Cancel Verizon Without Termination Fee Based On New Text Message Rate Increases

Verizon customers can escape their contract without paying an early termination fee, thanks to a recent text message rate increase. The cost for people without a bundled message plan went from 15 to 20 cents, and this constitutes what is known as a “materially adverse” change to contract. That means they’re giving you a new contract and you have a new opportunity to say yes or no to it as they want you to pay more than you agreed to in the first place. This post on SlickDeals gives you the play by play you need to cancel without paying termination fee. Print out their post and keep it in front of you when you call. The poster on the forum says that using his techniques, he’s already canceled five people’s accounts for them.

Get Out of Verizon Wireless ETF [Slickdeals]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. weave says:

    20 cents? That’s so ridiculous. It wasn’t THAT long ago it was 10 cents to send and two cents to receive. Technology costs are supposed to go down, not up.

    They just want to push people into bundled plans. Guaranteed extra revenue. Same goes with extra minutes. Why can one get a prepaid phone that costs 10 cents a minute but if I go over my minutes it’s 45 cents a minute?

  2. Rukasu says:

    God why can’t we be like 99% of other countries and use SIM cards dammit!?!?!?!?

  3. snoop-blog says:

    so i ask once again, have we nailed down which service provider is the lesser of the evils? people were just getting out of sprint to go to possibly verizon, are verizon people going to go to sprint?

    which is the lesser of the evils?

  4. darkened says:

    T-mobile.

  5. Shenanigans Was Taken says:

    @darkened: Agreed.

  6. Dibbler says:

    @darkened: I got my daughter a pre-paid phone from T-mobile. They didn’t have any local numbers so they game her one from the closest city that had a number available. They told me to just call back in a couple weeks to get a local number. The service sucked and she hardly ever has a good signal. Come to find out after 3 months of call for the local number… they don’t provide service in our area. WTF? Their website says they do, the local Target sells their pre-paid phones… If they wold have told me the truth in the beginning I could have returned the phone and gotten my money back. I’m not a fan of T-mobile…

  7. Zgeg says:

    A friend of mine got out of Sprint not too long ago to go to Verizon. He called and said he was moving to a place where Sprint has no coverage and they let him go sans ETF.. I’m thinking trying this with Verizon so I can go to T-Mobile.. Has anyone tried this approach?

  8. Sidecutter says:

    @Rukasu: What in the heck do SIM cards have to do with text messaging rates being increased?

  9. KF4 says:

    So good to see this article again. The last time this happened, I used the opportunity to get out of a horrible contract I let myself get snookered in to.

  10. craiggers says:

    @snoop-blog: As crazy as it sounds, Sprint has been the best for me. I’m on SERO..I’m convinced you get better service than their other customers.

  11. Bladefist says:

    im a huge fan of verizon, and ive used almost every major cell phone provider. While increasing the text message rate is kinda stupid, I can understand why. Text messaging is huge, people are using it all the time. On new years eve they were flooded. People are going to pay for this. People who text a lot, get texting plans.

    A smart person calculates how many texts they can send before its cheaper to get a plan. So while this is consumerist and I agree increasing is not very nice, I also believe you have to be intelligent and get the text messaging plan for 5 bux.

  12. heathenmonkey says:

    Is there anyway to cancel out of a verizon contract and then sign up again, and keep your old number?

    I just want a new phone but don’t feel like paying the retail price :(

  13. theblackdog says:

    *shrug* I’m already on one of their texting plans anyway because I regularly text with other Verizon users. Still, since my dad has been considering getting out of Verizon, he might be able to do it now without the fee. I’ll forward it to him.

  14. Walrii says:

    I believe that they should pay ME to use text messaging.

    My logic:
    -Making a phone call uses tons of bandwidth and air time (it’s all digital right?)
    -A text message takes up not even a few kilobytes and takes a few seconds to transmit.

    Hence, by using text messages I am actually helping reduce the load on their network.

    FYI: I had text messaging disabled on my Verizon phone because their prices are just so outrageous and if a friend needs to contact me, they can *gasp* TALK TO ME.

  15. Ailu says:

    Yay! I can escape from Verizon! Now if only I wanted too… I live in the mountains, and they are the only ones with decent reception up here.

    Bummer about the text messages increase. I get/send about 1 or 2 a week, so it’s not worth bumping up to a plan. But it makes me peeved when I have to pay for messages that I neither initiated nor can stop from coming to my phone. Aarg!

  16. noquarter says:

    Is there some way that I can use this to cancel my VZW contract without canceling my VZW service?

  17. viqas says:

    5 bucks for 250 sms’. Still a lot for someone who doesnt send any, but reccieve a lot because people cant get it through their tiny noggins not to text me.

    Why cant we be like other countries and not pay to recieve them. Bloody Hell Verizon, i would switch but you are the only company (well you and alltel) that provides service through out my whole house. I have really stopped recommending your services to all of my friends.

  18. SwatLax says:

    @Bladefist: Can you remind me what text msg plan Verizon has for $5? I thought they did, but I can only find the one for $10/line on their site.

    I normally have ~$5-6 in sms charges on both my and my wife’s phone, so a $5 plan would cost the same ammount and let us text with less guilt.

  19. DomZ says:

    @noquarter: No, by continuing to use the service you in effect “agree” to the new terms. You can’t get out of the contract without cancelling your line.

  20. DavidS722 says:

    There is something very wrong when it cost 40 cents to send/receive a text (plus tax) and 41 cents to send a First Class letter across the country. When not abused by corporations, advances in technology (by definition) should make communication faster and cheaper. Imagine if Samuel Morse tried to sell his telegraph as a device that can send messages for the SAME PRICE as the Pony Express.

    Think of it this way, SMS max message size is 160 characters. One character equals one byte. There are 1024 x 1024 or 1,048,576 bytes in 1MB. So there are 1,048,576 / 160 or 6553.6 SMS messages in 1MB of data. Therefore, at 20 cents per TXT, Verizon is effectively charging $1,310.72 PER MEGABYTE. Price gouging?

  21. Mr. Gunn says:

    They’re busily working themselves out of business. Text messaging has only just started to catch on like it has been overseas for years, and now they double the price, ensuring that no one will use it?

    They should be offering X messages free, to get it to catch on, because it saves time and bandwidth for both parties. Voice mail should be automatically sent as a text message.

    Then again, Verizon rips you off on their data packages, too.

  22. saltmine says:

    @Mr. Gunn: Uh yeah. They’re not going out of business any time soon, which is why they can make such a move. By jacking up the price of texting, all they’re ensuring is that more people will purchase text packages.

  23. amandajewel says:

    @Zgeg: I was thinking about trying this to get out of Verizon … I have been with them for so long that my bill has reached ridiculous proportions and it’s time to leave. Think I could get away with it?

  24. Yowzer, no wonder they can build an uber network, they charge their subscribers to death. I guess if you can afford their plans, it’s not a big deal. I’ll stick to AT&T for the time being.

  25. Daniels says:

    @heathenmonkey:

    Not sure about Verizon but Cingular (and Sprint, I think) will give you the “new customer” rebates on new phones every 18 months… at the cost of a new 2-year contract, of course.

  26. Fixxxer says:

    This is great! I’ve been looking for a way out and I think this might be it.

    If I go this route, is it going to be any more of a hassle porting my number than if I were to wait until my current contract expires (in May)?

  27. Rukasu says:

    @Sidecutter: No contracts, and text messaging on a scale depending on what phone card you buy.

  28. redpeppers20xx says:

    Did NOT work for me. I followed the instructions and no go.

    They said I don’t NEED to USE TM’s if I don’t WANT to so I’m SOL.

    I think they are catching on and tightening up. They asked me a ton of questions not covered in the instructions. Some I was prepared for some I wasn’t.

    I read them the box text and they said it doesn’t apply to this.

  29. Bladefist says:

    @SwatLax: From my bill:

    MSG Camera $5 12/27 – 01/26 5.00

    250 txt msg, pic msg, video msg, for 5$ a month.

    If its not on their site, call them. I didn’t order it, one month I spent more then 5$ on txt and they put it on my acct for me to save me money. At first I wasn’t real happy about them adding services to my account without asking me, but its turned out to save me money every month since then.

  30. bravo says:

    It’s troubling how often consumerist posts news like this, meaning it sucks how often the wireless carriers are modifying their terms of service to screw us over.

  31. Buran says:

    @Rukasu: Uh, we do use SIM cards on GSM. It’s part of the spec. However, all the card does is identify the account information to the phone and sets things up so the system knows which phone is tied to which number. It has nothing to do with prices.

  32. Buran says:

    @Rukasu: You do realize that prepaid GSM service does exist in the US… don’t you?

  33. Buran says:

    @Mr. Gunn: Does “no one” include millions of teenyboppers?

  34. Buran says:

    @viqas: I’m hard of hearing. Do I have a “tiny noggin” too? Uh huh. Right.

  35. mtaylor924 says:

    @DomZ: Not necessarily true. Sometimes you can get out of your contract but continue on month-to-month paying your current rates, just as you would when your contract term is up and you don’t sign a new one.

    This depends on the carrier, though. I’m not sure if Verizon will do this or make you cancel your line outright.

  36. Bladefist says:

    @Buran: You are just a bitter bitter man to come in here and go through the line and call everyone out. God your so smart. bleh.

  37. ATTSlave says:

    @Bladefist: I believe Buran is a woman. And I don’t think she cares that she comes off as a witch sometimes. But hey we’re all entitled to our opinions.

  38. frankbooth5 says:

    I saw this post and was just about to switch to any other provider than Verizon, but after looking at Cingular, T-Mobil and Sprint’s family plans in my area (NYC) , they’re all the same price for extremely similar packages. Is there some price fixing going on here?
    Last I checked, albeit a few years ago, it seemed like the cell phone companies had more varied service and price options. Is there really an advantage to switch anymore, other than to get a “better” phone?

  39. Haltingpoint says:

    I’d love to see more media coverage around the ACTUAL costs of sending a text message versus a voice call. It is absolutely asinine that they charge the rate they do. Even .10 is ridiculous.

    Their hope of course is to force people who don’t use txting much into the plans where they get guaranteed revenue from people who likely are not heavy txt users.

    Wish there was some way to go after them legally for this.

  40. Buran says:

    @ATTSlave: yes, we are, and pointing out that preferring to use text messaging doesn’t make you an idiot and that there are very valid reasons for it doesn’t make you a witch either. I guess some people just can’t respect those who point that out though.

  41. ShadowArmor says:

    To ZGEG: you want to be careful lying about moving. They may ask for proof, so you’d have to doctor up a utility bill. While they may not scrutinize every claim, bad stuff can happen if they prove you lied.

    As far as this pricing thing, its a lot like the “meals” at fast food places. If you compare the price of the meal to the price of the individual items, then its insane to buy the items separately. But the prices for the individual items are pretty arbitrary, and its the price of the meal that is the sweet spot between profit and the likelihood of people to buy it. This is no different — people THINK they are saving money by buying the plan.

    So at the new rate, 20c/message, 5 messages for a dollar, 25 messages for 5 dollars. After your 26th message, you’d have been better off buying the plan. Of course you are double-dipped if you send a txt to someone within your plan.

  42. DomZ says:

    @mtaylor924: I have never heard of such an experience. The company changes terms of your contract and by paying your next month’s bill you agree to the new terms. You can not say you do not agree with the new terms and continue to use the service. Even if you are month to month you agree to the text messaging changes when you continue to use the service. You’re just not bound by an ETF because that part of the agreement has expired.

    If you could cancel your contract but keep the service Verizon’s call center wait would be 4 hours.

  43. ATTSlave says:

    @Buran: I was just referring to your general demeanor. You don’t exactly come off as a ray of sunshine.

    Does anyone know if having one line that has a text package and two that don’t would prevent you from canceling sans etf?

  44. Zimorodok says:

    @DavidS722: “Verizon is effectively charging $1,310.72 PER MEGABYTE”

    But if you ask them, I’m sure they’ll still tell you it’s “point-oh-two-cents per kilobyte.” ;)

  45. Buran says:

    @ATTSlave: People who imply that texters are idiots don’t either … yaknow? Honestly, a lot of people here have strong opinions, negative attitudes, also. But I’m starting to feel like there are people who seem to take some perverse delight in following me around and posting derogatory comments about me in threads I post in…

  46. Buran says:

    @ATTSlave: (not singling you out here, mind). I also want to point out that discussion forums aren’t a real clue as to how people behave in real life, that it’s hard to tell actual tone on the internet, and that you can have a negative opinion about something without automatically being an asshole. If you want bouncy joyful rays of sunshine from everyone, I’m afraid you’re on the wrong site.

  47. vastrightwing says:

    Text messages cost .20/message because you pay it. Same reason MaBell charges you money not to be in the phone book: because they can.

  48. trujunglist says:

    New iPhone at Macworld and I’m so gone….

  49. RedCharred says:

    They seem to knock up the price $.05 every year. I just called and canceled my contract using this info. Here is the fun part; I HAD a messaging plan, however, the international receive rate goes up *regardless* of what messaging package you have. I used this to get the contract canceled anyway.

  50. mtaylor924 says:

    @DomZ: Maybe I didn’t clarify it properly – I’m not saying you can get out of the rate increase – just that you can switch to a month-to-month and continue using your phone number and their service. Then, if you want to leave 2 months later, you still can without paying the ETF.

    Typically they only give you 30 days or similar to get out of the contract/ETF due to a rate change. What I’m saying is that you could get out of the ETF and go month-to-month NOW, then actually switch service and port your number to another provider in a few months.

  51. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    This is great. Except, I’ve had good service and customer service from Verizon and I rarely text message. Oh yes. I live in Vermont. Our available cell phone carriers are Verizon and Verizon.

  52. morganlh85 says:

    Please explain to me why the cost of text messages, which were around 5 cents when I started using cell phones, has gone up 400 percent, while the cost of all the other technology in the UNIVERSE continues to go DOWN. ????

  53. Zimorodok says:

    @morganlh85: Because it’s no fun for telco execs to go swimming in a massive vault only HALF full of gold coins.

  54. brandyfelix says:

    I won’t be bullied into getting a text plan. This contract thing is perfect leverage. I called and threatened (politely and legally) to cancel my contract. Long story short, I talked them into giving me a free text bundle!

  55. Oshawapilot says:

    People have tried this reasoning to get out of cellular contracts here in Canada, but whenpushed the carriers simply relent and allow you to continue your service while being bound under the “old” contract instead of the new one, in turn keeping you locked in.

    I’m surprised Verizon doesn’t do the same thing. They’re better to eat the cost of the lost profits and keep you as a customer (like it other not) then simply give in and cancel the contract.

    Must be a legal difference between countries.

  56. Buran says:

    @heathenmonkey: Used phones are widely available on eBay.

  57. LizS says:

    See, now, this is insane to me. At my company, I manage our Verizon Wireless business accounts. We have about 100 of them, mostly the aircards, but 3 or 4 phones scattered on there. We’re not a very large business account at all.

    Want to know what they charge us for text messaging? $5 for 2500 messages a month for any lines we want them on.

    20 cents per text message is absolutely ridiculous. Who are these people kidding? $5 for 2500 messages seems like an awesome deal but until I can get that on my personal phone, I’m not getting a texting plan and will only use texting sparingly.

  58. goodkitty says:

    @DAVIDS722: This is why we need a free/open market economy, and proof that we no longer have one due to corporate consolidation of everything.

    I have Verizon, and I almost hate to give money to them. 70% of my phone’s features are disabled (pay-only), but dang if I never miss or drop a call, unlike Sprint (where I couldn’t even finish talking to a half-dozen CSR’s for the call drop problem, before the call dropped).

    I’ll have to visit a T-Mob store.

  59. missbheave (is not convinced) says:

    20 cents??? What a racket. The worst thing is that they charge you that much for incoming messages, so if you have friends with unlimited texting, they’ll just keep making money off you.

  60. Mr. Gunn says:

    Buran: That’s what I’m talking about. Hoping you can hold your customers hostage and hit them where it hurts most to make your profit is the record company way of doing business. Might work for a while, but eventually people will find a way to screw you back(like installing programs that send text messages as bulk data), and not feel a shred of remorse.

  61. sicknick says:

    Thank you for posting this. I’ve been trying to get out of my Verizon contract for a few months now. I’ve literally been a Verizon customer since they became a company, signing up two weeks before the national ads came out, way back when. They’ve since raised my rates, gotten more and more restrictive and the final straw was when I went in there asking for a new phone early and they told me I was SOL.

    So, back around Xmas, I went next door to where I work to an AT&T store. The sales people always come into our shop to get food and promise great deals, including paying off ETFs! The catch is, they’ll sell you a 200 dollar or higher phone (not the iPhone) with an immediate 175 discount to cover the ETF. I couldn’t afford this two weeks ago, but then read this article.

    Long story short, I went back to the store on my day off today, and told them I’d saved some cash up and wanted the same deal. They gave it to me, and now I’ve got a cheaper plan, with rollover minutes AND unlimited texting plus a brand new Blackberry Curve. I paid 25 dollars plus tax to walk out the door.

    Just got off the phone with Verizon after making sure the ported number went through. Did everything the post said, and they waived the ETF fee.

    Thanks Consumerist! Thumbs up all around. Between this and getting hooked up with AT&T Dry Loop, you guys are fantastic and are saving me around 40 bucks a month in charges I would have paid to Comcast and Verizon!

  62. Cynthiafagen says:

    I am a reporter for the New York Post and I would like to speak to anyone who has canceled their verizon account because they were not informed of the text messaging hike fees. thanks.
    I am on a tight deadline too.
    Cynthia

  63. jdjonsson says:

    Why can’t Sprint do something that breaks my agreement :( I’m stuck for another year.

  64. veverkap says:

    What are the chances you can keep the service but lose the contract? The wife and I like Verizon but I’d love to be able to be a “free man”.

  65. localau says:

    I have a verizon family plan with no text plan, but am still being
    charged the 0.15 cent rate per message. I’ve been waiting for the
    increase in the bill to get out of the contract with them, but nothing
    has changed yet. Does anyone know if the change is just being rolled
    out gradually or something?

  66. xthechaostheoryx says:

    Just call and tell them you see it on your bill regardless of whether you do or not and follow the “script” on the slickdeals page, that’s what I did and didn’t have an issue at all.