30-Day Window To Cancel Sprint Without Penalty Starts Tomorrow

Starting tomorrow, Jan 1, 2010, you can cancel your Sprint cellphone contract without early termination fee. They are increasing monthly regulatory fees from $.20 to $.40. This constitutes what is known as a “materially adverse change of contract” and means you can break the contract without penalty. An official Sprint spokesperson officially confirmed this for us. A few things to know:

* When you call, they will ask you why you are cancelling and try to get you to say you are unhappy with some other 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.

* Not looking forward to playing head-games over the phone? Some readers have had better luck using online chat. “They just copy-and-paste a few canned pleas for you to stay, and all you have to do is type no thanks,” says commenter ohenry. “Plus then you can save your chat.”

* Yes, you can keep your phone number and port it to another provider.

* Yes, you should be able to use this to switch to a month to month plan.

* You only have Jan 31, 2010 to cancel.

Give it a shot and report back on how it goes in the comments.

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


Edit Your Comment

  1. red3001 says:

    Didn’t this happen last year? A contract change?
    Found it: https://consumerist.com/2008/11/escape-sprint-etf-free-over-administrative-fee-increase.html

    Looks like a yearly gift to all Sprint users, every year a chance to bail.

  2. gitmo234 says:

    I’ll be watching this to see how it goes for folks. I cant wait until the next materially adverse change AT&T makes.

    • punkrawka says:

      I think AT&T is scared to make a change out of fear of just how many people will bail at this point. I know I’m one of them. I switched from Verizon to AT&T just because my wife was switching to get a Jesus-phone, and the network quality is nowhere near worth the $5/mo I save by being on my wife’s family plan. I’m switching back first chance I get.

      • sven.kirk says:

        I think AT&T changed their term and conditions TO INCLUDE discretionary fee increases, with no opt-out/cancel option. They may have taken it back out though. No too sure.

        • dragonfire81 says:

          I do not think doing such a thing is legal. I don’t see how you could agree to a contract where the other person says they can change the terms anytime they want however they want and give you no recourse whatsoever.

  3. tbax929 says:

    I’ve been with Sprint for years and, although its reputation on Consumerist is shaky at best, I wouldn’t go to another provider. From a price standpoint, I don’t think I can get what I have from any national other provider for less money than I pay with Sprint. I have three lines, all with unlimited data, texting, voice calls to any cell phone, and free nights and weekends for about $150 a month. The three of us split it, so it’s only $50 a person. The only reason I ever considered leaving Sprint was to get a cooler phone, but when the Android phones came out I decided to give one a shot, and I really like it.

    So, while I appreciate the ability to avoid an ETF and cancel early, I’m not going to do it.

    • Charles256 says:

      I wish I could agree. It might just be a matter of where you live. In my area sprint service is horrible. They are much cheaper but man it’s rough. I’m switching to verizon. My droid is awesome and my coverage in the south is so amazing it makes me giggle with joy daily. Not to mention I’ve used a gig of data in a week. We’ll see how strongly they mean unlimited. :-D

      • tbax929 says:

        It must depend on where you live. I’m in Tucson, and I’ve never had a call dropped. I also had Sprint in PA, and didn’t have any problems with the network there, either.

        My friends who are with AT&T have had network issues. My problem with Verizon is that in order to have what I have with Sprint, it would cost quite a bit more than I pay.

    • rwalford792 says:

      My parents also have the same plan as you… $150 for the unlimited pack for 3 lines, and while sure they could go to MetroPCS, they really like their phones, are happy with Sprint, and dont mind paying a little more for the options they have because the network is not only more widespread and faster data then Metro, but way more reliable.

      • tbax929 says:

        Agreed. I hear a lot of good things about the Droid on Verizon, but when I priced out what I have, it would be over $250 a month to mirror my coverage. I don’t know of another national provider that gives unlimited voice calls to ANY cell phone (correct me if I’m wrong). The unlimited data is huge, because two of the phones on my package are smart phones. If I changed the third to a smart phone (it’s my mom’s, and she’s not interested in a fancy phone), my cost wouldn’t change.

        I think Sprint has everyone beaten on price. Since I don’t have any service issues with them, I have no reason to leave them.

    • merely_a_muse says:

      I made the switch from T-Mobile to Sprint earlier this year & couldn’t be happier. I love their unlimited plans & I get awesome reception. Even inside my apartment (something T-Mobile could never deliver for me unfortunately). I know they get a bad rap, but I’ve been nothing but pleased with my service thus far.

  4. Fred E. says:

    Definitely go with the chat and save the transcript.

  5. thriceberg says:

    According to SprintUsers.com, starting January 10th Sprint is adding a $4.99 monthly fee to any account with a spending limit. You can activate Autopay to disable the fee, but they will also let you out of your contract (so no ETF) if you request it. This only applies if your account currently has a spending limit.


    (There are some arguments on that page’s comments as to whether or not this will get you out of your fee, but reports seem to be that Sprint CSRs are saying when (and if) you see the $4.99 charge on your bill, you can cancel without an ETF)

    • medfordite says:

      OOOOOH! Since I am on the unlimited “Everything” plan, that sounds like it might work for me. I do have a spending limit on my account so that might make it worth my while to jump out of Sprint and go with one of the prepaid companies. Boost mobile (owned by Sprint), has a plan that pretty much mirrors what I have already for half the price. The same applies to Virgin Mobile as well.

      I get my bills electronically and never saw the notice that they were going to add the Spending Limit fee. Never got a letter in the mailbox either stating such a thing, but it is on my detailed statement if I look at it in the PDF.

  6. CuriousGeorge113 says:

    Last time Verizon did this (they raised some BS fee $0.02/mo), if you called in to cancel under the Materially Adverse Change clause, they would exempt you from the fee increase instead of letting you out of your contract.

    • thaJack says:

      I don’t believe that would matter. Can can offer to exempt you, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the contract did change.

  7. frodoUnderhill says:

    Of all the evil phone carriers, sprint is the least evil for us. Decent coverage (since we live in a city and don’t travel much) decent phones, and the best prices around (still ridiculously overpriced, and our plan doesn’t exist anymore for new customers) What I really want is a phone that I could pay per minute (shared plan and we only use a fifth of what we pay for) and have unlimited data, but I haven’t found that yet.

    • tbax929 says:

      Price-wise, nobody can touch Sprint. You can get it cheaper with a regional carrier, but if you want a national carrier and cost is your main concern, Sprint is your best option.

      • temporaryerror says:

        If you don’t travel much, Cricket has amazing prices. Currently, you can sign up for unlimited talk/text for $25, and add data for a total of around $40/month. However, if you travel much to areas that don’t have Cricket, you only get a small amount of free roaming per month. Another plus is that you can flash just about any CDMA phone to Cricket, including blackberries and other smart phones.
        If i weren’t such a GSM addict, and didn’t ever travel I would do that.

        • Dont lump me into your 99%! says:

          The problem is Cricket has very small coverage, MetroPCS has a bit better, and great prices as well.

  8. tkmluv says:

    I am going to assume that you can cancel your contract but still keep service, correct? I am currently on the Everything Data Share 1500 plan with 4 phones and need to cancel one of them but would also like to cancel the contact on the others just in case. Does has anyone canceled their contract and still kept service active with Sprint?

    • eirrom says:

      Doesn’t work that way. If you choose to cancel the service due to this change, the service ends too.

      • mysticalmelody says:

        Not true. You can cancel without ending service. My mother and I have done so on our family plan. Now if you want to get new phones and start a new conract with sprint that may be another thing altogether, but if you make sure to tell them you just want out of the contract and want to switch to month to month, they’ll let you. If they don’t get another representative and work with someone who knows what they’re doing. I just told them we needed to decide still which carrier we wanted to switch to or if both or just one of us wanted to switch.

    • ben says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily assume that. In some cases in the past, Sprint has let people do that, but they’re not required to. All they have to do is let you leave Sprint with no ETF.

    • GilliganLQ says:

      I’ve called up to cancel my contract a few times in the past. You just have to be sure they understand you’re canceling your contract and not your service. I had a rep once that didn’t seem to understand the difference. Just end the call and try again. It sometimes takes a few tries, but eventually you’ll find someone that knows what they’re doing. Having a month-to-month plan after canceling your contract isn’t that different from completing your contract.

    • Guppy06 says:

      Quoth the text above:

      “Yes, you should be able to use this to switch to a month to month plan.”

      • tkmluv says:

        I know, but it says “should” and I asked if anyone has done it before.

        • mysticalmelody says:

          They let me and my mother out and kept us on month to month. I’ll be leaving and getting a nexus on t-mobile tomorrow and that’s totally cool according to sprint.

  9. ashtonn4 says:

    sprint actually called me cuz I have a helio, which was soon bought out by virgin mobile after i started my contract, and sprint is buying or has bought virgin mobile, well sprint called to ask me to switch to one of their phones and their plans saying they’d give me a deal. I tried asking if any of my contract terms were changing because I had heard nothing of this and would actually like to get rid of my phone, but the guy just kept ignoring my question and going back to telling me what a great deal I could get for switching. Anyone know if my terms are changing?? I did look on the website where I handle my account but nothing.

    • tbax929 says:

      It sounds like the guy who called you wasn’t a legitimate Sprint rep. Have you tried calling Virgin Mobile to ask about this?

  10. Howie411 says:

    I’d never switch from Sprint, unless they kicked me off, I have such a good plan an extra 20 cents does not phase me.

    500 anytime mins. / Unlim nights/weekends
    Unlimited Roaming
    Unlimited data
    Unlimited txt/picturemail
    Nights starting at 6.
    First incoming minute free
    Free calls to my favorite 3 people

    Total after taxes $30.50

    Only downside is they won’t allow me to get a smartphone on my plan.

  11. Craig Newmark says:

    Does this apply to data accounts for Net access?


    • tbax929 says:

      That’s an excellent question, which I don’t have the answer to. I had a net card with Sprint for a while, but it was unlimited for $60 a month. They begged me to cancel it, since I was using a ton of data, and offered cancellation without an ETF. I no longer needed it, so I was able to get out of the contract without paying an ETF.

  12. oneliketadow says:

    This won’t work for everyone. According to my November bill, I’m already paying 40 cents for this fee. Several other commenters have noted this too, so please check your bill first.

    • Taris'Kah says:

      Do you have two lines on your account? The charge is .20 per line. I was confused for a moment when I looked at mine and it was .60/month. Then I realized it was from the three lines.

  13. Smiley says:

    I am a lifer with sprint. I broke up with them once and paid the $200 fee. I came back to them 2 yrs later and they credited my account the $200 because I came back …and whined a little.

    Service is great (Phoenix) but their website needs a little work.

  14. firemunkie says:

    this isnt correct actually, you have to wait to get ur jan bill first. u then have till the due date to cancle.

  15. MrEvil says:

    Don’t know who I’d switch to. Sprint hasn’t rubbed me the wrong way and I pay $150/mo for a WinMo handset with unlimited voice and data and a datacard embedded in my Laptop (whose contract is about to run out.). Not only that Sprint doesn’t gimp their handsets like Verizon tends to do.

    • mysticalmelody says:

      I switched cause I wanted a decent android smartphone. The nexus one really appealed to me, and I don’t mind paying more for what I will be getting.

  16. rwalford792 says:

    I called Account Relations today and asked about the changes. The rep I spoke with (each rep has very different information), told me that even if it does take effect Jan 1 2010, it doesnt matter until it is on your bill, at that time I could call in and ask Sprint what they are going to do about it.
    He did mention that generally a person could discontinue with Sprint (vague wording), and the ETF generally is waived. When asked about month to month service, he said that sometimes Sprint does do deals to that effect.

    I signed another 2 year contract only 2 months ago. I have some great plan options on my account and a massive 25% discount, I dont expect them to keep me, but T-Mobile offers me the same price for unlimited minutes, so Ill let Sprint know that I CAN leave and find better pricing on another carrier, and will gladly pay the fee, but if Sprint wants to keep me, Ill stay if I can continue month to month, Ill actually stay a VERY long time!

    • bigmil87 says:

      Just one thing I was wondering did you get a discounted price of a phone or did you provide your own phone?

      Reason I ask is I think its asking a lot of a company, any company to have them cancel your contract and then expect them to do you a favor of letting you keep your phone that you got for way less then MSRP and stay on a month to month payment plan with you saying with your word that you will stay with them.

      If you provided your own phone or paid in full then nothing to see here.

      • rwalford792 says:

        Im a Sprint Premier member so I get discounted phones every 12 months, and I did get a new phone, but thats not really the issue. Sprint is changing terms of service in our contracts, thus the contracts are negated and null. Im more inclined to stay on month to month, rather then cancel TODAY outright, keep that phone on a new carrier, and pay another fee.

        What Im also saying is that Id give back my phone, if they wanted to give me my $150 back for it, and cancel my contract… So its up to them. I do have my own Sprint phone out of contract to provide if that was part of their deal. Fine…

        • mysticalmelody says:

          If you want out of the contract and onto a month to month they’ll let you, just make sure you say you want out of the contract only because of the rate change, and that you aren’t cancelling service, just the contract. You don’t need to make any promises or special deals with them to cancel because of this and keep service.

  17. isaidnoonions says:

    For people that don’t know the jist of telecommunications companies in the united states. Here it is.

    Sprint = high quality service, medium coverage, crappy phones, overpriced.

    AT&T = crappy service, great phones, good coverage, way way ovrpriced. Oh and they’re scumbag devils.

    Verizon = alright quality service, great coverage, almost all crappy phones, fair price, but they’ll find a way to over charge you. I rate these guys as the most likely to con you somehow.

    t-mobile = alright service, good coverage, alright phones, great prices.

    So basically, you need to merge two of them right.. which is exactly why it’s so common to buy an unlocked iphone right nw and take it to t-mobile. then you’ve got a great phone, on a good network (if tmobile is good around you), for a really great price.

    I know of 3 people that are doing exactly this right now because of the sprint contract change. They’re all psyched. My girlfriend has been paying 80$ a month to sprint for over a year, and she doesn’t have data, and only like 600 minutes.. it’s insane. bye sprint.

  18. Bo Link says:

    Just tried to cancel my contract via chat. It was a no go. They forced me to call Account Services. Waiting on hold for them right now.

  19. Bo Link says:

    Just finished up with Account Services. They aren’t switching people to month-to-month. I guess I could call back and talk to someone else, but it’s not looking good so far.

    • Bo Link says:

      I was able to get my family line contracts marked as “fulfilled,” and then switch over to a month-to-month plan. Just keep calling back till you get a rep who knows what they are doing.

  20. cattrin says:

    Just gave this a shot over their web chat, she agreed it was a materially adverse change of contract, but when I asked to then cancel she told me I had to call in for that. Calling in soon, I’ll let yall know how that goes.

    • textilesdiva says:


      According to “Roland”, I need to call [number, then options], where a “Sprint Specialist” is standing by to help; he indicated: 18:26:23 : Roland C: This is the dedicated department who handle the issues regarding the increase in regulatory charge.

    • Kurt says:

      called today, using the info from consumerist and this site:


      and it worked like a charm. remember stick to your guns, keep saying the only reason you are canceling is because of these new fees and that it is a ‘materially adverse change’ to the terms of your contract and you wnt to cancel without an ETF. don’t let them sweet talk you with a credit on the added fee, just stick to your guns.

      15 minutes, not too much hassle, and i’m FREE!

      now onto the Google Nexus One!

  21. Acrimonious Bird says:

    I just cancelled my sprint contract last night without incurring the ETF thanks to this. Surprisingly enough I was met with no resistance (other than an hour of waiting on hold for a rep) or counter-offers. I made sure to be very precise in using the same language as is in the terms and conditions regarding cancelling to stop them from denying me, but it may have just been good luck with the rep I got connected to.

    I actually quite liked the phone (Hero) and plan (EPRP) that I had, but T-Mobile having a nearly identical plan for the same price combined with the siren song of the nexus one pushed me over the edge.

  22. odoketa says:

    I had no problem getting the cancel – getting month-to-month doesn’t seem to be working – I’ll have another go later. Worse comes to worse, I try the new Google phone…

  23. Nguuch says:

    I have an Instinct with Sprint and want to use this break in the contract to get out and get an iphone with At&T without paying the ETF.
    The AT&T people (at a store) told me i needed to end with Sprint first, tell them to port the number, and then come into to get an iphone and set up a contract.
    The Sprint people (at a Sams Club kiosk where i bought the phone) told me Sprint can not port the number unless i already had a new phone with another provider for them to port the number to.
    Who is right, and how do i make the switch without losing my number?

    • mysticalmelody says:

      Tell sprint you want to end contract without ending service. If you get the right rep they should let you do it, if not keep asking for it. They did it for me. That way you can pay month to month without contract until you switch providers and port your number.

  24. hawkeyejohn says:

    If you call, prepare for the sprint lie machine. First rep told me that I would have to call back after the 10th of Jan because the fee increase won’t start until then. After demanding to be xferred to a manager, the manager told me that the fee probably wouldn’t even affect me. After repeating my request, the manager said, “Mr. Johnston, between you and me, you’re not cancelling just because of a 20 cent fee increase”

    At that point I lost my cool, and ended my call. I’m going to try again later

  25. roaster says:

    Just cancelled my service. Doing it online seems to be a no go. I had to actually call and speak with somebody. The first person I spoke with continued to tell me that the charges were not effective yet so I am not allowed to cancel. Then when I asked for a supervisor he told me that I could cancel, but I would have to pay an ETF. I had to ask for a supervisor 3 or 4 times before he finally agreed to connect me to one and tell me the supervisor was busy and I would either have to wait 15 minutes or have the supervisor call me back. I decided to wait. The supervisor could not have been more helpful. Agreed to mark my contract as “fulfilled” which allows me to port my number to a different carrier without having to worry about an ETF.

  26. marh723 says:

    OK I went ahead and put this to the test. After calling (by the way chat does not work they just tell you to call in) Got to a supervisor they tried to ram home the fact it’s just .20 cents more etc. blah blah. Told them i wanted out of the contract was on hold while they decided (2nd thing too whoever said they will allow you to go to month to month that is a lie!!!) The Sprint guy said what he will to to keep my is give me a 10 dollar recurring credit for the life of the contract. I already have a 25% discount with sprint. This just sweetens the pie ! I love this company they truely do put the customer first what a drastic move to keep me. so I am paying about 55 dollars a month for 900 minutes /everythingdata/anymobile anytime. (last this thing with the 4.99 charge for anyone with a spending limit is true if you are not setting up on auto pay/ only way around is to call the ceo’s office and have them do a manual review of your credit and they took mine off!)

  27. mysticalmelody says:

    I did it. They did really try to make me say something else was wrong. They let me switch to month to month, but that’ll end soon when my new nexus one arrives tomorrow and I port the number

  28. Iluvpink7 says:

    I wanted to share my experience with canceling my contract with Sprint. Yesterday morning I attempted to cancel via web chat with a customer service rep. Immediately I was told I would have to call into account services. I did not want Sprint to have any other contact number for me incase this became a bigger issue, I waited to call with my Sprint phone when I got home. I got through to customer service who said I needed to speak with someone in the cancellation department. I was transfered and within a minute or two I had a rep on the phone. I explained to them very clearly that I was canceling my contract due to their “Material Adverse change of contract” and I was tired of them “nickel and diming a customer to death”. I was offered discounts on my current bill and was point blank asked if there was anything they could do to keep me. I insisted that there wasn’t and after a few more minutes of mindless banter I was free and clear of Sprint, early termination fees and their contract. When calling them make sure not to say a word about anything other than their “material adverse change” and it should be smooth sailing.

  29. medfordite says:

    I have been able to achieve the following with Sprint on this…

    I am a Simply Everything customer with them and have been for the past 12 months. I declined lesser plan with them to save $40/month on their 450minutes/all data plan. (I use 1500 minutes monthly).

    After arguing with the rep (who by the way is VERY well versed and trained in this), we settled on the following:

    I find new carrier no later than 03/01/10 and request my number to be ported. At said time of porting, my service will cancel, and I WILL BE BILLED THE ETF, however, call Sprint upon receipt of ETF billing and refer to said reference number provided to me
    via rep and they will Zero out the ETF.

    Smells sort of fishy to me…

    • Oritonio says:

      I had this happen to Me with Verizon. I tried their services under the 2 week free trial and cancelled after only 3 days… To this day I resolved the issue and my account is zero with No ETF, but Randomly every few months I get a bill from them with the ETF. I have to call and tell them to read the notes on the account. They quickly appologize and remove the ETF and send me a bill for Zero dollars as proof…. a few months later… Verizon wants thier ETF again… This has since moved to collections since they refused to remove the ETF the last time and I have Written the Proper Letters to all 3 of the Bureaus. 5 years later and the issue is still not resolved.

      I would tread lightly.

  30. Oritonio says:

    I Went to Online Chat to Cancel my account. They did not try to convince me to stay. They asked me to call to cancel. I nicely refused saying i would prefer to handle this now, and that calling was not convienent at this time. They informed me I had to call cause they could not cancel online.

    So I called and had a very nice conversation with the rep who very quickly and neatly prepped my account for cancellation. I simply need to call back when i am ready to port my number to be sure the account is canceled without a fee. They informed me I have until Feb 18th (my next billing cycle.) to cancel without an ETF.

    They were SO nice and SO effiecient about the process and did not try to convince me to stay, that I almost want to stay… Reverse Psycology might be working on me… I might stick around with sprint after all.

    I will keep you updated!

  31. theyoungin says:

    I’m more then willing to jump at the op of being free of Sprint a year early but I don’t have much experience with this sort of thing so I’m a bit hesitant… I have 2 other lines on my account and can’t be left without service, so:

    If I call and cancel today would I have time (like to the end of the month) to get a new provider or will I be left without service immediately?