Thursday, March 02, 2006
There is a little known secret about your cell phone contract that your wireless service provider doesn't want you to know.
You can cancel whenever you want without paying a termination fee.
Plenty of people have tried arguing with a customer service rep. Some have tried threatening legal action. Others just flat out refuse to pay and several months later find that they are being pursued by a collection agency.But there actually is a way to terminate your contract early AND avoid the early termination fee. All you have to do is get them to cancel you.
There is a very simple way to do this. Become unprofitable.
If you're paying them $50 a month but costing them a few hundred - They most definitely will cancel you.
So how is it done? A couple of years ago you might of noticed that everyone stopped paying roaming fees. One wireless giant started the "no more roaming charges" program, and the rest followed like the sheep that they are. But just because you are no longer paying the $0.69/min doesn't mean your provider gets off scott free.
Even though you stopped paying for roaming charges years ago, your wireless service provider has been eating the costs. This is done to keep complaints to a minimum, and of course, you as their customer.
So let's do the math.
At $0.69 a minute, a 2 hour long call in a roaming spot just cost your carrier almost $83.00
Even with some of the higher end plans, this would still be quite a hit. But would it be enough to cancel you?
To find out, we just need to take a look at the contract you signed.
This is the link to Cingular's Terms of Service.
It states: "Cingular reserves the right to terminate your service if less than 50% of your usage over three consecutive billing cycles is on Cingular-owned systems. Customer must (1) use a Cingular GSM dual-band handset programmed with Cingular Wireless' preferred roaming database; (2) have a mailing address and live in the immediate geographic area in which subscription is made."
Now, in plain English.
For 3 straight months, make sure that more than half of your calls (51% or more) are done in roaming.
If you've used 400 minutes this month, then you find a roaming spot and place a 401 minute call to MovieFone. Do this on your weekends of course so you don't use your minutes.
After the 1st month you'll know you were successful because you will receive a letter from your carrier suggesting that you switch to a different provider that can better accommodate your cellular needs.
Keep in mind that some roaming partners can take two months to send the records of your roaming calls to your wireless provider. It's possible that your provider won't even know that you were roaming until they receive the bill.
Just for my sake and possibly others I'll mention this: Don't make a 5,000 minute roaming call just because you're mad at your wireless provider. Only use this tool if all other resources have failed you and use it in moderation.
I'm hoping that this information will make termination fees pointless and one day get rid of them altogether.
Also, check with your own provider's contract terms. They may differ. This page is only referencing Cingular.
Oh yeh. This is for educational purposes only. Don't sue me Cingular.
I have been adjudicated mentally incapacitated in 49* different U.S. states so nothing I say can be taken seriously in a legal sense. That should be enough to protect me, right?
*If you're wondering which state doesn't acknowledge my handicap - It's Texas. That way they can still execute me if need be.
UPDATE: Wow, this is really taking off on Digg. Just posted this three hours ago and already on the front page.
Some people find it in bad taste to digg to their own blog, but they'll notice I don't have any other entries here to plug. Blogger was used for this bit of information alone due to how quickly it is to create a free page. If google page creator was available, it would of been used instead.
Some other people noticed that it takes quite a bit of time for this cancellation without fees trick to work (3 months). They were able to catch onto this because they have at least a 2nd grade reading level.
Some things they may not of taken into consideration because they only use digg to start flame wars.
1. Where in the world do people come up with this magic number of $150 for a termination fee. You think that just because that's what the sales rep. told you it would be two years ago when you got your phone, that it hasn't jumped up in price without your knowledge? Guess what. It has. Sprint, Cingular, Nextel and Verizon all charge $175-200 now, and they didn't ask you for permission when they changed it. And they still won't ask the next time it goes up.
2. Cellphone Carriers really do have to pay outrageous fees for roaming. $0.69 is the average rate they pay. Av-er-age. This means that some charge more. Like BlueGrass Cellular in Kentucky. They treat their towers like they're made of gold and charge heavily to anyone that crosses their path. Some Verizon customers might remember how up until a year ago they couldn't use their phones anywhere in Kentucky. It's not because Verizon forgot to put towers there. It's because they didn't want you to be on their network one minute, and on bluegrass the next. Verizon instead showed no service in Kentucky on their service maps and wouldn't sign up new customers there until they could strike a deal with bluegrass. In fact, if you look at Verizon's pre-paid maps, there is still no service shown in Kentucky.
3. Wireless providers being billed thousands a month because of one person actually does happen although it is very rare. For most wireless providers it doesn't exceed more than two dozen of their customers per market, but it does happen. Because of this rarity it is merely an afterthought to these giant carriers. But paying more for your customer's roaming fees than what they are paying you each month means you are loosing money on them. Hence, the little known secret to getting out of your plan.
4. Which brings me to one more thing. If your wireless provider cancels you, you do NOT pay a cancellation fee (unless you decided to stop paying your bill and that's why they cancelled you, of course). Unless you request your cancellation, you do not pay. Period. It's as simple as that. Feel free to call your wireless provider right now and ask them that. It's already beyond stupid to advertise a no roaming plan that has so many potential flaws in it for losing money. It's another thing to cancel your subscribers because they actually use it the way you advertise it. And it's just plain mean to charge them a fee after their forced cancellation.
It's not some unproven theory that may work. It does work. It shows it in your contract which there is a picture of just above. (If you're with Cingular)
5. Let's presume that you are the kind of person that can't live without a cell phone. You really hate your wireless provider and want to switch to another company but you know you'll have to pay your last bill plus $175 termination fee all at once.
You're in luck. You just read this blog entry and found a way out. It will take three months, but it's not like you won't be able to use your cell phone like you usually would anyway during that time. And you know that once your done, you'll be able to start fresh with a new company. And most importantly, get the good deals on a cell phone that they only give to new customers.
All you had to do was press a few buttons on your phone to change it over to "roaming only" and make enough calls for your wireless provider to get sick of you and kick you out of their little club.
posted by Big Yellow Tag