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Why did T-Mobile charge me an early termination fee?

Pavel Ignatov/Shutterstock
Pavel Ignatov/Shutterstock
Question: I recently discontinued my T-Mobile wireless service in what I hoped would be a smooth transition. It wasn’t. As I began to pay my final bill, I realized that I had been charged a $200 early termination fee. This was a surprise to me, because I thought I had been operating on a month-to-month contract for several months.

I signed up with T-Mobile in the summer of 2011, and after about a year I realized that I had been paying entirely too much for the unlimited plan. So I decided to change my plan. When I looked at plan options, I wanted something that was cheaper, but I also wanted to end my contract and go month-to-month, which would give me the flexibility to go to the company of my choice.

When I chose a plan change, I selected an option where I also would pay a termination fee of $100 to end the contract that I was under. I reasoned that the termination fee would pay for itself with the lower plan option in a couple of months. My plan was to wait for a couple of months and then make a decision on where to go next.

When I questioned the termination fee, T-Mobile said I had renewed my contract for two years at that time and that my contract would not end until the summer of 2014. Nowhere in any of the options when I changed my plan did it state that I would have to renew my contract. In fact, I specifically looked for that provision, because I would not have done it had that been the case.

I tried to recover any documents that showed where this was the case, but because I am no longer with T-Mobile, I could not access my account. Nor did they send me any notification by mail or email. The only thing I have from them is the bill where they charged me the termination fee.

I stated all of this in a letter to their contract review, but my request was denied. I called their customer service and eventually I talked to a manager who gave me credit for my last month’s bill, but stated that she could do nothing about the termination fee.

The amount is too small to take any type of legal action, but I still do not believe I should have to pay a bill that I do not justifiably owe. It is frustrating because I feel like there is nothing I can do about the situation. Do you have any suggestions? — Chad Jones, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Answer: I reviewed the correspondence between you and T-Mobile. Here’s my problem: Not only do you have zero documentation about your terms of service, but since you’ve already terminated your service, the company won’t even let you back in to retrieve whatever documents might — or might not — exonerate you.

T-Mobile’s position, which is articulately stated in the two form letters you received, is that you never made the switch to the month-to-month plan. In other words, you were still under contract when you canceled, and owe T-Mobile $200.

But I also believe you when you say you switched to a month-to-month contract. You can see the terms of your current contract on your monthly bill, which, if you’re paying electronically, would not be accessible to you now that you’ve left T-Mobile.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand the reason wireless carriers have early termination fees. I’m not going to go down that aisle in this story. But if you took every step you believed was necessary to switch to a month-to-month contract, then I think T-Mobile should honor your request.

You could have also tried to appeal this decision to a T-Mobile executive. The names of its corporate leaders can easily be found online. If your email through its website doesn’t yield results, try emailing the execs directly. They use two email naming conventions at T-Mobile: firstname.lastname@t-mobile.com and firstinitiallastname@t-mobile.com.

I contacted T-Mobile on your behalf, and it refunded $100 of the early termination fee. It also offered you a “free” Samsung Galaxy S2 or an HTC One S if your reactivated your account in the next 30 days. Something tells me you won’t.

Should T-Mobile have charged Chad Jones an early termination fee?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • dourdan

    does he have the paperwork that he was given? when ever i make a change i do it in a store, with a human being, than that human being gives me paperwork that details that i just did.

    i find it hard to believe that no non-digital contract exists.

  • sdir

    Was he actually charged $100 when he terminated the first plan? Sounds like T-Mobile double-dipped on the termination fee and is now refunding the first (and lowest!) of the two fees now that Chris is involved.

    One thing I’d like to see from companies is where people can still access past statements and details after cancelling service, at least for a while. After all, most companies nowadays are pressuring their customers to conduct their business online and get away from paper statements and snail-mail payments. Seems like all of these advancements are only benefiting the business.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    I have the same question. If he did pay the $100 termination fee then that strongly suggests that he switched to a month to month plan

  • Kevin Mathews

    I wonder the same thing. Everytime I’ve switch my contract or plans around, I generally get a piece of mail explaning my new terms, conditions, data limits, minute limits, etc…
    I’ve also never heard of a “Terminaion Fee” when you renew a contract. So if he truely was charged the $100 Termination fee, which based on the fact T-Mobile credited him back that amount it would seem he had paid it, it would make logical sense that he didn’t renew his contract for 2 more years…

  • K

    Why can’t TMobile show him a copy of the 2-year contract that he signed? That would certainly clear things up.

  • http://ladylighttravel.com/ LadyLightTravel

    Verizon did that to me when I quit several years ago. They gave me an unsigned receipt (a cash register receipt) as “proof” I had entered into the contract and took a couple hundred dollars out of my checking account. Too bad for them that I hadn’t really signed that contract. Which is why they lost a class action lawsuit and had to return several peoples money.
    I don’t know who to believe in this, but I know for sure that wireless companies fake contracts.

  • Former tmo employee

    What happened was he switched to a cheaper plan and paid a migration fee not a cancelation fee. They switched him to a value plan which is cheaper because the phones aren’t subsidized and since he was still in contract there was a fee to switch to keep others from getting a discounted phone then switching to the cheaper plan. When you made the switch you had to have signed a contract extension.

  • ChBot

    Sounds like he was trying to find a cheap way out of a contract, but lost !!!..
    But I would consider the 100$ he still is on the hook for to be a lesson learned in keeping one’s own records, especially as he was trying to escape a fee he knew he probably owed in the first place…

  • ChBot

    “Conduct their business online” just means no paper travelling by snail mail and therefore paper, ink, envelope and stamps savings for the company.
    But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t upload copies of your documentation in your computer, especially when you are trying to move from this provider with a shaky plan to avoid a termination fee …

  • EdB

    But the problem with not getting a paper trail on paper they provide is the electronic information can “disappear” or get changed and you have no way to prove it. They could argue that any electronic copy you have was faked so it gets down to one person’s word against another.

  • EdB

    Another case of the dreaded invisible contract. Companies have been allowed to get away with this for too long and I feel it is time for it to change. If any action you do online or over the phone commits you to a long term contract, the company should be required to send you a written notification *CLEARLY* spelling out the terms and time of the contract which the customer has to sign and mail back. Without this, the company can just say “it was in the terms you clicked okay on” with no documentation of what those terms said at the time of the click.

  • BillCCC

    I don’t know if he should be charged or not. I will agree with others that he should have received something when he changed his plan. I do not know about Verizon but every time I make a small change to my account I receive emails detailing the change plus the next bill usually has a mention.

  • MS

    I tried to battle this very incident about 2 years ago with T-Mobile. I signed up on a month-to-month, and they automatically changed my plan for month-to-month to a contract without asking me to sign any new documentation. I even kept all my documentation, but only dealt with answering machines and then collections. Now, were this a small business, this way of doing business would be taken to court every time, but because T-Mobile is huge and does it to so many people, they have gotten away with it time and time again. If there is any lawyer wanting to win a big lawsuit and be in the history books, here’s a sure case to take on.

  • LJBROCK

    Because I dont’ think TMobile makes you sign anything. I have been with them for the last 8 years or so and every time I’ve made a change to my account, they told me I was adding another two years to my contract, I’ve NEVER signed anything. Terrible way to do business, but I’ve never really had any problems with them, so haven’t needed to cancel my service.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I feel for the guy because I have very little real documentation concerning my own cell plan, but ultimately if you’re going to just rely on the other guy’s word, that means not being able to gripe too much when you don’t like what he tells you.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    The terms can change, yes–That’s where they really get you because it’s all so fuzzy when there are no documents signed. But you can save web pages to your own computer in a variety of ways to save for records and the OP didn’t even have that.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I’m with you. I get his account is now defunct, but that shouldn’t mean all records were erased. If this were a criminal investigation or something they’d certainly be able to provide information. I would say a customer has the right to everything concerning their business relationship with the company.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I just received another explanation from T-Mobile:

    Hey Christopher, thank you for posting this. I read your article and was interested in the situation. Of course, without looking at the account, I can’t say with 100% certainty the cause for the fees. However, based on the information provided, it looks like I can provide some insight into it. It sounds like this customer signed up with our service on one of our Classic plans, likely receiving a discount/subsidy on a device with the 2 year contract.
    Then, he wanted to move to our Value plans, which no longer offer the discounts for devices, in return for lower cost plans. However, the contract is still intact and it is not month to month.
    In making this move, there is a migration fee. This is to offset the cost of the phone discount, since the customer is no longer paying the subsidized plan pricing. This however does not cancel the contract.
    So, the ETFs would generally be valid, as he had not finished his 2 year contract, set to end summer of 2013.
    We have all of this info on our Support Community, and we always recommend checking it out.
    http://goo.gl/sJxBm
    We hope that this information suits the customer, and if not, T-Force is more than happy to assist further.

  • EdB

    Any copy of a web page would be worthless in supporting your side because it is so easy to make a change in it. The business could do the same thing. That is why they should really supply a hardcopy of the contract with your signature to prove you agreed to the terms.

    And I feel no contract should be allowed to contain that draconian clause, “terms and conditions subject to change without notice” unless you are allowed to also make changes that the business has to honor.

  • EdB

    Seems that “migration” charge should cover the cost of switching from the subsidized plan to non and take him off of contract. And if the subsidized plan is really paying for the phone, why doesn’t the monthly charges go down one the phone subsidize is covered?

    I’m glad that T-Mobile is switching to the contractless model and separating the phone from the service. Now if the other major carriers will do the same, there won’t be any more problems with ETFs.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I don’t know. That would be the best solution.

  • EdB

    Because T-Mobile cannot show something that doesn’t exist. ;)

  • DavidYoung2

    That’s exactly what happened to us when we switched to their ‘unlimited’ plan. They waived the $100.00 migration fee at the store, but we still were under contract for the remaining time of the original contract (since that contract provided for the discounted phones, it seemed fair.)

    My question is, why didn’t the OP check before terminating the plan? Mobile phone, cable / satellite TV, DSL service, etc. Always check first because (1) it avoids nasty surprises and (2) they generally have ‘customer retention’ department that can make a deal that will keep you happy.

  • http://thestockhome.com/ Josh S

    Print any and all electronic confirmations, receipts, contracts, TOS agreements, etc to .pdf and save it on your computer. Done and done.

  • EdB

    Pdf documents can be modified. You need the documentation to come from the other party in a non-modifiable for any real protection. Any copy you make can be modified and doesn’t bear any evidence that the other party agreed to it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    Because of the rise of e-commerce, the traditional “wet” or ink signature is no longer required for most contracts. If it were, you could never purchase anything over the internet for example.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    That brings up an interesting question. Had the Op originally chosen the cheaper plan, would he have been able to set the same phone subsidy? If so then the migration fee is a money grab, pure and simple.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    This is all very theoretical. As a practical matter, if you have a printout from the internet that is sufficiently authenticated, the burden of proof shifts to the other side to prove that its been tampered with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    If the migration charge is to offset the lack of phone subsidy, why is a contract appropriate since T-Mobile has recouped its subsidy via the migration fee

  • EdB

    And there’s the problem. What is “sufficiently authenticated”. The web is not designed to support this concept. While the connection may be secured, the data, once it gets on your machine, is not. Since it is not secured, there can be no authentication that the data was not modify after it was received.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    That sounds good in theory, but in reality that would cripple e-commerce. There are much easier, less draconian ways, of handling this “problem”. Confirmation e-mails with cooling off periods, better disclosure, etc. would be the way to handle this

  • TiaMa

    I may pay most of my bills online but I still get paper statements and notices. One time I went paperless with AT&T and they were supposed to email me notifications when my statement was available (I received other emails from them so they had my email address), but I never received them and by then my paper statements had stopped. After a couple months of that, I went back to the paper statements. I also don’t do auto-bill pay from either the vendor or my bank. I like to control when I make the payment and there are times the amounts may change.

  • EdB

    A confirmation email would go a long way in addressing this issue. But it would have to be accompanied by a return email by the customer. Without this confirmation, there is no guarantee the original email made it. Email is not a confirmed transmission protocol. But that goes back to what I was saying in there needs to be a provable offer/acceptance of terms in a format that cannot be altered by either party.

  • ChBot

    Don’t give them ideas … Already far too many class actions out there !!!…

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Not worthless… He’d be 100x ahead of where he is right now if he had a web page showing he was on a month-to-month plan.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Still theoretical, but if something like this ever got before a judge, it’d force T Mobile to explain what exactly they were claiming was faked. And that would force them to produce their records of what plan he was on.

  • EdB

    The only way it would be of value is to take it to court and require the other party to provide the actual page you agreed to. Out side of court, it wouldn’t hold water since it can’t be proved it has not been modified. I have seen it before, and even talked about on here, where the customer has a printout of a web page but the business refuses to acknowledge its authenticity.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Not following you… If the OP had the confirmation email, then clearly it would have made it to him. And the fact the other party sent the confirmation would put it on their shoulders to have assured the details of the confirmation were carried out. How would the customer replying to the email change anything?

  • emanon256

    Most of the companies I do business with give me a PDF of my bill, statements, agreements, etc. which is digitally signed. If I modify it in anyway, it is no longer digitally signed by them. I believe a digitally signed PDF signed by the service provider is ample proof. I save every PDF bill to my local machine and back them up.

  • EdB

    You missed the point I was making. How do you know he got the confirmation email. We are talking about a hypothetical situation and not the OP case. Email is not a guaranteed delivery protocol. Just because you sent it, doesn’t guarantee the receiver got it. If there is a dispute, the receiver could just say it never made it. Could have been deleted by a spam filter or just lost in the network. Requiring the receiver to acknowledge receipt, there is no question if it made it or not. Just like the postal mail. Unless the receiver sends back some sort of acknowledgment, you have no proof they got it.

  • EdB

    But can they prove you got the file? That has to be part of the “sufficiently authenticated” method. Otherwise they could put together a digitally signed PDF with new terms and not send it to you but claim they did and you agreed by continuing to use the service.

  • EdB

    But if they can’t prove you agreed to their copy, they could just as well faked theirs too. This is why you need a method that shows both parties agreed to something. Something neither party can change and shows both parties agreed to it.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    A big difference in company willingness to communicate than your JetBlue case earlier in the week. Nice to see.

  • emanon256

    I did financial/billing related consulting for many, many years, with many many lawyers for each client when we designed their systems. The only legal requirement in every case (according to the lawyers) is that the file is made available. If the consumer doesn’t go and get it, receive it, etc. than that, unfortunately, is on the customer. In fact, every attorney that worked with me on these system stated non-receipt of a bill or contract does not remove the obligation to pay. This makes sense to me as any one could just say they never received a bill or contract, and then not have to pay it.

    On the plus side, every client I have worked with saved and archived time stamped copies of what was made available to the customers should litigation ever ensue so they could prove they had an exact copy of what was provided to the consumer. Also, every client I worked with would re-send, or even mail a copy if requested, any document to the consumer so they could see it should they request it later. Also these bills are all system generated, so it would not be possible for the company to alter it after the fact. If they did, it would loose its original time stamp and digital signature.

  • EdB

    So you provided an alternative way for clients to confirm the agreement. Records of them accessing the site can show they received it. This is not the situation I am talking about. I am referring to businesses that put you under a contract but provides no proof you ever saw or agreed to the terms. DirecTV was sued and lost because of a practice they used of extending contracts without the customer knowledge or approval. They didn’t have a website like you offered so they could confirm the information. It is those situations I am addressing.

  • http://gspirits.com/ Zod

    They are offering him a 2 year old phone as a compensation? You can’t even send those phones to liquidators, they won’t take them. T-Mobile offering him a Galaxy S2 is like someone giving him a bag of garbage and saying “good luck with that”.
    For comparison, the Galaxy s4 is out now and there’s talk about the release of the S5 soon!

  • emanon256

    Actually, and again, this is what I was told by attorneys that worked on project s with me, there is no legal requirements to retain a record that they access the website. Just that it was made available. Whether they accessed it or not was their choice. Many companies did log when they were accessed, however if they costumer never accessed it, they bill and/or contract were still legally valid.

    As far as businesses that put you under a contract but provide no proof you ever saw or agreed to the terms, yeah, that is bad, and they need to prove it. What was done for every client I worked with was that first we put wording in the agreement they agreed to when they created a username
    that they can not give out their password, and if they do, they are
    responsible for any charges and/or changes made by any party who uses
    their username. Then whenever something was agreed to including the creation of their account, we had to capture their login info, proving they logged in with their username, a Y/N data element populated by the actual check box they checked agreeing to what they were signing, the exact text as displaed on the screen to them, and a date time stamp, and often, but not always, the IP address they were accessing the site from. This was then stored in an encrypted table with an audit on it, so it could not be edited, only re-displayed, and if tampered with by a DBA, there would be evidence as such due to the audit. These regulations actally came from some comemrcial e-signature law except for the IP address which was not required, and this was the data used to generate the PDF. So if there was every an anomaly or something displayed incorrectly or someone messed with the data being used to create the agreement, this was all captured so we know we captured what was actually displayed.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Well, hypothetically, how would you conclusively prove the reply to the confirmation was legitimate and not faked in some way? Would a confirmation of the confirmation of the confirmation then be required? You could go on forever.

    And looking at the bigger picture, printed contracts can still be altered. Both sides might have their own copy, but who is to say which one is correct? Theoretically, they both could have altered their copy and the original agreement might have been something entirely different than either is claiming.

  • EdB

    The recorded of them logging in is not needed, however, it does provide more evidence they have agreed to something.

    But again, I am not talking about those businesses you work with. They are doing it right and I applaud them for doing so. But it is all those other businesses that don’t bother getting proof of agreement and then trying to hold them to it I am addressing in my comments. Until all businesses adopt some kind of system your clients use, we will continue to see the kind of problems the OP had.

  • EdB

    So you would rather have no proof of agreement rather than something that can show there was some sort of agreement by both parties?

    The claims about faked agreement and both copies of a contract being changed I’m sure is addressed by existing case law.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    Sorry, I was not clear. What that means is that you can attest that you were on the T-mobile website, this is the web page that you saw, and that you personally printed it out. Then the burden falls to T-mobile to prove that the page that you have presented is not accurate. You don’t have to prove that you didn’t change it.

    Consider a regular multi-page paper contract. There is nothing to prevent you from taking, say page 2 of 3, and retype it using the same font and making modifications. Paper is often less secure than electronic transmissions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s just not true. Its not worthless for the reasons that I previously articulated. Besides, if it came to that, you would simple hire a forensice computer company to authenticate that the file has not been tampered with since it was saved. I’ve done that on several of my litigation matters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    There is a big difference between what happens in court and what happens in a consumer forum where we get highly editted bits of the story.

  • Cybrsk8r

    This story is a perfect example of why I will never have a contract phone with a cell company. There are too many ways for them to screw you over in the fine print.

  • jim6555

    I believe that the cell carriers need to go back to having written, signed contracts. I know that it makes the process more cumbersome, but it sure would go a long way to prevent disputes like the one featured here. I can’t think of any other type of business where paper contracts are not the norm.

  • Jessica Smith

    Having made this change in their plan types myself, the migrations fee, as it was explained to me, changed based on how long it had been since you had upgraded your phone. For example, when we first inquired about the new plan styles, an associate in my local store looked up the account (with multiple phones on it) and advised of cost and said it would be cheaper to wait a few months to let at least 1 of the 2 phones age out of the migration fee. Basically, with the Classic plans, you qualify for a 2 year renewal with a deep discount on a new phone every 22 months, so if it has been less than 22 months there is a fee to offset the deep discount on your phone to switch to the new Value plans….where you pay full price for the phones, but get cheaper monthly service and are still locked into a contract.

  • Jessica Smith

    Being a long time T-Mobile customer…..even now, if you go into a store to make changes to your account, upgrade phone, etc…. you do get a paper copy of everything, outlining the changes that were made to your account, etc. Additionally, you do sign, you may not sign directly on the piece of paper, but electronically through the credit card machine to capture it, but in store at a minimum, you have numerous opportunities to verify that you are getting what you think you are getting…

  • Richard

    If anyone can assist me with this issue – I would greatly appreciate it. In January of 2001, I moved to DC and I signed a 2 year contract with T-Mobile and received a free phone. Sometime in 2004, I upgraded one phone, signed another 2 year contract and switched to a family plan with free calls between the 2 numbers on the account. In January of 2007, I changed my plan(calling T-Mobile directly) to a family plan to added more minutes and bought 2 new phones (subsidized). My plan was changed from 450 minutes and I increased the minutes to 700 or 750. In October of 2007, I received a bill about $200 more than I normally paid and I noticed I was charged for calls between the 2 numbers on the account. I called customer service and they said that the plan I switched to in January was to a Friends and Family Circle Fab 5 plan. I explained that I did not switch to the Fab 5 plan, just increased my minutes on the same plan. For the Fab 5 plan, you had to select 5 numbers and those would be calls you made for free. I said that no-one at T-Mobile told me about this (you had to go on-line or add the 5 friend to your “group”) and T-Mobile confirmed that I had never added anyone to my Fab 5. I asked them why someone would not contact me asking why I was not using a service I was paying for. T-Mobile did not know. Then I just wanted to know how I would use the Fab 5 plan. The T-Mobile rep stated that the 2 phones that I had purchased in January at the same time I changed my plan were not compatible with Fab 5 plan. I again asked, why didn’t T-Mobile say something when I switched plans and purchased the phones that were not compatible with each other. The rep did not know why (it is because I did not switch to the Fab 5 plan) but said I could either purchase new phones at full price or they could switch my plan and I would have to start the 2 year contract over. I did not think that was acceptable or fair (plus I was playing an extra 20 dollars people month for the Fab 5 plan). After days of arguing with T-Mobile, a few reps suggested I cancel my service and they would waive the termination fee if I returned the phones. I finally agreed, terminated the contract, returned the phones and received a bill the next month for an early termination fee of $400. I called and it was resolved immediately. I received 2 additional invoices for my final bill (minus the termination fee) and another final bill for $0. I thought the issue was over. About 2 months ago (over 5 years later) I receive a letter from a collection agency stating that I owe an early termination fee of $400 and it is on my credit report. I called the agency and provided the above information. The collection agency stated that they received confirmation of the debt and it is valid. Since it has been 5 years, I have shredded the final T-Mobile invoices and other records. If anyone can give me advice on this situation, i would greatly appreciate it.

  • EdB

    You need to write the collection agency and request written confirmation of the debt. You will also want to get copies of your credit reports to make sure they haven’t tried refreshing the date of the debt. Since it was 5 years ago, the debt would drop off after 7 so make sure that date is correct (7 years from when you got the first bill with the etf). Because you shredded that last bill, you may still be able to get a copy from T-Mobile but by requesting written confirmation from the collection agency, they are going to have to get it anyways.

  • EdB

    Also, you might want to check the statute of limitations on a debt for your state. In California, it is four years. If you are past that time, they can’t try suing to collect.

  • Richard

    Thank you for the information! On my credit report, the date of debt is 1/2013. T-Mobile (when I recently called them about it) said that this was “new” debt they found when they went over the books regarding the failed AT&T merger. When I asked for a copy of my final bill, T-Mobile said I had to speak to another department. I was dumped in voice-mail twice.
    However, I will try and contact the collections agency. It may be easier going through them to get this information. Thanks again.

  • EdB

    This is not “new” debt but “newly found” debt that is also incorrect. Debt reported to credit reports must reflect the date the debt was occurred, not found. Might want to check the FTC website about the Fair Debt Collection Act. You could try calling T-Mobile again and tell them they are in violation and will report them to the FTC if they do not correct the entry immediately. You can also demand a copy of the bill from T-Mobile and if they refuse to supply it, file a complaint with the FTC.

  • Ellen

    I has a two-year contact with T-Mobile (they would automatically renew after the two years were up). I recently switched to a no contract, pay-as-you-go plan right before the contract plan would renew. The rep at T-Mobile told me that I would NOT need to pay any early termination fee. She didn’t mention that any other fees would be charged, either. Now, four months have gone by and I found out that I owe them over $300.00, I am assuming that this is a termination fee. I am on the pay as you go plan and pay $10.00 a month plus tax. I pay my bill online and nothing shows that I owe any other fees except on my current plan. When someone cancels a cell phone plan, even at the end of the contract and before the new one begins, do cell phone providers charge a cancellation fee, regardless? Is it even legal that they do this? If this is how cell phone providers treat their customers, I will never have another contract, I will only do no-contracts.

  • EdB

    “I has a two-year contact with T-Mobile (they would automatically renew after the two years were up).”

    I have *NEVER* heard of a carrier having an automatic contract renewal like that unless you had some sort of special contract, like a business account. I know carriers want to keep people locked in by using these contracts, but the only justifications they give is to cover the cost of subsidizing a phone. So unless they were automatically sending you a new phone every two years, there is something fishy about that auto renewal.

    You need to write, not call, T-Mobile and demand they send you an accounting on how you owe them the $300.

  • Miguel Angel Cueto

    unless your living in 2014 already, termination fee is $200 as per TMobile’s old contracts agreement $100 when your less than 6 months of you contract expiration date. There is no prorate with tmobile just plain and simple rape(like any other carriers).

  • Whitney

    I’m in the same boat…. i bought the new phone at the time…. Samsung galaxy s3…. and paid month for the phone. I was told there would never be a cancellation fee because I was month to month.
    I had tmobil for YEARS!!! I moved to an area that had little to no coverage and had to switch…. standing on a chair in the corner of the den for 10 min trying to send out a text message was just more than I could stand.
    So I switched….. cause I shouldn’t have had a cancellation fee
    Well…. there is a $200 term fee that they want and I just don’t understand why.
    Tmobil is LYING to their customers. False advertising and straight up lying.

    Anyone know of a class action against them?

    I am going to be speaking with a lawyer and the media. I can’t believe they are getting away with lying and ripping people off. Unreal.

  • EdB

    Is that an ETF or the balance on the phone? If you still have an outstanding balance when you terminate, the balance is due immediately.

  • Whitney

    No, I’m completely fine paying off the balance that I owe. … its the additional $200 termination fee that I’m upset about…. especially when I was told I was out of contract and month to month…. they are advertising that they have no ETFs.. its not right.

  • Whitney

    No, I’m completely fine paying off the balance that I owe. … its the additional $200 termination fee that I’m upset about…. especially when I was told I was out of contract and month to month…. they are advertising that they have no ETFs.. its not right.

    What Can People Like me do to avoid getti ng bamboozled? ?

  • EdB

    Have you contacted T-Mobile and asked them about it? How long ago did you get your new phone? I’m wondering if you were still on the old style plan because you have been with them so long. Guessing you didn’t pay for the phone on an installment plan, but it was subsidized. In that case, while you were month to month before because you had completed your contract, when you got the new phone, it started a new contract.

  • SJohnson

    I am going through a similar situation with T-Mobile… Tried to get help with my service with T-mobile and they were unable to give me service that was working properly. I called several times and tried to get it fixed. Then I was told to go to a store… T-mobile has taken all of their products out of the area. I have to drive 2 1/2 hours to get to a store. So I had to switch because they couldn’t give me the service that I was paying for. I run a home business and I lost clients!! Now the endless letters and emails have started. Is there any hope. I have an attorney but I don’t want to have to go that far for $400.00