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.
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My T-Mobile phone doesn’t work — now what?

Cellular tower, waiting to be disconnected. / Photo by Gary Lerude - Flickr
Cellular tower, waiting to be disconnected. / Photo by Gary Lerude – Flickr
Question: My daughter and I have been experiencing problems with our T-Mobile service, and we need your help. I’ve made multiple calls to T-Mobile and received the exact same responses: “You’re not the first person to call about this problem, and a ticket has already been opened,” and, “Remove the battery and SIM card and put them back in.”

I saw one of your recent columns, and I took your advice and sent a very long email requesting that my accounts be canceled, without penalty. After a month, I received a generic letter stating T-Mobile “can’t guarantee service in all areas.”

It infuriated me. I’m not asking for service to be guaranteed in all areas. I should be able to expect adequate service in areas where there is service. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
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Help! T-Mobile wants to charge a $200 cancellation fee

Question: I recently canceled my T-Mobile contract due to lack of coverage in my home neighborhood. I have tried to resolve the issue many times.

The first three or four customer support representatives told me that I was in an excellent service area and that the problem was T-Mobile’s and would be fixed within 72 hours. I called back after 72 hours and escalated the request to a manager, who told me that I was in a very low coverage area and that the only resolution to the problem would be for T-Mobile to build more towers. As you can imagine, this was very frustrating.
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Sherry E at T-Mobile wants more of your money after your phone is stolen (don’t worry, it’s for your protection)

Ah, red tape! There’s no worse time to run into it — bunches and bunches of it, in this case — than when your property is stolen and you’re just trying to do the right thing.

Such is Bruce Scotton’s dilemma. After his T-Mobile cell phone was swiped from his checked luggage on a flight from Panama City to Los Angeles, he immediately reported it to the company — but not before the thief ran up $103 in charges. T-Mobile agreed to spilt the difference with him, but Scotton believes he shouldn’t be liable for any of it, since he reported the theft as soon as it happened.
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