Any escape from outrageous cell phone contract?

I am paying for cellphone service for three separate phones on the same ‘family plan’. There have been unjustified extra charges for internet access and I’d like to change to a different service provider. My wife signed a two year contract without reading it carefully. The service provider (rhymes with “gall smell”) will want $200.00 per phone for each phone line in the plan for early termination of the contract, for a total of $600.00.

After checking with a competing service provider we have determined that we could recoup the $600 after four months due to lower cost with the competing provider. But that seems like a totally unreasonable charge for early termination of the contract. I’d like to just tell them to suck it. Our credit report would then be less than perfect (it is excellent as things now stand) but, so what? Refinancing of our mortgage should be complete one week from now and after that a less than perfect credit report should not be an inconvenience.

My question is: how long would such a transgression affect a credit report?

There have been several other threads on this exact subject and the answers are “Yes they do pursue you”, and “Yes it does go on your credit report as a negative strike”. I’m not super pleased with Verizon but I’m going tot suck it up until the contracts expire. Short of hard nosed legal gamesmanship which you can easily google up as “getting out of a cell phone contract” you’re pretty much stuck.

As a side note credit strikes can negatively affect the interest rates you are offered on credit cards and car loans etc. It’s not all about house loans.

Time limits vary.

Have you tried negotiating with the provider? If this is a one-time fuckup and you’ve been a good customer prior to this, sometimes they are willing to lower (or even eliminate) the bill for you as a goodwill gesture.

I got out of a ~$100 or so mistake last month, and I’ve heard of people getting written off for much more (thousands, even) especially when they let the blogosphere know and they make a stink.

Why can’t you say ‘alltel’?

I’ve always wondered the same thing about people who won’t post the name of some company but make it obvious who they’re talking about. :confused:

And as for how long it remains on your report…for a collection, the general rule of thumb is 7 years from the date of last activity. Which is the stickler. If it’s in a collection company, all they have to do is work up the account and send the updated info to the credit bureaus and your 7 year time line is reset.

I don’t know how well they work. But, from what I understand there are websites were you are able to let someone else take over your contract, so you are free to roam elsewhere. I imagine that means you have to give up your numbers, though. (I have no idea.)
Here’s a page that has a little bit of info on it. Maybe,you can find out more:

LifeHacker:Bail out of your Cellphone contract by trading.

It’s crazy. It’s like they think it’s illegal or they can get sued or something. I think they’re patterning after how marketing employees talk, where they’ll never mention the name of a competitor.

If they make any change to the contract (terms of service), then immediately let them know that you wish to be let out of the contract as you are not agreeing to the change.

I included that because “gall smell” is an accurate description of what I think of them. They have a lot of gall and it’s a nasty smell.:mad:

This is why I only ever use prepaid. :smiley:

The $200.00 fee for ending the contract early is pretty much standard practice with most providers.

Most companies will allow you to switch plan types without extending the contract an additional 2 years.

Why don’t you (not your wife) call the company and find out if you can switch to a less expensive (no data service, no internet acess) plan?

FWIW, no matter which cell-phone company you are with, you will eventually come to hate them. The grass always looks greener, but it’s not.

Y’know, it’s really not that bad. The trick is to relax and let Stockholm syndrome take over. And stock up on lube. Lots and lots of lube.

I have to disagree with this point. I’ve been with 3 carriers thus far (Verizon, Sprint, and now AT&T) and haven’t ended up hating any of them. Problems are resolved pretty quickly once you know who to talk to. I’ve made sure to read all the fine print before signing my soul away for two years, and I’m well aware of my usage and allowances. I’ll concede that no company is infallible, and mistakes sometimes happen (and are often the result of incompetent CSRs), but I’ve found over the years that the vast majority of “problems” people have with cell phone companies start with the consumer making a mistake.

I’ve been a Sprint customer for almost two years, and I haven’t come to hate them at all. Rather, I’m quite charmingly amused by their complete ineptness at so many things. By the fourth time in 10 minutes the website makes me go to the login page just to accomplish a seemingly simple task, I’m laughing out loud. Look at these guys who think they can run a phone company! Granted, none of their incompetence has had a major financial impact on me (yet), so I might change my tune if that were to happen.

If you search for this on teh Webs there has been a lot of thought already put into this. Look around and see which applies to you.

One example.

This has good ideas, some of which were mentioned above.

Thank you, my friends. I think of all of you as my friends.

Because this is IMHO and not GQ, I’m going to urge you to consider the ethicality of escaping, via a technicality, a contract you voluntarily signed up for.

I don’t know the specifics of your circumstance and if the charges were indeed unjustified, then fine, but if you simply overused your allotted bandwidth, I don’t see how that’s the carrier’s fault.

Yeah, this was going to be my first suggestion. Most wireless companies change their terms of service from time to time, and send notices of the changes to their customers. If you don’t contest the terms or cancel within a specified time, they generally take this as an agreement, on your part, to the new terms.

But the fact is that, if the changes they make to their terms of service are materially adverse to you, then you can get out of the contract without an early termination fee. Here’s a Consumerist article about one example, and what conditions need to apply for you to take advantage of such a situation.

As a matter of general principle, i tend to agree with you. That’s why people should read the terms before they sign the contract, and keep and eye on their usage.

The main reason that i don’t agree with you, though, is that the wireless providers themselves do their absolute best to make sure that, even when they themselves make materially adverse changes to your contract, it is as difficult as possible to cancel. Even though a cancellation under such circumstances is your right, as outlined in the contract itself, their customer service reps will often deny the fact, or give you the run-around when you go to cancel.

Here’s one example where the guy had to hang on the phone for an hour and a half, get escalated to a supervisor, and keep repeating “materially adverse change” in order to get his provider to abide by the rules. I’ve read dozens of similar stories, some far more horrendous, on various consumer- and cellphone-related websites and message boards.

When the providers so often fail to act ethically in situations where they themselves make unilateral changes to the terms of the contract, i completely understand why their customers think they should be able to do the same thing.