Here is how a cellphone contract works.
You agree to show out a lot of cash each month for a couple of years and in return you can have a phone that normally costs hundreds of dollars for a fraction of the price or even for free.
Pretty good deal, right?
Then why does CNET receive a steady stream of complaints and questions about bailing on their contract early without paying up to $350 in penalty fees.
I'm Jessica Dalcourt for CNET and I'm gonna dish out some tips for getting out of your contract or at least for solving your underlying issue without coughing out the early termination fee.
You are not gonna like this but it is extremely difficult to squirt out of an early termination fee even in some cases when you are in debt.
There are a few loop hole clauses that could help you avoid the charge if the carrier were too seriously significantly drastically changed the terms of your contract of if there are material negative changes to your service.
Like to be really extreme, one day you have full signal strength and the next day, you have none.
Even then, a complaint could get you a signal booster or a bill credit.
So what do you do, I say embrace your role as a squeaky wheel and hang out on hold with customer service.
It's a pain.
I won't wait but it is worth every minute if you could resolve your problem rather than suffer in silence.
When in doubt, you can always escalate to a supervisor in the loyalty department or in customer care.
Managers generally have more power to make exceptions for you or at least to provide more detailed information on your situation.
You might be frustrated but I do warn you, watch that temper.
You really don't wanna be ticking off one of the few people who could actually help you.
Carriers have also flocked to social networks like Twitter and Facebook in a big way and they have people at hand to help you fast.
They do not want you starting a Twitter riot.
So they'll get back to you.
Another option is to use websites like Cell Trade USA which will match you up with someone who is willing to take over the rest of your contract.
This service cost $20 and expect to negotiate with your contract's new owner before sealing the deal.
In extreme cases, there is also the option of arbitration which the carriers pay for but if you think that waiting on hold is bad then this is not the option for you.
Keep in mind that they four major carriers now pro-rate their termination penalty fees which means that the closer you are to the end of your contract, the less it will cost you to leave.
The bottomline is that your carrier will not release you from that agreement that you signed if your itch-to-ditch is fueled only by that shiny new phone over there at the rival carrier.
If that's the case, then you might as well start saving your pennies for that early termination fee or simply grin your teeth and write out out your contract.
If you got your own questions or comments about anything cellphone or smartphone related, then you can e-mail CNET's mobile crew dialed in at CNET.com.
I'm Jessica Dalcourt for CNET.
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