Break Your Cingular Contract Without Fee, Thanks 2 Txt Msg $ Raise

Gimlet-eyed Cingular customers may have noticed the cellphne provider changing its text message rates from $.10 to $.15 and realized they can use that to escape contract without early termination fee.

Verizon and Sprint raised their text message rates earlier this year and customers were able to escape. Cingular seems to have learned from the other company’s “mistakes” and has drilled its reps to tow a tougher line.

To beat them, you will need your warrior gaze, and this piece of contract, inside…

RELATED:
We Interview Cingular About Cancelling Over Text Message Plans
What Cingular Tells Customers Canceling Over Text Message Rates
Cingular Foils Reader’s Attempt To Break Contract


From Cingular’s Terms of Service:

“IF WE INCREASE THE PRICE OF ANY OF THE SERVICES TO WHICH YOU SUBSCRIBE… YOU MAY TERMINATE THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PAYING AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE… PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO US WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE.”

The text message rate change is effective Jan 21, 2007. You have 30 days from then to break the contract. The change affects all postpaid and Pick-Your-Plan customers not currently subscribed to an SMS package.

HowardForums and FatWallet have extensive threads devoted to the subject.

Several of their members report success in escaping the contract without early termination fee. Read their posts and learn more strategies.

Incidentally, Cingular touts on its website that it was the first wireless provider to earn the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) “Seal of Wireless Quality”. Part 7 of the CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service states:

“7. Provide customers the right to terminate service for changes to contract terms. Carriers will not modify the material terms of their subscribers’ contracts in a manner that is materially adverse to subscribers without providing a reasonable advance notice of a proposed modification and allowing subscribers a time period of not less than 14 days to cancel their contracts with no early termination fee (ETF).”

Be strong. Insist on the cancellation. State your demands and reasoning clearly and upfront. Ask for a supervisor. Escalate. Don’t get off the phone. If they say, let me call you back, say, no thanks, I’ll hold. When they argue with you, simply restate your demand and reason. Repeat as many times as necessary.

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Part of me wants to do this, just to stick it to Cingular……but I’m happy with my service, so I have no desire to cancel. Oh well.

  2. holocron says:

    I have Cingular and I’m a little fed up with the service. As it is, however, I am no long under a contract with them. Mine expired in June of 2006. As it stands, there are no other post-paid plans from anyone with the features and minutes we require for the same or lower price. So by staying with the old terms, I’m actually saving money. For now at least. I was an AT&T customer and technically Cingular still has separate dealings with former AT&T customers until they “upgrade” to a Cingular plan (separate but equal???).

  3. ediebeale says:

    Does this work if you have a media plan? I pay a set amount and get 100 texts a month.

  4. Ben Popken says:

    It doesn’t apply if you already have a text message package.

  5. The_Truth says:

    The thing that I wonder about is that if all we hear about are bad things about EVERY cell phone provider out there, what good is cancelling your contract goign to do?
    Whatver co you then sign up with will end upscrewing you in the end any way.

    oh hum.

  6. Ben Popken says:

    I like Verizon.

  7. TechnoDestructo says:

    This is the stuff that class-action lawsuits are made of.

  8. The_Truth says:

    I had Verizon when I lived on the East coast, but moving to the West coast was nothing short of a nightmare – bad connections – different billing systems – contract changes, you name it they did it.

    I then got Sprint through my work, and that sucked badly, the connection quality was crap and I understand the billing of it all was a nightmare, fortunatly for me the IT department dealt with all of that, so no biggie on my part, but still not something I was going to get.

    I then ended up getting a cingular contract, with the minimum number of minutes to get rollover, two contracts for my wife and I we still end up paying just under $100 a month, which is waay to high, but I really dont have much choice.

    I dont use text messaging, data or have any dumb ringtones, all I want is like 200mins per month for both phones, rollover (Because its a crock they can even take you paid for minutes) and a bill for about $30-40 a month.

    I am sorely tempted to switch to pay as you go, but without having researched it, im guessing they screw you there too…

  9. YoshidaSauce says:

    Good thing my contract is over on the 5th of January 07. No big complaints with Cingular, it’s just that I’m interested in trying out Helio. They seem to have better plans that are an amazing value for data-intensive users.

  10. bravo says:

    Is there a way to use this to get “new customer” pricing on a new phone?

  11. orielbean says:

    b ravo, you’d probably have to cut the entire account, lose your phone number, and start over with a new contract – but that might be possible however.

  12. nullset says:

    I’m very happy with a prepaid plan plus Skype In/Out.

    But then, I’m not a heavy phone user. (I’m using virgin mobile, if it matters).

    I like that what I pay is what they say I pay… xx cents/min * # of minutes. No random taxes or other fees.

    –buddy

  13. georget99 says:

    I use T-Mobile prepaid. A $100 refill gives you 1000 minutes and doesn’t expire for a full year. Any refill, even $10, after that rolls over all your remaining minutes for another year.

    Considering the cheapest monthly plans are $40/month plus taxes and fees, the break-even point is around 450 minutes per month, AND if you just use 10 minutes some month, then it costs you a buck, not $40.

  14. Danj3ris says:

    So, can I simply CANCEL my text message plan today? And then sometime early February cancel my contract? Because I really really have been wanting to cancel my contract, as I barely use my phone as much as I’m paying for.

    Yes No maybe so? If someone cant find a flaw in this plan, I’m doing it.

  15. dink says:

    Aye, I feel the same as Danj3ris. I’ll just cancel my txt message plan now, and when they up the fee in January, I will be eligible. (I’m assuming)

  16. cliff164us says:

    Verizon created a mystery bill in my name for $675, it took me 7 years to clear my name.
    After further investigation on the $676 illegal bill, it turns out they had purchased old collection agency cell bills with fake names. I would never do business with a cell phone company with illegal billing practices, and sham revenue stream rip off!!!

  17. Trai_Dep says:

    Kind of a broader question, but under what law of inverse pricing physics would a 50% INCREASE be justified? Costs of everything from the provider’s end (software, network) are fixed or declining (storage space). Plus, text is cheap to transmit.

    Seems what’s happening is price gouging, plain and simple. People *finally* warm up to using text messaging and they sneak in a price increase.

  18. Apopheniac says:

    A note of caution for those contacting Cingular based on this post: Cingular policy states that it defines text messaging as an optional add-on feature and not part of the underlying contract for cellular service. They state that changes in pricing of features do not impact the terms of the contract. If you tell Cingular that you are released from your contract, be prepared for them to tell you that you are not.

  19. coreyk72 says:

    In the rate plan brochure in my possession, text messaging at a rate of $.10 is listed as an “included feature” of the plan. It is quite specific and clear.

    Based on Cingular’s claim in this matter, they can suddenly start charging for all the other “included features” of my rate plan such as: nationwide long distance, call waiting, voicemail, and caller ID.

  20. cman6453 says:

    Apopheniac – That’s true but I believe “per text message” billing comes with EVERY plan. So it really isn’t optional. As a matter of fact, there is no charge, obviously, to use the “per text message plan”. If you don’t have a text messaging plan and you send a text message, you, currently, would have to pay the .10 for that message. Hence, the reason that you’d be able to escape your contract commitment. My view anyways. That seems to qualify for the contract termination without a penalty. Hmmmmm…. :)

  21. cman6453 says:

    Danj3ris, dink – I believe that if my comment above holds true, your plan should be valid.

  22. thezippy says:

    I got the same song and dance.

    Filed complaints with the FCC and the BBB. Recommend you do the same. No idea if that’ll work, but they have language all over their T&C that refers to text messaging as a SERVICE, and not a FEATURE.

  23. jbone says:

    I’m subscribed to the basic 5 dollar a month text message plan but want desperately to get out.

    If I were to cancel my text message plan TODAY, start making a few ten cent text messages, and then try to cancel in February (or late January) would that work?

  24. bigroblee says:

    Just out of curiosity, why are you all so eager to break a contract you willingly went into? Like the feeling of getting over on a major corporation, or is this just the excuse you were looking for to jump ship? Oh, and Michael, WTF are you thinking, that you will find another carrier that won’t charge you for incoming text, or for that matter will keep prices static forever? If you hate contracts people, there’s a simple solution! Stop accepting the discounted phones, don’t be a cheap fucker, pay full purchase price, and get service with no contract! Simple, huh? Although, last I checked, Cingular, Verizon, and T-Mobile will only give you the unlimited mobile to mobile and nights and weekends minutes with a minimum of a one year contract. Good luck. Next time, again, DON’T ACCEPT THE DISCOUNTED PRICE ON THE PHONES, and then you can go no contract.

  25. Floobtronics says:

    I discussed this at quite some length with Cingular yesterday. If you’re successful in breaking the contract, more power to you. That wasn’t *my* goal, however. My question to them was simple – why does Cingular feel justified in a 50% price increase for a service, when they can clearly show a profit on 1/4th the *current* fee?

    Of course, this was met with incredulity at first. I went on to explain that 200 SMS for $4.99 roughly equates $0.025/SMS, or 1/4th of the current fee of $0.10/SMS. Clearly, as Cingular is in business to make money, they wouldn’t offer service at a loss, hence my statement of their ability to profit on $0.025/SMS. The CSR passed me to Supervisor, who passed me to his Supervisor. In the end, the closest thing to an explanation I got was, “because we’re in business to make money, and we can.”

    At that point, I pointed out the above highlighted paragraphs from the T&C’s as well as the CTIA statement, at which point I was asked, “Sir, are you an attorney?” Well, of course, I am not. The Sup’s Sup claims that their legal department has fully addressed these claims by stating that Pay-per-use SMS is not a subscribed contracted feature, even though it appears on your bill as part of your plan. Their reasoning? You’re not required to use the feature.

    In the end, they gave me a $25 credit on my next bill. We average probably 2 or 3 SMS/month on our family plan, so I figure we’re good for the next good long while.

  26. dadamc1 says:

    to bigroblee,

    If you don’t understand it, best to keep your insults to your self. I have been with Cingular for 6 years, and have been hung up on, over charged and lied to. Even when I tried to Pay to cancel, I was told it would be $300. My only problem is my contract is up in January anyways, or I would take advantage. Cingular Sucks, thats the problem. Why should a consumer be scared to go into a contract with a well known company. Sorry mommy and daddy dont buy us our full price phones. Who wants to spend $300 on a cell phone, plus get hammered monthly. Don’t be a tool, please it’s Christmas.

  27. rgbd says:

    I work for Cingular in Business Customer Services – let me clarify. The terms of service state: IF WE INCREASE THE PRICE OF ANY OF THE SERVICES TO WHICH YOU SUBSCRIBE… YOU MAY TERMINATE THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PAYING AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE… PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO US WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE.”

    However the rates do not go up if you have, that is SUBSCRIBE, to a text or messaging plan. The rates are only going up for pay per use text messaging. In this case there is no subscription. It is an additional service offered on a pay per use basis and is not included in your rate plan. Early Termination Fees apply, so don’t waste your time waiting for a rep they won’t be waived.

  28. DemocraticPiece says:

    All:

    Here is what I heard when I talked to them today. I am one person in a 5-person family plan. While on the whole, Cingular coverage has been ok and their CORPORATE customer service has been pretty good, the service at some of their contracting stores is horrible.

    After speaking with a customer rep at Cingular for a bit about opting out early, I got the same information that has been posted here. It isn’t an obligatory service, so if I don’t want to use it, I shouldn’t… and they could turn it off if I really hated it. However, she was very helpful explaining that if I am very unhappy with my phone or service so far, she would likely be able to speak with her manager and get me an early opt-out exception or at least some sort of credit.

    In short, here are my suggestions for talking with them. When I asked about why I wanted an early opt-out, I told her about how I was unhappy with my phone. If you call and talk to them, express your displeasure with your current phone. Stuff I mentioned was that my battery life has deteriorated significantly, the phone reception was poor, etc. She was more than willing to help and was very pleasant. If you are all that unhappy with your service, perhaps pursue these options.

    Anyway, in Cingular’s defense, over my years of contracts with them I’ve been relatively happy with their customer service, especially recently. Good luck.

  29. LaborSpecCTB says:

    LaborSpecCTB

    Has anyone run into a situation where you have taken a 24 month contract with Cingular and at the end of the 24 months you want to cancel. The Cingular rep told me that I will have to pay a $150 cancellation fee if I cancel one minute early. She then told me I can cancel the day after the contract expires, but the catch is I will have to pay a full months fee. I already have another plan and held off cancelling the Cingular family plan because I did not want to pay the $150 cancellation for each of the three phones. Now they are still going to screw me by getting an extra months fee. How can they sign you to a 24 month contract when they know that at a minimum, you have to pay for 25 months?

  30. ralucavladan says:

    I just called Cingular CS to cancel my contract, and they told me they haven’t heard of such thing. R they trying to give me a hard time, or they just change their minds about raising messaging fees?

  31. all says:

    Even though it says a 2 year contract the fine print only states liability for 181 days.

  32. Blackiedog1 says:

    I have SERO from Sprint. I pay $30 per month. I have 500 min. per month I get FREE unlimited text messaging, free nights and week ends starting at 7 pm. Unlimited moble to mobile. And a bunch of other neat stuff, like email and internet and free roaming. Plus they just gave me $50 credit on next months bill for a “Save50″ coupon. I just emailed and asked for it and they gave it to me.

  33. Trackback says:

    Last week, Slashdot linked to an entertaining analysis of the cost of SMS messages. Noting that many carriers are raising their SMS prices despite increasing demand for the service — demand which should be spurring competition — the author of the post figures out the number of bits in a text…