One ringadingy....
September 4, 2007 10:22 PM   Subscribe

Are there any tips for convincing a cell phone company to willingly break contract?

My cell phone company is being bought out by AT&T, I strongly do not want to pay AT&T for cell services, and have severe misgivings about paying a disconnect penalty (A few hundred bucks). But my company has so far refused to release me from the contract or consider releasing me just prior to the transfer. I look at it like I have a contract with Cellular One, not AT&T and should have the option of leaving rather than being forced to be a customer of a company I do not want to patronize. I am at the stage of persistent polite pest that customer service is trying to brush off to other people.
posted by edgeways to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
well there is one sortof option i know of a TOR or transfere of responsibility basically you sell some other sucker your contract/phone and instead of going on contract next time buy an unlocked cellphone off ebay for dirt cheap or from your local graymarket cellphone dealer.
posted by Chamunks at 10:29 PM on September 4, 2007

Tell them you've moved to some place that you're roaming 24/7. It costs them too much.
posted by floam at 10:38 PM on September 4, 2007

Per Chamunks, you may try using CellTrade to sell your contract to someone else without having to pay the penalty. Failing that, find out the terms that will allow you to disconnect without the fee and try and find a loophole that will allow you to meet those terms.
posted by mezzanayne at 11:34 PM on September 4, 2007

You might try the other side of the coin and try to convince a new carrier to pay your early termination fee. Whoever you're switching to may require at least a 2-year commitment, but I've heard of this being done before. Just make sure you have everything documented - tell whoever you're dealing with to give you reference numbers and the names of people approving the deal, because they'll probably want you to pay the fee first and then credit it back to you in some way and you'll want names and numbers if they "forget."

Or, as floam mentions, take a look at your Terms of Service. If you have free roaming as part of your plan, some providers have a clause that says if you use more than 50% of your minutes roaming, they'll terminate your service. But check first!
posted by krippledkonscious at 2:15 AM on September 5, 2007

The consumerist will occasionally post when cell phone companies make changes to the contract, usually text messaging rate changes. They claim that this change is 'materially adverse' and will let you escape the contract without an early termination fee. Some people have gotten it to work!
posted by Comrade_robot at 3:43 AM on September 5, 2007

Ditto on the consumerist. I've gotten it to work.
posted by filmgeek at 5:11 AM on September 5, 2007

I've been wondering about AT&T. They recently had to admit they aren't "the network with the fewest dropped calls" so perhaps a false advertisement claim would work? Perhaps as a last resort.
posted by TheDukeofLancaster at 6:58 AM on September 5, 2007

Depending on where they are in the acquisition process, you may get a period of time where you can opt out of your contract. Was the purchase of Cell One just announced? If so, there may be a date in the future (probably a few months out) where they will switch you over to their billing system and put you on one of their rate plans. That's generally when you get a window of time to bail out if you want.

But, I don't work for AT&T, so I could be completely wrong. Not too long ago, they seemed to slap an automatic contract extension on you almost for just thinking about your cell phone...

Keep a close eye on your mail (including anything they package with your bill) so you don't miss an 'opt-out' letter if you get one.
posted by altcountryman at 7:37 AM on September 5, 2007

Call them over and over. Once they see they'll it would be cheaper to drop you and not get your termination fee than to service your calls, they drop you.
posted by Monday at 9:41 AM on September 5, 2007

Tell them your in the military and that your being relocated out of the country ;-)

Legend has it military relocations are a get-out-of-contract free card...
posted by vitrum at 3:52 PM on September 5, 2007

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