How to Get Out of Your Cell Phone Contract
Two years is a long time on the smartphone evolutionary scale. With new phones coming to market every few weeks it's understandable that your eye might start to wander to another phone on another carrier. If you do find yourself lusting after the latest phone only available from some other carrier, is there any way you can switch carriers without paying the exorbitant early termination fee?

Before we get started, we should probably confess the answer to the question above is most likely "no," as the carriers have created pretty foolproof contracts over the years, making darn sure there is no easy way out of any cell phone contract. That said, we did come up with a list of ideas you might want to consider. Some of the suggestions we offer are by no means sure things but we offer them to phone enthusiasts everywhere in the spirit of possibly guiding them to freedom from the constraints of a two year contract.

First of all, if you think you can just bail on your contract even for good reasons like a defective phone and inadequate service think again. Cancel your phone and don’t pay the termination fee and you may find a note on your credit report from the collection agency hired by the phone carrier. With that out of the way, here are some ideas to consider, we wish you luck!

Use Your Trial Period Wisely
Most carriers give you fourteen to thirty days to cancel your phone service without incurring an early termination fee. Make sure you try your phone in many different places, times, and conditions to make sure you get the coverage and performance you need. Make sure you make up your mind within the trial period because after that it gets a lot more difficult to cancel.
Get Your Carrier to “Fire” You
We’ve read this strategy may or may not work but it’s possible that if you abuse an unlimited service like free roaming or unlimited data your carrier may think you’re a bad investment and agree to terminate your contract. Some suggest you turn roaming on, go for a trip and make lots of calls or take your unlimited data plan to the limit with some serious downloading or streaming. If this really works, we’d like to know, so drop us a note or leave a comment.
Use an Online Service to
Find Someone to Take Over
Your Contract

You can’t really blame the carriers for wanting to collect on a fee that you agreed to pay in a legally binding contract but if you still want out and don’t want to go to the mat with your carrier, you should consider one of the brokers who specialize in matching people who want to unload their contract (‘get-out” persons) and people who want to take it off their hands (“get-in” persons). Most cell phone contracts have a provision that lets you transfer your contract to another individual without charging any fees. Popular cell phone swapping website include CellSwapper, Trademycellular and CellTradeUSA. The new contract owner needs to pass a credit check and the buyer and seller can negotiate whether or not the phone is included in the deal. Some of these services also typically charge a fee while others are free. Another drawback is that the get-out person may not be able to keep their old phone number. Despite some benefits to the get-in person like savings on activation fees (we hear AT&T charges $18 for transferring) and shorter commitments it doesn’t appear that these services are hugely popular. There is also a "dot org" website for cell phone swapping called MobileSwap.org that doesn’t charge any fees and also doesn’t look like it has a lot of participants but it’s free.
If You Have Recurring
Problems, Document Them

Dropping a lot of calls or getting spotty coverage from weak signals? Keep a log of your problems and present your case to your carrier. This one may be tricky especially if you really don’t have that many problems but it stands to reason if the carrier can’t make you happy you have some grounds for getting out of your contract. Remember to keep a journal and save all your correspondence. Just remember carriers usually state in their contracts that they don’t guarantee availability of a network along with other disclaimers to give them an airtight case against letting you off the hook on the grounds of poor service.
Some Long Shots to Consider
Some ideas we’ve run across sound less realistic than others for example, if a carrier changes the terms of your contract you are supposedly able to claim a breach and get out of it however we’ve also read carriers have closed this loophole in more recent contracts. We’ve read that if you're a member of the Armed Services and fax in a record of your assignment to another country your carrier will let you go without a fight. If you're not in the Army, we’re not sure if moving out of the coverage area will get you out of a contract but it should be.
If All Else Fails, Scale Back and Eat the Bill
Another option which you might consider; calculate whether paying a monthly bill on a scaled back contract is cheaper than paying the termination fee. Unfortunately changing your contract may reset the time period and make this option less desirable. Of course as a last resort you may just have to eat the early termination fee (ETF) which might hurt for a little while but at least you’ll get that new phone.
You Can Always Upgrade
If you’re generally happy with your carrier but are lusting after one of their new phones, you can usually upgrade your phone. Only downside is they usually reset your contract to zero so you’re into them for another two years. Carriers are no fools.
One More Trick
If the phone you want is compatible with your current phone you can try buying the new phone online and transfer your SIM card to it. If your SIM is outdated you could try asking your carrier to replace a "lost" SIM with an up-to-date one.
Share Your Cell Phone Cancellation Experiences and Tips
We'd love to hear from anyone who has tried to get out of their contract or heard about something that did or didn't work.
Don’t Cancel Your Visits to Retrevo
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Defective phone...

I own an LG VX9200. My wife and I bought the same models when we changed carriers. We paid about $300.00 altogether with rebates. My wife purchased insurance for the second year of the two year contract. The insurance was $7.00. I refuse to pay insurance on costly items. Why should I pay for what I consider an expensive item, relatively speaking, and expect the possibility that it may have some sort of a problem. This turned out to be the case. I'm a big user but my wife is not. We both started having the same problems after about four or five months or so but thought it was something negligible. My phone would indiscriminately shut off - while using it or just sitting on my desk. My wife had the same problem but, again, she was a light user. I went online and found out that this particular model was defective since I found many postings, even on the carriers website, that stated the same problem. Some people had insurance and the phone was replaced but some people claimed that the replacement phones gave them the same problem. I called the carrier and went round and round. I mentioned that I'd cancel my contract and pay the prorated cancellation. The prorated cost would have been $45.00 but their loss would have added up to about $1200.00 in business. They didn't care - no new phone.
So I called the Federal Trade Commission and filed a complaint. They recommended that I file a complaint with the State Attorney General's office in the state that I live. I called the carrier back and told them what I had done - I had the FTC complaint number.
After waiting ten minutes on the phone the call center person said that they would send me a new 're-manufactured certified' phone. They did so and my wife and I haven't had a problem since. This occurred about three months ago.
If you have a legitimate problem, call the FTC. That's what they are there for. Your tax dollars are at work!

trial period

Several years ago, Sprint had a 2 week trial. I got three phones and paid the activiation fee upfront with a check. I had two addresses to give the girl... my mailing address and the location of my home. The young lady immediately screwed up (didn't find this out until later) and switched these addresses. After only 24 hours I discovered that Sprint had horrible service in my area. I couldn't make or take a call unless I was 20 feet of a major highway or in a large town. I took the phones back the next week and told them I wanted my money back. I got the biggest run around ever. I had to talk to 3 different people there at the store and some rude people at their main office on the phone. They said they would return my money. A couple of weeks go by and I receive a bill... stuck on the windshield of my car. That's when I discovered what the stupid young lady did. Okay... I go back to the store and explain what had happened. Again I had to get on a phone at their store and had to speak to some of the rudest people at a main office ever. No one was helping me. I wrote letters. Called customer service (ha ... New Delhi) and never got any money sent to me. I finally gave up. I was cheated out of $72... and Sprint just put it in their pocket. So if you want to be cheated and have terrible phone service... go with Sprint.

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How to get out of your Contract

Cell phone carriers have areas that are supposed to be covered and provide service, if you are constantly having your calls dropped or no service in an area that is documented to be a covered area and your experiencing this here is what i have done to get out of two different contracts. I have told both tmobile and att&t that they are in breach of contract for not providing me with service in their covered areas. Therefore, they contractually must let me out of my contract. Hey it works.