UPDATE: We don’t mean to say that you should actually lie to your cellphone provider and do this. In the interest of following up on advice we previously posted, which also appeared in Wired, we wanted to see if this worked. So we gave it a shot.
One way to cancel your cellphone account without incurring a termination fee is to tell them you’re moving out of the service area. We told Verizon we were taking up residence at the US Embassy. In Phnom Penh.
Verizon didn’t take us at face value. We need to send a copy of our utility bill, or a driver’s license with our new address, or a copy of our mortgage, or a letter from our employer. We have 30 days to fax that to 425-603-5366 or mail it to
PO Box 96082
Bellevue, WA 98009
Guess we gotta look for some US embassy letterhead now… (Parts not affecting the outcome of the call have been edited out.)
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(Verizon machine plays in bg)
CONSUMERIST: This is Ben Popken, calling Verizon wireless, I’m going to try and cancel my account by telling them I’m moving to Cambodia… and therefore avoid (to machine) Will you shutup?! Their $175 termination fee.
VERIZON: Your call may be recorded for quality and training purposes.
CONSUMERIST: You bet your ass.
VERIZON: Please hold while we transfer your call.
(sound of clicks)
CONSUMERIST: Ow…what was that click?
VERIZON ERIC: Um, real quick before I transfer you over, can I get uh, can I get that new address that you’re moving to?
CONSUMERIST: Yeah, hold on a sec. Um, alright. Number 27. Street 240. Um, Phnom Penh.
ERIC: How do you spell that?
CONSUMERIST: P-h-n-o-m, P-e-n-h.
CONSUMERIST: And that’s in Cambodia.
ERIC: Oh, ok, that’s definitely out of the service area. Just give me a moment and I’ll get you transferred on over.
VERIZON KEVIN: Hi Benjamin?
VERIZON KEVIN: Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m in Verizon Wireless customer service. I understand you’re moving out of the country.
KEVIN: Ok. Sorry to hear that, is this going to be…
CONSUMERIST: No, it’s going to be great! You don’t have to be sorry.
KEVIN: (chuckles) Well I don’t mean sorry that uh, that uh, I don’t mean to imply that’s a bad thing for you. (chuckle) Uhm…
KEVIN: Well let’s see now. Is this a permanent move for you or is this temporary?
KEVIN: Ok…and I understand you’re moving to Cambodia?
KEVIN: Andddd, when will you be leaving the country.
CONSUMERIST: Well, ummmm in a week.
KEVIN: Would you like the service to remain active through, until your departure?
CONSUMERIST: No, I don’t really use it anymore so..
KEVIN: Ok, alright, so want make the disconnect as soon as possible. Well actually, since do, because we bill a month in advance, we do disconnect on the last day of your bill cycle. I do see you’re not using your phone here. Um but the disconnect will set to happen on the last day of your bill cycle. This will be on August 10th. So you will have usage through that.
KEVIN: The final bill will have residual charges, residual service charges and fees from the service that will apply to you, two or three dollars.
KEVIN: It’s also going to charge the early termination fee of $175. As long as we have proof of the residency outside of the country within 30 days of that, we will credit that back. Ok.
CONSUMERIST: What’s the address that you need to receive documentation?
KEVIN: I’ll, I’ll get that here in one sec. Did Eric tell you what documentation is required, what is valid documentation?
KEVIN: Ok. Is there any more family or friends who want to take over your service and avoid an activation fee if they’re not already Verizon Wireless members?
KEVIN: Setting up the disconnect for you right now…That’s a big move, leaving the country like that.
KEVIN: Work taking you out of the country?
CONSUMERIST: Yup. I’m gonna go work at the embassy over there.
KEVIN: Wow, that’s exciting.
KEVIN: Have you worked at an embassy before?
CONSUMERIST: Not exactly, this is my first full on embathy, embassy position.
KEVIN: Have you ever been to Cambodia?
KEVIN: So this will be a whole new adventure for you.
CONSUMERIST: Yup. I’m looking forward to it.
KEVIN: Alright, getting all set up for the disconnect and…
KEVIN: Here you go, you can mail your documentation to either Verizon Wireless PO Box 96082, and that’s in Bellevue, Washington. B-e-l-l-e-v-u-e, 98009, or you can send a fax to area code 425, 603-5366 and… just remember that again, let’s see here, looking at the account, proper documentation mumble, driver’s license for the area that you will be living with your address on it, a utility statement, or a letter from your employer stating the address where you will be working, that will probably be the easiest for you to obtain before you head over there, and that needs to be within 30 days after the disconnect which is August 10th.
KEVIN: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
CONSUMERIST: Um, I mean, ‘m pretty busy here this last week and I don’t happen to get that document, and I’m adjusting over there, I mean (laughs) do you guys just not believe me that I’m moving there? Like, why, Why do I have to provide documentation to that effect?
KEVIN: Because of that. If If if uh, we didn’t have documentation stating that fact, then that would definitely get out to the public and well jeez all you have to do is tell them you’re living another country and they’ll disconnect and waive the fee for you. The fees are there for a purpose and there are conditions that allow for those fees to be waived but we need supporting documentation for that. I do understand that it’s a busy time for you but we have to have our documentation. If we didn’t require it of you, then we couldn’t require it of everyone else.
CONSUMERIST: I see.
CONSUMERIST: Alright, well, um, I’ll try and get that letter for you guys and say a-rivah-dirchee.
KEVIN: Alright well good luck to you over there in the embassy, I thank you for choosing Verizon Wireless and being a valued customer. You have a great day now.
CONSUMERIST: Thanks, you too.
KEVIN: Is there anything else I can assist you with today, Benjamin?
CONSUMERIST: Mmm, unless you’re going to cancel my account and waive the termination fee.
KEVIN: I don’t I don’t have a way of doing that.
CONSUMERIST: You don’t?
KEVIN: I don’t. You have a great day now.