Sprint Changes Contract, Still Won't Let Me Out

Mobile phone companies have to let you out of your contract if they make a materially adverse charge to your contract. That is, if they raise a fee, impose a charge, or change a rule that applies to the contract you are under right now, they have to let you out of your contract without an early termination fee. (Changing the contracts for new customers going forward doesn’t count.) If you want out, this is traditionally your chance, even if companies try to put up a fight.. Unless you’re reader Mark, a Sprint customer, who Sprint won’t set free. But Mark is no ordinary, naive Sprint customer. He not only reads Consumerist, but he worked for Sprint just a few short years ago. He knows how this is supposed to work.

He writes:

Effective September 9th, Sprint decided to change their contract with me by upping the Administration Fee from .99 to $1.50. They also changed the arbitration clause in the contract to mandate that the company JAMS be used. Both of these are materially adverse changes to my contract with them. …[T[he contract I have with Sprint states:

[Our Right To Change The Agreement & Your Related Rights
We may change any part of the Agreement at any time, including, but not limited to, rates, charges, how we calculate charges, discounts, coverage, technologies used to provide services, or your terms of Service. We will provide you notice of material changes–and we may provide you notice of non-material changes–in a manner consistent with this Agreement (see “Providing Notice To Each Other Under The Agreement” section). If a change we make to the Agreement is material and has a material adverse effect on Services under your Term Commitment, you may terminate each line of Service materially affected without incurring an Early Termination Fee only if you: (a) call us within 30 days after the effective date of the change; and (b) specifically advise us that you wish to cancel Services because of a material change to the Agreement that we have made. If you do not cancel Service within 30 days of the change, an Early Termination Fee will apply if you terminate Services before the end of any applicable Term Commitment.]

I called Sprint two days after the changes took affect on September 11th, 2011 and let them know that I would like to cancel my services or be put on a month to month contract. I let their account services department know about both the changes in the contract.I was told by the Sprint employee that they have the right to change anything in the contract and that I would not be let out of my contract. If I were to cancel I would be liable for all Early Termination Fees associated with all my lines of service.

I was also told that they could change the Administration Fee to $10 a line and that I would still be liable to pay it. I have 9 lines a service with Sprint between two accounts so effectively they could raise my bill $90 a month and I could do nothing about it.

They told me they can change any fee to any amount at any time. I have some business law background in my college education and I know this is not right. I know that Sprint is bullying me and many other people by not letting us out of our contracts by forcing these changes upon us.

I was very polite to the Sprint employee because I was once Sprint employee in 2008 and 2009 so I also understand how Sprint let people out of their contracts back then for raising the Administration Fee and Regulatory Fees in those years.

I even offered to switch to a plan that was $110 a month more for the exact same thing we are paying for now in order to receive new phones on my lines. I offered to sign new 2 year agreements on all my lines in order to receive new 2-year customer pricing and signing up under the new terms and conditions. This offer was declined.

Remember, Mark: Sprint loves you. They’re just very, very clingy.

Sprint’s Consumerist Hotline (703-433-4401 866-561-0035) is reportedly still up and running. Maybe someone there understands how phone contracts actually work.