about to spend $200 to break a contract. That money should go to other important stuff like bills and such.
LadyLiLa83 LadyLiLa83 8 years
I have heard that this practice of charging buku bucks for early termination was going to become illegal for the whole US, but I'm not sure if that was true. Does anyone know for sure?
bransugar79 bransugar79 8 years
My husband and I recently switched to another carrier when our small local company merged with T-Mobile. We didn't have to pay a termination fee as we pointed out that they were choosing to change the terms of our contract and we had a right to accept or decline those changes. it was that simple. The truth is you can always argue the early termintaion fee if you are switching due to poor service or a change in what was contracted even if it's a minor change. But you have to be aware of the dates the changes will take effect because a lot of contracts have clauses stating that use of the service after the date of change in terms amounts to acceptance of the new terms. Just keep an eye out and you should be fine. as far as changing just becasue another carrier has a new phone you want more then by all rights you should pay the fee because that's a part of the contract that you signed to get service in the first place.
krae85 krae85 8 years
$200? eww. I switched during contract a few years ago and I think the fee was around $40. Guess they caught on to that game pretty quickly.
lifeloveandlattes lifeloveandlattes 8 years
I've broken 2 or 3 contracts and paid the fees in the past because I wanted the newest, hottest phone so badly! Haven't done that in years, though... I'm pretty content with my iPhone, and if I switch, it will only be to upgrade to the newest model. :o)
BlooBayoo BlooBayoo 8 years
About 7 years ago my cr was broken into and my purse, with cell phone inside, was stolen. Police report in hadn I called the cell phone company to get a replacement phone. Repeat: replace phone. I was told by the customer service representative I would have to pay $300 to "upgrade" my phone. I reitered that I only wanted to replace the current phone on the plan as it was stolen. Same phone, no upgrade. I was bumped up first one then two levels of supervisors and the answer was still $300 for the "upgrade" of getting the exact same phone. At which point, I pointed out that my contract ended in three weeks and early termination fees were $200, would they like to keep my business? Apparently, the answer was no. I told them to cancel my contract, bill me the $200 which is still $100 cheaper than buying my old phone back from them and they should be replacing for free in order to keep my business and to prepare themselves for a call from The Washington Post, NBC4, WJLA and WUSA to explain why a crime victim was being screwed over by them after years of loyal business. End result: broken contract for both lines, no fee, new contract with new company who gave us two free phones AND a lower monthly bill when we told them who we were switching from and why.
millarci millarci 8 years
LOL TidalWave! I broke my contract w/ my current phone to get the iPhone. :)
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
To anyone dealing with AT&T.... My last conversation with customer service went like this: Rep: "I'm sorry, there is nothing more I can do. I will try to put in this request with my manager but I am not sure she will approve it." Me: "Can I speak with your manager directly?" Rep: "Hold please." -Hold- Rep: "Thank you for waiting. I spoke with my manager and she has approved the request and you will see the changes reflected in your bill immediately." Me: "Thank you."
CoralAmber CoralAmber 8 years
Yes, and it was one of the most expensive lessons of my life. I "won" a free phone if I would just sign a contract (which they assured me I could step down to cheaper monthly fees). So I agreed (over the phone) and when I figured out what a stupid idea it was I had just missed the 30 day trail period. So they wanted me to pay $200. I refused, saying it was silly that I pay for barely missing the date. They insisted. One collection agency notice later and I paid for that lesson. I think I was just 18. I didn't get a cell phone again until I worked for a cell phone company and even now I only do a pay as you go.
magickalrealism magickalrealism 8 years
My finace' has terminated his - in Iowa, it's illegal to place a penalty for ending a cell contract and he's taken advantage of that. There was one occasion in Minnesota where our service was so bad that starting the new contract with the better service eventually payed for itself. I'd never do this on my own; I once waited out a cell contract of 3 years even though I only was able to finish a conversation twice in that entire time.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
When we switched from Cingular (now AT&T) 7 years ago because of poor call quality and some questionable business practices, they tried to stick us with $600 in early termination fees. We had 3 lines on a family plan - two [mine and my father's] were activated at the same time, but we activated my brother's line 2 months later [after we realized he needed a phone to keep contact from school]. When our contract was up and we switched, they stuck ALL of us with the early termination fee ($200/line) because the 2-yr contract on my brother's line was still two months from ending. We contested that, but they INSISTED that we pay the $200 for my brother's line. They're still doing crap like that today, even as AT&T, so even though I desperately want an iPhone, it's not worth dealing with AT&T. We're with T-Mobile now, but we're still on a 2-year family plan, and it's $200/line for early termination. My brother and I are about to go off to school, so it doesn't make sense to have a family plan now...but you just can't win with cell phone companies. They get their money by locking you in ridiculously long contracts and high termination fees - ugh I just wish I could buy whatever phone I want [regardless of carrier] and choose a simple plan with a company for however long I want.
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
You can sign up without signing a contract if you have an unlocked phone...
chatoyante chatoyante 8 years
Yup! I really wanted an iPhone so I waited until I heard they changed they contract (in this case, increased fee for texts) and I called my carrier, told them they were changing the contract and that I did not want to accept the changes, and I was done - no termination fees, number ported. These things come up from time to time and they're pretty easy to do. Forums like slickdeals usually have info when these things come up. Of course the phone companies tell you in tiny print on the back of a bill, because don't want you to know you can break contract within a set time of notification. It does work, though, if you're willing to wait. :D
lildorothyparker lildorothyparker 8 years
You guys are lucky with the $200 penalty. It's about $400 to kill a Roger's contract in Canada.
hkdkat hkdkat 8 years
It was quite awhile ago, but I received something either via email or snail mail that said my contract had expired and I was month to month, so I took my business elsewhere and found out that it was truly not the case. They charged me $150 early term and even though I tried my hardest to fight it, I had to pay it. I contemplated paying a penny each month for 150 months but when I figured out how long that was...I decided to pay it all at once!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i have broken a contract in the past and paid like $75 or $175 - i can't remember which. i hate that they do that to you - it's not like you really have an option when you get a new phone - you HAVE to sign a contract and that's kind of a pain in the butt!
NouraBee NouraBee 8 years
well i use nokia e71 and YES always !!!!
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