Sprint Fee Increase Is Your Chance To Escape Without Early Termination Fee

Sprint has confirmed they will increase monthly regulatory fees from $.20 to $.40 on January 1st, creating an opportunity for customers to drop their contracts without incurring an early termination fee, which could save you up to $200.

You will have to cancel between Jan 1, 2010, when the fee goes into effect, and Jan 31, 2010.

When you call customer service, they will ask you why you are cancelling. They will try to get you to say you are unhappy with some aspect of the service. You need to stick fast to your guns and insist, no matter what, that the only reason you are cancelling is because you are rejecting this materially adverse change in contract terms and conditions.

Sprint’s early termination fee is $200 for customers who signed up before Nov. 2, 2008. For customers who signed up after that date, the early termination fee decreases by a $10 every month after the 4th month, though it never drops below $50. Sprint’s ETF chart illustrates this.


Edit Your Comment

  1. DragonflyLotus says:

    Oh, thank you, I’ve been watching for this article. After 9 1/2 years, they have finally infuriated me enough that I’m ready to switch.

  2. Zclyh3 says:

    Wow. Materially adverse change…that’s funny but I guess it works. This is why I don’t go into contracts with cell providers. I buy my own phone outright so I don’t have to deal with it.

    • blogger X says:

      Awesome. I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing myself

    • Amish Undercover says:

      Same. I pay $0.10/minute, which works out to $100/year for my use. I use Skype heavily as well ($35/year), which helps keep my cell usage down.

    • burnedout says:

      I made my phone from spare parts and use my neighbor’s signal. Have never paid a cent for cell service.


    • pot_roast says:

      Beware of that – you can still wind up in a contract because of a simple rate plan change, and you’ll have to jump through many hoops to get out of it.

      This just happened to me recently.

  3. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I almost, almost wish I was on Sprint so I could pull the “materially adverse” line and claim victory…but alas…no.

  4. Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

    Sadly, I’ve always been happy with Sprint. They’re the only carrier that works in my apartment. Everyone else only “sort of” works.

    • The_Red_Monkey says:

      I am happy with Sprint. I have the unlimited everything plan and use a hacked Windows Phone and it works great. No dropped calls for me. Sprint’s phone selection may not be the best but my experience with the speed of the network is great. Beat TMobile hands down and AT&T and Verizon are just way too expensive in comparison. The Droid is the only thing I am envious of and I have a feeling that Sprint will rectify the Android envy soon enough with better phones than the Moment and Hero.

  5. Scuba Steve says:

    I see my Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge change all the time with AT&T. Never been able to get out of my contract.

    The Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge is a charge assessed by AT&T associated with payment of government imposed fees and to recover the costs of compliance with government imposed regulatory requirements. It may include costs incurred in prior years that are not yet fully recovered. It is not a tax or charge which the government requires AT&T to collect from its customers. This charge is subject to change from time to time as the cost of compliance changes.

  6. lain1k says:

    Last time they raised the rate I was able to get out of my contract via talking to an online rep. It seemed like they had gone through this a couple times and I was even able to keep my number. I was able to get an Iphone because of it. Sprint service is great but their phones leave something to be desired.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I am regretting not taking advantage of this same “deal” when T-Mobile raised their text rates. Now I’m stuck for annother 1.5 years :-(

  8. MrPaulAR says:

    Can you cancel your contract but remain a customer?

    • shepd says:

      No, doing so would require you to accept the fees that you say make the service unacceptable, shooting a gaping hole in your argument for having left.

      Of course, it doesn’t stop someone from trying and getting a clueless rep. :)

      • Guppy06 says:

        But what if I want to change to a pre-paid billing scheme through Boost instead? This nickel-and-dime fee nonsense doesn’t seem to happen to the pre-paid folks, and everything seems to be available for half the price (even before fees) through Boost than through Sprint proper.

      • GilliganLQ says:

        Actually, you can remain a customer without being in contract. It’s the same thing that would happen when your contract ends, you’re just on a month-to-month plan. If you’re not in contract they can change the terms whenever they want and you’re free to leave whenever you want.

        I’ve had Sprint for 11 or 12 years now, and whenever they do these fee changes I’ll call to get out of contract just because I like the freedom of being able to leave (not that I ever have). They usually offer an add-on or monthly credit of some sort if I agree to a new contract, and I’ll do it if it’s worth it to me. Otherwise I just go month-to-month until I decide to upgrade my phone.

  9. whey says:

    Just entered an extended 2 year contract during the Black Friday weekend when I upgraded to a Palm Pre. Would love to be able to cancel the contract and have the option to switch to another carrier and keep the Pre.

    • zacox says:

      No other carrier has Pre capability. And good luck getting your Pre unlocked for use on Verizon when VZW finally allows them on the network.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      You can keep the pre. I’m sure it’d make a pretty shiny paperweight. I’ve heard that MetroPCS lets people port in “foreign” ESNs but I have no direct knowledge of that. I think it would be difficult to convince the Pre to work on another network, but if the network will let you bring your own ESN it should be doable. I’m guessing it would be less hassle to stick with Sprint.

    • t0ph says:

      not gonna happen. If you want out, you are inside the 30 day grace. They will prob make you send the phone back, I would think.

  10. bnceo says:

    Pondering whether I can opt out, but continue month to month. Then sign up for 2 yrs and get a Palm Pixi at a discounted price. I bought the Palm Pre in Aug and I’m interested in having both.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      If you want to USE both, you should be able to add a line if you promise to spend $9.99/month for it for the next 2 yrs. The effect would be the same, since you’d be re-upping for 2 yrs to get the Pixi, though you’d be on the hook for both lines instead of just the new one I guess.

  11. medfordite says:

    I wonder if Sprint will catch wind of this and start to formulate excuses or something to prevent a “Materially adverse” exodus.

    I have had them since Feb of this year and have had pretty good service with them however, I have had an increased number of calls dropped, as well as my phone auto-rejecting my calls. (Very frustrating)

    I have had their “Simply Everything” plan which in my opinion been extremely fantastic concerning what I get and use it for. Plus, since I pay over $99/month with them, I am in their “VIP Club” which equates to early renewal of the contract and a 25% discount on accessories. Not really worth it for me. :)

  12. duetoprivacy says:

    I have sprint. I am meh about it. I pay $80 a month for unlimited text, nights and weekends and 450 regular minutes. I feel like I could do better. I would like to have internet, talk, text on a smart phone.

    What cell phone provider do people recommend. I have been thinking about switching to a prepaid plan. My credit is not that good so I don’t know if I would even qualify for another contract plan.

    • blogger X says:

      Oh you’ll most likely qualify…putting anywhere from $100 to $500 down as a “deposit”. Seriously though, why the f*ck do cell phone carriers do it and how is it legal?

      I have Sprint to, so I can’t answer that one for you. The main reason I stick with them is because I’m paying $15 a month for internet(smartphone user). I don’t like the idea of paying $30 a month for it on devices like the iPhone and the DROID.

      • duetoprivacy says:

        I wonder that myself.

        Also when apartments make you pay a pet deposit PLUS pet rent. Seems like they are just taking advantage.

        • blogger X says:

          Yeah its not like Buster or Rex is using the utilities while I gone :)

          Congress or some other government regulating agency should look into that deposit issue when it comes to cell phone contracts. Its not like they are issuing you credit.

    • ahleeeshah says:

      What plan are you on with Sprint? If you don’t have everything data, you should. I have everything data, so I get 450 minutes, but unlimited internet, texting, etc. on a smartphone. With the new unlimited mobile-to-mobile stuff they just put in, I have an unlimited talk plan as long as I don’t call landlines very often. The plan itself is $69.99 to my knowledge (I have a 20% employee discount from my last job, so I only pay about $67 a month including insurance and taxes/fees).

      From my research when deciding on a phone company last year, Sprint has the cheapest plans of contract companies. It was the best decision for me, and I’ve been happy with it.

      • duetoprivacy says:

        I’ll call sprint and look into that. Last time I did they said I would be paying $100 a month. When I am used to paying $60-80. I also get a discount through my old job, making now that I work for the state I will get a higher discount?

  13. joshuadavis says:

    Seems like everyone should do this, even if to just switch to a month-to-month plan.

  14. JonBoy470 says:

    Hmm… I might have to think about this… I’ve been on Sprint for five years now. Coverage is good in Virginia and I’ve never had a serious problem with them (I know, I’m apparently the exception).

    Unfortunately, all the other options are crap too. AT&T has the iPhone, but they’re expensive and their network blows. Verizon has a great network, but you pay through the nose for service on a phone that has been crippled at Verizon’s behest, and that dings you $1.99 every time you hit the “Get it now” button. T-Mobile has those neat no-contract phones with cheaper plans, and great customer service, but their coverage is lacking.

    And don’t get me started about all the no-name regional carriers and pay-as-you-go carriers.

  15. PanCake BuTT says:

    I will be trying this trick to maybe get one of the latest phones Sprint offers. SO sad the state of Sprint and their phone line up. I will not part with $350 for a mediocre, mid-tech phone. Maybe this will help.

    Good looking out Consumerist, NOW I KNOW!

  16. ohenry says:

    I did this for my fiance a few years ago (so that I could add her onto my line through a local carrier…$20 a month rather than $50!) and it’s surprisingly easy. You can also do this via their online chat. I woudl recommend this since it’s easier to stick to your guns. They just copy-and-paste a few canned pleas for you to stay, and all you have to do is type no thanks. Much easier than dealing with it over the phone, in my opinion. Plus then you can save your chat :)

  17. ARPRINCE says:

    YAHOOOO!!!!!!! Just what I have been waiting for!!!!! :)

  18. MamaBug says:

    So, all I have to do is call customer service during the time window, say they’re violating the contract, and *bam* me and my husband are out of their dropped-call clutches one year early? Sounds too good to be true. I concur with medfordite, when Sprint realizes that the public is aware of this, they’ll probably do something to make ending the contract without collecting some crazy ETF invalid.

  19. celeb8 says:

    I may have to take advantage of this, although I’ll miss their customer service. I’ve never had to wait on hold to talk to a tech or CS rep, and they all seem to speak English as a first language, and the one time I had a rude phone rep I had call after call apologizing for it. They just don’t have the phone selection I want.

    No what the hell after hearing about every other cell phone company on these boards I think I’ll stick with Sprint and just suffer through not having an iPhone or Droid. I can’t kiss their ass enough for just not having horrible service.

  20. coren says:

    I’m curious – if I sign up now will my contract already have this in place, or not?

  21. Esquire99 says:

    It may be harder to get out of the contract due to a $.20 increase in a fixed regulatory fee. Arguably, $.20 is not material on most people’s bills. Further, there is a clause in the contract saying this fee may change from time to time (pasted above) which you agreed to. Also, this isn’t like an increase in text messaging fees that has the potential to spiral into a large amount of money each month; this is a fixed fee. Some may get lucky and have the rep let you out instead of fighting, but Sprint may have an argument that such change doesn’t constitute a MAC that justifies voiding the contract.

  22. mk says:

    So if I decide to do this, can I keep my phone number? How would I do that?

  23. CitraBenzoet says:

    saw this post earlier today but just now had a reason to look at my sprint bill. according to my bill due on dec 15 i am already paying the $.40 regulatory fee. not that $.20 is a big enough deal for me to change but surprising that the post says jan1- jan 31 for the fee to go into effect, then why am i being charged for it now? guess i may have to call sprint in the morning try to get some answers

  24. metsarethe... says:

    I have sprint for my mom (and pay her bill) and I want to cancel just for the pure joy it would bring but I get 27% off my bill every month from my employer so I guess I wont actually go through with it.

  25. czarandy says:

    Why not just send a letter to cancel? Then you don’t have to talk to anyone. I’ve found this works much better in canceling just about everything.

  26. Bush2012 says:

    Look at all these posts that are already thinking of the best way to abuse this to get subsidized phones and then resell them. You should really be ashamed of yourselves; you’re hypocrites for bashing companies who are “GREEDY CAPITALISTIC PROFIT MACHINES RAWWWRRRRR” and then turning around and trying to take advantage of them. Now if you’re genuinely upset with Sprint, then I have no qualms with you. But trying to abuse the system to get subsidized phones? Die.

    Also, Sprint is pretty awesome if you get good coverage where you live. They have some pretty cool phones like the Pre, Pixi, Hero, Moment, and they have the best plans for smart phones. $69.99 for unlimited everything (assuming all your friends are below the age of 95 and use cell phones)? Yes, please!

    • burnedout says:

      Do you work for Sprint? I smell a shill.

    • duetoprivacy says:

      I know for a fact they don’t have anything plans for $70 if they do why do they not offer that as an option to me? I am already paying over $60 for 450 minutes, unlimited text but NO internet.

      Also who says they are going to cancel their plan to get a subsidized phone?

  27. TonyK says:

    What regulatory fee has increased 100% in the past year is the question I think the FCC should be asking Sprint.

  28. rwalford79 says:

    I have Sprint myself..Recently upgraded to BlackBerry Tour for $99, and upgraded my plan (free of charge for the upgrade). 450 Anytime, 60 Bonus Minutes for Life, Unlimited N/W and Any Mobile, 6PM Nights, Insurance, and Pick 5 Calling (Pick 5, 60 Bonus Minutes and the 6PM is the upgrades). I have a bit of a discount (its actually pretty high, and offsets the high taxes in my area), of course all this includes Unlimited Messaging and Data (and BIS BlackBerry) … I havent used a single anytime minute in months actually…. $74 flat… As I said, my discount covers part of my insurance cost and all my taxes…(yes, they are high where I live).

    I really like my service, but I HATE contracts. I want the HTC Hero as well, so I can experiment with Android, but think I might go with Moment cause its “standard Android” rather than the “SenseUI”… So I might “cancel” and then resign a contract. Hopefully I dont need to do anything other then select “month-to-month” on the old line for a few months till I get together and “familyplan” with my parents.

  29. smackswell says:

    So, it seems like the Consumerist should go more in depth as to what “escaping without an early termination fee” can entail. Does that mean you can keep service without a contract? Is it a bargaining chip?

    Lets take my situation. I have a lemon of a phone. I won’t say which one. But this phone won’t last a full day with light usage. I spent a lot of money on this phone. It’s crap. I spend almost 80 bucks a month for service. Now that a materially adverse change to my service is coming, do I have more options than just being done with sprint altogether? I’ve seen these kind of posts for years on consumerist, gizmodo, howardforums, sprintusers, and more. I understand that we’re talking to reps that want to insure that we’re stuck to our contracts. But I really feel like consumerist should clarify the possibilities of this contract violation, so we consumers know exactly what our arguing is capable of.

    It’s a tall order, but can you get to the bottom of it?

  30. JPH says:

    yea, this is great. but i’m wondering also if it’s difficult to keep your phone number if you utilize this trick?

    also, is there some sort of rule that says that if you’ve paid a bill that reflects the change, that’s considered consent or something like that?

  31. JPH says:

    i just checked my old bills…I’ve been charged the .40 regulatory fee for at LEAST the past 6 months. I didn’t check further back than that. are we sure facts are straight in this post?

  32. RmanB17499 says:

    This does not sound like an ETF out for disagreeing with a materially adverse change to the contract. While, a change in price is always, by legal definition, material, and a change to the other terms and conditions of service may be considered (1) a change that you do not agree with and (2) one that your protest and and request to cancel within 30 days as stipulated in Sprint’s TOS…

    The important excerpt from the TOS for both 2009 and 2010 is: “SUBJECT TO CHANGE”

    The number and type of Surcharges may vary depending upon the location of your primary billing address and can change over time. We determine the rate for these charges and these amounts are subject to change as are the components used to calculate these amounts

    Please note the verbiage in both the 2009 and 2010 TOS that covers surcharges:

    You agree to pay all surcharges (“Surcharges”), which include, but are not limited to: Federal Universal Service, various regulatory fees, Sprint administrative charges, gross receipts charges, and charges for the costs we incur in complying with governmental programs. Surcharges are not taxes and are not required by law. They are rates we choose to collect from you and are kept by us in whole or in part. The number and type of Surcharges may vary depending upon the location of your primary billing address and can change over time. We determine the rate for these charges and these amounts are subject to change as are the components used to calculate these amounts. We will provide you notice of any changes to Surcharges in a manner consistent with this Agreement (see “Providing Notice To Each Other Under The Agreement” section). However, since some Surcharges are based on amounts set by the government or based on government formulas, it will not always be possible to provide advance notice of new Surcharges or changes in the amount of existing Surcharges. Information on Surcharges is provided during the sales transaction and is available on our website.

  33. dwm says:

    I called Sprint today, since like most consumer I really really loath being locked into a contract, and I followed the instructions on here with the intent on going month to month. However, Sprint would not give me the month-to-month option and stuck to their guns about either keeping it as is or canceling. They threw me some bait claiming that since my billing statement on page 4 stated that I had “unlimited” data vs. “5 GB limit” that I had unlimited data. I don’t know about all that and thought that the contract itself stipulated the 5 GB cap – not on the bill ya know kind of hidden. However, I don’t care and canceled. Bye Sprint – I won’t miss you, but you’ll start missing my $64 every month. Later and thanks for all the fish. :-)