Make "Materially Adverse Changes" Your Mantra And Cancel Cellphone Service Without Early Termination Fee

Russ writes and reminds us how pounding irrefutable legal truth into a customer service rep’s ear is the key to escaping your cellphone contract without early termination fee…

Just wanted to thank the consumerist for all the great info. I was able to cancel my sprint account today due to the roaming rate increase… now i don’t have to cheat on my i-Phone anymore. Thanks guys!

Just for a tip to the readers, you have to keep at the CSR and eventually ask for a supervisor, it took me 1.5 hours but i just kept repeating “materially adverse change, and i was satisfied eventually.

Triumph in the face of adversity, for the win!

PREVIOUSLY: Cancel Sprint Without Early Termination Fee Over Roaming Rate Change
(Photo: FastFords)


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  1. Malachi says:

    I had the exact same experience with Verizon about 2 weeks ago regarding the Mexico increase. I kept having to repeat “this is materially adverse” to the initial CSR, a “Specialist in the Mexico increase”, and a supervisor. They kept at me saying that it was a charge set by the carrier in Mexico, but I then found this text in the Customer Agreement under the section Charges and Fees We Set:
    “θ You agree to pay all access, usage, and other charges and fees we bill you or that the user of your wireless phone accepted, even if you weren’t the user of your wireless phone and didn’t authorize its use. These include Federal Universal Service, Regulatory and administrative Charges, and may also include other charges related to our governmental costs. We set these charges. They aren’t taxes, aren’t required by law, are kept by us in whole or in part, and the amounts and what’s included are subject to change.”
    The “We set these charges” area that I bolded also includes the first sentence which says “You agree to pay all access, usage, and other charged and fees we bill you”. After about an hour I was free from the bondages of Verizon.

  2. ATTSlave says:

    Can you use this to get out of the contract and not cancel the service?

  3. Ben Popken says:

    @ATTSlave: Yes.

  4. macinjosh says:

    Constantly repeating “Bye bye plane” might also work.

  5. zapptastic says:

    Here’s how not to do it:

    My friend wanted to cancel his contract, but wasn’t very patient, so eventually he told the CSR that if he wasn’t able to cancel, he was going to kill him. Not seriously, just out of anger. The CSR hung up, and the cops were at his house in fifteen minutes, questioning him about it and all.

    Also, he never was able to cancel his contract.

  6. North Antara says:

    @Ben Popken: I tried this with T-Mobile yesterday (long story…), and they claimed that was not the case. “If you terminate the contract, you must cancel the service simultaneously” (which we both know is a load of crap).

  7. firefruze says:

    lol “Bye Bye plane” I think that will just get someone to hang up on you.unless you call the centers where the Reps aren’t allowed to hang up on customers…. but then again they’ll probably hang up on you :P

  8. TPK says:

    I’m just curious, has anyone started out the conversation with something like:

    “Look I’m going to cancel my contract here because of this materially adverse change. I know you have been trained to drag this out as long as you can in the hopes that I will give up, but I assure you, I know the rules, and I know you will eventually do it. Let’s just save both of us a bit of time and get it done now.”

    Are they reasonable humans, or just robots?

  9. pwn4g3 says:

    Anybody know for sure if this works if you already have unlimited roaming? Sprint must love me, I call while roaming as much as possible, lots of calls during my unlimited night and weekends, and I’m always pestering Customer Service. They still won’t cancel anything for me… they keep offering me “discounted” family plans. Bastards.

  10. ZekeSulastin says:

    However nice this may be for people who genuinely do want to get out of their contract, does anyone else find it somewhat worrisome that someone would sign to a contract then try their damnedest to get out of it? Sets a bad precedent for other things. Mayhaps you should read the stuff and do your research BEFORE you sign your name.

  11. Roundonbothends says:

    ZEKESULASTIN, do you think any thing much in the contract is in the user’s favor, or is one usually trying to select the lesser evil by selecting a carrier?

    It’s the carrier’s words in the contract that is the point here – their change in the AGREEMENT – that gives one the chance to do this. I see nothing unethical about getting a contract voided that the other side has broken by their actions or calling them on it when it happens.

  12. aikoto says:


    Mega points for the “Bye Bye Plane” reference.

  13. Morgan says:

    @North Antara: Well, without a contract, it’s really up to them whether they want to allow you to continue using the service. While they don’t have to drop you if you cancel the contract, they’re certainly within their rights to say they’ll cancel service if you cancel the contract.

  14. techno_teal says:

    The Consumer Protections for Wireless Customers Act and the above article is how I got out of my SPRINT PCS contract. I’ve been a customer with them since 2003 and had no problems with them up until a year ago when I renewed my contract.

    They were constantly changing my name to my mother’s [she is remarried and I am married as well so our names are not similar at all] and putting my name on her bills. Also they were switching the bill amounts [I have 3 phones, she had 2].

    Not only that, but they were charging me for 2 plans instead of the 1 family plan EVERY months, thus 2 hours a month would be spent on the phone with SPRINT to fix this every time.

    I had Text and Picture mail blocked on my phone, I would get text and picture mail which I wouldn’t open but be charged for.

    Augst. 2006 is when I started trying to get my contract canceled without having to pay $200 x 3. I’ve moved into an area with poor signal anyway and this should of resulted in a void contract. They wouldn’t let me get out. I told them they cannot hold or charge me because they kept changing my contract, they would not let me.

    Finally, yesterday they sent me my bill and they had added another year to my contract for a phone I paid full price for so that I would not have to extend my contract and rose the insurance on my phones by $3.00.

    This time I researched and found not only your article, but the The Consumer Protections for Wireless Customers Act. When I called, I spoke slow, calmly, and very authoritative. I used your information as well as the legal jargon for that act and they let me out without any charges. It only took nearly a year, but it was a breeze once I had the right information.

    Thank you for all your help!

  15. Eddy07 says:

    I got my contract canceled on July 24 (one day before my B-day and my billing cycle)they put you on hold for like 20 minutes twice and offer new plans kee refusing them and when they ask you “Besides this is there any other reason you wanna cancel” Just be truthfull “I get too many drop calls and bad connection and have had many billing mistakes since my first bill” Keep saying “materially adverse change” and you too can be free from the shackles of Sprint.

  16. Eddy07 says:

    @techno_teal: Everyting that you said happened to me, I didn’t mind the name change but the fact that they charged me for 3 separe plans instead of a family plan made me sick.

  17. mrrbob says:

    ONE WORD: Prepaid cellphone. oops sorry that’s 2 words.

  18. Brier says:

    ya, prepaid is the best. contracts are fine, when you are young and have no clue about cell phones. But one day, you grow up and you realize that Contract carriers (CDMA in particular) offer the worst selection of aging tech phones out there. Get a nice new, hightech GSM phone and go prepaid.