Get Out Of Sprint Cell Phone Contract, Avoid Early Termination Fee (August/September 2011)

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If you are under a Sprint cell phone contract and want to get out of it without paying the steep Early Termination Fee (ETF), check your statements with a billing date in August. Look for the following text:

Administrative Charge Increase & Terms & Conditions Changes for Consumers
Effective 9/9/11, the Administrative Charge will increase to $1.50 per line for customers that receive the charge. For details, visit In addition, the Sprint consumer Terms (Ts&Cs) are changing. Please review them carefully at your local Sprint store or

You may be “stuck” in a contract, but a contract runs both ways. Sprint is also “stuck” and can’t go increasing your monthly bill whenever they want. The law states that if a company makes a material change to the contract, then the consumer has the ability to exit the contract without an ETF if they notify Sprint within 30 days of the notice. As stated on their own fees page: “The Administrative Charge is not a tax and is not an amount we are required to collect from you by law.” From the Sprint contract:

You may terminate each line of Service materially affected without incurring an Early Termination Fee only if you: (a) call us within 30 days after the effective date of the change; and (b) specifically advise us that you wish to cancel Services because of a material change to the Agreement that we have made. If you do not cancel Service within 30 days of the change, an Early Termination Fee will apply if you terminate Services before the end of any applicable Term Commitment.

I believe this admin charge used to be 99 cents per line. However they rephrase it, this is a price hike and thus a “material change”, pure and simple. If it wasn’t material, they wouldn’t be raising the prices on their 50 million customers x $0.50 extra = $25 million per month in additional revenue!

Many users on this Slickdeals post as well as some MyMoneyBlog readers have already reported success. You may need to ask for the Retentions Department or a supervisor, but don’t them talk you out of it. Sprint knows what they are doing, they just wanted to minimize the publicity, this already happened back in January 2010. One additional tip for some folks who want it is to ask for your line to be marked “out of contract”. This will allow you to simply exit your contract, but continue your service on a month-to-month basis. If not, you can ask to cancel at the end of the month to allow time to port your phone number to another carrier. Finally, they may offer you some sort of cash credit or other incentive to stay in contract.

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  1. Any SERO customers here? Still with that plan and loving it….

  2. I’m always surprised this works. I tried doing the same thing with AT&T about two years ago. Days and days of phone calls. I eventually had to send all of my backup paperwork to their legal department because the reps wouldn’t talk with me anymore. I got a denial letter and had to continue my contract. It was frustrating because I knew we were right, but big bad bully AT&T knew they had the upper hand despite my persistence.

  3. Yes, still keep SERO500 for my wife. Comes down to around 34$/mo total. I am still not aware of a better alternative after having it for so many years. As to myself, I’m using T-mobile prepaid for about $30/year.

  4. Economically Humble says

    Nice! I’ve been wanting to ditch Sprint for some time now. Great tip!

  5. I’ve got a regular Sprint unlimited 450 plan and other than going pay-as-you-go, it still seems like the best deal from the big 4 carriers unless I’m missing something?

  6. Money Beagle says

    I read on Slickdeals that Sprint was giving credits based on acknowledging service issues over the past few months. I’d logged a call a while back so I called and sure enough, they gave me a $25 credit and they also sent a device that plugs into our cable modem and enhances the signal in our house, at no charge. So far it’s definitely helped. I also got them to waive the activation fees on two phone upgrades done on lines under my name, so I probably won’t push it with this 🙂

  7. For those with SERO plans, do you still use phones from several years ago? My understanding is that any customer with old plans cannot upgrade to newer phones (e.g., android) unless they change their plans to the new ones currently offered by Sprint.

  8. Sam,
    No, I am able to upgrade my phone. The only thing I can’t do (unless it has changed since) is get an Android or something along those lines. However, the alternatives (Samsung Reclaim) are pretty good and have the basics things that I need: email, internet, text, etc.

  9. How (or where) do I check if T-Mobile has had a recent change in contract similar to this? And do they also waive the EFT fee for changes, like Sprint does?


  10. If you are still on good ole’ SERO, here’s a reminder of your options with the SERO Premium plan:

    Let’s say you’re on the $30 plan. Basically, if you want a “smartphone” with either Windows 7 or Android OS, you can get one but it will cost $40 a month total. If that phone has 4G, it will cost $50 a month total. I don’t think 4G is worth another $120 a year myself, but a lot of good phones have it built in. Non-4G phone options include HTC Arrive (Windows) and the Samsung Transform (Android).

  11. I wonder if its possible to get a phone upgrade now(before 9/9/11) then after 30 days passes from your phone upgrade but before 30 days passes after 9/9/11, to get out from the contract and keep your upgraded phones

  12. Sprint is also changing some of the arbitration language. That may be an even greater weapon in accomplishing a successful contract cancellation.

  13. I had something like this happen to me with Verizon back in 2007 when the cost of text messages went up (even though I rarely sent text messages back then). They put up a fight.

    First they argued that the change was not material because the increase was small relative to the total monthly cost taking into consideration that I rarely ever used text messages.

    Then they offered to give me a $5/month credit for every month until the end of my contract.

    I fought them back, read my terms & conditions, and told them to setup arbitration (at their expense per the contract) with the BBB. I also looked up the cost of having the BBB arbitrate a dispute and it was over $500. Obviously, they caved in and I got out of the contract.

  14. Hey quick question, Anyone know if this is NATIONWIDE?
    i just checked my last bill online, and i don’t see this notice anywhere….
    is it NOT on the online bill version and somewhere ELSE on the website??? i would like to go month 2 month and this would be a great Opportunity too… anyone know? i’m from CA if that matters… and my bill date ended 8-7-11.. do i have to wait to see that notice on the bill cycle ending 9-7-11???

  15. Click on the “see my bill” link, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Important information relating to your sprint bill”, it should be there. I am going to aggressively pursue being “out of contract” (would appreciate any success stories with this) because I can’t last another month with sprint and I can’t afford to lose my number.

  16. I looked at my bill and it says that charge will be added. So what do I tell them to get out of my contract?

  17. GREAT NEWS! I tried it, it worked, they did not offer me anything, BUT, i don’t have to pay nothing, which gives me time to port my numbers to another carrier! CYA SPRINT!!!!!

  18. What exactly did you say to them? Are they cancelling your service or did you just ask for you contract to be fulfilled?

  19. I argued with them for over an hour last night and got nowhere. They told me that they couldn’t tell if I would be affected and I have to wait until I see the increase on my next bill. Customer Retentions (Rachael) called me today and said she sees that I will be affected but they will not waive the ETF’s on my account. I told her that we would see and will call back once the bill comes in. I hate Sprint and can’t wait until I am rid of them. Screwed me way too many times.

  20. I had success with the Executive Line.

  21. I just tried…didn’t work. tried twice. I guess too many people called. I did report them to BBB.

  22. I tried the executive line. What did you say?? Mustve been something I didn’t say. 🙁 When did you call?

  23. i called this morning twice and the second time asked to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor mentioned something about them being able to charge me up to 1.99.

    I stated that regardless it was a material change to my contract. The supervisor said that she would cancel it because I have been with Sprint for over ten years.

    Woo hoo!!!! I am freeeeeeee from SPRINT!!!!!

  24. It didn’t work for me.

    The matter escalated to pretty high up because I kept insisting this is a material change. In the end, the answer I got was that the 1.50 is still within 1.99 limit on the service agreement.

    What this means is that they can charge the admin fee as high as 1.99 without materially changing the contract.

    Maybe you guys got lucky. If you know what I should say, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help out.

  25. I just called Sprint and got nowhere. The rep was quite aggressive and passed me on to customer retention.

    The woman at customer retention (an oxymoron if there ever was one) told me that these were “federal taxes”, which they clearly were not since they were listed under “Sprint Surcharges” heading.

    She was also very aggressive and told me to go pound sand because (i) Sprint could change these anytime (“read your contract, sir”), (ii) these are not material changes, and (iii) they are lower than what they were SIX months ago. (I told her that I did not give a damn what they were six months ago; I only cared how they changed vs. last month.)

    She actually raised her voice on one or two occasions. Great customer service.

    Pretty stupid of them, actually, since my contract is up in December 2011 anyways.

  26. @Lodoss:

    I am not aware of where the agreement says the limit is $1.99. I think you should start with the dispute process. I suggest you read it at the link I have below in my post. Also, here are some magic words for you in the “Dispute Process” of the customer agreement:

    “However, we will pay for the arbitration administrative or filing fees, including the arbitrator fees.”

    I do not know what it costs Sprint for arbitration fees, but I will wager that it is more expensive for them to pay for arbitration than it is to let you out of you contract. Which option would any sane business person working for Sprint pick?

    “Our Right To Change The Agreement & Your Related Rights
    We may change any part of the Agreement at any time, including, but not limited to, rates, charges, how we calculate charges, discounts, coverage, technologies used to provide services, or your terms of Service. We will provide you notice of material changes—and we may provide you notice of non-material changes—in a manner consistent with this Agreement (see “Providing Notice To Each Other Under The Agreement” section). If a change we make to the Agreement is material and has a material adverse effect on Services under your Term Commitment, you may terminate each line of Service materially affected without incurring an Early Termination Fee only if you: (a) call us within 30 days after the effective date of the change; and (b) specifically advise us that you wish to cancel Services because of a material change to the Agreement that we have made. If you do not cancel Service within 30 days of the change, an Early Termination Fee will apply if you terminate Services before the end of any applicable Term Commitment.”

  27. @PGWODE:

    I suggest recording the phone call the next time you speak to them. I had to do it with Verizon a few years back. I remember hearing somewhere (can’t remember exactly where) that it is extremely illegal for a company to misrepresent their fees as federal taxes. If you get that on a recording, that could be “F—ing Golden.”

    You will also want to formally start the dispute process to get arbitration started.

    “She was also very aggressive and told me to go pound sand because (i) Sprint could change these anytime (“read your contract, sir”)”

    Yes they can. And if they do, the contract says you can get out.

    “(ii) these are not material changes”

    Why not? A fee increase is always a material change.

    “(iii) they are lower than what they were SIX months ago.”

    So what? The only thing that matters is that they changed the terms of your current contract. If they made a change 6 months ago and you did not dispute that change, then that become your new contract. Any change to the new contract is still a change that you reserve the right to dispute.

  28. Sprint is on to this approach and will tell say you are not eligible based on the contract statement below. I wasted 30min of my life trying to refute..

    **Monthly charges exclude taxes, Sprint Surcharges [incl. USF charge of up to 14.4% (varies quarterly), Administrative Charge (up to $1.99/line/mo.), Regulatory Charge ($0.40/line/mo.) & state/local fees by area (approx. 5-20%)]. Sprint Surcharges are not taxes or gov’t-required charges and are subject to change. Details:

  29. same here except i have another issue.
    One i’m glad they have that statement of being able to charge UP to $1.99 on their website.. thats FANTASTIC.. however.. where the F is it on my actual contract…? take a look at yours (i hope you kept it)… any company can add a new page to their website and quote that all day long but if your black and white contract doesn’t have it …….. =)

  30. I tried calling too…first guy was REAL aggressive and stalled when I asked to speak to the supervisor. When I finally got to her, she said that the $1.50 fee was within the $1.99 they said they could charge me (which I agreed to). I asked her for a copy of my contract and she referred me to the Sprint store where I initiated service. I went back to the store, they printed up the contract and sure enough the language was right there. That doesn’t seem right to me and very sneaky. I guess that’s why lawyers have jobs. Maybe I’ll send a letter and demand arbitration?

  31. I was on the phone with sprint for over an hour arguing the fact that they had made a change on sept 9, 2011 and that i have the right by law too dispute that increase in administration fees and that i have 30 days too cancel my contract with sprint. I kept being put on hold, and swapped by supervisors.. the last supervisor stated that in my initial contract back in Jan 2011 that it allowed up too 1.99 fee.. and that its only at 1.50 right now. How do i by pass this trick their pulling with there contract??? I purchased my phone/plan through best buy.. But paperwork states none of this…

  32. Jon…tell them you never agreed to it. When they say you did, ask them to prove it by providing you a copy of a contract you signed.

  33. Tommy.. I told them that I don’t agree with the upcharge and that it wasn’t apart of my original contract..they kept telling me too go to there sprint site and look at there terms and conditions..that as of december 2010 it said it allowed upto 1.99..But I went through my original paperwork and it has nothing here abt that…I don’t even have a terms and conditions contract copy..I know I’m in the right here legally but they keep pushing me around..and won’t give me what I have the” righ”t too

  34. Exactly. Make sure you specifically say that you never signed a contract agreeing to the charge and you want arbitration unless they can provide a signed document saying you did agree to the charge and it has your signature on it.

    Then start the formal arbitration process as required by the contract. You have to actually take the steps specifically mentioned in the contract, not just argue with some idiot over the phone.

  35. Will do.. Hwn I told the lady on the phone that wasn’t in my original contract she just kept refering me too the page you happen too have a copy of the terms and conditions from before the change that is dated like in september? And one that has the change? That way I have direct proof..too send to the attorney general?

  36. @Jon H:

    I do not, as I am not a Sprint customer. However, Sprint should be able to provide a copy of something…and if they cannot…then you do not have to go along with it.

  37. unhappywsprint says

    Noone seems to be getting out. There were some people who were allowed to but now they’re not budging.

    check this link out!

    Also, check out this website, we all are trying to get out!

  38. jon h -click on the slickdeals post link up above in the article. There are several different t&c’s with different dates listed at that link and even one that compares them. They are lying to you. As soon as I saw they were increasing I went to the t&c and it said nothing about them being able to charge the 1.99. they added that after everyone started calling in. I was able to get out of my contract

  39. unhappywsprint says

    You also want to file a case in your state to the Attorney General’s office & the BBB the more people that file against it the more chances we will be allowed.

    Make sure you mentioned that they let people go already & they’re not letting you go!

  40. I just called Sprint and asked what the new increase in the administration fee is for and was told that it is for making sure all your calls go through..yes she reallly did tell me that..WHAT? and was also told the 1.50 is per line. Well I have 2 lines ONLY because it is free to me but there has never been a phone connected to what exactly is the 1.50 doing for a non-used phone line? I am thinking I need to make another phone call. ugh.

  41. This worked for me…

    I had to call about 20 times to get them to comply with the terms. the last time I called, the call was escalated to the management team almost immediately. I talked to the man very calmly and explained the situation with him. I told him that sprint had changed the terms of my contract several times, I had the original contract in which I signed dated 9/21/2010 and I was not going to accept the new terms with their material changes. He said that sprints attorneys had already looked at the changes to the “surcharges” paragraph and they were not an adverse material change due to the fact that sprint is just imposing limits which it had none before. So  I went on to explain the adverse change to the arbitration agreement which impeded my ability to pursue any wrong doing and showed sprint favoritism. I told him of all the complaints I had been researching about JAMS arbitration showing the business favoritism. He asked me to hold a minute and came right back asking if I had considered the buy back program. I told him absolutely not I was not going to loose $250 on a phone less than a year old which they would only give $95 for and expect me to pay $110 for an ETF. He said unfortunately there is nothing I can do. I replied, I am following all the terms of the contract, I stated the Provisions for breaking the contract with no ETF (material change) and again told him this new arbitration agreement which I would be using to pursue the change to the “surcharge” paragraph adversely affects me. He asked me to hold he would transfer my call to the head of his call center because his hands were tied.  About 20 minutes later he came back on the line and told me he had talked to the head of the call center and he was willing to mark my contract fulfilled as of last month and set my account to cancel at the end of the billing cycle so I could port my number if I wanted. I told him that was awesome and I appreciated them abiding by our contract even though it took multiple calls to get it completed.

    1. Take notes. write down the names and employee ID of all the people you talk to.
    2. Make sure you tell them you want to cancel due to the material change to the terms and conditions.
    3. If you get a person that seems like they are put out by having to be at work right now tell them something came up and you will have to call back later and thank them for their time. then call right back and get someone who is having a better day.
    4. Tell them you do not like the fees but the change to the arbitration agreement is the material change that you do not agree with, it is because they are impeding your ability to resolve any disputes with sprint due to the changes to the arbitration agreement so it adversely affects you.
    5. Do not let the persuade you into the buyback program unless you know what the conditions are and you don’t mind loosing all the money you paid for your phone upfront, you will still have to pay the ETF and they don’t pay much for phones ($95 max for the Epic). You could sell your phone on craigslist for more than they offer and possibly enough to cover the ETF.
    6. Always remain calm and collected speak slowly and plainly, be courteous mind you manners. Talk to the employee for a minute ask where he is located and how his day is going. Make sure you are improving their mood sympathize with them. Tell them you understand they have been told what to say and they have to follow orders but someone must be able to complete this and abide by the terms and conditions. Talk to them like their on your side (reverse psychology). If I can make them laugh over something I usually have their support when the call is escalated to the next department. It definitely makes a difference if the previous employee leaves a good comment and they side with you on the account and doesn’t say you are an ahole.
    7. Do not let them persuade you into the buyback program unless you know what the conditions are and you don’t mind loosing all the money you paid for your phone upfront, you will still have to pay the ETF and they don’t pay much for phones ($95 max for the Epic). You could sell your phone on craigslist for more than they offer and possibly enough to cover the ETF.
    8. If the employee does not agree the arbitration change is a material change. mention “In Cunningham vs. Fleetwood Homes of Georgia, reported at page 611 of the third Federal Reporter, volume 253, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that arbitration clauses are material terms to a contract.”
    9. They may offer a discount of .50 each month to offset the surcharge or $10 a month for 3 months to continue service. If you take these offers your contract will still be in full effect and you will be stuck with the new terms.
    10. Get a CONFIRMATION NUMBER and keep it safe. Do not loose it just in case the employee lied which has been known to happen from time to time. check your account online and click “see my contract details” it should show almost immediately the contract is complete. press print screen and save the image at least until your final bill has arrived and is correct. I have been burned by companies which lied in the past because it does not matter what they tell you on the phone its what is in writing that counts. If they lie and you have no proof 30 days after the change you are stuck in your contract.

    With a bit of luck they should let you out of the contract depending on the representative. They have no legal grounds to make you stay. If they refuse try again be persistent. I overheard the employees talking in the back ground at one point about how many times I had called over this issue. one of them even said “he is one persistent a**hole”. Do not give up, if you don’t find yourself making headway after 25 calls file a complaint with the BBB, FTC, FCC, your state attorney general, local chamber of commerce and your state public utility commission.

    Good Luck,

  42. Hey i have a Samsung epic 4g and i have had nothing but problems with i have brought it in to get fixed at least 7 times and i haven’t even had if for a full year recently i went in to get a software problem fixed and a new battery but since my screen was cracked they wouldn’t take it in. i wanted to switch to the new iPhone but they told me it would cost over 700 dollars, is there any way i can get the iPhone 4s for the normal $199 or get out of the plan with out etf.

  43. I just found this and since it is past 30 days from the effective date of the change I am assuming I can no longer use it. Please advise if I am wrong! Also, I noticed on Septembers bill that Sprint made a change to their upgrade program – making it 22 months of service before you can get a $150 upgrade discount. Is this considered a material change to the contract? TIA

  44. listen, Sprint sucks al the way around, i literally have tapes on file of their employeeys blatantly that “we do not guarantee ANY phone will work , this is why you NEED the insurance program.” they blame all problems on manufactures (i wonder how HTC feels about this!) i suggest. NO i HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU people take all of 5 mins of your time and FILE a COMPLAINT with the BBB and FTC, coming to a foruma nd ranting will NOT do anything and through several conversation with sprint they are well aware of this foruma nd many like it and you knwo what we a LAUGHED at. i’ve had one rep say ” you guys think you know everything, we have such a large legal team i guarantee you you will not get anywhere with your complaints” ….. the complaint to file with the BBB and FCC, and even state attorney office takes all of 5 mins each…… You’ll spend 5x that amount of time getting any attention to you issue….

  45. Kimberly Ledig says

    Both my phone and my sprint account were hacked. I went into the store and told them about this. They didn’t know jack about how to regain control of my services but pretended like if they factory reset it that would be a cure all. My account was set up before I even attempted to register, my phone seriously malfunctions (freezes, uninstalls apps, won’t allow me to download apps…). I have a police report filed and a case number, is there any way they would release me from my contract seeing as how they did not protect my account or device?

  46. I was the Me person up there! I called and called and called but was not successful! I left them anyway and was charged for ETF’s. I then started to file a small claims case against them. I then received a call from Sprint and they wanted to settled. They paid all $474.54 of my ETF’s. 🙂 Didn’t even have to go to court like I was planning. I was ready too. 🙂

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