Another Way To Escape Sprint For Free?

Potentially opening the door to penalty-free cellphone contract cancellations, Sprint customers received the following in their December invoice:

“Effective February 2007, Sprint will charge $1.79 per call for directory assistance. Also effective February 2007, a reconnect fee of $25 will be charged per account if your account is disconnected for nonpayment”

In October, Sprint raised the text messaging rates from $.10 to $.15, which constituted a material change to the contract and allowed many subscribers to leave service without paying early-termination fee.

Will this work the same way? — BEN POPKEN

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  1. acambras says:

    I doubt it. Directory assistance is probably more of an occasional thing than text messaging (i.e., many customers base their selection of a company on text messaging rates, but few probably base it on directory assistance rates).

    And the reconnect fee can be avoided altogether if customers pay their bills on time. Phone (landline), cable, gas, and electric companies have been charging such delinquency fees for a long time.

  2. bravo says:

    whatever happened to the Cingular text messaging rate hike story? are they letting people out of contracts without an ETF?

  3. rachmanut says:

    reconnect fee is definitely part of your contract. The cell companies might argue directory assistance is a la carte, like texting, but that argument is BS anyway

  4. kerry says:

    bravo -
    The short answer is no, they insist that text messaging is not part of your contract, and is therefore a rate hike for text does not constitute a material change to your contract.

  5. Ben Popken says:

    bravo – The slightly longer answer is that while Cingular says no, they may be wrong, but it will take a lawsuit to get them to budge.

  6. Roger says:

    Some plaintiffs’ law firm must be willing to take this on… (though of course it will be settled for a $2 coupon for each affected customer).

  7. Jess A. says:

    I think that the more sensible answer is Don’t Use Directory Assistance. That’s what the internets (or Google SMS) are for.

  8. Chairman-Meow says:

    FYI Cingular already charges $1.79 for directory assiastance. I noticed that for the first time in last month’s bill. Bastards.

    Gee, I seem to remember a long time ago in a Galaxy far-far away that things like this would never happen.

    And before someone says “look it up on the internet”, well kids, that’s kind of hard to do when you’re speeding down the highway with a cellphone in one hand, sandwich in the other, and cup of coffee between your legs while steering with your knees.

  9. acambras says:

    That’s about the time the boyfriend calls me at my office to ask me to look up the number to whatever or directions to such-and-such.

    The cheap way: know someone who sits in front of a computer all day. And have them on speed dial.

  10. It’s not at all hard with a blackberry and/or a Treo. I’ve seen many an accident victim do it. ;)

  11. bravo says:

    try calling 1-800-free-411 (if it’s still around). you’re forced to listen to an ad before you get the listing you’re looking for, but it’s free.

  12. tvaughn05 says:

    I am currently trying to do this with Nextel. On the bill, it also states that the Terms and Conditions have changed. I called them asking to cancel the account (with no early termination fee), because of the new terms and conditions, and no one seems to be able to tell me what is on the new terms. So, I’m calling Corporate today, and they said that they would cancel my account (3 lines), with no ETF. Cool, eh?

  13. crackerguy says:

    My sister and her fiance just got out of their Nextel contract with this. The first “customer service” person they reached told them that he wouldn’t give them what they wanted. He then added “I can sit on the phone for another 15 minutes or all day because they aren’t my minutes being used and I’m getting paid”.

    They hungup and called back, they then got someone who was more than helpful and the opposite side of the spectrum from rep #1. This 2nd rep took care of everything.

    Unfortunately they didn’t report rep #1 yet, so this fine upstanding associate is still employeed there.

    Just goes to show it helps to just hang up and call back if you aren’t getting what you want.

  14. savigny says:

    After a long and confusing runaround, I was informed that neither of these were “material changes” to the account. To their credit, the contract does say:

    “The following, without limitation, will generally not be considered changes to the Agreement as contemplated in this provision and will not result in the waiver of applicable Early Termination Fees: (a) changes to our Policies; (b) changes to rates or charges that are not a core part of the rate plan package for which you contracted – for example, incidental, occasional or casual use charges and other options that do not require a Term Commitment. . . “

    I guess these changes could qualify under (b). Of course the customer service rep was not intelligent enough to quote me this section. But still…

  15. Bourque77 says:

    Its part of the contract, if its not material tell them you wont pay since its not part of the contract. Also just got off the phone with nextel the fee has went down to $1.49 but reconnect fee has gone up. I’ll let you guys know how it goes when I call back to cancel.

  16. Bourque77 says:

    They said the directory assistance was material (understandable) anyone give any tips hints on what to say about the re-connect fee i dont think its material.

  17. Bourque77 says:

    Well I got to corporate account services and was all but a done deal. Sadly they are not aware of the changes so I have to call back later and hopefully they will have been told. Tips for folks: 1-Ask about the directory assistance fee (which they will confirm its goin to 1.79) then ask if thats not a change in contract. 2-When they say no its not material ask if it were specifically written in the contract would it be (when they say yes then mention the re-connect fee which is written in the contract). The person then said I had 30 days from notification to cancel and couldnt (in my case i had 60 according to my contract i signed on 05). I was then transferred to corporate account services.