Many services that you sign up for, from cable TV to cell phone service, come with an early termination fee. This cancellation fee can total hundreds of dollars and you could end up taking a big financial hit if you end up having to pay a fee just to stop using services that you no longer want. The good news is, there are sometimes ways that you can get out of your contract and avoid the early termination fee. You just need to know a few tips and tricks to try to avoid this big expense and get free from a service you are no longer interested in paying for each month. So whether you’re looking to cancel Comcast and replace it with a cheaper streaming service like Sling TV, you want to get out of your cell phone contract, or there’s some other monthly contract you’re looking to get out of, these 5 tips will help you avoid early termination fees.
1. Get someone else to take over your contract
One of the best and easiest ways to avoid an early termination fee is to simply get someone else to assume your contract. As the New York Times explains, there are websites like CellTrade where you can connect with someone who may be interested in taking over the remainder of your term of service. You may also have a friend or family member who wants to take over your contract. The benefits to the person who takes over the contract can include a grandfathered cell plan, low priced or free equipment, and an option to make use of contracted services without signing an entire new two year (or longer) contract. You, of course, benefit from no longer being responsible for paying for a service that you don’t want any more.
2. Negotiate a deal with the provider
Another option is to try to work with a provider and see if you can find a way to avoid or reduce your cancellation fee. The cable company, cell phone provider or other company you’re buying service from has most of the leverage and you’ll need to find a way to make it acceptable to them to lose the guaranteed income that they have coming in from you under the terms of the contract or from the early termination fee. If you have other accounts with them or if you could create negative publicity as a result of their refusal to work with you, you may be in a better negotiating position. You could also hire professional bill fixers who know how to negotiate on your behalf and who are often good at finding ways to get companies to waive or lower fees.
3. Watch for fine print notices that could allow you to opt out if changes are made
If a provider changes the terms of your contract – like by adjusting a fee they charge you or dropping some channels from their line up – they have to notify you about the change. You may be able to use this as grounds to drop the service without a cancellation fee since, after all, you were contracted to buy a specific service and they are now changing the terms and not quite offering that service. Read the fine print so you are notified of any changes that are being made and immediately move forward as soon as you discover a change to the terms of your contract to notify the service provider that you do not agree to their modification and you want to end your contractual relationship because they have changed the terms of what you agreed to.
4. Find another company to buy you out of your contract
There are many cell phone and cable companies which run promotions where they will pay your early termination fees if you switch to their service. If you take advantage of one of these deals, you could be changing one problem for another since you will now likely be locked into a deal with your new service provider. But,if you were specifically hoping just to end your relationship with the company you were doing business with before and not trying to drop the service altogether, taking advantage of one of these deals could make a lot of sense.
5. Go to court as a last resort to deal with an unfair early termination fee
In some cases, it is possible to fight unfair early termination fees in court. Comcast business clients, for example, filed a small class action to get a ruling on whether the fees in Comcast’s contract were permissible by law. The company offered to waive the three customers’ fees in full and even offered partial refunds to one of the businessmen. While it is costly to fight in court in most cases, companies don’t want a class action or adverse ruling and they may be willing to settle quickly.