Get Out Of AT&T Without ETF Thanks To Text Message Rate Increase

AT&T is raising the rates for sending text and picture/video messages to 20 and 30 cents, respectively, giving customers a chance to break free of their contract without early termination fee if they use the now-classic “materially adverse changes to contract” argument. Inside, how to deploy that tactic, as well as the text of the rate change notice.

1. You must specifically cite the text message rate change being a material adverse change of contract as the reason for cancellation.
2. You must not pay your bill that reflects the new rates until AFTER requesting cancellation
3. You must refuse any offer of reduced text rates or free text messages to your plan.
4. 4If the rep is poorly trained and wants to hot-potato you to a supervisor rather than transfer you to account services, you must insist that you want to cancel service despite any potential fees so the rep gets you to the group that actually knows the correct procedures.
5. Remain firm, polite, and insistent. You will have to go several rounds with them as they try to wear down your resolve and throw all sorts of tricks at you.

Negotiating out of your cellphone contract can be daunting. Here’s some other people’s success stories to help get you psyched:

  • Man Escapes Verizon Contract Based On Text Message Rate Raises
  • I Escaped Sprint Without Early Termination Fee And Lived To Tell The Tale
  • T-Mobile Confirms You Can Cancel Without Fee Over Texting Price Increase
  • Script For Escaping Cingular Contracts Without Fee, Based On New Arbitration Clause
  • Cingular Arbitration Escape Script Addendum
  • Verizon: 34 Txt Msgs= Material Adverse Effect
  • Another Customer Escapes Verizon Contract For Free
  • AT&T rate change notice:

    Messaging Pay Per Use Rate Change Notification
    Effective 3/30/08, AT&T will charge 20¢ for text/instant messages & 30¢ for picture/video messages sent or received on a pay-per-use basis. If you already subscribe to a Messaging Package or Media Bundle, there is no change to your rate. By purchasing a Messaging Package, you can send and receive messages for as little as a 1¢ per message. Sign up and save at att.com/getmedia.

    AT&T will increase the price on the Messaging (Text/IM & Picture/Video) Pay Per Use (PPU) features for new and existing customers on March 30, 2008. While the price increase impacts the Pay Per Use customers who tend to be light messaging users, our customers who have purchased messaging packages or MEdia Bundles will not be impacted. All of our customers will continue to be provided our best-in-class products, services, and support. Customers will be notified in advance of the price increase.

    Critical Information:
    The following pricing change will be effective in the billing systems on March 30, 2008:

    Text/Instant Messaging PPU Price:
    Picture/Video Messaging PPU Price:

    Current price: $0.15/message
    New price: $0.20/message

    Current price: $0.25/message
    New price: $0.30/message

    Messaging PPU prices will increase on March 30, 2008. Any message sent or received on or after March 30, 2008 will be charged $.20 for text/instant messages and $.30 for picture/video messages.

    Customer Notification:
    Existing customers will be notified via a bill message beginning with bill cycles closing on January 16.

    Note: Customers will receive invoices beginning the week of January 21.

    Relevant contract text:

    IF WE INCREASE THE PRICE OF ANY OF THE SERVICES TO WHICH YOU SUBSCRIBE, BEYOND THE LIMITS SET FORTH IN YOUR RATE PLAN BROCHURE, OR IF WE MATERIALLY DECREASE THE GEOGRAPHICAL AREA IN WHICH YOUR AIRTIME RATE APPLIES (OTHER THAN A TEMPORARY DECREASE FOR REPAIRS OR MAINTENANCE), WE WILL DISCLOSE THE CHANGE AT LEAST ONE BILLING CYCLE IN ADVANCE (EITHER THROUGH A NOTICE WITH YOUR BILL, A TEXT MESSAGE TO YOUR EQUIPMENT, OR OTHERWISE) AND YOU MAY TERMINATE THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PAYING AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE OR RETURNING OR PAYING FOR ANY PROMOTIONAL ITEMS, PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO US WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE.

    (Photo: bryanbope)