You’ll learn how I only used 2 steps to cancel in 13 minutes and 55 seconds
One of the biggest obstacles you might face in getting 3G or 4G service is worrying about being stuck in a mobile broadband contract.
Here we’ll cover how to get out of your contract so you can have an exit strategy before even signing in.
Naturally, if you’re already in one it’ll work too.
Let’s get one thing straight though. I will only cover how to get out of contracts for legitimate reasons.
If you are reading this to jip companies out of money, just close the browser. This page is not for you.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, you’ll find out:
- Why Companies have an Early Termination Fee (ETF)
- When You Have The Right To Cancel Without Fees
- 5 Steps To Get Out of a Mobile Broadband Contract
- What To Do If They Still Try To Charge
Why Companies Charge an Early Termination Fee
It helps companies reduce the cost to provide a service/product when a contract is ends earlier than the agreed date. At least, that’s the official reason.
In the cell/mobile broadband industry, companies also state that it allows them to provide deeply discounted devices that we’ve fell in love with. While that may be true, it’s only part of it.
Here’s the most important and unofficial reason:
Early Termination Fees are used to limit your freedom to switch carriers.
In their defense, some customers switch carriers faster than the guy who swerves through traffic on the interstate at 100 mph.
However, too many honest hard-working people get trapped with service that doesn’t work and contracts that changed from what they signed up for. If that could or has happened to you, then keep reading to find out:
When Can I Cancel My Mobile Broadband Contract Without Fees?
It’s your right to file for a divorce from your contract when:
The terms of the mobile broadband contract change
The company breaches their own contract
You join the armed forces
The terms can change when rates increase (such as text messaging or monthly regulatory fee).
If you signed up for an unlimited plan and the company changes the terms, they’ve created a new contract. Because it’s brand new, you can either to accept it or reject it.
Secondly, you can cancel without fees if they breach the contract.
How could that happen? Easy.
When you enter a mobile broadband contract, its agreed that if you pay a fee, you receive service in return. That’s just fair trade.
If you consistently receive extremely poor or no service at all, it’s a breach of contract on their end. They are obligated to release you from your contractual obligation. Why? Because they can’t fulfill their end of the bargain.
As peachy keen as this sounds, don’t expect a fair fight.
They’ll try to throw sand in your eyes (read: extend your contact, offer you free phones/broadband cards), deny any knowledge and do just about anything to not lose out on cash.
Their job is to keep your money.
Your job is to not give it to them for nothing in return. If it breaks out into a verbal fist fight, you’ll need to know "What To Do If They Still Try To Charge". Before we get into that, let’s assume everything goes smoothly by following some guidelines on…
How To Get Out Without Paying The Fee
There are two ways:
1. Fight for your rights
2. Sell your contract.
If you’re gonna go with the more popular ‘Fight for Your Right’ route, here’s what you need to do. But first, here’s a video summary.
Quick Tip: Everything here works for your cell phone contract too
The 5 Steps To Get Out of Your Mobile Broadband Contract
1. Prepare Supporting Documents:
Get your bill/notice that states the change in your mobile broadband contract. You’ll also need a copy of your section that looks similar to this:
"Provide customers the right to terminate service for changes to contract terms. Carriers will not modify the material terms of their subscribers’ contracts in a manner that is materially adverse to subscribers without providing a reasonable advance notice of a proposed modification and allowing subscribers a time period of not less than 14 days to cancel their contracts with no early termination fee."
"Our Rights To Make Changes to your service is subject to our business policies, practices, and procedures, which we can change without notice.
UNLESS OTHERWISE PROHIBITED BY LAW, WE CAN ALSO CHANGE PRICES AND ANY OTHER CONDITIONS IN THIS AGREEMENT AT ANY TIME BY SENDING YOU WRITTEN NOTICE PRIOR TO THE BILLING PERIOD IN WHICH THE CHANGES WOULD GO INTO EFFECT.
IF YOU CHOOSE TO USE YOUR SERVICE AFTER THAT POINT, YOU’RE ACCEPTING THE CHANGES. IF THE CHANGES HAVE A MATERIAL ADVERSE EFFECT ON YOU, HOWEVER, YOU CAN END THE AFFECTED SERVICE, WITHOUT ANY EARLY TERMINATION FEE, JUST BY CALLING US WITHIN 60 DAYS AFTER WE SEND NOTICE OF THE CHANGE."
2. Call Your Mobile Broadband Provider
Be sure to record the name and ID# of the representative (in the instance they don’t do what you ask them to). Read off the notice you received and ask them if it is true. When they confirm it, cite the clause in your mobile broadband contract that releases you from your obligation to them.
To help get on the phone with a human being faster (because that robot won’t cancel your contract), try GetHuman.com. They keep a list of numbers that will get you to a human being for practically any company so you don’t spend an eternity on hold and give up.
3. Prepare for Resistance
Stand firm and rely on the documentation that they gave you. If they argue that it’s not a materially adverse change, explain how it does affect you (on a yearly basis per say). In the case of a text message increase, you can explain how if you added a cell phone line it would be applicable. You’ve got to remember, they exist to make money. If you leave, that doesn’t happen. They won’t make it easy to leave.
If they still refuse to do it, ask for the president or vice president of customer service’s contact info (name, email and phone). Explain to them what’s happened and your next course of action in #5.
5. Call For Backup
If all else fails, threaten to or actually file a report with the FCC.
Fill out this form here http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm.
That should ensure a swift action taken by your wireless carrier. They’ve been instances where the company will call a customer to actually waive a $200 ETF after they’ve issued it. They take the FCC very seriously.
If the FCC doesn’t do anything (highly unlikely), you can try selling your contract.
Using the exact steps above I cancelled my mobile broadband contract with Sprint. What’s even better is it only took 2 out of the 5 steps. Here’s a play by play of how it went down:
1. I Prepared Supporting Documents
I find Sprint’s Terms and Agreement via their website and run a ‘search command’ for "material adverse". In less than a second I’m at the portion of the contract I need to be:
"if a change we make to the Agreement is material and has a material adverse affect on you, you may terminate each line of Service materially affected without incurring an Early Termination Fee only if you: (a) call us within 30 days after the effective date of the change; and (b) specifically advise us that you wish to cancel Services because of a material change to the Agreement that we have made".
On my bill, I located the notice stating that Sprint will increase their monthly regulatory fee. This falls under Sprint surcharges and not government taxes (i.e. it’s something Sprint’s doing, not the government and so it’s a change Sprint’s making to the contract). The fee increase constitutes a ‘materially adverse change’ to the contract under which you can legally cancel.
2. I Called My Mobile Broadband Provider (& Stuck To The Plan)
I call Sprint to cancel and get the automated service. At the earliest possible time, I press ‘0’ to get to a live person.
When the representative picks up I state "I’m calling to cancel my contract". She says she needs to transfer me to the right department.
After the transfer, I’m on the phone with Nicky:
Nicky: Hi, what can we do for you today?
Me: I’m calling to cancel my account due to the materially adverse change where Sprint is increasing their regulatory fee from $.20 to $.40
Nicky: Is this your first time calling regarding this?
Nicky: Give me just one moment while I note that account regarding your desire to cancel.
They will try to ask if its some other reason besides the fees. If you fall into that trap, then they can state you aren’t calling to cancel due to the materially adverse change and may charge you the Early Termination Fee if you go through with it
Nicky: Are you calling to cancel because of the fees or because you no longer need it? I see here you are on a seasonal standby plan.
Me: I’m cancelling because of the fees.
Don’t fall for the sun, moon and stars counter-offer. It’s pretty easy not to since this is designed to capture cell phone users and not users getting out of mobile broadband contracts. Since my device is a broadband card, it can’t even make calls. What use would I have for all that junk? Even if I got a new one I use the thing to get online and that’s it.
Nicky: We can upgrade the line to give you 450 minutes, free calling to any mobile number, free nights and weekends starting at 7pm for $69.99 but reduce the monthly charge by $10 so that it’s the same as what you’d normally be paying now.
Me: No thank you
Nicky: I’m going to place you on hold while I process your request
Be sure to confirm the representative ID# in the event you need to argue your case at a later date. While the representative I spoke to was very cordial and didn’t give me a hard time, you never know how ‘kind’ the other person on the other end of the line will be.
Me: Before you do may I have you ID#?
Nicky: It’s —————
Nicky: Thank you. I’m going to go ahead and place you on a brief hold
Nicky: I did set the line up to cancel at the end of the billing cycle without an early termination fee. You will not be charged another bill when this billing cycle ends but you do have an outstanding balance of $10.36
Me: Yes. Thank you. I paid it just before this call so I expect it hasn’t hit the system yet.
Nicky: Have I satisfactorily completed all your requests today? If not, you can speak with my supervisor to confirm that I have cancelled your account and you will not be charged an Early Termination Fee
Me: You’ve been very helpful Nicky. Thank you very much.
Success took 13 minutes and 55 seconds (Source: My Blackberry Curve 8900)
Why Cancel My Mobile Broadband Contract in the First Place?
I love some mobile broadband but due to my careless nature I broke my AirCard. To be quite frank, I was gonna have to pay $60 for 6 months when I couldn’t even use the service. That just didn’t make sense to me.
Would I Get It Again?
Update: I did
I love the convenience and freedom it offers. I got the Sprint 4G Overdrive because it’s got unlimited mobile broadband and it connects wireless making it nearly impossible for me to break it.
While I had a pretty easy success, there may be unfortunate times when you come across an asshole. If that keeps happening, then you may have no other choice than to…
Sell Your Contract
To sell your mobile broadband contract, it’ll cost a little bit. Definitely less than a $200 ETF fee though. These resources allow you to find people who may be willing to buy your contract from you. If they do, you have no further obligation whatsoever.
CellSwapper: Free to post. $14.95 if you sell your contract.
CelltradeUSA: $19.99 to transfer a contract. No fee to take over a contract.
CellPlanDepot: Works in Canada, United States & United Kingdom. They have a free plan that gives limited features and higher tier plans (with more features) costing up to $24.99 (one-time fee).
Now you’re properly strapped for an epic battle with telecom juggernauts. You probably won’t need to fight, but if you do, its best to be prepared.
What we’ve done is plan your strategy before hand. While fires don’t happen often, it’s best to know your exit plan in the event that it happens. That way, you don’t get burnt.
***Disclaimer: I am not an attorney nor do I pretend to be one. This information is provided to educate consumers about possible courses of action. Be sure to read through the fine print of your companies specific terms and conditions. As with all legal issues, it is best to discuss them in length with a lawyer before taking action.
2 Last Resorts To Get Out Of Your Mobile Broadband Contract
1. Get an Extended Travel Plan
Some companies such as Sprint have what’s known as an extended travel plan. While it doesn’t get you out of your contract, it can reduce your mobile broadband plan from $60 to as little as $10.
I’ve personally took this option when I broke my AirCard and it could not be repaired.
I explained to Sprint that I could not use the services and purchasing a new broadband card from them would cost me more than it would to cancel. With that being the case it’d just make sense for me to leave. At that point they recommended this plan for the following reason:
While it would extend the length of my contract by however many months I was on the plan, it would allow me to get closer to my 24 month free upgrade option. At that time I could get a new broadband card at the discounted price.
While that’s great, there’s an even better hidden benefit:
Remember how we spoke about materially adverse changes to the contract above? By staying on the seasonal plan for up to 6 months, it also buys you more time during which the company may make a change to your contract. As soon as you see a notice on your bill stating the change, your window of opportunity has appeared and now you can cancel just as I did.
If all else fails, you can join the army
If you are a member of the armed forces and get notice to deploy, cell phone companies are obligated to let you out of your contract. Be prepared to produce a copy of the official orders.
Now that you’ve been equipped to handle mobile broadband contract battle, you may finally feel comfortable with getting mobile broadband knowing you can’t be trapped against your will.
If that’s the case, here’s where you can:
The beauty of it is that you can cancel and get a full refund (if you even paid anything) within the first week of testing it out in the event you feel it’s not working out for you. Cheers to the internet without wires:
If you decide to get mobile broadband through one of the links below, I do make some money. Just some full disclosure. Besides, every broadband card is free or puts money in your pocket. Talk about win-win.