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Early Termination Fees: Share Your Story

July 26th, 2010 by Joel Gurin - Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

For several months, the FCC has been studying early termination fees (ETFs): those fees that wireless carriers charge if you sign a long-term contract and cancel it early.  Generally, in return for signing a contract with an ETF, wireless customers can get substantial discounts on their handheld devices. With the advent of smart phones, many wireless providers have increased both the discounts and the ETFs.  Other contractual services, including some broadband services, now have these early termination fees as well.

You can read about our work on ETFs, including the correspondence we’ve had with wireless carriers and our survey on consumer awareness of ETFs. Now we’d like to give you a chance to join the dialogue. Please comment to this post to let us know your views or your experience with these common fees.

57 Responses to “Early Termination Fees: Share Your Story”

  1. Guest says:

    I have had internet access with HughesNet since 2003. I have this service because I live in rural America and there was no other way to get internet service. In July of 2009 Hughes contacted me to upgrade my modem because the old one was outdated. It took me 10 months to resolve and receive the new modem. I had to pay to ship it and I had to up my contract for one year. Why, since they forced me into the upgrade?? They have instituted a "Fair Access Policy" which limits my data transfer and slows the computer to a crawl. Now I want to cancel the service because there is new technology which is much faster and less costly, but Hughes wants $400 to cancel the service. They say I have 9 months left on the contract and $400 is actually a good deal??!!! Tried speaking to a supervisor, who I could not understand, who gave me no good solution - very frustrating.

  2. marylou hadwick says:

    have been with us cellular for years. have three phones, three lines. ran into hardship in july. now want to pay all up. they want me to pay termination fees for 20 months of contract, then sign a new contract and pay for the same months twice. Same equipment, same months, must pay $200 per month instead of $100 per month. not fair.

    Called and asked for a breakdown of the total, will not give it to me. say I must talk to collection agency. Collection agency will not give me a breakdown or a bill either, say i must talk to US cellular. So they have a bill, will not tell me what it is for, but I am in collections for it. Cannot say this makes a lot of sense. Companies should be required to give you a bill with why you owe money to collect and they should NOT be able to charge you double for the same equipment and the same month.

  3. Guest says:

    I have been with cingular/at&t for five years. After a&t took over cingular we have not been able to get service at home. I called AT&T in aug 2009 and they suggested I get a new phones and they were putting in new towers so I would get service. so I ordered one for me and my husband. We still do not get service and because my kids are on my plan I did not cancell my service in the 30 days. I have talked to tech support and they say we are out of there service area and can't help me, so they sent me back to customer service to have them cancell without etf's. Customer service talked to the supervisor and came back on the line and said super wouldn't let them cancell my 3 phones that don't get service without an etf. I have talked to several other cell providers and they tell me at&t can't do that if I don't have service at my home address. So why is it I can't get out of my contract.

  4. Guest says:

    On the phone now with Verizon internet service and digital home phone, they are trying to charge me a $120.00 ETF because they do not serivce the area I am moving to. I don't see any answers or way out, this is hardly fair when I want transfer the service 10 miles away and they do not provide to the address. Problem is all of the companies want a contract now, something needs to be done about this. I don't know what though, who has the time!

  5. Lili says:

    I have a $220 early cancelation fee from Direct TV. I was with them for 13 months and I was never told there is a 2 year contract. I would not have signed up with them if I knew there is a contract as I only needed the services for 1 year. If I never signed a contract and if I was never informed about a 2 years contract, why should I have to pay? They do not even tell me how to dispute. or where to send the letter of dispute to!

  6. Maria Lynn Hall says:

    I have verizon. Paid an EFT before when I lost my job. They would not allow me to suspend service because I owed them money, would not let me move to a lesser contract to lower the costs that were accruing each month (that I could not pay) so I was forced to do early termination. I paid it, got back on my feet and now am with verizon again because it is the only service that is reliable in my rural area. So I have five lines, me and my hubby, a spare line (used to be the "home phone" for sitters and such) and a line for my mother and father as they both are getting on inyears and I liked knowing that they would not be unable to call for help if on the road stranded. Recently my hubby and I upgraded using an alternative upgrade (neither parent wanted to upgrade, but hubby's phone died and he needed a new one). The LG enV3 was a two for special deal, so we upgraded two lines not just one...one of the lines being my dad's number. Did not think it would cause this much trouble but it has.

    So Verizon shut off all the altell towers which means my dad now does not have reception at his home. In fact, he said that pretty much all the verizon customers in his trailer park full of seniors have jumped ship heading for tracphone which gets excellent reception. He followed suit and advised me to turn off his phone not understanding EFTs etc. To him, the phone does not work, so therefore any contract is now null and void since they are n o longer providing their end of the deal (service). I talked and talked to verizon even speaking to the meanager who was rude. It seems that despite having three lines which are month to month, I cnanot turn off my dads line, I would have to turn off one of the month to month lines and change the number I use to my dad's number...or pay an EFT of 100 bucks for the remaining 8 months of service (that line is 10 a month so it would cost less to keep it).

    Add to this the fact that the LG phone I bought from them when I did that upgrade turns itself off whenever it wants and rearranges the settings on a whim, and I am not anywhere near happy with verizon. When they rep;laced the phone less than a month after I got it, they gave me a refurbed one. Now if the reason for that eft is to cover the cost of the NEW phone at retail, why did that not go down when I was given a used phone to replace it? I am on my third one, my husband on his second, still havine the same problems. Verizon won't do anything about it nor even admit there is a problem with the phone. Now to get a decent phone you have to upgrade to a plan with data that costs 30 a month more, which sucks as I don't want data just a phone that works!

    Seems I am being railroaded to a premium plan I don't want if I stay with them, which I am seriously not wanting to stay but as they are the only carrier here I might not have a choice anyhow. Or I am stuck with crappy phones since they are carrier specific. And to boot I get to pay for a phone that my dad cannot even use??? What a crock!

  7. Guest syed says:

    I am with Sprint since last 6 years, I recently renewed my contract, and few after I saw a raise in service charges, Is this Okay for Sprint to over write the contract and when customer ask for changes he or she has to pay for Early Termination Fee?

  8. Laureen says:

    I called T Mobile several times a mnth in the past 2 1/2 years complaining about the dropped calls I have everyday. They amount to 6 on the way home from work and 4 on the way to work. Today I was in a different area and there were 4 calls dropped in a 20 minute period 3 were to the same person. I was to their representative waiting for a supervisor.
    This has been happening for 2 1/2 years and I have been with T Mobile for 10 years. I called to terminate my contract which I fraudulently was placed into after having a problem with an upgrade I bough1 year ago. T Mobile store replaced my phone and added another year to my contract which I was not told about.
    Talking to the supervisor Stephanie stated she would not terminate the contract and told me it was the phone. I hung up and told her I would be calling several agencies to report this.
    I am paying for a service on a fraudulent contract that I was not told about and am not receiving service. It is a deplorable company with no ethics, professionalism, and service.
    Do not buy T Mobile at any cost or reduced rate because they do not provide service.

  9. Brian says:

    Before I moved from PA to Canada, I arranged to terminate Verizon's phone, Internet and TV (FIOS) on April 1, 2010. I had been with Verizon more than one year, but because I upgraded to HD I was under a new agreement which pushed out my contract date. The person I spoke with volunteered that they would not charge me an early termination fee because I was moving to an area where Verizon did not provide service without me asking.

    When I received my first bill following the move, I noticed there was a termination fee of $179 on the bill. I called Verizon and explained what the other agent told me. She said that I was correct, and that I did not need to pay the fee... only the rest of the bill, which I did. I did not hear from Verizon after that.

    Now, in September, I was called by E.R. Solutions which is handling Verizon's collections. They have record that Verizon is trying to collect the $179 early termination fee from me. I explained to the agent that I moved outside the service area and was told by Verizon that I should not be charged, and she agreed that it was not customary for service providers to do that. She asked me to write up a short explanation that I gave her on the phone and fax it to them. I said I would do that and also call Verizon directly to see if they could remove the charge from their end.

    Today, I did just that, but when I called Verizon, they transfered me over to E.R. Solutions. This time the agent argued that I must pay the fee, and that it didn't matter that I moved to an area where Verizon doesn't operate. However, he did say that he would make note in the file and see how Verizon responds. I informed him of the fax I had just sent as well. Will see how this goes, but I refuse to pay the fee since I was told numerous times by Verizon agents and others that I shouldn't have to.

    If Verizon is watching this, keep in mind how you handle this will weigh into who I call if I move back to the states for new service. I liked your products, but if you squeeze $179 from me now, that is ALL the revenue you will ever get from me again. Think about it.... $100 or more a month from me over time, or $179 once. I think the business case says drop the termination charge!

  10. Martin says:

    ETF enable service providers to recover subscriber acquisition costs but they are also a barrier to competition as consumers are locked-in for long contracts. This is an issue in many markets and legislative solutions have been put in place. In France, a new law caps ETF on a 24 month wireless service contract. If the customer ends the contract between the 12th and the 24th month, only 25% of the remaining monthly charges are due. If the customer moves outside the area of service, the contract can be broken free of charge. Note that this measure in France was voted as a change to the consumer code and it's application is left to the national trade department and is outside the scope of the national telecom regulation authority.

  11. James says:

    Verizon is charging there FIOS customers early termination fee even if the customer move outside of where they provide services. This mean that customer are being penalized for moving. I specifically asked their online chat if I would still get the early termination service if I moved out of the area of service and I was told "no", but they have any record of it for what reason. When I call to tell them I am moving I am told that even though I am moving to an area where they do not provide service in,but there is still an early termination fee. I do not see how a company can legally charge a termination if you move to an area that they do not provide service it.

  12. Ellen WAllace says:

    I was tired of AT&T raising by rate all the time so I tried to transfer to Sprint My daughters cell was changed but mine was not. Sprint tried several times. So I called AT&T and they said I was under contract I said if so they owe me money for changeing my rates and I wanted a copy of the contract mailed to me. So then AT&T said that Sprint never put in t he request I said not true my number was entered first and they put through my daughter why not me. And I watched as Sprint entered my number several times. AT&T said I wouldnt kow what they are doing. OK.....Like Sprint does not want my business so they fake it. So she called Sprint and Sprint put it through again, I was told it would take about an hour, Well its been three days. I tried to complain to FCC but found out I need an attorney. That would coust more then I would gain. I am concerned that I will get a large bill and charged for all the days they are holding me back I think it is awful that the consumer does not have a place to go to complain about companys like this. So I will take this into small claims court and the media if I have to. But I will fight.

  13. Sam Rowell says:

    I am very disappointed with AT&T and the ETF they want me to pay after my 3 yr small business acct. renewed without my permission. I am according to the contract required to pay $20 PER MONTH on a contract that had expired and had a clause to self renew if written notice was not given 180 days prior to termination. This means even though I am no longer an AT&T customer and they perform no sevice for me and (I paid the original contract for 3 yrs on time and in full) I must and will pay the $680 ETF because I signed the original agreement which contained this small print clause. Criminal ...I think so....beware.

  14. Guest says:

    VERIZON Door to Door Salesman told us that the early termination fee would not apply to our situation. We had told him we were moving in about 6 months to an area where VERIZON was not availible, and he told us the termination fee would not apply in our case. Despite what the Door to Door salesman told us, VERIZON is unrelenting in enforcing the early termination fee.

  15. Guest says:

    I recently paid a $300 ETF to get out of my Verizon contract. A month later I got nailed with another $300 ETF from Simplexity, from whom I bought the phone. I can understand paying one ETF to help offset the subsidy on the phone. But two?!? How is that remotely legal?

  16. Guest says:

    tmobile is the worst with sprint a close second. I spent months trying to get refunds from sservice that was so bad and frequent outages and was told I could cancel and pay a eft or simply wait it out. I got lucky I moved to a different area and was able to get the whole thing off as a result of the move but that was nasty. Sprint came into play when I moved, I needed a new handset that actually worked in rural areas and had so many problems with it, that it took over 30 days to realize it wasn't going to work out and this was after several trips back and forth to the store where we had to make a few switcouts because the handsets werent working and after all the time i invested I decided it wasnt worth it so thye voided everything . I thought all was fine and dandy til I got a bill for 300 bucks. Went back and complained but after they 'called' their HQ office was told no go I had to pay that fee even after all the hassles I had with them. That sure made a dent in the pocket book for someone who was unemployed and disabled needing a way to communicate with potential employers. then go and get another handset from att. lucky they were nice and I was able to join a family plan etc... but here's the kicker with ATT we were so shocked, the form of a 'rebate' was interesting. To get that handset I had to pay full price I think it was 399.99 and then they mailed a 'visa' card for 100.00 rebate. I tried and tried to understand why they just couldn't do the 'rebate' as a cash discount. Finally got that they needed cash and figured customers wouldn't use the 'rebate' card. So true because it only worked in some places and had lots of restrictions plus no refunds when the card got below x amount of dollars. Since then I've upgraded/exchanged after thet 2 year (to avoid the EFT) but avoided the ones that offered that type of rebate. By doing that I've elimated by process of elimination possible handsets that I would have used or could have chosen. The practices these companies use to gouge their consumers is endless.

  17. M. Terry says:

    We have been with Alltel for over 6 years. At first, reception in this rural area was poor, and due to so many complaints, they finally added a tower, due to losing so many customers. Now Alltel has been bought by AT&T. We now have either poor or no service, and they claim since we are, and have always been, in a fringe area, we can't get out of our contract absent paying them their protection racket funds. Despite the fact we don't have service.

    We wouldn't have re-signed contracts with Alltel several times if our poor service had continued. So now we are being hosed by Alltel/AT&T, and they claim we cannot get out of our contract without paying a $300+ dollar fee/fine. Whatever it is it's unconscionable, and no government agency seems to care.

    It should be simple: One signs a contract for service with a provider. The provider then fails to provide the service. That's grounds - anywhere but in the mobile "communications" world, for there being essentially no contract. If, for example, I agree to provide the FCC with widgets, and fail to provide the widgets, the FCC will sue for nonconformance with the contract. Why do we even have an FCC if they can't bring their power to bear on a non-provider, who failed on THEIR end of the contract?

    We were about to get rid of our land line phone, since we are having financial problems - like much of the citizens in this country. Now we have to keep out land line if we want phone service, while paying for a "service" we don't receive. And we have zero protection from this racket by any government agency.

    Gee - maybe I'll just start a cell phone service and not provide service. Alltel tells us they don't have to provide service under out contract. I suppose that would help quite a bit with our financial difficulties. Especially in light of the fact that no one has any oversight over Alltel/AT&T essentially defrauding us, and then fining us if we fail to pay. Sounds like a great racket! Where do I sign up to provide that kind of "service"?

    It's amazing that no agency seems to have oversight over mobile phone providers. The can do what they want, when they want, including eliminating service wherever and whenever they see fit, as long as it helps THEIR pocketbook. As usual, the little guy gets screwed, and the government just watches.

    How about some oversight? Oh, I forgot - the little guy doesn't matter anymore.

  18. Brenda says:

    I have 3 lines with sprint. My husband and I use 2 of them and my used to use the other. My Son went into the Navy and when he was in A school his phone broke so he went and bought a phone with his own contract. I called sprint to ask them if I could cancel the number he was using and they said it would result in an early ETC even though I was keeping the other 2 lines. I just dont think that is right when you are on a family plan that you should get charged that fee. Other than that I do like sprint.

  19. Beverly says:

    I agree with M. Terry post on November 10....same exact thing happening to me except it's where the Verizon/Alltel merger. And I got left with the old Alltel which is now Allied, and the service is just shotty at best....not roaming off the Verizon tours at all or getting held up in some que or something! My voicemails and texts frequently come in hours later. I've been a good customer with Alltel for 15 years and only have 4 months left in my current contract but Alltel won't budge on the $200 early termination fee. This is NOT the service I contracted for 2 years ago - So how can I be bound to this with no recouse???????

  20. Guest says:

    I had been a Verizon customer since the early days of cell phones. I wanted an iPhone but new about the early termination fee clause so I waited until my contract was over. I made every effort to ensure that I did not switch and cancel my contract. I called the company, I checked the date online, i looked at my contract, I even overlapped my new service for a month with my existing verizon service and paid for both plans to make sure there was no question. When I cancelled my service with verizon they socked me with what they call an early termination fee. I tried calling the company, they would not listen, i had documented proof of my contract date, it didn't matter. What seems weird is that according to the contract the fee should have been $175.00 but the fee they charged was $85.00. They turned it over to a collection agency, I spoke to them as well explaining that I don't owe the money, I sent them the documented proof and a letter, it didn't matter. It went from one collection agency to another and another. They marked my credit report. It is the only blemish on my credit report in my entire credit history. Even though this is 3 or 4 years old they keep refreshing the mark on my credit report. I have no recourse, they are wrong. It is infuriating and I feel helpless.

  21. Guest says:

    Why is America the only country with such awful ETF terms? Lack of real competition. What has the FCC done? If an ipad costs 499 why is a small smartphone cost 600 out of contract? Its clear they are ripping users and charging full price for 2 year contracts by artificially inflating cellphone prices.

    You should make rules that enable fluid switching of users. Phones shouldnt be locked or provide free unlock code. Each phone should work on all frequencies and networks. Each phone should be available out of contract and sold separately and directly by manufacturer via typical sales channels.

  22. Guest says:

    If a service provider has poor customer service, why should consumers have to pay an Early Termintion Fee? Verizon has withdrawn funds from my checking account, prematurely, causing the account to go negative. They are refusing to reverse the funds. And I want to leave my contract. Why does the government allow these service providers to perform poorly in the market place, and then penalize customers with ETF's?

    If a company knows it can provide poor service and then charge you a fee for leaving them, why would they improve on quality or customer service? Consumers should be alowed to terminate their contracts "For Cause", without incurring an EFT.

  23. Guest says:

    I moved to an area that Time warner does not service. The man in the store made it clear that I would have had to pay hundreds possibly into the thousands in order for them to run cables underground to my house. I live barely outside of their service area. But, no they cannot help me. So now I get charged an early termination fee because THEY don't service this area. Now i get to argue and try to hopefully get that reversed. I think it's ridiculous because I love the service and would have gladly continued on with my contract, but because they don't service this area I get charged more money.

  24. Greg says:

    Asked to upgrade my Verizon FIOS plan to the next level. The next month my bill showed a $248 etf. I never asked to cancel my cable service, nor did anyone explain that by upgrading I was "terminating" my service. How does it make sense that you can "terminate" your cable service, yet still have a subscription? When asked to reinstate my original plan/contract, I was told I would have to "restart" my 24 month subscription.

  25. Guest says:

    There is no service( data) at my summer home and because my drivers license has my primary residence listed, Verizon says I can't break the contract without a fee.

    I chose Verizon because of the " Map" they show consumers that they have the most coverage. The map shows coverage in the area, but when you call customer service, they have a different answer about the available coverage. It's not as simple as the red dot.

  26. Guest in VA says:

    I just discovered I too am subject to an FAP by HUGHES.NET after being with them since 2007. I bought the HN7000S when theytold me it was their lates and available for purchase. Now I have to buy tokens every day because the system is rediculuously slow. I have to use this service for work from home sometimes in rural farm country with no other provider.
    What happen to the Black Fiber payed for us rural area users?

  27. Guest says:

    I am extremely upset about my early termination fee with Verizon. I moved to Egypt for long-term study purposes, and Verizon doesn't provide service here.

    Even though I could provide proof of my new residency and did so, the fee is still valid. At one point, a customer service representative thought I was able to waive the fee, but then she said the policy had recently changed.

    I don't think it is fair that the company can charge the fee if you move out of its coverage area. Echoing one of the previous comments, I will not return to Verizon if I move back to the states after being charged these fees.

  28. Margie says:

    i had a family plan with my son and i decided to get my own plan with sprint, i was told by tmobile on more than one occasion that if i am just transferring the contract in his name i would not have to pay the the ETF well after i was satisfied i wouldnt have to paid the ETF i transferred my phone service to sprint and left my son on the other contract. not 3 months later i got a bill from tmobile for $300 when i called i was told that i was told twice the wrong information. i never paid the bill i let it go to collections. something should be done for misinformation given not just once but twice ..

  29. Guest JC Triplets says:

    The ETF's all assume that these companies will provide consistant high level services. What if these companies cannot provide quality services consistantly where billing consistantly shows erroneous charges, service outages (network problems), failure to maintain features such as parental controls, etc? State Government Utility Commissions have regulation that support the consumer. Much like lemon laws I believe we need more protection for the consumer.

  30. Guest says:

    Consumers can estimate the prorated termination fee specific to their specific contract situation (type of phone, time remaining on contract, etc.) at http://www.myrateplan.com/contract_termination_fees/.

  31. Tami Brass says:

    Not a wireless provider - DirectTV. We subscribed in December and have lost service multiple times. A month ago, they had to replace our DVR box (with our video content, now lost). For the past few weeks, our service has been spotty. We've done everything we were directed to (my husband is a programmer and I am an educator who supports technology needs of over 800 people on my campus), and we're basically told we need to pay one of their people to come out and do a repair althought they're really not sure what the problem is. After speaking with two reps, they agreed to waive the service fee, but they can't get anyone to even come out (we live in a major metro area) for at least 3 weeks. If we terminate the service we clearly don't have, they'll charge us $20 a month for each month remaining on our contract (about 16 months left). If we don't terminate, we're paying for a service that we can't use. I'm sitting in front of a grey tv screen that flickers with video for a few minutes at a time and garbled audio.

    Isn't there a lemon law for bad service? Should the customer have to pay for a service they're not receiving? Should a customer have to pay to terminate an agreement the provide breaches?

  32. Guest says:

    I have been on a family plan with tmobile with three lines for the past year and a half. Because of their terrible service and insane charges, my husband and I switched to att, leaving my brother in law still on the tmobile plan. I called before we switched to make sure we wouldn't be charged a termination fee and was told that as long as the plan was still intact, the we wouldn't be charged. They are now trying to charge us $200 per line because we switched.

    They have a record of me having called but I was told whomever I spoke with gave me bad information and that they weren't responsible! I would never have switched if I had known I would have been hit with a $400 fee!

  33. Marc Solomon says:

    I was not shocked by the ETFs. The unpleasant surprise from T-Mobile was the debit of an additional month of service that was tacked on after I switched to another carrier. Here's what their customer service rep wrote to me to justify this:

    ~Adam W: That is certainly your decision (termination), however we did not choose to end your service, that was your choice, and had you chosen to return, the service would have been there as if you hadn't left. Think of it like a light bulb. You turn the switch off, and the electricity that was flowing to the bulb no longer causes it to glow.

    That's right. Due to the wonders of conduction the billing power of T-Mobile goes uninterrupted no matter what the powerless nobodies (their customers) have to say about their choice in service providers.

  34. Guest says:

    Look at all these complaints. My first guess is that the FCC is not doing such a fine job. Second guess
    is that Big Companies with Big lawyers are sitting back saying look another etf. We just need to do
    as little as we can and watch these laymen try to figure out the contract that we will renew without
    consent and watch free money come to us. People will some day say enough.

  35. Guest says:

    I purchased two Verizon iPhone4 on 02/16/2011. Each week I was having dropped calls in or around my home. I was told tonight that I am in a minimal tower area due to the water surrounding my home. I was told I could purchase a wireless extender for $249 to correct the drop calls. I declined and was allowed to suspend my service on one line and not the other. I only purchased the phones for the facetime feature with my sister who is military I didn't need the other line. I am being charged $350.00 early termination fee.

  36. VerizonNoMore says:

    After initial 2 year term with Verizon, I chose a plan with similar minutes for $10/month less. I received NO NEW EQUIPMENT. Around 10 months later moved to area where reception was insufficient to use as primary home line (single bar or less, showed as a "hole" in in Verizon's coverage maps). Switched to another carrier and Verizon donked us for $225 each line (family plan-2 lines). No proration. Offerred to pay off remaining 2 months of contract and Customer Service said it was "too late" (legally dubious since it would have fulfilled terms of contract). I refused to pay. Both Verizon and the Collection agencies (2) reported to credit bureus for same debt. Because I didn't actually pay, I wasn't eligible for the paltry $25? that came from the class action suit a few years later (which didn't seem to specify what the terms of fixing your credit info was, including higher homeowners and life insurance premiums resulting from a lower credit rating). Did I save $120 for the year with the new plan? Verizon currently claims that month to month plans are the same rate as contract plans, it's just the equipment that is discounted. So for $0 savings a lack of desired customer retention and I would have to guess to support some VP/managers bonus - Verizonless says: please pay $450.

    I want to get an iPhone some day and needless to say, it won't be with Verizonless, even if their reception is better this time. Since I currently have ATT, I can say somewhat confidently that the complaints of disconnects is from the early iPhones problem with the "grip of death" rather than the network itself.

  37. Guest says:

    My case has to do with Time Warner Cable. I signed up for their price lock guarantee in 2008. They renewed me in 2010 without any agreement from me. They claim that they sent out a renewal form, and to renew you don't have to return anything. So if they don't send it or you don't receive it, you're signed up for 2 more years. I never received it.

    I moved that same month into a new home. The TWC service there was horrendous. Days without phone and Internet turned into weeks without Phone or Internet. TWC would call on my cell phone and use up all my minutes trying to debug the issues, so that I had no communication modes available to me.

    I cancelled in December 2010. For 2 months, TWC said that I was owed $40. On the 3rd monthly bill following the cancellation, the bill now read that I owe $80. They charged a $120 ETF, 10 months into a 2 year "agreement" with the max ETF of $150. I called to ask how they determined the amount. I was told that it was a company secret and that their legal team would not allow them to disclose how the amount was calculated. Needless to say, I have not paid yet. I've filed with the BBB, the state government, and the FCC. Certainly a consumer should be able to learn how the ETF was determined!

    I've had ETFs with AT&T and other companies. While I don't like them, the company was able to tell me a simple algorithm to determine the amount. Not TWC.

  38. Guest says:

    I had Directv for a day and canceled because they did not give me the proper receivers . I had no luck with customer service, the details are so numerous that I could go on forever. I cancelled service and they debited my bank account of 460 dollars without my permission. I cancelled right at the 24 hour mark, after total dissatisfaction with their manipulative behavior and unclear definition of what I was getting and what I would pay each month.

  39. Dom says:

    I've been an AT&T customer for three years. I'm on my second iPhone with them. Not a cheap plan. I've been coughing up about $100 a month per month since I've been a customer. Figure it out: I've paid over $3,000 for phone service with them easily. So now I have a chance to move to China--where cell phone contracts cost less than 1/4 of what we pay in the US. (Wake up, America!) But since I've only had my new phone four months, AT&T says I have to pay, I believe, a $375 ETF. I told them "your phone may work in Beijing, but not without paying huge cash for an international plan. It also will not work in rural China."

    I understand the principle that monthly fees subsidize these phones. But when you consider how many times over the phone has been paid for by my patronage, you would think they could exercise a modicum of decency. Instead, should I return to the US, they'll drive me right into the arms of their competitors.

    Lastly, since they are uncooperative about unlocking these phones, my expensive iPhone would be a useless brick in China. Thank heavens they have lower prices in China and people on every street who can unlock your iPhone. Ironic that China is--in this measure--freer than the US where our mobile industry has an iron grip on the FCC.

  40. Larry L Ward says:

    As an old man from Louisiana, I thought I had a bit of Wisdom at 72 years old earning my living in communications and broadcast engineering for some 50 long years. But Sprint put me back to my dumbdown...earlier years. I have been ripped off with a HTC Hero phone as an upgrade that I have $171 invested in, that is dangerous to turn on since it calls out all by itself! It remains on my coffee table less the battery as a reminder of Sprint. I fear that it may call 911 or worse and I live alone. Oh the many calls to and from Sprint and all the records I have kept on this Scam..... Sprint has refused all help on this phone ..to take it back..was told by HTC and Sprint of knowledge of the problem, other than sending me a worn out Blackberry Curve refurbished phone as a jester to keep me paying them some $80 monthly fees. I have demanded a refund and was told they could not and that under my upgrade to a dangerous HTC pnone contract I will have to go for another year or it will cost me an additional ETF. My Bible reminds me not to sue them...that they have their time coming to reap what they have done....
    I have been a volunteer for the FCC , LA EAS Chair...over the years as well as a lifelong ham...W5AVZ.and licensed FCC Broadcast Engineer..but one cannot live long enough not to run into ripoff fradulent companies like Sprint! So in my old age I really need protection from companies like Sprint....Larry L Ward... llward@gmail.com

  41. josph white says:

    yes in aug of 2010 i choose to no longer have t-mobile as my carrier that is where this nightmare begins. i filled a complait with the FCC at which point a mr ralph gutierrez stated harrasing me on my new phone t4rying to cover thier mistake by trying to cash a five dollar check for five hundered which was not right . once maybe twice then they sent the remainder to a collection service after which the gave me a fifteen doller creidit to bring the bill to twohundered and fifty-nine dollars well now the fraud begings my bill when i left t-moble was one- hundred and nineteen dollars if you add the two- hundred termiation fee that would be three hundred and nineteen at least that is how the math worked when i was in school. mr. gutierrez got are you ready five hundred his adding machine must do wonderful things for him so now i am going to have to sue t-moble and mr gutierrez right after i show my evidence to the fcc do people think that just because the harres and threaten people that they would back down well MRGUTIEEZ exuective custmer relations i was homelss for fourteen years and the one thing i cannot stand more then anything is a liar i have the proof where is yours.

  42. Guest says:


  43. Guest says:

    Bait & Switch or Low Ball?
    T-Mobile Sales Representative falsely told me that the new cell Phone I would be using with unlimited calls is $59.99 per month, no other fees, unless I text. I don't text, although others had text me. I just wanted to keep within my budget. I never had a cell phone before so I believe him. The balance of the phone became more than they said it was going to be, up to $70.00 per month. I told them I did not want to pay more for the phone because I was on a budget. This was told to them when I decided to get the phone. I just wanted the phone for emergencies.
    They also cause Identity Theft on my account. Now they want me to pay the ETF. I disagree.
    I will not be getting other with a contract in the future.

  44. Guest says:

    I have had telephone and dsl through AT&T for the past 3 years through a small business account. I called earlier in Janurary and was told my contract had expired and I was no longer under contract. During the beginning of February, I decided to switch my service to Time Warner, I jsut got a $2,200 early termination charge from AT&T! They said my contract automatically renewed and I was liable for al the fees! I tried to switch back to them and get the charges canceled, but they refused and said I am liable for them! I feel misled by one of their employees and hate that they won't even work with a customer to keep their business.

  45. Jeanette says:

    I am trying to rearrange my tv,phone and internet services.(Idaho) I also have an alarm system.
    All these companies except Qwest I have contracts with but since Qwest has been a problem
    for years with honesty in practices I am trying to leave. Now the security system won't work
    with a digital phone and says I signed a 39 mo. contract and must sign an additional 42 mo.
    contract for them to upgrade plus up my rate . I think these contracts are preventing free
    economy from working. Competition is the base of our system but the customer is being
    trapped. The last contract was not handed to me so I could read as they installed but at
    the end as he was leaving. I did not have time to read it. It seems honesty is disappearing
    in today's culture. Can you protect us ?

  46. Guest says:

    Having just moved, I informed Direct TV that I would like to have my account switched to the new house, so long as they assured me that I would not be subject to additional fees or an extension of my service agreement. They gave me these assurances, but then when I read over the e-mail they sent me, I saw that it said that I *would* be charged, because my new house required a new sort of box. When I called to complain, the operator, and then her supervisor assured me that I would not be charged. When I asked for this to be put into writing, they said that they could not do so. Result: written documentation that I would be liable and verbal agreement that I would not. I informed them without written verification, I would not agree. At this impasse, I then canceled my subscription. They have listed this as "early cancellation" and are charging me $120: which is to say, they are giving me a choice of either being forced into an extended contract, paying for no service for six months, or being charged for early termination. I have already notified the NYS Attorney General's Office.

  47. Guest says:

    Sprint recently change its terms and decided to start charging $10/month for smartphones. But to avoid letting people cancel service without paying ETFs, they made it that the charge only applies to new activations and upgrades after February 1st, 2011. I canceled my contract and they are refusing to waive ETFs because of this loophole. Please close the loophole!!!

  48. Guest says:

    I have been with AT&T, Due to health reasons, I left USA to India still AT&T Charged me the whole amount of $175 on each line of my family plan. It costs me around $680 now, as I was out of country for 3 years now they want me to pay the whole amount to some collection agency.

    I informed them that I am leaving country due to health reasons still they didn't waive the ETF. But they never reduce the $5 dollar per month as they tell in their response to FCC Letter

    I am not sure if they ever did reduce $5 each month being in the plan.

    FCC should take action on all mobile operators by gathering data about ETF charges on customers

  49. Renae says:

    I want to get out of my AT&T commitment because they are trying to charge me for wireless service that was placed on a "combined bill" with my home phone and interenet. I do not owe this amount because I had change my minutes/plan with the wireless department and have everything in good standing with them, but the company still wants to charge me what I do not owe. I have been with AT&T wireless for over five years and want to get away from them now due of their mistake and the way they are handling it. I don't want to pay and ETF though because that would be a higher amount than what they claim I owe. I have read the response that AT&T gave the FCC on Jan. 2010 and they have since raised the ETF fee after their statment to FCC. They claimed it was $150 termination fee but after June 2010 it went up to $325, unbelivible with the way this economy is right now. They are nothing but CROOKS. Still fighting them on the issue.

  50. Guest says:

    Wow!! There are some real nightmare stories in here. Makes my problem miniscule I am currently in a dispute with tmobile because their "up to $200" ETF turned out to be $240 after they added in "taxes & fees." Telephone bills are confusing enough, but most of the "add-on" charges appear to be usage-based. An ETF is not a usage fee. I spent a couple of hours going through tmobile's customer agreements and submission of information to the FCC. Nowhere did they discuss or disclose this. I did discover, interestingly, that the ETF is not designed for handset recovery costs, but for "partial recovery of expected revenue." So let's see. They want me to pay them for future profits that they have lost due to their failure to satisfy me as a customer. I was a Purchasing Agent for 30 years, and this is the stupidest excuse that I have ever heard . No professional buyer would accept this sort of reasoning from a seller. This flies in the face of the industry's claim that ETFs allow the offering of new technologies to the consumer at a low cost. The wireless companies are following in the footsteps of the Bell companies. Rather than achieve customer satisfaction & loyalty by offering good service and fair prices (like most industries), they prefer the tactics of deception and entrapment. This is why government intervention (which I really dislike) is required for the misbehaving telecommunications industry.

  51. Guest says:

    I had an account through T-Mobile. The main purpose of my blog is to inform other consumers that T-Mobile has THE WORST customer service. Even they do not understand the contracts and fees. I was charged 600. in early termination fees when I was at the end of my contract. I had to continuously call EVERY MONTH to have charges credited back to my bill for additional services I did not sign up for. I've spent hours on the phone with them simply to correct my billing. I think they add these addional fees to a lot of their customers banking on the fact that we will just see the total amount due and pay it. BEWARE....PLEASE READ YOUR BILL CAREFULLY AND BE SURE TO DISPUTE CHARGES YOU DON'T OWE. Its about time these companies quit nickel and diming the very people that give them a paycheck each week.

  52. Guest says:

    I am with sprint, this month I finally terminated my more than 5-years' service for my family plan. Two lines' contract are not over. one line is just one month short, and another line is 10months's short, I was charged $50 for one line, and $120 for another line, plus surcharges of $13.92, taxes and fees of $13.47. In total I need to pay nearly $200 to end this pain. Will never use Sprint again!

  53. Guest says:

    Do not sign up for Vonage. Voice quality is way below other VOIP providers like ATT Uverse and Cable. A lot of the time when I call the person on the other end cant hear me at all. All other times there is an awful echo on the line. Now they want to charge me $124.78 to cancel.

  54. Kristin Major says:

    I am furious with Time Warner Cable. I have had their service for nearly 4 years and they don't offer the programming I want (NESN/ Red Sox). The MLB package doesn't get me the all the games because, for some insane reason, a team located 9 hours away (the Orioles) is considered my home team. TWC doesn't have a deal with MASN, the Orioles carrier, and the MLB blacks the games out. So I don't get all the games. Time to switch.

    I have an automatic renewal date of April 28, 2011. Got the letter about automatic renewal and called. I am not using your cable service after April 28, 2011. In the course of the conversation, I am told I can't return my equipment prior to April 29, 2011 because I would be "breaking the contract" and "the contract covers the equipment." I am happy to pay my cable bill through April 28, 2011. I agreed to pay them for two years. But the only way I won't get charged for holding their equipment is to return it on April 29, 2011. If I take it in early, even if I am willing to pay my cable bill until April 28, 2011, I will get a $45 early termination fee. If I take it in on the 30th, I have held onto it over my contract period and will get pro-rated. April 29 is the only day for no charge.

    If I am willing to pay for the service through April 28, 2011, there is no early termination. If I bring your equipment back early so that you have it as of April 29, 2011, there are no damages to you. All TWC is doing is trying to find a way to charge me more-- either by returning before or after April 29, 2011.

    Also, because I am under contract, they can't discuss offers to continue phone and internet until April 29, 2011. What? IF I was a new customer moving in a month, you could talk about it, right? I WAS willing to stay with them for those services, but this is ridiculous. I have given you notice that I am discontinuing a portion of my service as of the end of our contract, and you won't even discuss the other two elements of service? I know that that means. They will be able to charge me for full- price on those two for a couple days.

    This is no way to do business.

  55. Dr-House says:

    I signed on with AT&T in September of 2010 so that I could get the iPhone. I am a Verizon employee who was tired of waiting for the iPhone. I had planned on porting my wife over to AT&T as well but soon got news that the iPhone was TRULY coming to Verizon. I went to return my iPhone (within the 30 days) and when I spoke with an AT&T cancelation rep, they tried to give me discounts to stay. I refused (even thought I do already get union discounts through the CWA) as they aren't as good as my Verizon discount. Towards the end of the call, the AT&T rep stated that as part of my already existing discount with AT&T and the CWA I had no ETF, it was waived. This was a surprise to me so I confirmed with him and ported my wife's phone over as a result. I called AGAIN before my return period was up on both phones to truly confirm this ETF waiver. Time went on and now there is a date for the iPhone release so I called AT&T to tell them I am switching back to Verizon (as I told them I had planned since I had an ETF waiver) now they claim that was false information I received twice. They insinuated multiple times I was lying and that my "ETF Waiver" had expired though my discount in March of 2010. I DIDN"T EVEN HAVE SERVICE THEN. I want someone to explain why 2 reps saw this waiver in the system and told me not to worry that I could leave when I want. They tricked me past my 30 day return period now I have to have them for 2 years or pay $580 to go back to Verizon Wireless when the iPhone comes out. I was lied to and tricked and I have spent 6-10 hours on the phone with them, no one will fix this.

  56. Guest says:

    I was sold a bundle package by a sales rep for ATT that was fraudulently represented in a bait and switch style sale. I was told the bundle package (TV, Internet and Phone) was $76.94 and when I called ATT to confirm the amount before install, the amount was changed to $95.00. I feel that ATT was baiting customers to change their services from other providers and new installs by promising low prices. Getting the customer under a contract then exposing the true rate which is higher than the promised rate. I was on the phone for over two and half hours and after 9 associates with ATT with nothing was resolved. I had to cancel the install and work order.

  57. Guest says:

    I have Verizon Fios Bundle for internet phone & TV. I am moving to an area not covered by FIOS. I have been an extremely happy Fios Customer for over 5 years. They are still going to charge me a "pro-rated" ETF of 195 dollars. I also understand the ETF's associated with recouping their installation charges, but since I've been a customer for since Fios came to my area, I would think that they've already recouped my portion in my normal monthly bill. Verizon was to my house twice. Once to hook up Fios, and then when TV came to my area, they came back to test the signals on the Coax.

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