How can I break my contract with Alltel without suffering from etfs ?
August 31, 2009 3:54 PM   Subscribe

How can I break contract with my cellphone carrier without being financially destroyed ?

I live in the Midwest and I made an awful mistake of choosing Alltel last April. The service has been crappy since I first started using it and now I'm under the impression that I'm going to have to get a new phone because of the Verizon merger. I could be wrong but I'm sick of this service and the problems I've had with it. So cellphone and possible contract experts of the hivemind please help since me, and thank you for your time.

P.S. I'm in college which is why it would financially ruin me.
posted by carefulmonkey to Technology (12 answers total)
Consumerist has had some great articles on the subject.
posted by Kirklander at 3:56 PM on August 31, 2009

Verizon was one of the first companies to offer pro-rated termination fees, so you might be better off waiting till they finish the takeover.
posted by nomisxid at 3:57 PM on August 31, 2009

With Verizon taking over it is likely your terms will change, and that typically allows for early (and free) release from contract.

To that point, check out this thread on I haven't read it, so I don't know if the ability to drop Alltel has expired, but you'll probably find something useful in there.
posted by inigo2 at 4:00 PM on August 31, 2009

When I got sick of Verizon's customer service I asked AT&T what they could do for me and the Mrs. They offered to pay our early termination fees for switching to AT&T. It wasn't a cash deal or anything, we did have to pay the Verizon fee and take the invoice to AT&T - they credited the amount to our bill. You might want to talk to your local AT&T store about it because things vary by region...
posted by JV at 4:03 PM on August 31, 2009

My cell company got bought by verizon. The phone was free. In fact, I had no contract, and ended up w/ a free phone even though I ended my service shortly after the merger.

Years ago, I had awful service after Cingular bought m AT&T. I told them they were in breach of the contract because they were unable to provide me with adequate service. It worked with no early termination fee.
posted by theora55 at 4:19 PM on August 31, 2009

If they change the terms of the agreement IN ANY WAY, then you have to be offered the opportunity to terminate the agreement for free. Take it.
posted by musofire at 5:40 PM on August 31, 2009

FWIW, my family has been with Alltel for quite a long time, and we recently got all the paperwork regarding the switch to Verizon. We didn't have to buy new phones, just had to recode our existing ones (which we did ourselves, following instructions they sent -- it only took two minutes). Our contract and services remain the same. So you might want to wait it out and see how it goes for you before you make any big decisions on termination; you might be pleasantly surprised.
posted by amyms at 6:26 PM on August 31, 2009

Correction: It has to be a "materially adverse" change in the contract. Consumerist has more on this.
posted by calistasm at 6:29 PM on August 31, 2009

I've just stopped paying on 3 different cell phone plans over the years and ignored the bills for the early termination fees. Eventually they dropped off, and never once have they appeared on my credit, which I monitor very carefully. One of the companies, Qwest, provides my DSL, and has never made the connection between that account, which I've had for many years, and the $300 or so in cell phone bills they tried unsuccessfully to get me to pay back in 2001 or so. None were ever sent to a collection agency, which is typically when your credit gets dinged. I always figured if they did, then I'd probably pay the bills upon receipt of the first threatening letter. But otherwise, I certainly didn't feel any moral obligation to do so, and those letters never came.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:02 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Call Verizon or stop by a store. Seriously. There are free/discounted phone offers available and the networks are not fully merged yet so switching to Verizon might get you a new phone and better service.
posted by Octoparrot at 7:50 PM on August 31, 2009

I am not sure if it will work with Alltell, however, I just canceled a brand new 2 year contract with AT&T without any termination penalties. To wit, I told them that I was relocating outside of the US because of my work and that I therefore needed to break my contract. I further told them that I was very satisfied with their service and hoped to return to the states in a few years -- was there anything they could do? It turns out that they have sort of an unpublished policy to waive cancellation fees in such circumstances. Good luck.
posted by refractal at 11:07 PM on August 31, 2009

All cell companies will waive termination fees if you move somewhere they don't have coverage. Sometimes this requires a utility bill for the new place.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:26 AM on September 1, 2009

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