AT&T To Stop Extending Contracts Due To Rate Plan Changes

Starting November, AT&T will begin pro-rating early termination fees, and stop extending your contract when you change your calling plan. The new policy comes on the heels of a similar move by Verizon. Could we be entering a new era where cellphone companies will compete on customer satisfaction, rather than Beyoncé ringtones? Don’t think they’re doing it out of kindness, Sprint was recently sued by the Minnesota Attorney General for extending customer contracts when they changed rate plans, and AT&T wants to stay ahead of similar litigation. See, cc’ing your complaints to the Attorney General really works!

AT&T Adds Two More Customer-Friendly Policies [AT&T]
(Photo: epicharmus)


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  1. nycesq says:

    Am I missing something? When I signed up with AT&T (Cingular) almost 3 years ago, I was told that the ETF was calculated at 10 or 20 dollars a month for the remainder of the contract depending on whether it was 1 or 2 years.

  2. ediebeale says:

    So I’m confused. I have AT&T, and I’m getting an iPhone for Christmas…does this mean I’m gonna get charged an ETF when I cancel my old plan in favor of a more expensive calling plan with them? Cause that don’t make sense.

  3. ExGC says:

    @nycesq: Yes, you were lied to three years ago.

  4. FMulder says:

    There are different contract terms for ETF’s depending on when and with which company incarnation you signed up. For my contract, signed up for in 2005, my termination fee is already pro-rated according to the lengthy of time left in my contract.

  5. mrmaxmouse says:

    @ediebeale: No, they won’t charge you an ETF when you change plans. It used to be changing plans would reset your contract start date to the date that you changed plans. That is no longer the case anymore. Changing plans will now have no bearing on your contract end date. There is no fee to change plans

  6. metatr0n says:

    This press release isn’t clear enough for my liking (big surprise). Am I to assume that starting Nov. 1 I can call up the Deathstar and tell them I’d like to cancel my 1.5 year old Cingular contract and pay the pro-rated ETF? The press release makes it seem like that particular “feature” isn’t available until “early 2008”.

  7. bubi73 says:

    Yeah, the press release makes it sound like pro-rated ETF will not be available until 2008 and then only to NEW customers which means people (like me) currently stuck with AT&T will not be able to get out without being screwed.

  8. TehRev says:

    weird I have AT&T(cingular when I signed up) I have changed my rate plan at least 10 times through their website. My contract never was extended I just checked with them and they said 5 months left which is right.

  9. pieoncar says:

    I also agree that the news release makes it sound like the pro-rated ETF doesn’t take place until 2008 (“early 2008” at that, implying it won’t be in effect on Jan. 1). Does anyone have any other sources clarifying what it is?

  10. ediebeale says:

    @mrmaxmouse: Thanks!

  11. BrianH says:

    So can someone tell me (as a Sprint customer in California — although it doesn’t seem the state should matter?) if I change my plan today — will my contract renew, or has this whole Minnesota lawsuit thing changed Sprint’s ways.

    I see from this article that AT&T and Verizon have snapped into line. Has Sprint? Thanks to anyone who can definitively answer this question!

  12. royal72 says:

    no one should ever pay an etf fee period. why? take your pick from all the reports here on consumerist about at&t/cingular’s wrong doings, which are a breach of contract with you.

  13. zaq2g says:

    I never had a problem with cingular before or after it became att with extending contracts when i changed my rate plan. There was a time when i changed my plan every few months. I even got them to change my plan to promotional programs that required a 2 year extention without extending simply by asking. I only had one contrac since I signed up in 2001 because I just bought phones unlocked online when they switched to GSM.

    Because of that, I didnt had to worry about an ETF when I cancelled 2 months ago.