Get Out Of AT&T Without ETF Thanks To Text Message Rate Increase

AT&T is raising the rates for sending text and picture/video messages to 20 and 30 cents, respectively, giving customers a chance to break free of their contract without early termination fee if they use the now-classic “materially adverse changes to contract” argument. Inside, how to deploy that tactic, as well as the text of the rate change notice.

1. You must specifically cite the text message rate change being a material adverse change of contract as the reason for cancellation.
2. You must not pay your bill that reflects the new rates until AFTER requesting cancellation
3. You must refuse any offer of reduced text rates or free text messages to your plan.
4. 4If the rep is poorly trained and wants to hot-potato you to a supervisor rather than transfer you to account services, you must insist that you want to cancel service despite any potential fees so the rep gets you to the group that actually knows the correct procedures.
5. Remain firm, polite, and insistent. You will have to go several rounds with them as they try to wear down your resolve and throw all sorts of tricks at you.

Negotiating out of your cellphone contract can be daunting. Here’s some other people’s success stories to help get you psyched:

  • Man Escapes Verizon Contract Based On Text Message Rate Raises
  • I Escaped Sprint Without Early Termination Fee And Lived To Tell The Tale
  • T-Mobile Confirms You Can Cancel Without Fee Over Texting Price Increase
  • Script For Escaping Cingular Contracts Without Fee, Based On New Arbitration Clause
  • Cingular Arbitration Escape Script Addendum
  • Verizon: 34 Txt Msgs= Material Adverse Effect
  • Another Customer Escapes Verizon Contract For Free
  • AT&T rate change notice:

    Messaging Pay Per Use Rate Change Notification
    Effective 3/30/08, AT&T will charge 20¢ for text/instant messages & 30¢ for picture/video messages sent or received on a pay-per-use basis. If you already subscribe to a Messaging Package or Media Bundle, there is no change to your rate. By purchasing a Messaging Package, you can send and receive messages for as little as a 1¢ per message. Sign up and save at att.com/getmedia.

    AT&T will increase the price on the Messaging (Text/IM & Picture/Video) Pay Per Use (PPU) features for new and existing customers on March 30, 2008. While the price increase impacts the Pay Per Use customers who tend to be light messaging users, our customers who have purchased messaging packages or MEdia Bundles will not be impacted. All of our customers will continue to be provided our best-in-class products, services, and support. Customers will be notified in advance of the price increase.

    Critical Information:
    The following pricing change will be effective in the billing systems on March 30, 2008:

    Text/Instant Messaging PPU Price:
    Picture/Video Messaging PPU Price:

    Current price: $0.15/message
    New price: $0.20/message

    Current price: $0.25/message
    New price: $0.30/message

    Messaging PPU prices will increase on March 30, 2008. Any message sent or received on or after March 30, 2008 will be charged $.20 for text/instant messages and $.30 for picture/video messages.

    Customer Notification:
    Existing customers will be notified via a bill message beginning with bill cycles closing on January 16.

    Note: Customers will receive invoices beginning the week of January 21.

    Relevant contract text:

    IF WE INCREASE THE PRICE OF ANY OF THE SERVICES TO WHICH YOU SUBSCRIBE, BEYOND THE LIMITS SET FORTH IN YOUR RATE PLAN BROCHURE, OR IF WE MATERIALLY DECREASE THE GEOGRAPHICAL AREA IN WHICH YOUR AIRTIME RATE APPLIES (OTHER THAN A TEMPORARY DECREASE FOR REPAIRS OR MAINTENANCE), WE WILL DISCLOSE THE CHANGE AT LEAST ONE BILLING CYCLE IN ADVANCE (EITHER THROUGH A NOTICE WITH YOUR BILL, A TEXT MESSAGE TO YOUR EQUIPMENT, OR OTHERWISE) AND YOU MAY TERMINATE THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PAYING AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE OR RETURNING OR PAYING FOR ANY PROMOTIONAL ITEMS, PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO US WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE.

    (Photo: bryanbope)

    Comments

    Edit Your Comment

    1. Anks329 says:

      But this will only work if you don’t have a messaging plan and pay per use. If you’ve got one of the Media plans, with x number of texts per month this change doesn’t effect you, and there is no change in your contract.

    2. love that pic!!! teh kitteh is nommin’!!

    3. weave says:

      I have an iphone contract with 200 included messages and 15 cents over and above that, which I do occasionally. Does that mean my overages are at 20 cents now or will continue at 15 cents?

      Basically, just because you have a text plan doesn’t mean you never go over it and get hit with the changed frees I’m guessing. If so, it should still apply.

      (Sigh, guess I need to go to 1000 a month plan, which I’m sure is their intent. It’s just way too easy to text on the jesus phone…)

    4. xoxerica says:

      But what if you go over your plan? Than you’re still being charged more than before ie a contract change. I would love to get out of my AT&T so can someone please clarify if you can get out if you have a texting plan already?

    5. MeOhMy says:

      20 cents?! Shouldn’t the price of text messaging be going DOWN?!

    6. Kenneth says:

      uh ANKS329, aren’t you subject to the rate once you use all (I don’t know who has this problem) your alloted txt msgs each month??

    7. ExtraCelestial says:

      @weave: @anks329:
      If you go over the alloted amount you are charged the new price per text and are eligible to cite a change in contract terms and be etf free.

    8. missbheave (is not convinced) says:

      @pepe the king prawn: I have also really been loving the kittehs in all of today’s pictures.

    9. weave says:

      @TinkishDelight: Thanks, but I can’t walk away from the jesus phone. Will have to buy a bucket plan. Sigh….

      Mission accomplished AT&T and Steve.

    10. Anks329 says:

      @TinkishDelight: That’a a good point, I didn’t think of that.

      I guess now i need to decide if I want to stay with AT&T and be able to use unlocked phones, or move to Sprint with their locked phones…

    11. javi0084 says:

      What will happen if I’m to cancel my contract w/o fees, do they just shut down the service that same day or do I go month-to-month?

    12. mvoltin says:

      Can anybody advise how to port a number when cancelling without an ETFs? Should I initiate a number porting prior to calling AT&T? I know that usually one should just port a number that will automaticall close the previous account. Thank you.

    13. forever_knight says:

      AT&T is continuing their money grab… all abandon ship!

    14. ExtraCelestial says:

      @weave:
      haha same here. I got so excited when I saw the headline but then quickly remembered my touchscreenyness. Isn’t Steve said to be fighting with AT&T? Maybe he’ll spare us all and “accidently” create a loophole to move to other networks.

    15. gopher1978 says:

      Can anyone tell me what happens if I have 4 phones on my contract, one that has bundling, and 3 that have pay for use. Am I screwed? Also, if you get out of the contract, can you stay with at&t on a monthly basis?

    16. ExtraCelestial says:

      @mvoltin:
      You can always have the number ported later. I’d say open a new account first with whatever number they give you and have the number ported after you talk to ATT and cancel. This worked for my TMobile to ATT switch. I feel like if you do it the other way around we’ll be reading about your ATT runaround in a Consumerist post next month.

    17. Chairman-Meow says:

      ETF Kitteh does no like ur rate changez! NOM! NOM! NOM!

      Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

    18. econobiker says:

      @Front_Towards_Enemy: Yeah, that cat cracked me up…

    19. riverstyxxx says:

      EATIN UR PHONZ, RAISIN UR BILLZ!!

    20. cumulus says:

      Is there a way to use this to get out of contract with AT&T but keep the service?

    21. Mr. Gunn says:

      They’re moving to tiered data plans and unbundling text and data, so this is probably related to that, you know how the cable companies say that unbundled channels would be more expensive.

    22. jeff303 says:

      @Troy F.: Most expensive TCP packet EVER

    23. Zagroseckt says:

      Come on T-Moble CHANGE SOMTHING!

    24. bionic86 says:

      Tried it, when I read the clause to her, she insisted to know which page of my contract this was on. Make you know this so you may kindly point this out to them. I’m searching for it as we speak.

    25. picshereplz says:

      I currently have a messaging package, but could I unsubscribe from it and then do this?

    26. enm4r says:

      I love how everyone wants to get out of their contract…Verizon to go to Tmobile or ATT, in the ATT thread to go to Tmobile, Tmobile to go to ATT…it never ends.

    27. FMulder says:

      @cumulus: That’s exactly what I want to know

    28. JMH says:
    29. Trai_Dep says:

      Kitties! Awesome picture, guys! Props!!

    30. arkk says:

      It doesn’t even mention material adversity in the contract text. It just mentions that if it changes to something other than what your plan says, you’re allowed to jump ship. That’s such bullshit.

    31. DreamWalker81 says:

      [www.wireless.att.com]

      should be the same thing i would think

    32. cbear says:

      @weave:
      Going over your messages when you’re on a messaging plan doesn’t charge you the ppu rate, it charges you the overage rate, which would be either $0.05 or $0.10 depending on your package.

    33. Confusatron says:

      @TinkishDelight:

      Sounds like a good item to get a detailed consumerist writeup – how to jump ship AND keep your existing phone number!

      I’m trying to do an AT&T -> Verizon one myself (related to poor coverage at my house), but am baffled by how to keep the number I’ve had the past 6 years or so…

    34. digitalhen says:

      has anyone been successful yet?

    35. akilshohen says:

      what if I started a new account and then cancelled because of this? I just want a new phone

    36. randomd00d says:

      Regarding… PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO US WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE.

      Does this mean within 30 days of you receiving the notice that it will go up 3/30/08, OR within 30 days of your first bill after 3/30/08?

      In other words, can you cancel it now, or do you have to wait until 3/30. And, if you DO wait until March, are you within the grace period where you can theoretically get out?

      Also, so far this is a nice theory, but NOBODY has actually reported being successful…

    37. DreamWalker81 says:

      i tried and failed with the first rep but i am going to call back and see what hapens

    38. megaradjenni says:

      I recently cancelled my messaging rate plan, so if it’s only been a few days since this change does anyone know if I’m eligable to cancel my contract? I would think since now the rate hike applies to me I could get out scott-free. I would also like to know what page on the contract that info is on, just to be prepared. I’m going to try tonight and tomorrow night and keep checking back to see if anyone was successful.

    39. DreamWalker81 says:

      well 3 diff CSRs and 2 diff supervisor’s have yielded me with the same result. Text messages are not something i “subscribe” to they are a free offered service that is pay per use. Oddly enough I can unsubscribe to them weird huh?

    40. lukaspanic says:

      I just called them to cancel and they told me that because text messaging is an optional service i dont have to use it and therefore the rate change does not affect me. they will charge me $175 plus tax per line to cancel. Is that correct? I have no text or video messaging package, i pay per use.

    41. earlwatusi says:

      Here is what I am doing:

      1. SENDING A LETTER OF CANCELLATION IMMEDIATELY.

      2. CCing my state corporation commission and all three credit reporting agencies.

      3. Porting my lines over to my new carrier BEFORE they get the letter.

      4. Pay them what I owe them for service I have used.

      5. When they call me, I will tell them ONCE to please sue me for the early termination fee, and also notify them on the same call that we no longer have a business relationship, and they will be in violation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 if they EVER call again. And I will throw their letters and bills in the trash without even opening them up.

    42. VarianKlien says:

      @earlwatusi:
      Get Out Of AT&T Without ETF Thanks To Text Message Rate Increase You wrote :

      * Here is what I am doing:

      1. SENDING A LETTER OF CANCELLATION IMMEDIATELY.

      2. CCing my state corporation commission and all three credit reporting
      agencies.

      3. Porting my lines over to my new carrier BEFORE they get the letter.

      4. Pay them what I owe them for service I have used.

      5. When they call me, I will tell them ONCE to please sue me for the early
      termination fee, and also notify them on the same call that we no longer
      have a business relationship, and they will be in violation of the
      Telecommunications Act of 1996 if they EVER call again. And I will throw
      their letters and bills in the trash without even opening them up.

      Can you tell me if this worked?

      I just found this article today, so I may be too late. I have a text plan,
      but couldn’t I just call and cancel it and then use this argument? Also,
      there are 5 lines on my plan, does every person have to call in, or since I
      am the main line, can I do it for everyone?

      Thanks!

      Rich

    43. ogoldberg says:

      So…now it’s October 2008 and I really want to switch to T-mobile to get an Android phone. This whole time I have had a messaging bundle, and was hoping I could still get out using this same tactic by dropping the bundle and saying that only now has the contract change affected me.

      Have I just completely missed the boat on this, or is it still possible?