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Canceling Your T-Mobile Contract Because Of per-SMS Fee Hike?

I keep on reading posts like this on some of my favorite sites. They all describe the same process/formula more or less. The latest is due to T-Mobiles upcoming SMS rate increase.

GetoutofjailIt goes like this: Carrier A raises its per message SMS rate. This is a material breach of Carrier A’s contract with you. According to your contract with Carrier A you have X days to call them and cancel your contract without any fees.

Now I have read about this on Fatwallet, BBforums, and hundreds of other places. Every time a carrier raises their SMS rates somebody is bound to mention it.

So I have to ask. How many people have actually done this? What carrier did you do it with? Last of all did you manage to port your number? Was it actually worth the trouble? I am just curious to hear some actual experiences.

14 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. It’s not true that this is a material change to your contract. If you read the T-Mobil terms and conditions, only recurring changes (i.e., your monthly fee) is subject to this. SMS is considered an optional service. While some people have been able to get out of their contracts by getting a clueless customer service rep, there is no legal basis to do so. Time and time again, carriers have done this and the results are always the same: the first batch of people manage to get out of contract. Then, the memo makes it to the CSRs that tells them that a raise in text fees is not a material change and that they are NOT to release people from contracts.

    A better question to ask: has anyone received a letter from T-Mobile telling them that they CAN get out of their contract if they call in x days? I believe it’s a rumor that this exists, because, well… T-Mobile’s terms and conditions are clear on the matter. No dice.

  2. I too don’t believe these SMS rate increases to be a “material breach of contract”, despite the ranting and raving on blogs and forums. I’ve yet to see that officially anywhere, and when my carrier (Verizon) has changed their rates I’ve never seen any official notice (either mailed, on my statement, or online) that I have x days to cancel my contract without ETF.

    What I went and did though is had Verizon institute a complete block on all incoming and outgoing SMS. You have to call customer service to do this though, via the web you can only “Block Premium SMS” on your account. Personally I HATE SMS and since blocking it I have had no problem communicating with who I need to communicate. have yet to find something I wanted to do or communicate that could ONLY be done via SMS. Almost everyone in my family (local and extended) has a Blackberry, as do most everyone I deal with for work. We’ve all exchanged PIN numbers so we can PIN message freely (and more reliably) without per message charges. And besides, email is just as instantaneous on a Blackberry and much less restrictive so we can email with almost the same immediacy as SMS.

  3. Yeah I always thought this “material breach” was kind of gray area. I have yet to hear from anybody who actually tried it and got it to work.
    Anybody out there succeed?

  4. I use T-Mo, and don’t like them raising rates at all, but I don’t use SMS hardly at all. BB Msgr and GTalk are what I need. As long as the data plan rates don’t change I’ll stay.

  5. Well besides the whole contract opting out part, I want to know something, what if I have an optional plan with an X amount of text message, that would increase?

  6. Hey,

    I am with T-Mobile and I actually called last night and canceled my contract fee free because of the SMS rate hike. It took an hour of haggling but was well worth it, however T-mobile is closing the loop hole today that allowed me to do so.

    Looking at the Terms of Service aggreement for contracts originating before June 2008, how to cancel your contract becomes very clear.

    T-Mobile’s ToS aggreement reads in clause 3:

    Changes to the Agreement or Charges. EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT PROHIBITED BY LAW, IF WE: (A) INCREASE THE CHARGES INCLUDED IN YOUR MONTHLY RECURRING ACCESS RATE PLAN, OR (B) MODIFY A MATERIAL TERM OF OUR AGREEMENT WITH YOU AND THE MODIFICATION WOULD BE MATERIALLY ADVERSE TO YOU, WE WILL NOTIFY YOU OF THE INCREASE OR MODIFICATION AND YOU CAN CANCEL THAT SERVICE WITHOUT PAYING A CANCELLATION FEE (WHICH IS YOUR ONLY REMEDY) BY FOLLOWING THE CANCELLATION INSTRUCTIONS IN THE NOTICE. IF YOU DO NOT CANCEL YOUR SERVICE BY FOLLOWING THOSE INSTRUCTIONS, OR YOU OTHERWISE ACCEPT THE CHANGE, THEN YOU AGREE TO THE INCREASE OR MODIFICATION, EVEN IF YOU PAID FOR SERVICE IN ADVANCE.

    Part B, simplistically speaking, states that a change to a contract which is “adverse” to your situation allows you to cancel to contract.

    So I called T-mobile and opened with such language, stating the the change in rate is materially adverse to my situation because T-mobiles poor coverage in North Carolina forces me to use texting quite a bit.

    Next the Customer Rep. told me I was not eligible for the fee waiver based on the SMS rate change because I at one time in my contract had a messaging plan. They also told me in order to be eligible for a waiver I had to incur texting overages.

    I responded that, though I met the qualifications, such standards were irrelevant because they are not explicitly nor implicitly state within the Terms of Service agreement which is the one and only binding document I have signed with T-Mobile.

    It also helped that I quoted T-Mobile spokesman Peter Dobrow who said, “Customers may terminate their contract without incurring an ETF soon after receiving their notification of the pricing change,”. Even though this was said about the 2007 SMS rate change from 10 cents to 15, the logic still applies. (I also failed to mention to the CR that this was said in 2007)

    Thus, I was out of my contract. It’s simple contract law.

    However this may change today. Today T-Mobile is allowing customers to refuse all incoming text messages. This is problematic because the ToS states that the only remedy you have is to cancel that service. In this case, you can cancel the texting service. In light of that, I am not sure how this will change the arguments I made above that allowed me to get out of my contract with out the fee.

    Hope this helps!

  7. Thanks for the information Barbara!

  8. This just worked for me. I was planning to cancel anyway, but this totally avoided the ETF. It only works if you aren’t on a bulk text message plan, which I was not. You must do it prior to the end of the month.

  9. I spoke to a very nice rep at T-Mobile, and she cancelled without the ETF in just a couple minutes. Basically, I told her that I received the notice of increased text rates and that I’d like to opt out, she offered a monthly plan or blocking of texts, which I declined, and then she put me on hold to make sure that I was still in the time frame. Now I just have to call another provider to have them take over the number… I guess that’s it.

    As a side note, I assume that you aren’t required to cancel your texts or get a text plan, since you technically sign up for service w/ the assumption that you can send texts at a fixed price. The only recourse to an increased text price shouldn’t be a complete lack of text messages.

    That said, I would definitely use T-Mobile again because of their customer service, and I don’t know that there are better companies out there.

  10. Um, why would you use them again if you’ve left them over SMS fees? I don’t understand. All carriers charge somehow for SMS, and you say you would use TMO again, so why leave in the first place? Just to make a point?

  11. okay…i just called to cancel my contract due to the increase in text message rates. the t mobile rep agreed to cancel the one line on my account that actually has incurred text message fees over the past 3 months and therefore would be adversely affected by the increase in text message rates. however she refused to cancel the other 2 lines because one is already purchasing bulk text messaging for $5/mth and the other line (mine) never uses this feature. had i acted on her offer to let me out of the contract, i would have only incurred $400 in etf and not $600 like i originally thought.

    if in fact you do not already buy the $5 unlimited monthly plan, and you do in fact text message and pay per message and not in bulk, it is an easy thing to get out of your contract without paying etf. so i advise you to get on the phone right away with a t mobile rep if this situation applies to you and you want to get out of your contract. i would do this prior to august 29th when the new rates take effect.

  12. I am only responding to the question of this thread, which asks whether it’s possible to cancel one’s contract due to increased text fees without incurring an ETF, and the answer appears to be yes, with certain caveats. I don’t imagine my decision-making process to be germane to this post or at all interesting to anyone else. Regardless, I do think that T-Mobile has very good customer service.

  13. The thing I miss from T-Mobile is the 24/7 customer service… Didn’t realize how useful that was until I switched to AT&T

  14. Even if you have a bulk SMS option added to your plan, changing SMS rates can still adversely affect you if you ever decide to remove the bulk SMS option. T-mobile cannot decide what is and what is not adverse for you. Any material change to your contract has the potential to be adverse, and it is ONLY up to you as the consumer to decide whether it is adverse. It is NOT up to a T-mobile CSR’s personal judgment or discretion. I’m not saying it is easy to be released from your contract with them. They will fight you, and may even refuse. But do not let them get away with violating your rights! If you must, file a lawsuit in small claims court. The contract you signed with T-mobile is to protect you! Use it to your benefit! I wish everyone out there the best, and do NOT let T-mobile get away with illegally taking your money! They violated you once by increasing the SMS rates, they may violate you twice by denying breach and refusing to release you from your contract, but please do NOT let them violate you a third time by walking away with your cash in their pocket. Reprimand! (Side note: It is illegal to charge a flat ETF. It MUST be prorated bases on how far along you are in your contract.)

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