Instant Answers/Knowledge Base/Switching to Ting

Mobile Service Early Termination Fees

Andrew M-C
posted this on March 28, 2012, 14:39

One of the ways traditional mobile service providers attempt to ensure you don’t go with a competitive offering is by locking you into a contract.

When a telco offers a "free" phone in exchange for signing a two-year or longer contract, you are still paying for the phone... you just don’t see it. The true cost of subsidized or “free" phones is buried and offset by the cost of service, contract exit fees and the like.

Here in North America, subsidies are the rule and with subsidies come contracts.

There are several ways you can get out of a mobile service contract if you’ve already signed on the dotted line. We’ve covered a few ideas in our How to Ditch Your Mobile Contract help article. The easiest way though is to simply pay the exit fee for your contract. Once you pay the exit fee, you’re free and clear to go month to month or to switch providers.

Early Termination Fees by Carrier

Different carriers use different metrics to figure out what you’ll owe if you decide to break the contract. We’ve compiled data covering the top three mobile service providers to help you figure it out.

Cost to break an AT&T contract

AT&T breaks down early termination fees differently for smartphones as compared with feature phones. This is a common practice.

For the former, customers pay an early termination fee of $325 minus $10 for each month of the contract (“Service Commitment") you’ve fulfilled.

If you got a subsidized iPhone, signed a two year contract and fulfilled 18 full months of service, you’d pay $145.

For feature phones and any device not considered an smartphone or netbook, as per AT&Ts Early Termination Fee page, you’ll pay $150 less $4 for each full month of service under the agreement.

AT&T early termination fees:

Months Remaining “Advanced Device" Feature phone / data device
23 $315 $146
22 $305 $142
21 $295 $138
20 $285 $134
19 $275 $130
18 $265 $126
17 $255 $122
16 $245 $118
15 $235 $114
14 $225 $110
13 $215 $106
12 $205 $102
11 $195 $98
10 $185 $94
9 $175 $90
8 $165 $86
7 $155 $82
6 $145 $78
5 $135 $74
4 $130 $70
3 $125 $66
2 $115 $62
1 $105 $58

[SOURCE]

Cost to break a Verizon contract

Verizon charges $350 for early contract termination assuming you have a smartphone, tablet or netbook purchased under subsidy. Check out the full list of what are considered advanced devices to see if your phone is on the list. Feature phones and some data devices have a $175 early termination fee.

Advanced device and feature phone early termination fees are prorated against completed months of service. $10 per month of the contract fulfilled for advanced devices and $5 per month fulfilled on other devices.

Verizon early termination fees:

Months Remaining "Advanced Device" Feature phone / data device
23 $350 $175
22 $340 $170
21 $330 $165
20 $320 $160
19 $310 $150
18 $300 $140
17 $290 $135
16 $280 $130
15 $270 $120
14 $260 $115
13 $250 $110
12 $240 $105
11 $230 $100
10 $220 $95
9 $210 $90
8 $200 $85
7 $190 $80
6 $180 $75
5 $170 $70
4 $160 $65
3 $150 $60
2 $140 $55
1 $130 $50

[SOURCE]

Cost to break a Sprint®* contract

Sprint levies a $350 early exit fee for smartphones, tablets, netbooks and notebooks. It also prorates against how many months of the contract have been fulfilled. Sprint prorates at $20 per month fulfilled for smartphones.

Using the same iPhone with 18 months of the two-year contract fulfilled example, you’d be paying $120 in early termination fees in order to get out of the contract six months early.

Once the prorated early termination fee hits $100, it stops and remains at that level for the duration of the contract.

For feature phones and other devices that don’t fall into the categories of smartphone, tablet, netbook or notebook, a $200 termination fee is applied. Each fulfilled month of service is prorated at $10. Once the early termination fee hits $50, proration stops.

Sprint early termination fees:

Months Remaining “Advanced Device" Feature phone / data device
23 $350 $200
22 $350 $200
21 $350 $200
20 $350 $200
19 $350 $190
18 $350 $180
17 $340 $170
16 $320 $160
15 $300 $150
14 $280 $140
13 $260 $130
12 $240 $120
11 $220 $110
10 $200 $100
9 $180 $90
8 $160 $80
7 $140 $70
6 $120 $60
5 $100 $50
4 $100 $50
3 $100 $50
2 $100 $50
1 $100 $50

[SOURCE]

 

All of the above contract termination fees assume you have a device that doesn’t fall under the carrier’s return policy. If your device has been activated for less than two weeks, most carriers will let you break contract and return the device without penalty. Naturally, you’ll need to return the phone in new condition with all the accessories present to get a refund.

AT&T return policy

- 14 day window after activation to terminate service without paying an early termination fee.

Verizon return policy

- 14 day window after activation to terminate service without paying an early termination fee.

Sprint return policy

- 14 day window after activation to terminate service without paying an early termination fee.

 

*Sprint is a trademark of Sprint.

 

Comments

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Matthew Burge

FYI- AT&T will make you "upgrade eligible" as early as 18-20 months into your contract. So just because your online account says that you can upgrade with a discount doesn't necessarily mean that you are past your 24-month commitment. Call them to be sure you are beyond the 24 month mark to ensure you don't pay early termination fees. Not that it happened to me, but that's what my "friend" said. ;-)

December 20, 2012, 22:43
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Ross Martens

Also be aware that the Early Termination Fee table here does not include "taxes, surcharges, etc." After cancelling my AT&T contract early, my ETF should be $235, but there were $45 tacked on for extra charges, which AT&T states are all fee they're required to include and don't come from them. 

It's still absolutely worth it to switch to Ting (I'll break even in about 4 months), there are some hidden costs no one can calculate until that final bill is issued.

February 14, 2014, 09:15
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Christopher Quicker

"FYI- AT&T will make you "upgrade eligible" as early as 18-20 months into your contract"

 

They do that to "tie you to yet ANOTHER contracted time period".  AT&T:  The "Best of the Worst".  As soon as Ting has the Windows Phone 8 available, I'm bolting from AT&T.  They can "Reimagine Possible" (Who thought up THAT catchphrase?)  C-ya, AT&T..........

March 2, 2014, 13:43
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Rachel Hanlon

I read a review online that mentioned that Ting gives you a 25% refund of your ETF from the big companies - is this true?

December 30, 2014, 14:18
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Christopher Quicker

They sure will ;))  That was one incentive to get me away from AT&T.  And I've NOT looked back since I made the switch to TING...........

December 30, 2014, 14:46
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Wendy K
Ting Help Center

Hi Rachel, we do!  We're even running a special deal right now that will get you 50% up to $150, until January 5th.  More information is here.

December 31, 2014, 09:42
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Joe Webber

Hi.. I just tried the ETF link but it's telling me that it's having technical problem. Is this something new or it's under maintenance or is it because my account is new?

 

January 2, 2015, 15:20
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Samantha C
Ting

Hey there Joe, Are you able to complete the ETF submission now? If not try another browser. If you are still unable to submit the forum send us an email with your final bill and our team will look into it for you. 

January 5, 2015, 09:20
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Sandy Padilla

Found Ting today on the cover of Consumer Reports.Read the article and it was #1 of all cell phone service... top rated of all services.  prepaid, At&T, Verizon, Sprint, consumer cellular ..all of them. We both have smart phones and our usage is low.  We are going to be saving $100 per month (husband and me). We are really excited.  the customer service was fantastic.  I spoke with Corey and he took time to explain everything to me..no rush, no pressure.  I can't wait to tell  friends about this find. With our early termination and Tings 25% we will be in the Black in month 2.  After careful analysis of our usage, we anticipate saving at least $100 per month.  Yippee.

January 10, 2015, 18:30
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Christopher Quicker

Welcome aboard, Sandy ;))  

Since I've been with Ting since April of 2014 (8 months of service)?  Here's MY savings, and I'm single ;))

AT&T was charging me (with all the "applicable taxes and 'stuff'") $172/month which in 8 months equals $1,376.

 

My HIGHEST bill with Ting has been $21/month.  Over 8 months?  My total has been about $168.  That is my TOTAL combined bills for 8 months

through TING.  The math?  I've saved $1,208 since I've joined TING, and that's been less than a year.  I'm doin' CARTWHEELS ;))

January 10, 2015, 19:49
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Sandy Padilla

Wow, I'm really impressed Christopher. Thanks for the incredible savings story. Corey told me (I believe I have this right). If I keep my phone on wi-fi setting I won't accrue data fees. I had all this data usage on Sprint and couldn't understand why. Whenever they suggested I go on wi-fi, I never changed over. Now I've learned something new. Also, when I'm out of town (not often) they pay the roaming fees. If Ting pays roaming fees, that is also huge.

If I have any of this incorrect, someone please jump in and let me know. Either way, I'm very excited.

That's huge.

January 10, 2015, 20:49
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Christopher Quicker

Got it all correct, Sandy.  When you're on WiFi, (even from your home network!) it's not charged as 'minutes/data/messages'.  

Just make sure that you go to your phone's settings and turn ON the WiFi and turn OFF the "data usage":

 

If you're, say, in the car and you want to download say, an app or song?  WAIT!  Music and video downloads to your mobile device

are a tremendous use of data.  Even at TING, they want to save you some $$$, so they even let you tether your tablet, laptop etc (I can

hotspot up to 8 devices from my phone).  You can tether over WiFi as well which is all no charge.  There are a TON of free apps in the iTunes (Apple/iPhone) or Google Play (Android Phone) stores that allow you to make both calls and message without ANY charge.  What'sApp and Tango are just two that come 

to my pea brain ;)  And roaming?  What's THAT?  No such thing with TING  ;))

January 10, 2015, 21:55
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Jennifer Alluisi

So, I'm trying to decide if we should switch to Ting now or later. Our last phone contract with AT&T is up in November. I've crunched the numbers, and I think we would spend very close to the same amount of money between now and November if we add in the ETF, the Ting fees, and my husband would probably need a new phone, so that too. What is the transition process like if you pay the ETF for AT&T and then ask them to unlock your phone so you can move it over? How much down time would there be between ending your AT&T service, unlocking the phone, and then getting your number ported and your service up and running again on Ting?

February 24, 2015, 12:39
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Christopher Quicker

Hi there Jennifer~~

 

That's EXACTLY what I did.  Last April, I was 3 months shy of being "freed from my AT&T contract", bought a phone from Ting, filled out the EFT form, activated the device and Ting took care of the rest.  YOU DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH AT&T, Ting will facilitate that process for you.  Ting paid 75% of my EFT to AT&T, ported my number and I'd say it took about 4-6 hours for everything to be completed.  

 

BTW, my HIGHEST bill since April?  Has been $31.26:  I was paying $132/ month to AT&T.  ALL my bills through TIng?  Have been about the same cost as ONE month with AT&T.  

 

Remember, Ting charges you $6 per device and WHAT YOU ACTUALLY USE!  What a brilliant concept............

February 24, 2015, 13:06
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Jennifer Alluisi

That's great, Christopher! And that's what we'll do for my husband's phone (his phone is slowly dying and is about 5 years old; he's definitely due for a new one), but I'm equally interested in the unlocking of a phone. I have an iPhone 5S, which Ting's site says I should be able to ask AT&T to unlock and then I can use it on their network without having to buy a new phone. AT&T's site says I have to have paid my ETF in full before they'll unlock it. So I'm curious about how long it takes to do that - end service, pay the ETF, get the phone unlocked, and then get it back up on Ting's network.

February 24, 2015, 13:34
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Christopher Quicker

Hey Jennifer~~

 

You're welcome.  So I don't "stick my foot in my mouth" and give you the incorrect information, here's the link to the Federal Communications Commission's website.  They answer ALL the prevalent/relevant  FYI's re:  the legalities of unlocking a phone.  This law is NEW as of Feb 11, 2015.  

 

N.B.  From MY take on reading it?  You SHOULD be able to call AT&T and ask for your PUK code, and by the new law, they HAVE to comply and give it to you.  I've even read in some blogs that AT&T has ALREADY proactively unlocked ALL their phones, but just to make sure, you might want to research that.  

 

Just to be clear, though, I would highly recommend calling one of Ting's customer service professionals and chat with them.  Calling Ting?  Diametrically opposed as to calling those lamebrains at AT&T.  (Sorry for the disparaging reference to "AT&T", but I couldn't help taking a pot shot at them ;))

 

I'm sure with one of the Ting specialists, you can get a phone ordered, delivered with a SIM card and then activate the phone and have Ting take care of the rest.  I've personally "switched" 5 people over to Ting and they absolutely LOVE it and thank me for turning them onto such a great company ;))

February 24, 2015, 16:48
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Christopher Quicker

Speaking of "lamebrains", here's that LINK to the FCC:

 

http://www.fcc.gov/device-unlocking-faq

February 24, 2015, 16:51