Get 75% Off Your ATT ETF By Switching To Pay-As-You-Go

If arguing for completely getting out of your AT&T early-termination-fee isn’t your thing, you can try doing what Felix did and get 75% off it.

He negotiated with the CSR and said he would switch to a pay-as-you-go plan and not switch to MCI if they waived his ETF. She down to sell him a smaller package. He remained silent. She tried the reduced package again. He repeated that he would switch if charged. Then she offered 50% off. He restated his position once more and stayed silent. She tried the smaller plan again. He said no. Then she offered him 75% off. So now he’s free of annual contract and can switch to any other provider whenever he feels like.

Not a tactic that will make financial sense for everyone, but it might come in handy for some.


Edit Your Comment

  1. shufflemoomin says:

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean by ‘prepaid’? Is this the same as Pay As You Go in the UK where you can only call if you pay to top up your balance? Can someone clarify this for me please?

  2. InThrees says:

    I’m not entirely sure either.

    “Prepaid” makes me think of the cellphones in a blister pak I see at gas stations. They come with so money minutes, and you can call a customer service number (maybe it’s automated, probably a website too) to plug in a credit card number and buy probably different tiers of minutes packages to add to the pool. I.E. $20 for another 200 minutes or something, paid in advance, phone doesn’t work when you run out of minutes.

    Contrast that with month-to-month with a provider, which is pretty much the same thing as a contract, just without the contract the part. You have a plan, they send you a bill, if you get too late paying your bill, they shut you off.

  3. InThrees says:

    *come with so many minutes, that should read.

    Anyway, pretty sure this means that what Felix did translates into “Put me on month to month with no ETF or I’m leaving.” – and then he accepted the eventual counter-offer of 75% off the ETF.

  4. MBZ321 says:

    Huh? MCI doesn’t offer cell service (they are, however, owned by Verizon now)

  5. golfinggiraffe says:

    You know, if it weren’t for all the problems the iPhone’s been having, this – plus with the California ruling that ETFs might be illegal in Calfornia – would tempt me to try to get a heavily discounted iPhone 3G…

  6. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    I don’t understand what incentive the CSR had to discount the ETF. If he leaves, great, collect the ETF. But they discounted it to keep his business, which makes no sense, because he’s obviously intending to switch sometime, or else he wouldn’t have called in the first place.

  7. Mr.SithNinja says:

    At least they did SOMETHING for him. Verison wouldn’t let me BUY a new phone from them and upgrade my plan with out paying an ETF on my current one. Even after I told them that if I am paying an ETF of any kind I will just switch carriers, they wouldn’t budge AT ALL! They would rather collect an ETF than keep a customer that never wanted to leave in the first place and was BEGGING THEM to pay them more money every month for a new plan AND the cost of a smartphone. They are friggin retarded.

  8. golfinggiraffe says:

    Oh, also, I hope Felix remembered to get everything in writing and/or recorded the conversation.

  9. tande04 says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: Thats the magical thing about ETF (and part of the reason for the CA ruling) there are times when its going to make much more sense to keep the customer in some form or another then to take the EFT.

    Really in the end they want your buisness. The EFT is a way of making sure they get it but, like in this case, they can keep you in some form without it they might be willing to make that deal.

  10. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @tande04: Right, but odds are they’re not keeping the guy’s business. By simply calling about the ETF in the first place, I think he’s made his intentions pretty clear.

  11. FelixT says:

    I’m the “Felix” in this article. To clarify, I’ve switched to a “pay-as-you-go”, prepaid, “go-phone” style plan. I still have the same phone and phone number and I’m still with AT&T. It’ll be a big savings to me because I’m now only using my phone for emergency calls and making other calls from my flat-rate home phone or from work. (I think these pre-paid plans are probably a rip off if you use them a lot.)

    It seems that I partially got lucky with the CSR who answered my initial call – I don’t think they’d all offer 75% off because I ended up having to go through an insane process including using the EECB to actually seal the deal – but it is now official and I did only have to pay a partial fee. And I do recommend my strategy of being polite yet firm while waiting for a better offer.

    I imagine ETFs are probably going away anyway due to recent court rulings but for now – I’m pretty psyched to have gotten at least a discount. Still, this whole process makes me pretty bummed that the entire federal regulatory system has been gutted over the last 20 years or so. ):

  12. InThrees says:


    That’s just… ludicrous. It’s like the person you were dealing with didn’t even understand the (nominal, alleged) reason for the ETF in the first place.

  13. Kaisum says:

    It took about six months after contacting executive customer service who claimed they weren’t going to help me. A complaint to the FCC changed that though (Using the guy who previously denied the waiver in the complaint helped too.) I still haven’t paid the remainder of that bill. Oh well, AT&T isn’t hurting for any cash. You know with all the exploiting and corner cutting they pull. Bastards.

  14. Mr.SithNinja says:

    @InThrees: I talked to more than one person about it and a “supervisor” emailed me a couple days later and said that her Manager said that there was nothing they could do about the ETF. 2 CSRs, a supervisor and a Mangager were incapable of realizing the logic in the math behind what they were losing in an “imaginary cost” of an ETF and the dollars to be gained with the cost of the smartphone and a plan that would pay them twice as much per month in a NEW 2 year agreement!

  15. clnclarinet says:

    @Mr.SithNinja: I don’t understand, I’ve gotten new phones and new plans with Verizon all the time and not had to pay an ETF– I just have to extend my 2-year contract starting from the date of the change. Is there something special about smartphones or the plans you wanted to switch from/to that triggered this mandatory ETF?

  16. Tiber says:

    I don’t get why more people don’t use pay-as-you-go. Yes, if you talk a lot, it will be more expensive; however, for someone who rarely uses their cell phone, it’s much simpler and a better deal. I top up $20 at a time, and it lasts me an average of a month and a half. And I don’t have to worry about ETF’s or going over on minutes.

  17. Johnyq1982 says:

    @clnclarinet I think verizon goes by the amount of time on your previous contract when considering a discount on a new phone (a certain discount at 1 year and the same rebate as a new customer after 2). If they just gave you a break on a phone less than 12 months ago you have to pay full price to get a new one, it doesn’t matter whether or not you want to sign a new contract. I am sure they would let upgrade your phone on your own dime, and let you sign a new contract with the data plan.

  18. @bluemonq: No one will ever give you a discount on an iPhone. Not ATT and not Apple, at least.

    Well, no one other than a private party who’s too stupid to know he can get more than retail on eBay even for a used one.

    If i were you, i’d not get my hopes up. I think it’s part of the Apple/ATT contract to not allow discounting.

    Hell, even people with discounted service because of their employer lose that discount on their *plan* if they get an iPhone (google: iphone fan discount).

  19. cyberscribe says:

    You can buy a decent cell phone for a mere $30 (sometimes even less) at Walmart or K-Mart, and then purchase top-up cards with additional minutes virtually anywhere (even most gas stations sell them nowadays), as needed.

    No contracts. No ETF’s. No hassles.

    Why people still put up with all the BS that “contract” providers saddle their customers with is truly beyond me.