T-Mobile Eases Early Termination Fees
Yet another wireless carrier has agreed to give customers a break on the early-termination-fees they must pay to liberate themselves from the one- or two-year contracts they agreed to when buying a phone. T-Mobile USA announced this morning that it would lower those fees for customers nearing the end of a contract.
To quote the release that arrived in my e-mail this morning (and which is not yet posted on the company's site):
Beginning on June 28, 2008, the ETF for customers who choose a one-year or two-year service agreement with T-Mobile will decline during the course their contract. The ETF decreases from $200 to $100 if customers terminate service with 91 to 180 days remaining on their agreement; and decreases again to $50 with fewer than 91 days remaining. If customers terminate in the last 30 days of their term, the ETF is $50 or their standard monthly charge, whichever is less.
I've asked T-Mobile PR if this will apply to existing contracts or only those opened on the 28th and afterwards but have not yet received a response. I'll update this when I do. Update: T-Mobile spokesman David Henderson wrote in an e-mail that the new fee policy "applies to new or renewing contracts starting on 6/28.")
T-Mobile joins Verizon Wireless, which launched this trend among the nationwide carriers with its announcement almost two years ago, and AT&T Wireless, which announced a similar policy shift last November. Sprint Nextel is the lone holdout--but it, too, plans to announce its own rollback of these fees later this year.
It looks like the Federal Communications Commission's push to regulate these fees may be overtaken by events. Then again, the big Internet and television service providers have yet to announce their own termination-fee reforms--and they can't even argue that they must subsidize the high cost of receiver hardware sold to customers at discounted rates.
Back in the wireless market, these eased-ETF rules have now been in effect long enough for many wireless users to have taken advantage of them. Have you? How did it go?
June 23, 2008; 11:26 AM ET
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