I'll pay you to NOT have a phone number.
September 13, 2012 4:07 PM   Subscribe

El Sabor just posted an iPhone pre-order question, but I've got snowflakes. Please help!

My wife and I want to switch from T-Mobile to Verizon and pre-order the iPhone 5 tomorrow. However, until the end of October, our ETFs are $200/line. After that they drop to $100/line, which I'm willing to pay. My current phone is broken, so I'm without a phone until we get our iPhones, which makes this difficult.

My plan is to:

1) Pre-order the iPhone 5 tomorrow
2) Port our old numbers over to Verizon
3) Drop our T-mobile service to the lowest tier that we can ($60)
4) Use the new phones on Verizon while continuing to pay the T-Mobile bill for a month, then cancel at the reduced ETF in November.

Anyone know if this will work? I feel like it can't, because T-Mobile will require two numbers on the account to let me keep paying them for a month. If this won't work....what's the best solution, in your mind? Keep in mind that I don't have a phone until I can get the iPhone.
posted by InsanePenguin to Technology (9 answers total)
Your T-Mobile service will be automatically terminated when you port your numbers. This will trigger the ETF. You can immediately open new service with a new number, but that will not avoid the ETF. If you call them, you might be able to talk them into refunding/waiving the ETF if you sign up for new service and agree to keep it through the original term, but it would be an exception, not how it is supposed to work. And while I have had good experience with T-Mobile customer service (and terrible experience with Verizon, FWIW), they don't have a lot of incentive to help you out if they know you're planning to ditch them in a month anyway.

I can think of two other options:

1. Get a cheap used phone to keep using with T-Mobile until November. Then when your contract is up, buy the iPhones and port.

2. Buy the iPhones now, but don't port your number, so you can keep your T-Mobile account open. You can probably forward your T-Mobile number to the new Verizon number, but outgoing calls will be from the new number, which might be confusing.
posted by primethyme at 4:20 PM on September 13, 2012

T-Mobile contracts have a a clause that if you move to an area not served by T-Mobile, the ETF is waived in full.
So, get a copy of a bill from a friend in Europe or Canada or some other non-T-Mobile area. Photocopy it with your name in place of theirs.
Fax it to T-Mobile and you are thusly unencumbered.
Ethically, you might think this would cost you karma, but fortunately, there are no ethics in the world of cell phone provision so its nothing to guilt over.
posted by Fupped Duck at 4:22 PM on September 13, 2012

I think you should consider talking to Verizon/TM about this, because it sounds snarly to me and I also don't think it would work - I think your current idea might reset your contract and therefore your ETF, but I could be wrong about it. In fact, every idea I thought of would probably do that.
posted by sm1tten at 4:23 PM on September 13, 2012

Can you get a prepaid phone for a while, until you can clear the ETF?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:29 PM on September 13, 2012

So you have a couple of options (if you care about the money): Try to get T-Mobile to be cool and waive/reduce the ETF or wait and deal.

As far as T-Mobile into being cool about this and waiving the fee goes, well, good luck with that—when my husband and I switched to Verizon from T-Mobile, my contract was up first, so I switched to Verizon, and everything went fine. Then, when his T-Mobile contract was up, he switched over to my existing Verizon account, and T-Mobile charged him for extra service time and refused to back down, even when he offered to pay them what he should've been charged for the service he actually used that month. We'd always been thrilled with T-Mobile customer service until that point, but they just completely refused to work with us on that. So beware; they don't seem particularly interested in correcting billing errors, much less helping a guy out, when they know you're leaving.

I think the way you get out of this for the least amount of money is to wait until the end of October to switch to Verizon. In the meantime, go to Target, buy a cheap T-Mobile prepaid phone for $50 or $60, and swap in the SIM card from your broken phone. That'll keep you in phone service on T-Mobile for the next month and a half.

Otherwise, if you don't care about the money and just want new iPhone 5s, then port over the numbers now, pay the larger ETFs, and move on. I think those are pretty much your options.
posted by limeonaire at 4:48 PM on September 13, 2012

Or do that thing Fupped Duck describes.
posted by limeonaire at 4:50 PM on September 13, 2012

Fupped Duck, I love your solution and have thought of it, but unfortunately have no friends or family currently living overseas. My dad lived in Switzerland for 12 years, but alas, no longer. I guess I'm pretty much boned.

Thanks for the quick answers, everyone!
posted by InsanePenguin at 5:09 PM on September 13, 2012

Just adding that any used phone you buy now will be worth about the same as you pay for it when you go to sell it in a month or two. If you're willing to wait until November, you can probably do this with very little out of pocket in trade for the hassle of buying and selling a used phone.
posted by cnc at 8:08 PM on September 13, 2012

Insane Penguin, witha computer and a laser printer, the ease with which you could make a fictitious bill (of any kind, it needn't be for cell service) from the Bothswanian Cable Company or Fijian Water Works etc is trivial, and trivial in comparison to the effort it would take to verify the bill. If its convincing, they check no further.
posted by Fupped Duck at 10:28 PM on September 13, 2012

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