In the U.S., it can be easier to end a marriage than to leave a
loveless relationship with Verizon or T-Mobile. No, you don't have to
move to SIM card swapping Europe. Try these guerrilla tactics to get
out of your service contract.

Steps
Find an alternative Having ammunition as to what contract you are
going to switch too will give you confidence and strength to go
through with the painful process of getting out of your contract.
Be a squeaky wheel. Say you want out because the service isn't up to
par. (And really, is it?) Then back that up by filing official
complaints online with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better
Business Bureau.
Get a lemon. Get a known problematic phone, complain 3 times, be let
out of a contract due to your local lemon law.
Try a market-based fix. Some companies such as Celltradeusa.com and
Resellular.com match unhappy mobile customers with people who'd like
to sign up - at a discount, of course. You'll pay a $20 fee to sell
your contract on the block.
Look for your provider to bury changes to Terms of Service with your
bill. Quite often providers modify their service plans, much of the
time the modification is a benefit. It doesn't matter, this voids the
previous contract. Read the small print on those inserts included with
your bill, it will spell out that you have 30 days (may vary on where
you live) to cancel your contract with no charge simply because they
changed the contract. With SprintPCS, call customer service and ask
them to use the "maintenance screen" to enable "direct mailing
notification" which will notify you via text message whenever changes
are made to your contract.
Do a radical move. While potentially extreme and ethically dubious,
these solutions could free you of the contract:


Get off the grid. If you move and cannot get the same level of service
as your previous location, tell your service provider. They're not
legally required to cut you loose, but frustrated consumers have
reported success. Cingular's policy is to automatically waive the
Early Termination Fee in these circumstances. This doesn't work with
SprintPCS.
Join the army. If you are a member of the US Armed Services and you
receive orders to somewhere the company doesn't provide service they
are obligated to cancel your contract free of charge. Keep in mind,
you'll have to provide a copy of your official orders. Again, as of
12/06, this doesn't work with SprintPCS.
Overuse Free Roaming. Most phones come with free roaming now. But it's
not actually free. The company pays it for you. So all you do is go to
an area that is considered roaming (and when you have free nights or
weekends) and place a long (5 hours?) phone call to "Moviefone" or
something along those lines. You can also set your phone to only roam
and instead of utilizing its own network it will search for others and
utilize those. This will start adding up for them in the fees they
have to pay to the service provider in that area and they will kick
you out of the contract. Too bad.
Force them to produce the signed contract. Tell them you didn't get a
copy of the contract (which actually is pretty likely) and ask them to
produce a copy and mail it to you. In many cases, copies haven't been
scanned into the database, especially with recent mergers, and if they
can't produce a copy, the most they can legally hold you to is a
year.
Shrink your plan. As a last resort, cut back to the bare minimum the
provider allows and drop any frills, like picture-messaging. Depending
on the number of months you have left, this could be cheaper than
paying the typically prorated termination fee, which can often run up
to $300. However, at some cellular companies changing your plan, even
to reduce it, may extend it for at least another year, so do the math
first to make certain it will actually save you money.
Contact the FCC. If you have a valid complaint(s), contact the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC, USA only). Typically, your case will
be reviewed and the FCC will contact the phone company. In most cases,
the phone company will avoid any confrontations with this government
body, and will choose to be agreeable and expedite the necessary steps
to resolve the complaint. List your opinion for the only valid
resolution to be that of contract cancellation without applying fees.
Dead?? If your cellphone happens to be in someone's name who recently
deceased (spouse, Dad, Mom, the CEO/Owner of your workplace) - call
and get the service cancelled.


Tips
Think carefully before you sign another contract. If you're reading
this article, chances are excellent that you understand the basic
nature of mobile service carriers. There are lots of alternatives that
don't require contracts, and you might do well to consider one.
Consider just paying the early termination fee. Sure, it's a sock in
the wallet - but once you pay, your nightmare is over. Following the
steps above can be an unpleasant pursuit that spans hours, days, even
weeks. What's your time worth?
If you have a contract with "Unlimited Nights and Weekends", then
anything that the carrier does, or doesn't do, to limit the number of
minutes you could use during that period is a potential contract
violation on the carrier's part. This might work if you consistently
receive 'all circuits are busy now' messages or poorer reception than
advertised on their coverage maps. Plus it has the added value of
being the truth.
Choose one or more these options that applies to you. Honesty is
looked at with favor.
No contract is enforceable on a minor.
If you have a high tolerance for hassle, call your carrier's customer
service number get the name of the representative and ask them to add
a note to your account that states the reason you want to cancel, then
tell them you heard that it cost almost $20.00 each time you call
customer service. Your early termination fee is 200 and you are going
to call 20 times so it will cost them double to keep you as a customer
as it will to let you out. Ask for a manager each time. Expect to call
ten times before this works. Call when you are on a long drive or have
free time. Beware however, with T-Mobile, they may call this
harassment, and may say they are going to contact their legal
department and still make you pay the termination fee. Call their
bluff and say you will call your legal department in return.
With SprintPCS, call customer service and ask them to use the
"maintenance screen" to enable "direct mailing notification" which
will notify you via text message whenever changes are made to your
contract, supposedly. This seems to be the most sure-fire way of
getting out with an early termination fee (with an expected amount of
resistance from phone reps), but it is, of course, dependent on the
company changing the contract.
Sometimes paying the early termination fee (maybe $200) is cheaper
then keeping the phone and living with bad service. Especially if you
have many months left in the contract and are paying for lots of
minutes.
If you are with Sprint PCS, you have an automated way to request
credit for a dropped call, no questions asked. Use this feature
constantly. At 50 cents a pop, they are likely to want you gone if
you're persistent enough. To legitimately drop enough calls. go to an
area that is problematic and make as many calls as you can.


Warnings
Not all contracts provide free roaming. Make sure to check before
placing a lengthy roaming call. If it's not free in your contract, it
will cost you a fortune.
Some carriers will charge you a hefty Early Termination Fee if they
kick you off for excessive roaming. For example, Sprint will charge an
Early Termination Fee of $200 if they cancel your service with "good
cause" (i.e., if you don't pay your bill). Cingular will not.


Related wikiHows
How to Find the IMEI Number on a Mobile Phone
How to View Your Phone Bill Online
How to Buy the Right Mobile Phone
How to Dispute Your Cell Phone Bill
How to Answer a Cell Phone During School
How to Improve Cell Phone Reception


External Links
Wired Magazine - Original source of this article. Shared with
permission.




See More: How to Get out of a Cellular Service Contract