Can I cancel a phone contract for mental health reasons?
December 18, 2010 8:31 AM   Subscribe

A year ago I went through a serious manic episode, during which I signed a 24 month O2 phone contract which I can't afford. Is there any chance O2 would cancel the contract if I explain the situation and provide medical evidence?
posted by Chenko to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If you were not in full possession of your faculties, you were not in a suitable mental state to enter into a contract. I would argue therefore that the contract is null and void. I am not a lawyer.
posted by dougrayrankin at 8:42 AM on December 18, 2010


If you were not in full possession of your faculties, you were not in a suitable mental state to enter into a contract.

This is not going to fly in any court. I would, however, try to escalate it up their chain of command - possibly even by getting in touch with someone senior right off the bat and politely explaining your situation, along with offering to provide medical evidence. You may find someone sympathetic, as long as you don't get righteous on them (which I'm not saying you're doing by asking).
posted by Dasein at 8:51 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given that it was a year ago, you should be half done with the contract. If you're very polite and patient yet firm and constant in asking, you might find a customer service representative who will let you cut off without an early termination fee or at least a reduced fee. Alternately, you could ask if you could scale down your contract without signing a new one, basically cutting the level of your service. Some companies will do that to keep you on board even at minimum service, some won't.

It is sad that you have a legitimate medical issue, but I wouldn't advise going down the route of suggesting you weren't in control of yourself enough to sign a contract. It's just not likely to help.
posted by Saydur at 9:01 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


If this is O2, it sounds like you're not in the United States, so stuff about how capacity to contract works in the US isn't going to apply to you, anyway. There is, for these things, always a chance that you can get somewhere just by asking nicely, but otherwise you'll probably have to bring a lawyer into it, and you probably shouldn't rely on advice from people on the internet.

That part aside, sometimes the ETF is less bad than having to pay for the rest of the contract, if you're really that broke. A friend of mine ran into bad times financially, canceled her cell phone, and is paying the cancellation fee off at about half what she was paying for her phone service. It's not ideal, but it's worked to leave her enough cash to pay her bills.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:08 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see form a quick googling that the O2 contract requires you to pay out all remaining charges if you want to terminate the contract. That's pretty rough. It's probably not worth getting a lawyer involved for this, since I doubt that you will save more money than you spend on the lawyer. So I also vote for trying to find a sympathetic customer service rep (or manager) to cut you a deal on the remaining charges - perhaps returning the phone is an option? Failing that, as said upthread, a sympathetic customer service rep may let you switch to a different, less expensive plan. If that fails, then is it possible to sell the phone with the remaining contract?
posted by molecicco at 9:30 AM on December 18, 2010


If they won't cancel the contract, reduce to their lowest tariff and buy out. Should be around £220 and sell the contract phone to cover the cost. Hopefully will reduce the cost to something affordable.
posted by moochoo at 9:37 AM on December 18, 2010


I think o2 lets you scale down after nine months (this is the case on an 18 month contract) - at the very least, they are obligated to move you to a cheaper tariff. When I did this last year, you could only go down one step per month but it should be possible.
posted by lumiere at 9:58 AM on December 18, 2010


Response by poster: Thanks guy. I managed to knock £20 off the tariff by downgrading one step and getting rid of the insurance. It's still too expensive but it should be just about manageable. I asked if I could downgrade again next month but the rep said there was nothing else I could do until the end of my contract.
posted by Chenko at 11:52 AM on December 18, 2010


escalate it up their chain of command - possibly even by getting in touch with someone senior right off the bat and politely explaining your situation, along with offering to provide medical evidence

Agreed. I got out of normally-unbreakable contracts (like a gym membership) by being very polite yet firm about changed circumstances. Definitely escalate, the first person you talk to will simply not be authorized to acknowledge that this is even possible.

You likely have to go through the rigmarole of explaining your request to the front-line customer service rep first, in order to be able to ask them to escalate it so that you can repeat your story to a manager.
posted by desuetude at 11:55 AM on December 18, 2010


You might be interested in this related question from a while ago:Can I break a lease if I signed it while in a manic episode?
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:14 PM on December 18, 2010


I occasonally have manic episodes and end up with all sorts of ebay crap in my mailbox a couple of weeks later :|
posted by Bubbles Devere at 5:17 PM on December 19, 2010


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