Video Tutorial For Escaping Cellphone Without ETF

Who needs a bunch of words to tell you how to get out of your cellphone contract without early termination fee when a nice boy will tell you how do to it? You just sit back, grab some popcorn, and watch Ely Rosentock’s video tutorial. 9 minutes later, you’ll know how to break your cellphone contract without ETF, or moving to California. Video inside…

Ely used the material from our posts and used it to break his ETF without fee. Now he gathers together all that information into easily-digested video format (he’s also blogged it (posts 1, 2, 3).

This video talks about Verizon, but most of the tactics can be applied to every national cellphone carrier. Just lookup the relevant verbiage in your contract and replace it with what Ely quotes.

Video Tutorial: How to Get Out of Your Verizon Contract Without an Early Termination Fee [Crastinate]


Edit Your Comment

  1. dgross77 says:

    Great video…thanks for the pointers on canceling. Did you leave verizon? or just want to help others get out..either way, thanks for the help.

  2. dman19 says:

    verizon blows! lets all leave fast!

  3. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    @dman19: trouble is, all the other carriers stink too, just to different degrees and in different ways

  4. ianmac47 says:

    This is awesome.

  5. timmus says:

    I feel like I’m the only one who embraces prepaid. No ETFs to worry about and I’m effectively paying $12/month for occasional daily use.

  6. Trickery says:

    How long do you think it’ll take for the carriers to fix the verbiage in the contracts?

  7. tptcat says:

    I successfully canceled my Verizon contract the day before the 3G iPhone dropped based on this charge. However, it wasn’t simple.

    Here were my steps…

    Day 1
    1) Spoke to a CSR who said they couldn’t do it and argued most of the points Ely mentions.

    2) Was transferred to a supervisor and went through the same steps. She offered to look into it for me and said she would get back to me by the next day.

    3) Called back and spoke to a CSR who basically gave me the same runaround as in my first step.

    4) Was transferred to a supervisor who finally ended up agreeing to cancel me without the ETF.

    5) Called back a couple of hours later to confirm that the notes were in my account. They were.

    The next morning…
    6) Called Verizon to once again confirm the notes about waiving the ETF were in place. Also called the Verizon store where I would be returning my recently purchased phones to confirm. All looked good.

    While in line at the Apple store…
    7) I receive a text message from Verizon saying they were mistaken and they would NOT be waiving my ETF.

    8) Called back and talked to CSR who said they didn’t have a record of me talking to the supervisor in step 4. In fact, they said the name of the supervisor that I gave was actually a different CSR (who was posing as a supervisor?).

    9) Got transferred to a supervisor and about 15 minutes before I got my iPhone I made her see how ridiculous it was that I was told by one person (supposedly a supervisor) that I could cancel, but then a day later was told they were just kidding. She agreed to waive the ETF and that was that.

    Today my final payment to Verizon was made WITHOUT the ETF.

    One thing to mention here – if you are successful, when you log into your Verizon acct after you switch to the new carrier, your balance will be incorrect and will probably show the ETF. Make sure you have good documentation in your account and confirm what your final charge will be and they they will NOT be charging you the ETF.

    Good luck…

  8. tande04 says:

    @Trickery: Never.

    There’ll always have to be some way for you to get out. Otherwise they’d just get you in a contract and raise the price 100% which they can’t do.

  9. secretoftheeast says:

    @Trickery: They may not see a problem with their verbiage. Verizon when they upped the administrative charge didn’t see it as an adverse effect if they give you a credit (whether or not you accept that instead of escaping without ETF).

  10. MexiFinn says:

    So, I just logged into my Verizon account. My Federal Universal Service Charge actually went DOWN $0.50… is it just me or will that make things more difficult to argue about?

  11. crichton007 says:

    I wish this had been around in February!

  12. elyrosenstock says:

    Hi All,

    Glad you enjoyed the video. Make sure to also check out my blog ( about how to make sure that you keep your number as you port over to a new carrier.

    @MexiFinn The FUSC charge is a percentage. So as long as the percentage went up, you’ve got a case.

    Kudos to Consumerist and SlickDeals for giving me the info I needed to get out of my contract and make this video.

  13. flamincheney says:

    While I think it would be nice to cancel my celly without an ETF I have pretty much reconciled the fact that no one carrier is any better from a CS perspective than any other. Since VZW has the best service in my region I just bit the bullet and re-upped.

    I just wish they would standardize so I could buy a phone like a TV and be able to choose the media/phone provider without any contracts etc. I think this month-to-month competition for my dollars would improve service and lower the cost. Aghh, in a perfect world.

  14. CSR says:

    @MexiFinn: The Federal universal service charge will go up and down depending on what the base amount of your bill is, because it is a percentage of those charges. So you’ll need to see what percentage your Federal universal service charge fee went up, not the dollars and cents amount.

    And the reason some reps think that the Federal universal service charge is a tax is because it *does* come from taxes and surcharges the government imposes on Verizon wireless. It’s just that the cell phone companies then recoup the charge from us. If you look on your bill under “explanation of charges” you’ll see the Federal universal service charge fee listed under “Verizon Wireless Surcharges”, not “Taxes, governmental surcharges and fees”.

  15. yaced says:

    Couldnt you just change the address on your cellphone bill to a Cali address? You can just say you moved

  16. cataphoresis says:

    For anybody on Alltel who was interested in this, this is straight from their customer service agreement on

    Material changes in your Service DO NOT include the
    increase in, or imposition of: (1) any charge required to be collected by any governmental authority, or (2) any charge permitted to be collected by any governmental authority to recoup our expense for the provision of a service required by that governmental authority.

    So no dice, I guess. Weak.

  17. Nick1693 says:

    @MexiFinn: Its materially adverse because you want to give them money? Someone needs to try to argue that.

  18. SuffolkHouse says:

    That is a nice service for people, performed by someone who didn’t need to go through the trouble. Very nice of him.

  19. Pro-Pain says:

    I got news for you folks. There isn’t one carrier any better than the other. It’s like the election this fall.
    No matter who wins. We lose. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you won’t have a battle royale with your cell provider over this either, and it the end you better believe you’ll fight with a collection agency over your ETF your cell provider said you didn’t have to pay. Wanna bet?

  20. PiNPOiNT says:

    Ok, i have an account in california, but its with At&T, is it to early to be able to cancel with them in light of the new rulings that sprint is getting hit with right now?

    Can i get out of my at&t contract with this new california ruling?

  21. tande04 says:

    @PiNPOiNT: No, the ruling isn’t even finalized yet. Sprint still has time to review it and submit additional details before they even get the the point where they’ll eventually appeal.

  22. kes33 says:

    So I’d like to do this to get out of my Verizon contract and move to Sprint — and keep my number. Should I move to Sprint first and then do this and try to cancel with Verizon? Or should I cancel Verizon and then go to Sprint?

    I ask because I fear that if I cancel first that I will lose portability to my cell number – and according to the Verizon customer agreement, the moment you port your number they cancel your service and charge you the ETF..

  23. RudeandRude says:

    I have AT&T and would like to get out of my contract without an ETF. Problem is, I want to stay with AT&T and get the iPhone. I just don’t want to pay $499 for it because I’m in a current contract.

    Does anyone know what will happen if I get out of my contract and then try to go with AT&T again? 1) Will they let me, and 2) Will I lose my phone number?

  24. Jandek says:


    I also embrace prepaid. I use Net10, and it only costs me 15$ a month, and I get 150 minutes a month which is plenty for me. I don’t see the point of getting an iphone, for me its either an iphone or gas. I choose gas.

  25. t325 says:

    I was able to use the SMS increase to get out of my T-Mobile contract for the iPhone. I had relatively little trouble, I called the first time and got denied. So I removed my 400 txts/month pack, sent some texts and waited a few hours for them to post to the account and the guy let me out no problem. When I got the bill, it had the ETF, so I called back, they saw the notes on the account and credited it back to my account.

  26. wewanttheearth says:


    link for the verizon customer service agreement

    i’m in the process of leaving now. my favorite line i’ve heard so far was how the FUSC was a tax from the fcc to pay for things like schools & hospitals.

    want to have a little fun with verizon call center extensions? 18034004456. extensions are four digits

  27. jimmydeweasel says:

    Everyone need to understand that the people working these phone call centers (makes on never mind which brand) are one step away from being fired and going back to the night shift at 7-11 or doing lap dances at the local T&A club. They are victims as well as the abused consumer.

    RULE #1 don’t sign a contract unless you have read it and understand the worse case scenario and can handle it. Don’t be so enamored with the wiz-bang techno device you loose your judgement.The Amy Winehouse wanna be may look good in the bar but the doorman will think badly of your judgement in the morning.

    Rule #2 get a prepaid gas station phone for emergencies and 1 minute conversations to meet up close and personal with your friends.

  28. wewanttheearth says:

    with regards to exiting on an FUSC charge…

    the “supervisor” i talked to tonight keeps sticking to a point in the customer service agreement: “they aren’t taxes, aren’t required by law, are kept by us in whole or in part, and the amounts and what’s included are subject to change.”

    kept saying that because they warn you that they’re subject to change that it’s not a valid reason to leave. he stood firm and we kept going around in circles.

  29. RudeandRude says:

    I’ve searched the AT&T Service Agreement and don’t see anything regarding materially adverse anything.


  30. The-Tree says:

    I always have found it funny that everyopne here on the consumer boards has ALWAYS hated it when companies do sneaky things to consumers, like so much so that they will scream, shout and protest.

    however, it is funny that we will lie cheat and steal to get out of ETF with cell phone companies.

    i know, I know, it’s the big guy VS the little guy, but on any level, doing something sneaky to get out of a contract by twisting the same words the companies do…it’s still the same.

  31. RudeandRude says:

    Sorry, I am mistaken:

    We may change any terms, conditions, rates, fees, expenses, or charges regarding your service at any time. We will provide you with notice of such changes (other than changes to governmental fees, proportional charges for governmental mandates, roaming rates or administrative charges) either in your monthly bill or separately. You understand and agree that State and Federal Universal Service fees and other governmentally imposed fees, whether or not assessed directly upon you, may be increased based upon the government’s or our calculations.


    Obviously AT&T will say that I agreed that the Federal Charge can change, and that it is not something i “subscribe” to.

  32. DjDynasty says:

    U.S. Cellular is raising their text messaging to 25 cents a message outgoing. Incomming is still free. No, They won’t let you out of contract. PERIOD.

  33. LucyTuzy says:

    @t325: Was this for the most recent SMS increase for TMobile? I know they were letting people out the last time they hiked up SMS rates but I hadn’t heard anything about this newest increase. I’d like to port my number to AT&T, but I have a year left on my agreement.

  34. BoostMR2 says:

    OK, I am about to call Verizon and attempt to have my contract terminated without an ETF. I found out from my bills that the Federal Universal Fee is proportional to the amount of your bill, not the amount of minutes used. For example, when i used 450 minutes (45$ bill), the fee was 90 cents. When I went over my usage to ~1000 minutes, a good 300 dollar bill, the charge was almost 7 dollars! According to the following line from Verizon, This fee is subject to change:

    “These include Federal Universal Service, Regulatory and Administrative Charges, and may also include other charges related to our governmental costs. We set these charges. They aren’t taxes, aren’t required by law, are kept by us in whole or in part, and the amounts and what’s included are subject to change.”

    Here is what sucks. Verizon states that they can make changes WITHOUT notice. However later in the same paragraph they state they will notify you of any changes before the bill is submitted. Any ideas? I think it’ll be a hit or miss when calling in to cancel. I may try to argue that it is excessive. 90 cents to 7 bucks for twice the minutes? I believe this is shady.

  35. niccernicus says:

    Looks like US Cellular has this covered. Here’s an excerpt from my bill:

    The Federal Communications Commission recently announced an increase in the Universal Service contribution factor. As a result, the Federal Universal Service Fund (USF) charge will increase from 4.19% to 4.23% as of July 1, 2008. This charge is calculated as a percentage of your wireless service charge and may be adjusted quarterly.

    So, I guess using my phone after 8/1 negates that charge as it was given to me in writing, correct?

    Side question, shouldn’t the ETF amount be posted somewhere on their site?

  36. Anonymous says:

    it’s been about 5 months since last post so i figured i would update…

    i called vzn today to cancel this rip-off service. turns out they had some real hefty heffa on the line who was not willing to budge…this big woman (she sounded like a wart hog over the phone) kept on reffering to the Agreement but claimed not to have a copy in front of her LOL i was laughing so hard…well i had my copy on front of me and pointed out everything to her as stated in the video by ER. the CSR aka HEFFA aka FATSO claimed the only way i could cancel is to write a letter to some Legal Dprtment…when i asked to speak to her manager the HEFFA was speechless…after 13 mins of being on hold the CSR came back on the line and stated that a manager would contact me back…i got the CSR’s number and extension and verified it from a different phone while on the call to make sure she just didn’t want to ditch me to go eat a 30 pound cheeseburger and some hotdogs…currently waiting call back from her manager. i will keep you folks posted.