T-Mobile is Charging an Early Termination Fee: Help Me, WalletPop!

t-mobile early terminationIf you're having a problem with a business, Consumer Ally can help. Write us at HelpMe@WalletPop.com.

Q. When I took a T-Mobile phone for the year I signed what I was told was a one-year contract. I am now told by the store that I signed with that this is a two-year contract and I am responsible for the cancellation charge. Am I responsible to pay a cancellation charge after one year?
Alfred ZernerA. Hi Alfred, as you know, there seems to have been a mix-up here, although I'm not sure what, exactly, went wrong. I reached out to Patty Raz in T-Mobile's corporate communications and she would only say that they resolved the issue. She wouldn't comment on the details of the situation because of the company's privacy policy. However, I know that someone at the company reached out to you and waived the cancellation fee this time. You'll need to send them a payment for your final month of usage, and you should do that right away.

Just to eliminate confusion for any other readers who are T-Mobile customers, it seems that this was a special exception. You either misunderstood or were misinformed about the contract you signed, and because of that -- and, in no small part, I'm sure, because of our intervention -- T-Mobile waived the fee this time. However, Raz says the company's contracts depend on a customer's chosen rate plan and service needs, and are not always two-year terms, so it's possible that what you signed was a one-year contract. The lesson: Make sure you understand exactly how long you're committed before you sign off, and keep a copy of all contracts so you can reference them when questions pop up.

As far as T-Mobile's early termination fees, Raz says they are applied on a schedule: "The early termination fee is $200 if termination occurs with more than 180 days remaining on your term; $100 if termination occurs with 91 to 180 days remaining on your term; $50 if termination occurs with 31 to 91 days remaining on your term, and the lesser of $50 or your monthly recurring charges, including any applicable taxes and fees, if termination occurs in the last 30 days of your term."

And one last thing: If you do want or need to get out of a cell phone contract early, try a website like cellswapper.com to find someone who will take it over. It will costs around $20 to post your phone and contract to the site, much less than most early termination fees.

Consumer Ally problem solver Jean Chatzky is the "Today Show" financial adviser, a longtime financial journalist and best-selling author.

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