How to Get out of a Cellular Service Contract
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.
* 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.
* 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.