Video: Ely Rosenstock explains how to escape a cellular contract without paying an ETF

"You're gonna need two things. Your Verizon customer agreement ... and a copy of your latest bill." Most of us know that material adversity is the magical legal concept that frees us, but imagine that it's a rare occurrence, only applicable when text rates and such are hiked. Au contraire! The federal service charge goes up frequently, and it's a fee the carriers don't have to pass on to you, but choose to do so. This gives you an out, if you know exactly how to navigate a CSR's scripted responses. Video Tutorial: How to Get Out of Your Verizon Contract Without an Early Termination Fee [Crastinate via Consumerist]

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5 Responses to Video: Ely Rosenstock explains how to escape a cellular contract without paying an ETF

  1. Brawndo says:

    [ PEDANT ]Regarding the federal service charge:

    “it’s a fee the carriers don’t have to pass on to you, but choose to do so.”

    It’s a bit disingenuous to make these guys sound even worse by stating this; the Federal Universal Service Fee is not required to be passed on to the consumer, but then again neither is sales tax; it’s just required to be paid. Passing it on to you is really the only sensible way to do business. The FCC hikes the FUSF every fiscal quarter, which is why you may see your bill go up slightly every 3 months. Last time I checked, it was at 11.4% of the entire bill, including other taxes. What company can survive forking over 11.4% of every dollar it takes in? Of course they pass it on to you. Some companies absorb as much of it as they can afford, but it’s not like they’re passing it on to you just to be dicks. [ /PEDANT ]

    I mean, sure use it to get out of Early Termination Fees if you can, because that is where they’re *really* being dicks. But it’s not like these guys need extra vilification.

  2. zuzu says:

    [ PEDANT ]Regarding the federal service charge:

    Bearing in mind that “universal service” is the primary regulatory capture vehicle by which telecoms acquired their monopoly powers from government (in opposition to “dual service”).

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ex customer service representative here for a large american telecom company that starts with a vowel and ends with two consonants..

    You can also get out of an ETF by:

    Claiming you are dead. (said telecom does not require proof since three mergers ago)
    Claiming you are being deployed overseas. (currently I think you don’t need to fax papers (this is a fluctuating policy) but when you do, you can claim it is confidential and fax them a blacked-out sheet of paper.
    Claiming you are moving to Wyoming. (Wyoming is apparently a cellular black hole and there is a clause in the contract where if you’re moving to an area without coverage you will be charged no etf.)
    Purposely roaming on competitor’s towers when you have a free roaming plan. (you can unlock hidden developer menus in your phone and lock your phone to the wrong tower. once your usage goes over something like 50% on competitor’s towers you are no longer a profitable customer and you will have your contract terminated for you, the ETF waived, and an offer to port your number to the carrier of your choice.)

  4. Secret_Life_of_Plants says:

    Don’t go to AT&T !!

    Nightmare evil company (AKA Cingular). They are the reason I have not purchased an iPhone. This is a corporation that is willing to spy on you for the US government and yet will not allow you to PAY your bill over the phone if you have forgotten your password. Customer service sucks.

  5. wangleberry says:

    Yes, I use this same method to cancel ISP contracts when they change their plans during the term. last year (2007) I changed ISP 5 times because they kept changing the definition of “unlimited” to one that wasn’t the same as the dictionary

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