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How to Get out of a Cellular Service Contract

atari 1,650 October 16, 2006 at 07:02 PM in Phones (2)
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In the U.S., it can be easier to end a marriage than to leave a loveless relationship with Verizon or Cingular. No, you don't have to move to SIM card swapping Europe. Try these guerrilla tactics to get out of your service contract.
Steps

1. Be a squeaky wheel. Say you want out because the service isn't up to par. (And really, is it?) Then back that up by filing official complaints online with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.

2. Get a lemon. Get a known problematic phone, complain 3 times, be let out of a contract due to your local lemon law.

3. Try a market-based fix. Some companies such as Celltradeusa.com match unhappy mobile customers with people who'd like to sign up - at a discount, of course. You'll pay a $20 fee to sell your contract on the block.

4. Look for your provider to bury changes to Terms of Service with your bill. Quite often providers modify their service plans, much of the time the modification is a benefit. It doesn't matter, this voids the previous contract. Read the small print on those inserts included with your bill, it will spell out that you have 30 days (may vary on where you live) to cancel your contract with no charge simply because they changed the contract.

5. Do a radical move. While potentially extreme, these solutions could free you of the contract:

* Get off the grid. Study your provider's coverage map and find a town (maybe in Alaska?) with absolutely no service. Then tell the company you're moving there. They're not legally required to cut you loose, but frustrated consumers have reported success.
* Join the army. If you are a member of the US Armed Services and you receive orders to somewhere the company doesn't provide service (it doesn't have to be Iraq) they are obligated to cancel your contract free of charge. Keep in mind, you'll have to provide a copy of your official orders. (However, if you're moving to Kenosha, WI and still want to get out of your contract, you can just black out the location and tell the provider you're being shipped to a CLASSIFIED location. It works.)

6. Over use Free Roaming. Most phones come with free roaming now. But it's not actually free. The company pays it for you. So all you do is go to an area that is considered roaming (and when you have free nights or weekends) and place a long (5 hours?) phone call to "Moviefone" or something along those lines. You can also set your phone to only roam and instead of utilizing its own network it will search for others and utilize those. This will start adding up for them in the fees they have to pay to the service provider in that area and they will kick you out of the contract. Too bad.

7. Shrink your plan. As a last resort, cut back to the bare minimum the provider allows and drop any frills, like picture-messaging. Depending on the number of months you have left, this could be cheaper than paying the typically prorated termination fee, which can often run up to $300.


Tips

* Please be aware that some of these tactics may require deception on your part. You may wish to weigh the advantages of getting out of your contract against the value of a clear conscience.


Warnings

* Not all contracts provide free roaming. Make sure to check before placing a lengthy roaming call. If it's not free in your contract, it will cost you a fortune.
* Changing your contract to a lower cost plan may renew your contract with some providers. Be sure to check your provider's policy on this before doing so.

Link [wikihow.com]
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67 Comments

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#2
If you wrote this yourself, I commend you on the effort.
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Falcon 030
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#3
Quote from coryj View Post :
If you wrote this yourself, I commend you on the effort.
No I didn't. The link is at the bottom of the post.
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#4
Quote from atari View Post :
No I didn't. The link is at the bottom of the post.
You're right! I commented after reading through the actual steps and didn't see the warnings and link Wink

Don't know if this is a hot deal, but it was a nice read. I am happy enough w/ cingular though.
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#5
I have cingular and at certain times during the day (i.e. after class) only about 10% of my calls go through. Also, when calling from inside my apartment I get about a 50% success rate while my roommates who have other companies get perfect reception. This is really frustrating, especially since they claim to have the fewest dropped calls. Does anyone have any experience getting out of cingular contracts?
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#6
Quote from atari View Post :
7. Shrink your plan. As a last resort, cut back to the bare minimum the provider allows and drop any frills, like picture-messaging. Depending on the number of months you have left, this could be cheaper than paying the typically prorated termination fee, which can often run up to $300.
Except any changes to services result in a brand new contract. Unless you do this soon after a new contract or at the one year mark (usually the contract minimum) you're stuck. If the object is to get rid of the phone/plan this could be counter-productive.

As always, b!tching and moaning to a "manager" may help.

Some good tips. I like the "deception" disclaimer. No compunction on using deception against cell-phone companies, as they have used it for several years against me...
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#7
Quote from DarthSebaceous View Post :
Except any changes to services result in a brand new contract. Unless you do this soon after a new contract or at the one year mark (usually the contract minimum) you're stuck. If the object is to get rid of the phone/plan this could be counter-productive.

As always, b!tching and moaning to a "manager" may help.

Some good tips. I like the "deception" disclaimer. No compunction on using deception against cell-phone companies, as they have used it for several years against me...
Not always true... On many carriers when you upgrade or downgrade your plan it DOESN'T make a new contract or extend your current!
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#8
Quote from DarthSebaceous View Post :
Except any changes to services result in a brand new contract. Unless you do this soon after a new contract or at the one year mark (usually the contract minimum) you're stuck. If the object is to get rid of the phone/plan this could be counter-productive.

As always, b!tching and moaning to a "manager" may help.

Some good tips. I like the "deception" disclaimer. No compunction on using deception against cell-phone companies, as they have used it for several years against me...
Read the bottom of OP's post. Cingular doesn't charge you, by the way, at least not with a state plan. I don't know about anyone else.
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#9
haha, nice writing. want to get rid off the contract. thx OP
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#10
so whic service is the best in USA?

all of them say, we are best.
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#11
I'm happy with T-Mobile, tons of minutes, good price, and good coverage.
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#12
Quote from Sham View Post :
I'm happy with T-Mobile, tons of minutes, good price, and good coverage.
Yeah 1500 mins for $39.99 is not bad. Not many of the other carriers offer that many minutes for that price.
Once T-mobile teams up with Apple, it should be interesting
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#13
nice one.. im on countdown with Verizon.. 22 days left..

am ready to port to cingular, but this was a nice read,

Thanks OP
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#14
Quote from atari View Post :
In the U.S., it can be easier to end a marriage than to leave a loveless relationship with Verizon or Cingular. No, you don't have to move to SIM card swapping Europe. Try these guerrilla tactics to get out of your service contract.
Steps

1. Be a squeaky wheel. Say you want out because the service isn't up to par. (And really, is it?) Then back that up by filing official complaints online with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.

2. Get a lemon. Get a known problematic phone, complain 3 times, be let out of a contract due to your local lemon law.
The lemon law wouldn't apply here.

The lemon law is for cars, although (IAMNAL) it could apply to a cell phone, but would have to go in for repair 3 times.

The lemon law basically for a car states if your car has a defect, and it's 'fixed' 3 times, and still is a problem, it's a lemon. I don't believe the law states anything other than a car..
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#15
Quote from Sham View Post :
I'm happy with T-Mobile, tons of minutes, good price, and good coverage.
I guess all of them are equally good...its just the advertisement that they do...thats about it...
Quoting minutes....cheap @$$ people like me were able to get blasting negotiated rates and plans on Sprint wireless...kudos to the SD community...I wont mind a little bad service for the price I am payin...BTW nice post
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