I Escaped Sprint Without Early Termination Fee And Lived To Tell The Tale

A Consumerist reader reports his success with escaping Sprint without paying an early termination fee by calling the Sprint Consumerist Executive Help Line (703-433-4401), who were the only people who didn’t give him a line of bull when he called. He argued that the new fees Sprints was imposing were a material change of contract (see “Sprint Mails Customers A “Get Out Of Sprint Free” Card“) and thus voided his agreement so he could now switch carriers and port his number without penalty.

Jeff writes: “I called Sprint and spoke with a customer care rep. I was advise that the increase in fee’s was government regulated event hough it states on the post card I got that “these charges are not taxes and are not amounts we are required to collect from you…”

.”..well the customer care rep thought other wise. He put me on hold for awhile to check with another department. The other department stated there is nothing they can do until it bills to my account. I asked why. The lady stated because it is not going to be charged to all customers but everyone got the post card just in case. I was dumbfounded…

I then called retentions the next day and was advise that the charges are coming but I can’t disconnect till January 1st because the system won’t let them waive the ETF because it has not started to bill yet. I thought BS.

Today I called Executive Customer Care, someone answered on the 2nd ring. When I mentioned the post card she knew exactly what I was talking about. I then asked about having the early term fee waived because of the fee change and she stated sure. She asked when I was looking to do it, I told her today and she placed me on hold. In about 5 minutes she came back and stated okay here is your case number, her name and direct line and to call her once I got the service ported.

So I went in and ported my number. I called the lady at executive customer care back and she took care of the problem in 2 minutes. She stated that the fee has been waived.

I just got what seems like my final ebill and it shows a lower bill then my original bill. So executive customer care works wonders. The people on that line are more knowledgeable and friendlier to talk to.

Once again another success story just by reading Consumerist.com and following the advise given.


(Photo: Sam Wilkinson)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Geekybiker says:

    Isn’t it after the 1st you have no recourse?

  2. ffmariners says:

    well executed! you went through the normal channels and only used the special number once you had no other path to consider!

  3. 3drage says:

    I just got off the phone from Sprint Executive help line and asked to cancel my contract due to the increased fees. The person on the phone stated that I could not cancel until after the bill with the fee had been sent. Guess it all depends on who you talk to. :(

  4. just_paranoid says:

    my question is, which of all the providers is the lesser evil? have we nailed it down yet?

  5. just_paranoid says:

    i’d love to get away from the sprint demon, but i’m afraid of hooking up with the devil elswhere. or is sprint the devil?

  6. Bladefist says:

    i like verizon CS.

  7. tasselhoff76 says:

    I hear mostly good things from Verizon folks, but I still do hear bad tales.

  8. Bladefist says:

    I’ve had sprint, cingular, and VZ.

    I’ll never use sprint for anything, ever, again.

    Cingular wasn’t so much rude, as they were dumb.

    VZ has been a blessing.

  9. iEddie says:

    Verizon has good coverage. I now have T-Mobile (because I got an iPhone and refuse to do business with NSAT&T) and am happy with them and their coverage. They also have excellent CS.

  10. nursetim says:

    I have had Verizon going on 15 years, before they were even Verizon. I have never had any problems with billing or calling CS. Just recently got a new phone at their corporate store, and it was a very good experience.

  11. KyleOrton says:

    I tried VZ a couple months ago, but found it didn’t work in my apartment. I followed the rules of their test drive program, but they tried to bill me all of the fees anyhow because they said I just disconnected the line.

    I had to call several times before one would call that number and demonstrate that it had been ported.

    I’m glad that many people don’t have problems with Verizon, but so far US Cellular has been the best CS I’ve experienced. (I currently have ATT and US Cellular)

  12. meeroom says:

    I had Verizon Wireless for years, and never had any problems, other than being irritated at having to sign a contract and stuff. The customer service was always really great. I have Cingular now for work and I haven’t had any problems with that either. Verizon’s service was MUCH better though (central NJ)

  13. Mauvaise says:

    @just_paranoid: I don’t think we have. As many people that would say, “I will never use Cell Co. X, but I like Co. B.” there are equal number that would say they like Co. X and would never use Co. B.

    I personally am quite pleased with T-mobile. Been with them for the last three or four years and have always had excellent customer service, good coverage, and as far as I can see – they offer the most anytime minutes for the least amount of cash (which was initially my selling point).

  14. Boberto says:

    I also have TMobile, very pleased. Issues get resolved reasonably.

    It also works great on my iPhone.

  15. Mike_ says:

    I’m waiting for an updated iPhone. Last time I checked the rumor mill, all signs were pointing to June. Coincidentally, that’s when my Sprint contract ends. In the mean time, I was able to get Sprint to put a 20% discount and free text messaging to our account. It was rather painless.

    I called Customer Service and said “cancel” at the voice prompt. When the Retentions CSR answered the phone, I asked her to walk me through the process of canceling our service while keeping my phone numbers (2 lines). She said she’d be happy to help, and asked why I was canceling.

    I said:

    – The service is more than we need, so we’re looking at less expensive options.

    – I don’t like spending 40 cents (20 cents per phone) to send an occasional text message to my wife.

    – I was annoyed at yet another unfavorable change to my contract (the 3rd one since I renewed 1.5 years ago).

    I was actually prepared to cancel and go with the current-generation iPhone, but they were generous enough to keep my business until next summer. I’m happy. They’re happy. Everybody wins.

  16. calvinneal says:

    There is no such company as “Cingular”.

  17. Eric1285 says:

    I wonder if it’s possible to get out of the contract, but still stay month to month. Reason I ask is that I’m currently on the SERO plan, and there’s no two ways about it…NOTHING compares to Sprint SERO. For $30 a month I’m getting service that would run me nearly $100 a month with any other carrier.

    That being said, I would like to be out of contract so that when the opportunity arises, I can switch to whatever carrier I want. I’m eagerly awaiting the next generation iPhone (can’t live without 3G data) and I’ll probably want to switch when that comes out (although paying $70 a month for fewer services than I get with Sprint is going to hurt).

  18. BrianH says:

    @Mike_: Are you sure you didn’t just start a new contract? I thought any change like that (even if you’re out of contract, month to month) starts the clock again?

  19. jimmyboy2 says:

    I’ve been with lots of different cell phone companies. I usually try a new one every 2 years because i haven’t been all that satisfied with any of them. I’ve had tons of problems with Sprint, but executive customer service has paid dividends to the tune of 2 new phones free and over $150 in credits. I’ll stick with them just because of this phone number

  20. farstend says:

    I paid Verizon $175 (and would have paid more if I had to) to cancel. My bill was never correct and I had a crappy phone that they wouldn’t let me upgrade until 2 years. There is a great audio clip where a VZ customer calls in due to a large bill and none of their customer service reps can tell the difference between three hundredths of one dollar and three hundredths of one cent. Idiots! I’ve been with Sprint for 5 years now and have had not one problem…and they give me a discount on a new phone every year!

  21. Miranda says:

    Not about cell phones, but these magical Executive Customer Service numbers aren’t always magical. We had terrible problems with Time Warner Cable this year (accused of stealing our own identities & consistently lied to and abused by the “customer service” reps we dealt with), and calling Executive Customer Service several times did NOTHING. Seriously, the existing number leads to a voicemail box which is A)usually full and B) never replied to.

  22. rabiddachshund says:

    Good job. Personally, if there was only a week left before they could waive the ETF in my contract, I’d have just waited a week.

  23. Mike_ says:

    @BrianH: I asked her twice to confirm that my contract would not be extended, and verified the termination date. And I recorded the call, because I don’t trust Sprint. So yes.

  24. kerry says:

    I got that postcard from Sprint, too, but doing the math in my head it looked like the new fees to replace the old taxes added up to less money (about $2.50 with the new fees, the taxes they’re removing added up to something like $7), so it doesn’t much matter. I just switched to Sprint in September, and excluding some minor delays with porting my number and redeeming a $25 coupon I haven’t had any trouble with them. Also, I’d be loathe to leave because I’m paying practically nothing for unlimited text and data thanks to the SERO plan. W00t! I’ve been with Helio, T-Mobile, Cingular (left before they became AT&t, joined before they were called Cingular) and Sprint honestly seems no better or worse than any of them.
    Like Mauvaise said, everybody’s had good and bad experiences with every carrier. It all boils down to luck, I think.

  25. cmgaviao says:

    My Girlfriend has done this twice.

    The first time, she was informed that because she was so close to the end of the billing cycle (That night at midnight) that it would be impossible to port the number.

    So, we tried again yesterday. As she is from Mexico, she went through the spanish speaking customer service and retentions. The girl in retentions was practically yelling at her telling her she’d definitely be charged the ETF. She stuck to her guns and made clear that it was a material change to the contract and that if there was any ETF she’d be talking to them in court. Made sure the girl in retentions knew she had her name… The girl puts her on hold, comes back 5 minutes later and said everything was taken care of. not more than 5 minutes later, the line was dead. The vindictive little bitch had already killed the line. So, had to call them back and make clear that the line needed to be available until the end of the billing cycle so we could port the number. They took care of it with a good bit of hemming and hawing. I think they’ve really gotten hit hard on this postcard thing and aren’t even willing to put up a real fight anymore.

  26. InterwebRockstar says:

    Here is the response I got to my email:

    Thank you for emailing Sprint. I understand you wish to cancel the services due to the increase in the Administrative and Regulatory charges.

    I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced due to the increase in these charges and will be glad to assist you regarding the rate increase.

    Yes, the Administrative and Regulatory charges will be increased effective January 01, 2008. There will be an increase of $0.40 for these charges on each subscription of the account.

    Let me share with you that the Early Termination Fee can be waived only on the impacted accounts within 30 days from the date the increased charges reflect on your invoice. So, I request you to wait till the generation of the next invoice. As soon as your next invoice is generated, you can contact your new service provider and initiate the process to port out your Sprint PCS phone number. Please make sure not to cancel your services with Sprint before initiating the port-out process. Once the phone number is successfully ported out, your services with Sprint will be automatically canceled.

    If the account will be impacted with this increase the Early Termination Fee will not be charged the as long as you initiate the port out request within 30 days from the date the charges appear on your invoice.

    We would be disappointed to lose you as a customer and request you to reconsider your decision. Please reply back to us and advise how you wish to proceed and how we can help assist you as a customer to keep your business.

    If you have any further concerns, please write back to me and I will be glad to assist you in the best possible way.

    It was a pleasure assisting you and I look forward to more opportunities to serve you in future. Have a great day!

    Austin G.

    Business E-Care
    “Where our customers come first!”

  27. flvrflv says:

    I just called 703-433-4401 and spoke with Bridgette. She stated that I must wait until the next statement is processed. She also stated that I can only opt out of the etf if the phone bill actually increases. Does anybody have a clue on how to navigate around such nonsense. How can she state that it only applies if the bill increases? I thought it was a contract change regardless. Email me if you want at jzengel2@yahoo.com.

  28. gosha83 says:

    I followed the poster’s procedure and got 3 lines cancelled successfully just 5 days ago! Thanks!

  29. nau1977 says:

    I followed these instructions as well as the “Sprint Sets Up Consumerist Reader Executive Customer Service Hotline” article here. I have been butting heads with phone CSR’s and ecare CSR’s (In which one asked what I wanted done. I said what I wanted and they took part of what I wanted and inserted their own text also. GRRR.). The lady I talked to insisted that only if my fees go up after 1/1/08 will I be able to leave ETF-free. I said NO. The card does not saying IF my fees change, or SOME customers, or some states. It says Sprint WILL change my contract and the charges are not part of this equation. I finally said, look, I do not want Sprint service and want my ETF waived. (I have been wanting to cancel for a while anyways.) “I protest these fees and it is an adverse material change to my contract.” It seemed like the wind started blowing in from another direction all of a sudden. We were on the same page after that.(Hang on Wilson, I think this is it.) She also stated I was 90% through my contract (which I guess is okay). She confirmed that I wanted to cancel everything. I said as long as I won’t be charged the ETF, then I agree. She gave me a case number and said if my bill shows an ETF fee call her and she’ll fix it. After climbing that hill, she was a very nice woman. I felt like Frodo when the Ring was destroyed. LOL Thank you very much Consumerist! This helped bring this debacle of mine to a rest. Just in time for the New Year. LOL

  30. DaveSch says:

    I was just able to leave my Sprint contract w/o any ETF on 3 lines. I was on the phone for 20 minutes, maybe 16 on hold. The first CSR was not aware of any change, but I was transferred to another that, after repeating the text from their contract, released me from my contract. There was no offers to retain me or any pressure at all no to terminate.
    Thanks to Consumerist and contract law.

  31. pilargrapes says:


    As of 1/1/08 Sprint has removed the E911 fee (40 cents)and the Federal Portability fee (20 cents). Instead, they have added a Regulatory charge of 20 cents and an Administrative charge of 75 cents. Because your bill will increase due to the change in fee, you are elegible to escape your contract, without the $200 Early Termination Fee.

    Call Sprint and ask for the Account Services department. Tell them you see in the “Important information regarding your bill” section of your bill that they have eliminated said charges and have added the new fees. **This is increasing your bill** Therefore you are not happy and want to cancel your contract. They must oblige. When I did this they offered me 10% off my bill, unlimited texting, or a new phone. No thanks. No amount of discounts is worth sticking with Sprint.

    Good luck!!

  32. sarahsaysso says:

    I just called Sprint to cancel after reading this article and reading the sprintusers & howardforum info. Thank God for this information. I have been with this company since 1999 and I have HATED their customer service. Why can’t I talk to somebody in America? When will corporate America wake up and realize that when we call for help, we want to understand the person on the other end of the phone?

    Todays Canadian conversation was music to my ears. Christ Almighty, at least she’s on the same continent.

    The cancellation rep initially played, dumb. I could tell she was readilly armed for this request and briefly attemped some kind of canned response in terms of when my contract really was up, that I had to pay an ETF fee, blah blah blah. She then asked if I could give her further info on what the changes were that I was referring to.

    Thats when the nicities ended.

    I had held a pleasant tone up to this point, she knew damn well what I was talking about, and she could put me on hold and refer to her supervisor if she didn’t understand what I meant.

    Then we were on the same page.

    Don’t make me get nasty, I asked, because I’m being very polite, I too work in a environement that requires me to talk to customers over the phone or in person, only I work in foreclosures, so it can get extremely hostile and emotional (and dangerous). Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be.

    I believe at that point I finally was compeled to her at a personal level. I wasn’t looking to port out, I wasn’t looking for a better phone than the Treo that I already have/had (had-hello ebay). I just don’t get coverage in the building I work out of now, and I’m moving somewhere that dosn’t have any sprint coverage. (eventually)
    This materially adverse change was a godsend. I had two lines. That would have been a $400.00 etf….

    …And I know I’m not the only one.

    Sprint stock is at $8.00

    Sprint you should be ashamed of the customer service you provide to your contracted customers. The fact that this loophole allowed them to leave in droves should have been anticipated.

    Thank You Consumerist.com

  33. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to Consumerist and other Sprint customers who have gone before me, I called the special Sprint number for Consumerist readers and managed to get out of our 3 phone contracts and the hell that was our Sprint relationship for much of the last 10 years. The woman at Sprint was pleasant (yes, pleasant!), she did not argue with me that the new fees were a material change to our contract, she waived the ETFs, and I walked away a free consumer. I held my breath when I received a bill from Sprint a month later; it was $0 (phew). Thanks for giving me the hope and the manual for breaking free.