Can I cancel my Vodafone iPhone contract for a fair price?
February 10, 2010 9:31 PM   Subscribe

Moving overseas; how do I get out of a Vodafone Australia contract?

Looks like I've scored a job overseas. Problem is, six months ago I signed a 2-year contract with Vodafone Australia for a shiny new iPhone 3GS.

I signed up for a 2-year, $59-a-month cap, plus a $15/month (subsidised) handset payment. I just called, and they want over $1300 as a termination fee! That's insane, as they're selling the things unlocked for $1129. Human-being accounting says my termination fee ought to be $1129 - (6 months * $15) = $1039.

Two questions:

1. Is there any rational explanation of phone company accounting aside from "You signed the contract, we've got you over a barrel and we're going to bone you for all the money we can"?

2. Has anyone managed to get out of a Vodafone Australia iPhone contract for anything resembling a fair price?
posted by m1ndsurfer to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 1: No.

2: I have never met anybody who has achieved this.
posted by flabdablet at 9:37 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

In the US, there are sites that put people (like you) in touch with people requiring a shorter term contract. You can then transfer the remaining period of your contract to this other person and not pay the penalty.

Perhaps google around for something similar in Australia? Sell your iphone to a friend and have them take over your contract?
posted by special-k at 9:58 PM on February 10, 2010

What flabdablet said.

However, a friend of mine left Australia mid-contract and she was able to keep paying the full amount but have that payment as credit when she returned - i.e. if she paid for three months while she was away, they would charge her at the usual time but she would have the three months of calls from the date she returned. This was several years ago, so policies might be different now, but it could be worth exploring. Good luck!
posted by Lucie at 10:49 PM on February 10, 2010

You should look on Whirlpool forums for help on this issue. I think basically the answer is 'no', but if you can establish that you are having reception/network issues, you may end up being able to get out of it. There are a few stories on the forums about people doing this, but it is a fairly time consuming thing to do, with a lot of time on the phone to customer service.
posted by AnnaRat at 5:29 AM on February 11, 2010

I'm a bit confused about the numbers. You say they want over $1300, but that your ETF is only $1029? Are you saying that they're trying to get more from you than is in the contract?

What would you consider a "fair" price? After all, some would say that if you agreed to the early termination fee in the service contract, whatever you agreed to is the fair price.
posted by toomuchpete at 6:39 AM on February 11, 2010

At $74 per month, with 18 months left, the total remaining cost of you contract is $1332. So I definitely would not be willing to pay >$1300 as a termination fee, since that is essentially asking you to pay the entire contract, but not get anything out of it.

Unfortunately I don't know of any rules that prohibit unreasonable termination fees, so if that's what you signed off on when you signed up you might be stuck with it. In their thinking you agreed to pay them $1776 for two years of service and a phone and they intend to make you pay off the remaining $1300 you still owe them, regardless of whether or not you will keep using the service. It stinks that they aren't willing to be more accommodating. It might be worth calling and bargaining for a more reasonable termination fee, but I'm not sure how likely it is to work.

Your best bet is to try to find someone who is willing to take over your contract and transfer it to them. You could even give them a discount of what you consider to be a more reasonable termination fee as a way of encouraging someone to take over the contract.
posted by vegetableagony at 7:26 AM on February 11, 2010

Response by poster: I don't want to transfer the contract because I want to keep my number and when I asked, the Vodafone rep said the number must go with the contract.

As an aside, has anyone ever successfully made the case that after using it for a certain number of years they, not the phone company, "own" their phone number?
posted by m1ndsurfer at 8:12 PM on February 11, 2010

When I left the US and moved overseas, I was able to cancel my mobile phone contract because the company didn't provide service in the place I was moving to. So all I really had to do was prove I lived someplace they didn't provide service.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:48 PM on February 11, 2010

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