Get out of your T-Mobile contract for free! (maybe) - T-Mobile raising its Canadian text message rates
As any good running back knows, you need to exploit any weakness in the defense. In football, this means the smallest opening in the defensive line could mean a game-winning touchdown. In the realm of cell phone service contracts, a small rate change could be the opening you need to get out of your seemingly impenetrable contract. T-Mobile just might be the next cell phone company to give up a touch down.
To be fair, this issue probably should have had a comparison to hockey, since T-Mobile’s rate change has to deal with text messages to Canada. But, I don’t know squat about hockey and would probably end up insulting somebody who regularly wields a large stick, so I’ll stick with football.
T-Mobile sent out text messages to some of its customers in the end of January stating: “Beginning Feb. 23 messages to Canada from the US will be charged as international messages ($0.20 per message)." This is great information to have, but what does this mean to the consumer?
For those of you who’ve read our How to Cancel Your Cell Phone guide, you know that a change in your cell phone contract that is “materially adverse” to you can get you out of your contract without paying a hefty early termination fee (ETF). So is T-Mobile’s new text message change one that is “materially adverse” to you that will let you out of your contract? Maybe.
Why the wishy-washy answer? Because each company defines a materially adverse change differently. Here is T-Mobile’s take:
5. Our Rights to Make Changes. This provision, which describes how changes may be made to your Agreement, is subject to requirements and limitations imposed by applicable law, and will not be enforced to the extent prohibited by law. Your Service is subject to our business policies, practices, and procedures, which we can change without notice. WE CAN CHANGE ANY TERMS IN THE AGREEMENT AT ANY TIME. YOU MAY CANCEL THE AFFECTED LINE OF SERVICE WITHOUT AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE (if applicable) IF: (A) WE CHANGE YOUR PRICING IN A MANNER THAT MATERIALLY INCREASES YOUR MONTHLY RECURRING CHARGE(S) (the amount you agreed to pay each month for voice, data and messaging, which does not include overage, pay-per-use or optional services (such as 411, or downloads), or taxes and fees);
(B) WE MATERIALLY DECREASE THE SERVICE ALLOTMENTS WE AGREED TO PROVIDE TO YOU FOR YOUR MONTHLY RECURRING CHARGE; OR (C) WE MATERIALLY CHANGE A TERM IN THESE T&Cs OTHER THAN PRICING IN A MANNER THAT IS MATERIALLY ADVERSE TO YOU. WE WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH AT LEAST 30 DAYS’ NOTICE OF ANY CHANGE WARRANTING CANCELLATION OF THE AFFECTED LINE OF SERVICE WITHOUT AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE (WHICH IS YOUR ONLY REMEDY), AND YOU MUST NOTIFY US WITHIN 14 DAYS AFTER YOU RECEIVE THE NOTICE, OR AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN THE NOTICE. IF YOU FAIL TO TERMINATE WITHIN THE RELEVANT TIMEFRAME, YOU ACCEPT THE CHANGES. http://www.t-mobile.com/Templates/Popup.aspx?PAsset=Ftr_Ftr_TermsAndConditions&print=true
This sounds all fine and dandy, but the trouble lies with how T-Mobile characterizes the service. Just because T-Mobile changes its Canadian text message rates doesn’t mean that it necessary affects you. T-Mobile may take the stance that only its customers who text Canada will qualify to get out of their contract without an ETF. If you don't text Canada, it doesn't matter if the rate goes up to $1 a text (which hopefully it won't) because it doesn't increase your monthly recurring charges.
However, that shouldn’t stop you from trying to get out of your contract. When it's fourth and long with 5 seconds to go, you don't just give up! You fight until the end! Well, I guess you could punt, but that isn't the fighting consumer advocate way. Sometimes all it takes is finding the right customer service rep to work with you and is willing to put up with your whining, begging, and pleading long enough to cancel your contract.
So give it a shot and let us know in the comments if you were successful. And to carry the football analogy all the way home, get out on the field and give em all you've got! GO TEAM GO!