Alltel Tells Father They Won't Waive ETF For Soldier Deployed To Iraq Unless He Is Deceased

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.

Mark, check out this post about Alltel’s policy for those serving in the military. Even if they refuse to budge on the ETF, they should be able to hold the account in limbo for 18 months without charging any fees.

(Thanks to Mark!)

“A Document Alltel Looks At When You Want To Cancel Cellphone Service”


Edit Your Comment

  1. perfectly_cromulent says:

    my experience with Alltel has usually been great – only because i refuse to deal with the local office and instead go straight to the corporate. they will usually do anything for you there.

    wondering if you talked to a local goon or if you should call up someone who ranks higher… ’cause that’s just ridiculous.

  2. Bladefist says:

    Due to social hacking I can see why his father cant speak for him.

  3. Sarge1985 says:

    Have they never heard of the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act? Sometimes just the mention of that particular piece of legislation is enough. You just have to use it at the right level and first or second tier is not the place. EECB Time

  4. RottNDude says:

    Sprint, as crappy as they are otherwise, lets you suspend service and keep your number for 24 months if you’re deployed…

  5. Bladefist says:

    its not that they wont grant it to the subscriber, its that they wont grant it for the father. He’ll get it when he gets back.

  6. Half Beast says:

    This is another one of those loose ends you have to tie up before going.
    My father was in Iraq for most of the last two years, and in order to attend to business in his absense, I had to lug around a legal Power Of Attorney. Most businesses will not deal with customers by proxy.

  7. darkclawsofchaos says:

    I think the related link has a funnier title

  8. XTC46 says:

    I want to punch chaz in the face. Seriously. I hope the band of “geeks” slit his throat in the next commercial.

  9. RottNDude says:

    @xtc46: “Chaz” does have that smug “need to punch in the face” look about him, doesn’t he?

  10. armydrummer says:

    I’m in the national guard, and for contracts like a lease agreement, we are able to get out of without any penalty with our deployment orders.

  11. silentnight913 says:

    I believe that the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act has a clause that protects service members from early termination fees in this situation.

  12. pylon83 says:

    The Service Members Civil Relief Act does not protect him in this situation, at least not directly. All it does is prevent Alltell from suing him for the ETF while he is deployed. That being said, I’m not sure how I feel about this. I understand what our men in uniform are putting on the line for us, but at some level they should still be required to live up to their obligations. I mean, they signed a contract with no provision for fee-free cancellation upon deployment. Now, I wouldn’t quabble with them demanding such a provision be inserted, but absent it, I don’t know if they should be FORCED to let him out of the contract. I guess I take a pretty hard line with contracts. Don’t sign it if you can’t live up to it, no exceptions.
    Personally, I think the way to handle these situations is to have the government pay “Reasonable” cancellation fee’s for the soldiers upon deployment. Leases, etc. usually have SOME form of “ETF” attached. I think the government should pay it, or at least part of it, on behalf of the soldier. Ultimately it’s us, the taxpayers, that would be doing so and I think it might be the right way to handle it.

  13. taka2k7 says:

    Military personnel should always ask to make sure a military clause is included in their contract. Most providers provide substantial discounts to military personnel these days anyway.

  14. jordy777 says:

    I’ll bet dollars for donuts that once an Alltel exec sees the words “Alltel” “won’t waive fee” “soldier” and “Iraq” in the same sentence, this will get taken care of promptly.

  15. manok says:

    when I deployed to Iraq I was with Cingular. They held my account untill I got back and didn’t charge me. Tell your son to grow up and stop being daddy know it all.

  16. manok says:

    In addition, as a soldier, I hate how people use that profession as an excuse to get people to feel sorry for them.

  17. OrtizDupri says:

    I’m in Iraq right now, just got here a little over a month ago. This IS one of those things that soldiers need to take care of prior to deploying. Usually it’s as easy as calling the company and faxing a copy of the deployment orders to the company headquarters, fee waived. Plus, if the father doesn’t have a general power of attorney, he really can’t do anything in this situation.

    @PYLON83 – yeah, it’d be great to be able to stay in the states long enough to fulfill the contract. Wish I could’ve (granted, I didn’t break mine, just went international roaming, but still). With deployments the way they are (my date got moved up 6 months), there’s no way to guess the next time you’re going to be headed to the Middle East.

  18. hals000 says:

    the title of this thread is a little misleading, they will only waive the fee if the subscriber is deceased, they didn’t explicitly say if he dies they will waive it. but i am on the op’s side here, i just thought that clarification may have been relevant

  19. smokinfoo says:

    I registered just to post this.

    The only protection a soldier has in being deployed in this sense is a deferment of their obligations. Any contract that the soldier has entered into that cross sections the time they spend deployed is deferred until they get back.

    This does not mean you get out of your contract w/o ETF. It just means that everything you have now you can come back and pickup when you return from duty.

    I am not a lawyer, but this is the best understanding I have of this legislation. This was intended to help soldiers pickup where they left off, not abuse contract law.

  20. insomniac8400 says:

    Sounds like this is a case of someone signing a contract they had no intention of keeping. And now they want a favor?

  21. riverstyxxx says:

    ..And those are the people that the soldier is defending. I’m very ashamed of them.

  22. riverstyxxx says:

    that’s why they have a PR department, to sweep mistakes under the rug before they become a problem. The tobacco industry and assholes like McDonalds are also proud supporters of this idea.

  23. Benny Gesserit says:

    @manok: Exactly. Maybe it’s just a misunderstanding – the called to cancel his phone. Did he ask Alltel if he could “park” the phone until he returns?

  24. VicMatson says:

    This whole “get out free” thing has gotten rotten. Why should they let you out?

    Apply that answer to why the banks don’t cancel your car or mortgage payment!

    Park it yes, out no! This whole issue is driven by the press, they foster this attitude dude!

  25. Ben Popken says:

    The Alltel rep they spoke with is misinformed. Soldiers can get out of any service contract. Mark needs to call and get a different rep and/or escalate to someone who knows the policy better.

  26. jordy777 says:

    I don’t know if I would be comparing Alltel to big tobacco quite yet. I understand the application of “sweep under the rug,” I just think “take care of” might be more applicable in this situation. Alltel hasn’t caused cancer or willingly promoted obesity with a ‘Mighty Kids’ menu… yet.

  27. levenhopper says:

    @insomniac8400: You have no soul.

  28. swalve says:

    @Ben Popken: Got a cite for that? I mean, I know you run a gossip site and all.

  29. jpmoney says:

    When I was with Verizon I went to Europe for a few months. They offered to put me on a “military plan” that would be $0 a month for the plan but $5 a minute of usage. It worked out really well for me and is a possible solution if a contract cannot be avoided.

  30. Klink says:

    “Come And Get Your Lo-ooove”
    Yeah, right.

  31. pylon83 says:

    @Ben Popken:
    I’m fairly certain that isn’t even remotely correct. In fact, save for you providing a cite to the contrary, I’m going to say that is flat wrong. As the editor of the site, I’d certainly expect a bit more research before posting things like that. Based on your post, you’re saying that a Soldier can get out of a mortgage? A car loan? A prenuptial agreement? Any kind of contract? Come on man…

  32. gingerCE says:

    When I went overseas for a period of time, I was able to put a hold on my account. I’m sympathetic with this soldier but it sounds like he didn’t call Alltel himself before he left to explain the situation or ask them to place his account on hold (no service, but no payments) until he comes back.

    They also might not be willing to deal with the father because he is not the account holder. If his son can send email (depending on where he is) maybe he can contact alltel and get this taken care of.

    As for the $200 charge–look into state laws–didn’t California pass something where the cancellation fee now has to go on a sliding schedule? So the closer you are to the end of contract date, the lower the cancellation fee?

  33. gingerCE says:

    @pylon83: I’m gonna agree with you on this. I think all of the writers on this site should have to be extra cautious what they post is correct. Unfortunately, sometimes they are not.

  34. sharki3232 says:

    When I got stationed overseas Sprint let me suspend my contract with no hassle and let me renew it with no hassle. This is why I love Sprint and will stay with them for a long time.

  35. Curiosity says:

    The Servicemen/women should both look at the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App §§ 501-596) (“SCRA”) and contact the local Legal Assistance Office.

  36. pylon83 says:

    Exactly. I consider what I read on this site “journalism” and not just some crazy blog. However, when uninformed and unsupported comments are made by the editor of the site, it starts to slide from journalism to some guy with a bone to pick.

  37. pylon83 says:

    The Servicemembers Civil Relief does not speak to this kind of situation. It speaks to prohibition on evictions, termination of installment contracts, residential leases, and automobile leases. There is nothing related to a service contract of any kind. The closest thing is the prohibition on penalties for failure to comply with the terms of a contract. This situation is not analagous to failure to comply. It is a choice to terminate. The soldier could indeed continue to pay for the service. Instaed, he chose to invoke a term in the contract that allows him to terminate. I see nothing in the above act that protects him in this situation.

  38. jonarnold says:

    When I worked CSR for Verizon Wireless, we had a policy that would allow military to cancel upon being deployed — just fax or email us *basic* paperwork that shows you’re military and a deploy date, and you’re done. Thanks for your business, and Godspeed. I don’t see why that’s so hard for Alltel to grasp.

  39. Pink Puppet says:

    @Ben Popken: Shenanigans. I call shenanigans. Come on, we expect a little more out of you, are you citing a certain law? What precedent? We need more.

  40. @pylon83: I agree with you on this–ETFs are something the government (and therefore the citizens) should help cover, within a reasonable limit.

    If it’s true that Alltel will hold the contract in a dormant state for the soldier for 18 months, then I’d suggest that’s a better solution. If the father doesn’t have power of attorney, however, then I’m not sure there’s anything he can legally do. Contracts is contracts.

  41. @hals000: The more I considered it, the more I agreed. I’ve changed the title so it’s less sensational. Thanks.

  42. ivealwaysgotmail10 says:

    Wait wait wait, Cant they not legally charge an ETF fee Since he has technically moved to a place in which alltell doesnt service?
    Seriously he isnt in america anymore, i doubt there is alltell service in Iraq

  43. pylon83 says:

    That doesn’t really apply in this case. He didn’t “move there”, he is there temporarily.

  44. riverstyxxx says:


    Give it time. They’ll find a door that someone left open, lol.

  45. humphrmi says:

    @pylon83: Ben did say get out of a service contract, which a car loan or mortgage or pre-nup is not. But still, I think specifically, the law doesn’t let you out, it lets you put it on hold until you return.

  46. pylon83 says:

    That’s not even accurate. Read the actual law. It doesn’t apply to Service contracts.

  47. rdldr1 says:

    Thats what he gets for going with Allrel

  48. rdldr1 says:


  49. OrtizDupri says:

    @pylon83: Eh, yeah, but I think most people would consider living in one place for 15-18 months a “move”, even if it is a “temporary” situation with no guarantee of returning to the original location.

  50. HOP says:


  51. pigeonpenelope says:

    as much as i don’t like alltel, they were in the right on this one. cell carriers have military suspends and thus can accomodate a person being deployed but unless that soldier has changed his address to someplace outside of alltel coverage area, they are still to abide by their contract. i’m so sick of military folks thinking they’re entitled to everything simply because they get paid to be in the military. my father served 22 years and he never acted entitled. i stand behind alltel on their decision. and what a pansy, having his father call on his behalf. as far as i’m concerned, if you’re old enough to join the military, you’re old enough to handle your own business.

  52. algormortis says:

    @pigeonpenelope: Iraq is way the heck out of Alltel coverage. Also, “pansy” is a tad disrespectful, while we’re at it.

    And, yes, I work for a cellular carrier. I know that every one of the major carriers, my employer included, has idiotic policies that deserve to be shamed. I guess this is Alltel’s turn to have an idiotic policy shamed.

  53. AndyRogers says:

    As a veteran of both Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, I can say first hand that most places are MORE than accomodating when conditions such as deployments are explained and reasonable exceptions requested. No cell phone carrier will just up and cancel a contract because you have a deployment order, however, they will surely suspend the account. I can’t tell you how many times retailers will just drop 20% when/if they found out I was military. Hell, my DAD (not a veteran) has received discounts because someone finds out I was a veteran. First hand, military folk have no room to complain about how they’re treated by the general public. I was at the airport the other day and was pleased to see people STILL clap when soldiers arrive. (Thank you, by the way)

    That being said – and this goes to to all military, currently serving and veterans such as myself. Shut up. We’re simply doing our job, a difficult one yes, but when someone doesn’t give you the unreasonable leeway you’re asking for, it’s not a sign of disrespect. My dad is an auto mechanic and works in some pretty nasty conditions and has for 45 years and has never asked for a thing other than his rightfully earned wage. MOST professionals do the same.

    We’re lucky in that military discounts and special conditions are everywhere, movies, restaurants, hell, even stripclubs drop their cover. When you cry because someone is “disrespecting” the military because they didn’t violate corporate policy by letting you drop your contract for free, you make all military look bad.

    Final note, one GSM carrier, not sure which, has coverage in Iraq. I talk to a buddy frequently. His rates didn’t even change and it’s a normal US number. I think they helped IraqNet or whatever it’s called build an infrastructure so they got grandfathered in or something.


  54. DustoMan says:

    @Bladefist: The soldier should have had a Power of Attourny drafted for his father so that he could make changes to his account. My wife made one for me even though we are married just in case we get some asshole that doesn’t want to help me.

    On this person’s topic though. What solider should have done was sent a copy of his orders to Alltel and told them to hold his account until he got back.

  55. yenrah says:

    I work for alltel and we have a military plan where we hold the account for as long as the soldier is overseas. All you have to do is let us know.

    This customer did not put the acct on hold. He just cancelled his service.

    Alltel Supports America’s Troops!!!

  56. cpoteet says:

    It is called military suspend and every carrier has the same policy on military suspend. If you get it reconnected and have a customer service rep to reconnect it then get a copy of the orders to have faxed or placed on file. They will suspend service with no charges. This takes place indefinitely on personal or business accounts. This is federally mandated. Of course when he gets back from deployment he can have it unsuspended and complete his binding contract.

  57. rwalford79 says:

    Lie and use an address in Alaska, or a Californian desert, they cant enforce that. Better yet, say he was discharged, but decided to take a permanent contract job in Iraq.