6 Ways To Cancel Any Cellphone So You Can Get An iPhone

If you want to get an iPhone but you’re stuck in a contract, here’s six ways to escape your service plan without paying a $175 early termination fee:

1. Sell your cellphone contract.

2. Complain that service isn’t up to par, file complaints with PUC, FTC, BBB, AG and cc them to the company.

3. Wait for the company to change its rates (like text-messaging), then call to cancel based on the material change of contract. These are usually for the default rates and you won’t be able to cancel if you have a package that takes care of it… hint: so get rid of the package and call back…. Here’s some recent rate changes and cancellation success stories:
US Cellular

4. Move to an area outside the plan’s coverage area.

5. Join the armed forces – you’ll need to fax in a copy of your orders.

6. Die – someone will need to fax in your death certificate on your behalf. You’ll be dead, but at least you’re in heaven. iPhone heaven.

For more tips and war stories, check out our cellphones/cancellations tag.


Edit Your Comment

  1. NoNamesLeft says:


    When are we going to start seeing posts about 6 ways the iPhone is overrated?

  2. Thrust says:

    @NoNamesLeft: Tomorrow?

    I have Virgin Mobile, and if I want to cancel I can anytime because I wasn’t retarded enough to sign a contract. Thing is, I probably won’t ever cancel because Virgin rocks, their service rocks, their phones are great, and their ONLY failing mark is that you can only get ringtones from their server.

  3. Ray Wert Jr says:

    There Consumerist goes again teaching us how to be unresponsible consumers. Telling us to kill ourselves to get an over rated phone.

    Maybe you should rename it to “Kevorkianist”?

  4. Jasmo says:

    Perhaps if enough people do #2, above, and file bogus complaints, all those organizations will stop listening to legit complaints because too many people are gaming the system to satisfy their petty little ineeds.

  5. GirlGoneRiled says:

    Can someone please explain why, here of all places, consumerism for the sake of consumerism is being encouraged? Cell phones are more and more like SUVs and minivans every day in that the number of people who *think* they need the sexiest new thing with all the latest alleged features are waaaaay fewer than those who *actually* need the sexiest new thing with all the latest alleged features. “Want” vs. “Need”, my friends, “Want” vs. “Need”.

    We need to carry a screen with us at all times? Max Headroom, call your office.

  6. castlecraver says:

    Completely agreed. In no way is wantonly giving in to your rabid urge to be the first to own one of these unproven, overpriced, not-really-all-that-great anyway phones responsible consumerism.

  7. Avolition says:

    are you kidding me? number one is the only thing that sounds worthy. i don’t want to become a nihilist and try to convert people on the street, so please quit telling people how to cheat their way out of things, especially if it is an item of luxury.

  8. Avolition says:

    @Collaboratory: *especially if it is for an item of luxury*

  9. The Bigger Unit says:

    Agreed…this is a crazy post to have on a “consumerist” website. And if you were to follow the tips and MOVE or JOIN THE ARMY to get an iPhone, you are a complete putz.

    Move or join the military to get an iPhone. Yeah. Practical.

  10. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    How about waiting a year? Apple should be releasing a touchscreen (non-phone) ipod by then. And I’m sure it will be reasonably priced.

    Honestly, I don’t understand the need to have a phone and entertainment device integrated into one. I mean, how else can I watch a movie, and listen to music, and talk on my cell phone, and drink my Starbucks coffee, all at the same time while I drive my SUV 100 MPH on the freeway? Hmmmm??


  11. mycroft2000 says:

    Well, if dying’s an option, I certainly think that cancelling your credit card (if that’s your payment method) and ignoring the collection agency should be!

    And excellent senses of humour, above posters!

  12. beyond says:

    Unlocked barebones GSM phone: $20
    Activation fee to swap my own sim card: $0
    Seeing 50 people camped outside a store to spend $600 on a phone plus $1,600 in service charges over 2 years: Priceless

    Sometimes you need to have a status symbol to feel like you’re worth something, for everyone else there’s ordinary phones.

  13. jeff303 says:

    Methinks some people here need to recalibrate their sarcasm detectors.

  14. blowjustinup says:

    I can’t wait until someone actually goes through with #6 and kills themself. That will be a hell of a law suit.

  15. Perhaps Consumerist should stress to readers that before anyone decides to move, join the arm forces, or die, the Apple iPhone is a generation I product, thus there will be bugs to be worked out. Especially considering Apple’s track record with iPod’s screen cracking & flaming notebook batteries, anyone with half of a brain cell should wait at least six months or so.

    Also regardless how the marketing monkeys spin it, the Apple iPhone’s primary purpose is a mobile phone, if the calls aren’t clear, then you have just bought yourself an overpriced iPod with no thumbwheel.


  16. Bart Lee says:

    Sorry guys, it may not be the phone YOU want, but I’ve been waiting for someone to make a phone like the iPhone for years. I’ve held off on buying a Treo or Blackberry, even though I could really use a lot of the mobile data features, because I wasn’t happy with the lame interfaces. I’ll be spending a couple hundred dollars more for something that will be infinitely more enjoyable to use. Calling it poor consumerism merely because it costs a lot is too simplistic. Had I bought a Treo and tossed it because I wasn’t happy with it would have been poor consumerism. Putting up with a crappy free clamshell for years until someone makes the phone I want = good consumerism.

  17. Thrust says:

    Am I the only person left in the world who still farking HATES Apple and all the crap they sell? Anyone dumb enough to want the iPhone should really follow options 5 or 6.

    F**K Mac/Apple Computers, they have some good points but I can’t stand to use them. And give me a bloody right mouse button for Cthulhu’s sake! This one button crap is as dated as Calicovision.

    F**K iPod. I bought a real nice RCA player with an SD reader built in so I can expand the damn thing to whatever size cameracards are being made at (Currently have 2GB, and there’s bigger alread7), and can swap em out as I wish.

    F**K Quicktime. DivX for quality or MPegs for space saving.

    More than anything, f**k the iPhone. My Cellphone is a Samsung. It can text, take pictures, has music ringtones, etc, and I could care LESS about that crap. It does what phones seem to be doing less and less these days, it makes PHONE Calls. The only extra on the thing that mattered to me was the bluetooth so I could drive safely while on the phone.

  18. Thrust says:

    @Bart Lee: My post wasnt directed at you FYI, yer post wasn’t even up before I started ranting, but DUDE! Get a blackberry and live happy. Don’t hold out for another trendwhore style electronic gadget when there are better working options that cost less.

  19. Jory says:

    Um, do you people get “jokes” ? Good lord, get out of the house!

  20. Hawk07 says:

    I elect to go the heaven route because in heaven, I can actually get a mobile that does this, make phone calls!

  21. bnosach says:

    Not to mention the biggest glitch: inability to drag-and-drop music/videos on Apple devices.

  22. markwm says:

    @Bart Lee: Apparently you haven’t seen the offerings from HTC and other vendors, then. Same touchscreen goodness, plus actual buttons, etc. I love my HTC Kaiser.

  23. obeyz says:

    it was very easy to get out of my 2 year contract with T-Mobile.

    1. Call and tell them you have “Loved” their service and you have been a loyal customer for years (if you havent then don’t say that). Tell them that you are moving to an area where they do not cover i.e. (YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK) say you are working out there as a park ranger or some type position there. They will say all they need is a bill or statement of some sort that shows you receive mail at the address you are stating you are moving to.

    2.Contact your bank and sign up for online bank statements with your bank.

    3. Change your mailing address with your bank to Yosemite National Park’s P.O box (google it) and once your bank statement is ready for viewing print it out and fax the proof to t-mobile!

    nothing will ever get sent to yosemite since you have signed up for online bank statements and 9/10 times your bank will not ask for proof that you are moving. Trust me this worked for me and they waived the ETF and all i had to pay for is my last bill. Now i am with AT&T and i’m counting down the days for the iphone to be released!!!!

  24. Lemment says:

    You Americans are bloodly lucky…up North in Canada where I live, it would cost me $400 CDN to cancel my service. Looks like i’m going to have to wait for the iPhone Nano to come out, eh?
    And BTW, I wouldn’t suggest to camp out in front of the Apple store to buy the iPhone as seeing that Apple is notorious for updating their products a few months after their initial release. Remember Color iPod, iPod Nano (how they came out with the 1GB 4 months later), 2G Shuffle (the colors other than silver), and most likely, the iPhone. Personally, I am going to wait for all the bugs to work out and all the iPhone apps to come out before dropping my cash on one of these.

    And like all things Apple, they are more overpriced than other, more feature-packed offerings and are a status symbol.

  25. hoo_foot says:

    I thought this blog was against consumerism?

  26. mcraines says:

    this article has some more tips:


  27. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    I was in the Army and have had no problems cancelling a cell phone contract due to military obligations. This last time i sent them in, I cancelled my contract cause AT&T sucks now, and hopped on the Verizon bandwagon with the same family plan, although I have a text messaging plan, more minutes, and its 10 bucks cheaper.! Oh yeah, and it works anywhere.

  28. maevro says:

    I very seldom buy a phone from Cingular/AT&T. I currently have a Treo 750 which I got from them and I have a HTC Trinity that I bought online. I don’t want an iPhone – it is far from revolutionary. I will stick with WM5 & WM6 so I can have UMTS, HSDPA & continue to use 3rd party applications.

  29. Trackback says:

    Are you ready to buy the i, but locked into a contract at your current provider? The Consumerist has the skinny on the current methods by which you can cancel your plan without incurring a fat termination fee.

  30. JRuiz47 says:

    Did it strike everybody whining and moaning that this post just might be used by people who’d like to get out of their contracts for reasons other than an iPhone?

    So there’s a post organizing all the cell phone companies and the respective posts about ways to get out of your contract… holy crap, it’s what this site’s always done!

  31. soupy37 says:

    I hate to burst your bubbles, but most of those really don’t work, unless you get the right person on the line or in the store. Y’know, the PUC and BBB hold no sway over anything (I love people who spew “I’ll call the BBB” at me, personally) and the PUC? Since when are cell phones public utilities?

    Sure, you can file complaints with the AG and the FTC, but you agreed to your contract. Last time I checked, “moving to an area with no coverage” is not considered a valid reason to get out of that contract. Claiming changes to pay-per-use text messaging rates could have an adverse effect is just absurd, and most carriers won’t let you cancel a contract for armed forces deployment, but will suspend service for the length of the deployment.

    In other words, stop trying to lead your readers into scamming and defrauding the company with which they chose to do business. Especially over an overhyped hunk technology that hasn’t even been properly reviewed yet. Being “in the trenches” every single day with a cellular company, here’s a news flash: Most “problems” with a company are user-created, and if not, they are easily solved with a rational discussion with a local store manager, if sales/service staff is unable to assist you.

    I for one am tired of all the “waaah, my cellular provider sucks” nonsense – cancel your contracts with verizon and T-Mobile for your silly gadget, and when you realize that you left a perfectly good provider for a company like AT&T, well. I just can’t wait to see all the whining and crying here in 6 months, that’s all.

  32. swalve says:

    How about living up to the contract you agreed to? Or don’t take the subsidized phone and pay full price.

  33. tigerbeat says:

    How about retaining your customers through good service & prices rather than because they can’t get out of a contract?

    It probably is good that I have another year on my contract with Sprint. There will be a better iPhone out by then.

    But I should be able to make that choice, not have Sprint force me to wait.

  34. CSR says:

    nonamesleft–Well, here’s five.
    1)Can’t do any over the air downloads. You have to connect to a PC to download music.
    2)No instant messaging.
    3)No picture messaging.
    4)No video messaging.
    5)The touch screen…plenty of people type without looking at the keyboard. How are you going to do that with an iphone?

  35. XianZhuXuande says:

    @Thrust: ‘fraid your rant is a ball of hate and emotion backed by very little real-world concern. Apple products come out on top because they are made to a higher quality standard than most any other product out there — and because they are easier to use than most any other product out there. iPod, for example, was not the first HDD-based music player. It entered a market that could barely be described as stagnant, was prematurely called a failure by analyst after analyst, but guess what? It revolutionized the music industry.

    If you are basing your buying decisions on device popularity I would venture to suggest your point of view is way out of line. I don’t care what kids think is cool. I will buy the product that best fits my needs and is most likely to withstand the test of time. Coming from a company well known for top-tier customer service the decision only becomes that much more a no-brainer.

    So if you are going to rant about something, at least put some substance behind it?

    That said, I understand the concern some people have with first generation products of this nature. Heck, I usually hold off myself when buying high-tech products such as the iPhone. I won’t be holding off this time, though. I have been waiting a very long time for something like this and never would have dreamed to see something so elegantly implemented. I will address any potential problems with Apple and imagine they will be eager to back this new product with customer service. Also keep in mind how many years have gone into development and testing. Apple has really worked hard to make sure this product is every bit as good as it looks.

  36. Thrust says:

    @JRuiz47: Yes and No, but WHY are so many people being suckered into contracts. Pay monthly. Yes it’s a little more to buy the phone/cablemodem/wife instead of getting one free for signing a contract, but then you’re STUCK with that phone/cablemodem/wife and its damn company/company/family.

    Most common thing I see with contract phone plans is the phone gets broken, and the sucker is stuck with three options… A: buy new phone (which will now be at full price), OR have no phone and B: pay the regular plan charge of est.$40 a month for the remainder of the contract, or C: pay $25 a month for two years for canceling the contract.

    @XianZhuXuande: The iPod’s popularity has a LOT to do with the fact that it could be accessorized, colored to your preference, and that it looked simple to use to the average stump. Same idea they used on the iMac. It looked “cute”, and you could pick the color. The people who bought them were most concerned about the color, not the capabilities. People (especially the ones who like to be trendy or “cool”) can always be suckered into something inferior because of its looks.

  37. blowjustinup says:


    ..Apple mice have had right click buttons for quite a while now..

    Seems like you’re pretty behind on your tech.

    Phones like this OBVIOUSLY aren’t aimed toward people like you. Why complain about something someone else wants? Why do you care if someone gets an iphone? Why do you care what kind of computer someone uses? And how on earth are you going to compare an mp3 player that uses SD cards to one that has a 30 or 80 gig hard drive? Some people DO have that much music. Just because you don’t need that much space, or need to have the internet on your phone, or email, or anything else an iphone can do, doesn’t mean that it’s not the biggest convenience in the world for someone else.

    And no, I don’t want an iphone. I just bought a Treo 700wx, but I still support anyone’s decision to buy whatever phone that they want. It’s their money, their decision, leave it alone.

  38. jsimondsmalamud says:

    i don’t wanna die! or join the army! hey, can i forge a death certificate? damn, im never gonna get an iphone. anyways, when leopard comes out in “october,” which will probably be december of 09, the iphone will probably come free with a pack of toilet paper. no, i’m an apple fan, but they’ve been disappointing me lately. and, my treo is fine, so…i’ll wait.

  39. Major-General says:

    And while you’re dead, better make it for the whole calender year. For tax purposes.

    Kudos to the first person who gets the reference.

  40. fugly says:

    Hot Black would never have a iPhone…. not unless it was all black with black buttons that had black text on a black background lit up with a black light

  41. star_ says:

    “and their ONLY failing mark is that you can only get ringtones from their server.”

    I’d never pay for a ringtone. On all of my phones I’ve either been able to email it to the phone, or download via bluetooth or usb cable. Same goes for wallpapers. Only suckers pay money for those things.

    My service through T-Mobile costs me an average of $7/month, no contract.

  42. star_ says:

    Filing complaints with PUC, FTC, BBB, and AG is stupid and bad advice. Clog up those agencies because you want a new phone? Come on… Save complaints to those agencies for important matters.

  43. Thrust says:

    @blowjustinup: Why complain about em? Because I’m gonna be the poor bastard who gets rear-ended by some yuppie chick who was paying all her attention to her damned iPhone while her H2 swerves drunkenly around the hiway.

    As to my player vs one with 30g drives. My player cost me $30, and another $20-40 gets me a 4gb card. Thats a hell of a lot better than blowing three hundred on an 30g iTrash.

  44. petejonesrn says:


    I just got off of the phone with Verizon. Verizon customers who transfer their contract to another person are NOT ALLOWED to port their number to another carrier.

    If the number is ported, the contract and account are immediately canceled & made inactive (in addition to the $175 termination fee being assessed), thus making it *quite* difficult to transfer the account to another party.

    I don’t know what the rule is with other carriers, but this seems pretty fucking retarded to me.

  45. itzsoweezee78 says:

    awesome, so consumerist is teaching people how to lie and cheat. you people have no place whining about big corporation shady practices anymore.

  46. mistaketv says:

    Some of you f-wads seriously need to get a sense of humor.

    That said, while whining to the FTC solely to get out of your ETF is probably not the most responsible thing to do, I would suggest writing them to propose that carriers be forced to prorate ETFs depending on the months of service remaining in the contract. If the need for ETFs is indeed to cover the cost of subsidized equipment, as carriers insist it is, then it makes no sense that the ETF would need to be the same amount in month 23 of a 24-month contract as it is in month 1.

    If enough people propose a reasonable regulation, perhaps someone in our corporate-friendly government will side with the fair-minded consumer for once.

  47. Trackback says:

    If you happened to get your iPhone news from your evening newscast, here’s what you were likely to have seen: long lines of people, spot interviews with wannabe purchasers, maybe a brief overview of the product and its specs. If you were lucky, you got an expert on camera.

  48. jkh55 says:

    Could this be a NEW WAY to get out of a VERIZON contract? I just received a notice saying that my phone insurance company (Total Equipment Coverage program) is being switched from Balboa to Liberty Ins as of Sept 1. The letter says that no rate increases will occur, however it does say that NEW TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF COVERAGE will result from this change. It also says that the program is optional and not required to keep service with verizon,but could this still qualify as a reason to avoid the dreaded $175 early termination fee?

  49. balkanblack says:

    Wow! Thanks a lot. I am moving to the Balkans in a few weeks so I just told them the truth and they cancelled me out. No fuss, no muss. Superb! The truth won’t always set you free but in this case, it totally did! Whew!

  50. deskmadeofwood says:

    If you’re cancelling with T-Mobile, no death certificate is required. Just have a family member/spouse call in and report your death (might want to add them as a user on the acount first, just in case.) As of 2006 the rules were to express sympathy, ask no questions, and cancel on the spot.

  51. giantsnation says:

    I had Sprint(nextel) and had roughly 18months left on my contract when I filed a complaint (unhappy with phone service and customer service ) with BBB and FTC. Got a call about a week later saying my contract would be canceled after the next billing period (month). I was free and clear with both my lines on my family plan. Best of all they ported my numbers.

  52. peggysister says:

    That’s one of the reasons why I am leaving as soon as my contract is up. Verizon, you are not the only game in town!

  53. AmericanHero says:

    Actually, there is a 7th way. Cancel the credit card you used to get the phone. Now since they can’t charge you they’ll have to send a bill. Ha Ha. Like you’re gonna pay the bill? And since the charge is so small ($175 / $350) they have to drag you to small claims court. Ha Ha. Like Verizon/AT&T/etc. is gonna do that. Or they’ll get an ambulance chasing lawyer after you. Ha Ha. For that amount they won’t even make more than one phone call.