Customers from Washington, Hawaii, Minnesota and North Carolina have teamed up to file a lawsuit against Clearwire for misrepresenting the quality of its hit-or-miss wireless network, and then charging ETFs for account cancellations even when there’s no service as promised. If they win, Clearwire will be banned “from enforcing the Early Termination Fees and from further false advertising.”
Want to break your Sprint cellphone contract without paying an early termination fee? On January 1, 2009, Sprint will increase the Administrative fee to $.99 per line. Because this is what is known as a “materially adverse change of contract,” and because of the basic contractual principle that you can’t change someone’s contract without their explicit permission (not the tacit, “opt-out” kind), you can use it to argue that the fee renders your contract void and you can end service without a termination fee. You do have to be willing to argue without giving up with a number of different Sprint employees first, like Matt did…
More details have emerged about Sprint’s new decreasing-monthly ETF, thanks to a page from the Sprint customer service manual that fell into NeoWin’s hands. Basically the ETF on a 2-year contract is $200 after the first 30 days and until month 20, then it starts decreasing by $10 at month 19, until it gets to month 5 where it holds at $50. However, they say it’s their policy to waive it if there’s less than 30 days left. Once again, the decreasing-ETF will only apply to new contracts signed after November 2, 2008. Full scan of the internal document, inside…
Sprint is expected to soon start making the early termination fee (ETF) decline every month, possibly as early as November 2nd. Previously, whether you canceled service 1 day into or one day before the end of your service contract, you would get a $200 fee. That fee is supposed to reimburse the company for the cost of providing you a cellphone at reduced cost. The change is expected to be only good for new subscribers and is not retroactive, so, sorry Charlie if you were hoping to go get an iPhone.
If the website Boy Genius Report is correct, next week Verizon Wireless will start offering contract-free, month-to-month service. Pretty much everyone will be eligible for it, but of course you’ll have to pay full price for a phone or bring your own, there’ll be an activation fee that can’t be waived, and if you take advantage of any special offers that require a contract, you’ll have to switch over to a contract agreement. It’s supposed to start on September 21st.
If arguing for completely getting out of your AT&T early-termination-fee isn’t your thing, you can try doing what Felix did and get 75% off it.
Hate long-term cellphone contracts? Starting August 6th, Tmobile will be the first national carrier to offer month-to-month plans, straight up.
A California judge has issued a tentative ruling against Sprint regarding early termination fees. Although Sprint has two weeks to respond before the judge issues a final ruling, if the ruling stands then Sprint will have to pay $73 million in refunds to former customers. That Verizon settlement for $21 million earlier this month must be looking pretty sweet to Sprint’s investors right about now.
Tmobile is trying to impose certain new restrictions on people trying to cancel their contract without early termination fee (ETF) over the recent text message rate increase. Based on an email between a reader and Tmobile’s executive customer service team, to qualify for ETF-free cancellation a customer:
Tmobile just announced that they will let early termination fees decline over the course of a contract. Previously, you had to pay the full monty whether canceled on the first day, or last day, of your contract. This chart shows you how the new fee breaks down over time:
The FCC held hearings today to discuss early termination fees (ETF) for wireless carriers, the ~$175 charged if a customer exits contract before the contract is up. FCC Chairman Kevin “Golden Child” Martin’s proposals largely mirrored those offered by the carriers themselves last month. Here’s what he said today:
Some people think the BBB doesn’t work. They do, but only if the company cares about keeping a clean record. See when you look up a company in the BBB database it shows you how many complaints have been filed against the company, how many were answered, how many did the consumer report as being satisfactorily resolved, etc. So if you have a valid complaint, file it with the BBB, and the company cares about its BBB record, you have a decent chance of getting a solution. You might not believe it, but it turns out Sprint is one of those companies. Here’s Kevin’s story of how the BBB got his erroneous text message charges refunded and let him leave contract early without early termination fee…
Retentions representatives are the cellphone company’s last line of defense between you and freedom. One brave retentions representative has come forward to teach us how to craft a direct, earnest request that will lead retention reps to do your bidding. Rivaled in effectiveness only by executive customer support, retentions reps are empowered to strike down nuisance fees and bargain liberally, all to keep you as a customer. If you were ever tempted to threaten your cellphone company with cancellation, this one is a must read.
In a letter to Sprint, AT&T Mobility, and T-Mobile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has asked the companies whether or not they’re going to start pro-rating their Early Termination Fee policies as promised, reports RCR Wireless. “Sens. Klobuchar and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) are co-sponsors of a sweeping wireless consumer protection bill” that carriers are against. In her letter, Klobuchar writes, “It is time for the wireless companies to adhere to the assurances they made to the American consumer and start pro-rating these fees.” In response, Sprint said by the end of Q2 2008, T-Mobile said the first half of 2008, and AT&T Mobility said nothing at all. (Verizon already pro-rates their ETF.)
Somehow, an arbitrator has approved a massive $1 billion class action lawsuit against Verizon over their early termination fees. In letting the lawsuit proceed, the arbitrator wrote, “…millions of class members are entitled to adjudication of the central common questions of fact or law in this arbitration related to whether the $175 early termination fee imposed by respondents Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless … is based upon an unenforceable liquidated damage clause.” With cellphone companies switching to prorated ETFs and the rise in ETF-related lawsuits around the country, one wonders if we won’t see the death of ETFs in the next few years. By that time, cellphone companies will have figured out a new technique to keep people from leaving their contracts.
Mark writes in,
My son recently was deployed to Iraq. His cell phone carrier is Alltel. Prior to leaving for Irag, he cancelled his cell phone coverage before the completion of his 2 year contract commitment. As his father, I telephoned Alltell, explained the situation and asked Alltel to have the $200 early termination fee waived. Alltel explained they only waive the $200 early termination fee if the party is DECEASED.
Seriously, that’s just messed up.