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Get out of a post-paid AT&T contract ETF-free (YMMV)

huevos 1,460 May 23, 2013 at 02:21 PM in Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) (5) More AT&T Wireless Deals
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Last Edited by huevos May 24, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Looks like AT&T is tacking on a $0.61 "administrative fee" to all post-paid accounts.

http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/23...rative-fee

Like the numerous times that this has happened with Sprint/T-Mobile, you can use this to get out of a contract without paying the ETF.

Relevant contract language:
Quote :
1.3 Can AT&T Change My Terms And Rates?
We may change any terms, conditions, rates, fees, expenses, or charges regarding your Services at any time. We will provide you with notice of material changes (other than changes to governmental fees, proportional charges for governmental mandates, roaming rates or administrative charges) either in your monthly bill or separately. You understand and agree that State and Federal Universal Service Fees and other governmentally imposed fees, whether or not assessed directly upon you, may be increased based upon the government's or our calculations.

IF WE INCREASE THE PRICE OF ANY OF THE SERVICES TO WHICH YOU SUBSCRIBE, BEYOND THE LIMITS SET FORTH IN YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE SUMMARY, OR IF WE MATERIALLY DECREASE THE GEOGRAPHICAL AREA IN WHICH YOUR AIRTIME RATE APPLIES (OTHER THAN A TEMPORARY DECREASE FOR REPAIRS OR MAINTENANCE), WE’LL DISCLOSE THE CHANGE AT LEAST ONE BILLING CYCLE IN ADVANCE (EITHER THROUGH A NOTICE WITH YOUR BILL, A TEXT MESSAGE TO YOUR DEVICE, OR OTHERWISE), AND YOU MAY TERMINATE THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PAYING AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE OR RETURNING OR PAYING FOR ANY PROMOTIONAL ITEMS, PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO US WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE.
I just called and moved out two contracts. You'll get booted over to retentions, who will then try to spin this as a regulatory fee. Ultimately, however, it is NOT a government-mandated charge (despite the official sounding label), and it materially changes your service cost.

As with any telecomm interaction, YMMV. However, it worked twice for me on two separate calls.

EDIT: A few things to note:
1. Don't bother with online chat. You're only wasting your time. They don't have the authority to waive ETF.
2. Ask to speak to retentions regarding cancelling your account.
3. Ask if the fee is government mandated or a regulatory fee levied by a government agency. State that unless this is the case, AT&T is raising your service cost.
4. If you can stomach it, stand your ground. At the very least, you're going to have to go through a "manager" (i.e. the guy sitting next to the CSR)
5. If you don't want to carry through to arbitration, be prepared to settle. AT&T will very likely offer you credits for staying.

As is the case with cell carrier retention departments, it's YMMV, and depending on who you get, you may have mixed success. Good luck.

EDIT 2: Some additional commentary regarding the infamous "Section 1.3":

There are two distinct concepts going on.

1. Notices of material changes:
Quote :
We will provide you with notice of material changes (other than changes to governmental fees, proportional charges for governmental mandates, roaming rates or administrative charges) either in your monthly bill or separately.
The plain meaning of this clause is that AT&T is not required to provide you with a notice for administrative charges. The ETF is not discussed here, only notices of material changes.

As an aside, if you want to accurately read this clause, it should also be noted that "material changes" also includes "administrative charges," by nature of the "other than" qualifier. Layman's example: "I like fruits other than apples." vs. "I like fruits other than televisions." Which is correct?

2. Terminating without ETF:

Quote :
You understand and agree that State and Federal Universal Service Fees and other governmentally imposed fees, whether or not assessed directly upon you, may be increased based upon the government's or our calculations.

IF WE INCREASE THE PRICE OF ANY OF THE SERVICES TO WHICH YOU SUBSCRIBE, BEYOND THE LIMITS SET FORTH IN YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE SUMMARY, OR IF WE MATERIALLY DECREASE THE GEOGRAPHICAL AREA IN WHICH YOUR AIRTIME RATE APPLIES (OTHER THAN A TEMPORARY DECREASE FOR REPAIRS OR MAINTENANCE), WE’LL DISCLOSE THE CHANGE AT LEAST ONE BILLING CYCLE IN ADVANCE (EITHER THROUGH A NOTICE WITH YOUR BILL, A TEXT MESSAGE TO YOUR DEVICE, OR OTHERWISE), AND YOU MAY TERMINATE THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PAYING AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE OR RETURNING OR PAYING FOR ANY PROMOTIONAL ITEMS, PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO US WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE.
This is an entirely different concept than the first. Note that an increase in the price of any of the services that you subscibe allows you to escape your ETF. This is qualified, however, by the argreement that "State and Federal Universal Service Fees and other governmentally imposed fees, whether or not assessed directly upon you, may be increased based upon the government's or our calculations." Any increase in the cost of service, apart from these government fees, qualifies you to escape the ETF.

The problem is that the language is vaguely stated (almost certainly on purpose by those who drafted it), and the two concepts have been split between two paragraphs (again, almost certainly on purpose). CSRs/CSR managers/CSR supervisors have no understanding of how to properly interpret a contract (which is why they work telephone CS). It is also likely that corporate has sent a directive regarding this matter.

If you have the patience for arbitration, you WILL win. No question. The only unknown is whether you have the time to deal with the (relatively minor) paperwork, and whether you care enough to follow through with it. More information about arbitration can be found here: http://www.att.com/esupport/artic...id=KB72565

EDIT 3: Regarding Arbitration Fees:

AT&T will cover the arbitration fees, per their agreement.

Quote :
The filing fee is currently $125 for claims under $10,000, but the AAA may change the amount of the fee. You may obtain the amount of the fee by consulting the AAA's rules. Those rules may be obtained from the AAA's website (http://www.adr.org/arb_med), or by calling the AAA at 800-778-7879. If you are unable to pay the AAA's filing fee, please inform us by writing a letter to the above address and we will arrange to pay it directly if your claims are for less than $75,000.
You are responsible for fees only if the arbitrator deems that request "frivolous." This current matter does not meet the standards of frivolity in light of the FRCP:
Quote :
If the arbitrator not only rules against you, but also rules that either the substance of your claim or the relief you requested in your Demand for Arbitration was either frivolous or brought for an improper purpose (as measured by the standards of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b)), then responsibility for the costs of arbitration will be set by the AAA's rules. For frivolous cases in which your demand is $10,000 or less, your share of the costs is currently limited to $125, though the AAA may change that amount. If the arbitrator makes this determination, you may be required to reimburse AT&T for paying your share of the arbitration costs.
Keep in mind that since it will cost AT&T $125 to enter arbitration, as well as resources to respond individually to each arbitration demand, use this for your advantage.

2,263 Comments

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#46
Good luck getting them to drop 5 lines with no ETF lol..
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
#47
Quote from imacyco View Post :
I signed a contract last weekend, can I get out of it?
You can cancel within 14 days of starting a new contract.

I believe if you signed a contract after May 1 you can not get out because that's when the fee started.
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#48
Quote from petard View Post :
Of course you can do that, you're a different person. If the account got canceled though you can't take your number with you.
i can just send a text message to every single person on my contact saying that my number got changed. Cool
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
#49
If you get them to waive ETF and cancel the account, can you ask them to terminate the account at the end of the current billing cycle rather than on the spot? That should give us enough time to port the number out of att.
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#50
Quote from pphan23 View Post :
Just called in and they wouldn't let me get out of my contract without the fee. Will try again later.

BTW, if you need to refer to 1.3 be sure to tell them that it's at this link in case they ask you "where did you get this from?"

http://www.wireless.att.com/learn...-terms.jsp
can you explain what section 1.3 ?

how do we use this against the at&t agents to get our etf cancelled?
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#51
Quote from thesedealsr4me View Post :
If you get them to waive ETF and cancel the account, can you ask them to terminate the account at the end of the current billing cycle rather than on the spot? That should give us enough time to port the number out of att.
I believe this depends on the rep. Some of them get upset because they're allowing you out with an ETF and just terminate on the spot. I read on one forum where one guy got out of the contract and the rep said fine, canceled the line, and hung up.
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#52
Don't like being under contract...but like my unlimited (grandfathered) LTE...

This could help a friend out though. Thanks OP. Rep'd.
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#53
Quote from petard View Post :
I believe this depends on the rep. Some of them get upset because they're allowing you out with an ETF and just terminate on the spot. I read on one forum where one guy got out of the contract and the rep said fine, canceled the line, and hung up.
Do reps get rated negatively if you do this?
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#54
Quote from petard View Post :
You're supposed to be able to re-activate cancelled accounts and get your number back if you do it within 59 days of cancelling. I do not know how this works if they instantly terminate your account when agreeing to let you out of your ETF.

Ah, I didn't know about that clause. Thanks.


My guess is if they do this, they will want you back on your old contract.
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#55
Stop being lemmings and locking yourselves into binding cell contracts
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#56
^^^^^^
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#57
Is a post paid plan anything with a contract or am I thinking of something else?
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#58
Quote from bullorbear View Post :
I have posted about this in this thread
http://slickdeals.net/f/5949698-New-Mobility-Administrative-Fee-on-ATT?v=1

I have also initiated arbitration process against AT&T.
Please keep the SD community posted of the outcome.
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#59
Quote from pizzaslut View Post :
Stop being lemmings and locking yourselves into binding cell contracts
Then you either
1) don't get full access to the network if you use prepaid
or
2) pay the same monthly fee for month-to-month plans yet get no "subsidy" back, ending up costing more.

There is T-Mobile but they only recently started offering month-to-month plans without a subsidy but are cheaper and have full access to the network.
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#60
Quote from petard View Post :
Then you either
1) don't get full access to the network if you use prepaid
or
2) pay the same monthly fee for month-to-month plans yet get no "subsidy" back, ending up costing more.

There is T-Mobile but they only recently started offering month-to-month plans without a subsidy but are cheaper and have full access to the network.
You get full network. You just can't roam and this isn't so bad as long as you are in the city.

Anyways guys keep this bumped.. Thumb up. If enough people start bitching this can get some motion.

Sprint thread didn't go to well never go enough motion
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