T-Mobile Introduces Declining Early Termination Fees

Tmobile just announced that they will let early termination fees decline over the course of a contract. Previously, you had to pay the full monty whether canceled on the first day, or last day, of your contract. This chart shows you how the new fee breaks down over time:

Days left | fee

180: $200
180-91: $100
90-30: $50
29-1: $50 or monthly rate, whichever is less.

Glad to see another carrier joining in with declining ETFs. It’s that much closer to doing away with them entirely. No word yet on whether this will only apply to new customers.

Here’s the text of Tmobile’s email announcement.

Beginning on June 28, 2008, the ETF for customers who choose a one-year or two-year service agreement with T-Mobile will decline during the course their contract. The ETF decreases from $200 to $100 if customers terminate service with 91 to 180 days remaining on their agreement; and decreases again to $50 with fewer than 91 days remaining. If customers terminate in the last 30 days of their term, the ETF is $50 or their standard monthly charge, whichever is less.

T-Mobile Eases Early Termination Fees [Washington Post]

(Thanks to Spencer!)

(Photo: shlomp-a-plompa)


Edit Your Comment

  1. blue_duck says:

    That’s kinda cool. ETF’s suck in general, but it’s nice to see someone lowering them finally.

  2. Jbball says:

    Fuck yeah! I have T-Mobile. My wife’s phone broke and we had to sign a new 2-year agreement to get a replacement (fucking bullshit, don’t even get me started there). So, we can shop around or just get rid of it all together and use the house phone, and pay a cheaper ETF. ETF’s a bullshit anyways, so are contracts. Mother fuckers.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank god! I could have used this a year ago.

  4. snoop-blog says:

    shouldn’t go down to $100 halfway through your contract? the way this is set up, if you signed a 2 year contract (in theory it should only be $100 to cancel after your first year), but instead you’d have to wait a year and a half.

  5. zentex says:

    when is sprint gonna hop on this bandwagon?

  6. donkeyjote says:

    So I can rack up a multi hundred dollar bill on the last month, and then just cancel early by paying 50 instead? SWEET.

  7. HeartBurnKid says:

    See, stuff like this is why I stay with T-Mobile. They’ve always been good to me.

  8. HeartBurnKid says:

    @donkeyjote: You probably still have to pay your final (pro-rated) bill, in addition to the ETF. Doubt they let you off the hook that easy.

  9. HIV 2 Elway says:

    This chart shows you how the new fee breaks down over time:
    Pretty pathetic chart.

  10. donkeyjote says:

    @HeartBurnKid: HEY, JOYKILL!

  11. blue_duck says:

    @zentex: Sprint is always changing prices for services. Pay close attention and if you see any price changes tell them that it nullifies your contract with them. You may need to get the BBB involved, but in the end, you’re out a hefty ETF and shitty service.

  12. jst07 says:

    instead of a chart couldn’t they just do (unpaid months/total months)*200 and prorate the current month being paid? That’s the FAIR way…but not how they operate i guess

  13. xkevin108x says:

    Is there such a thing a decent wireless provider?

  14. snoop-blog says:

    @xkevin108x: I think we go through this everytime. Nobody has succesfully pinned down the lesser of all evils. It would be nice if say Ben Popken himself would maybe give us his opinion (based on all the posts) on which he feels is the lesser of the evils.

  15. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    @xkevin108x: Nope

  16. jnews says:

    @HeartBurnKid: As a 7 year customer of t-mobile who had been off contract for 6 years. I was feeling all sorts of love and happiness for them until my life changed and I needed more minutes. It was then that I found out that there are *NONE*, *ZERO* “normal” plans. Every plan they have is a “promotional” plan and requires a 1 year contract. Even for existing customers who have been so happy that they stuck around without a contract requiring them to. Even for a customer who doesn’t even want a new phone.

    That’s right, I had to sign a 1 year contract for the honor of giving them more money and receiving absolutely nothing in return!

    I’m not going to be feeling so warm and fuzzy about them when this accursed contract is up.

  17. temporaryerror says:

    If ETF’s were done away with all together then you would have to pay much more for phones as there would be no reason to sign a contract as there is no penalty for breaking it and the carrier couldn’t be sure to get the money back for the subsidized phone. Also, a tip to tmobile and ATT customers, if you phone breaks go to Wal-mart or bestbuy (yeah yeah…) and buy a $20 pay as you go phone for your respective carrier and pop your sim into it.

    But, you will never see the end of ETF’s all together unless the carriers completely do away with contracts and subsidized phones.

    An ETF is just their way of ensuring that they get the cost of the phone out of you.

  18. dragonfire1481 says:

    And once again Sprint is one of the LAST to jump on the bandwagon…and they wonder why they can’t keep customers.

  19. snoop-blog says:

    @temporaryerror: I would rather just pay more money for the phone and let the competition between the makers (lg, moto, sanyo etc,) lower the prices naturally. You can’t tell me that one of the maker ehemm, motorola, won’t produce way too may phones ehem, razr, and have the price fall right out from underneath them.

  20. LUV2CattleCall says:


    Activate a new line…get a T-Mobile Shadow..flip it on eBay. That right there ($220 is the going rate) will pay any possible ETF. Heck, I bought a few Shadows with a 1 year contract for free from them (there’s promo codes out there on Google on how to get it for free) and sold them on eBay. Sure I have to pay an extra $10/month for a year..but I still made a $200 combined profit! Plus, now we have 4 lines of service for 2 people.

  21. the-wanderer says:

    @jnews: @jnews: @jnews: Dunno why you had to do that.. I dropped out of contract on January 25th of this year, and I hop back and forth between the 300 and 600 minute plans on a month-by-month basis. If I’m going to go over, I call T-mo before I do, and before the billing cycle ends, and tell ’em to bump me to the next plan. They do. Sometimes they drop me back to the 300 minute plan the next month, sometimes not. Either way, it’s just a phone call to get the plan that I want for that month..

  22. @temporaryerror: That makes no sense. Why would it have to be all one way or all the other?? As this (@jnews: ) guy said above, it makes no sense to force the customer to sign a contract when he doesn’t even WANT or need a new phone. But that’s how it is today. If you want a normal post-pay plan, you HAVE to sign a contract to start it up. And in many cases even adjusting minutes, like jnews above experienced, will require you re-signing a contract.

    Why can’t it be, you sign a contract with an ETF clause in return for a phone discount. If you’re willing to pay full price for your phone (like I am), or you bring your own phone, then no need to sign a contract.

    This reminds me of an “open letter” I wrote a couple months ago while shopping around for wireless service.

    Dear Telco Industry,

    Why the hell can’t I buy a damn phone that’s cool from a company that doesn’t try to rip me off? Why can’t I just pay you, say, $70 a month, and you provide me a bunch of minutes and data. And sell me a phone, I’ll pay you let’s say $450 for it, with a real full-featured web browser (with Flash, you worthless bastards). And i won’t have to sign a contract to do so, because if I quit paying you, you’ll quit providing the service I pay you for. Since even today you bill a month in advance, that’ll make us even.

  23. ohyeahright says:

    Hah! I just got off the phone literally ten minutes ago with T-Mobile. After I convinced the rep that T-Mobile would in fact be pr-rating the ETF, he said I would have to call back on the 28th to find out the new rates. These rates are really disappointing. I don’t know if it’s worth $100 to stick it out through a few more months of paying for the privilege of dropped and missed calls.

  24. benh57 says:

    @the-wanderer: According to my t-mobile website, any 300/600 minute plan is promotional and will extend your contract. Everything above 39.99 has the asterisk next to it = “promotional”.

  25. pigeonpenelope says:

    I agree with ETFs and I agree with declining ETFs but I will never agree to dropping ETFs altogether. All of those indirect and direct dealers you do business with–whether it be Sprint, Verizon, ATT or Tmobile mark down the cost of the phone and they (the business owners) eat the cost. To make up for it, they require a contract (they make money off of contracts). You have to ask yourself, “do I want an inexpensive phone and a longer contract or do I want an expensive phone and no contract?” Business is business. You’ve got to make money somehow. Cell phone companies are not in the charity business.

  26. jamar0303 says:

    @pigeonpenelope: So why are they required even when you bring your own phone? If you’re not asking the carrier to take on any part of the cost of your phone there’s nothing for the telco to recover.

    And yes, I prefer to have a nice phone and no contract. In particular, Sharp makes plenty of nice phones that I have to buy elsewhere and bring in.

  27. jnews says:

    @pigeonpenelope: I mean this with absolute sincerity: the question some of us are asking is — why can’t I have that option you say I should choose between? I’d be happy if I had that option. But the carriers are having none of that. Whether you get a subsidized phone or not, you *will* sign a contract, and they refuse to activate service for a new customer without one. There are no options offered.

  28. RockStarr says:

    In the spirit of Consumerist, just send and BCC a couple EECB’s and get out of your contract that way.

  29. @Jbball:

    “so are contracts”

    That’s why there’re prepaid phones available. Also, once the contract is up, you don’t HAVE to sign up for another one, just pay by the month.

  30. Lewis says:

    According to an update in the Post story ([blog.washingtonpost.com]) this only applies to contracts entered in to (or renewed) starting 6/28.

  31. I’ve been a Sprint, Cingular/AT&T and T-Mobile customer and I rank T-Mobile the best of all. Great value and customer service. Now you have another reason to get your hacked iPhone.

  32. Justin201 says:

    @Lewis: This is true, I just called Tmob and the gentleman was kind enough to tell me it only applies to new customers. Oh well, 4 more months of terrible call quality and one bar in my house.

  33. dragonfire1481 says:

    @Lewis: I suspected that would be the case. Screw you current customers, only new people get the goodies!