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Get-Out-of-Verizon-Contract-Jail-Free Card: Increased Regulatory Fee Means Penalty Free Exit

Phillip Dampier June 30, 2011 Consumer News, Editorial & Site News, Verizon, Wireless Broadband 96 Comments

If you want to say goodbye to Verizon Wireless, or just want a new phone without waiting for your old contract to expire, Verizon has a deal they really don’t want to give you, but they have to — it’s in their contract.

Verizon Wireless has announced they are unilaterally changing your wireless contract with an increase in the Regulatory Recovery Fee (a bill-padding junk fee) from $0.13 to $0.16 effective July 1st.  That fee opens a 60-day window for customers to exit their contracts because the carrier is imposing a “materially adverse” change without your advance consent.  After 60 days, you effectively give that consent by staying with the company.

“Materially adverse” is simple to understand, even if Verizon customer service representatives feign ignorance and stamp their feet as you demand to leave without paying an early exit fee.  It means Verizon has notified you they are changing the contract — one you signed in good faith for a set price, and they are now unilaterally changing it.  Unless those price changes come about because of a government mandate, Verizon cannot impose them without first granting you a window to cancel your agreement, penalty-free.

For customers unhappy with Verizon, they can freely take their business somewhere else.  For those who intend to stay, they can switch to a prepaid plan or sign a new two year contract and get a new phone at the same price any other new customer would pay, even if only 30 days into an existing contract.

This welcome window may mean a lot to customers looking for an early upgrade -and- keep Verizon’s unlimited smartphone data plan the company plans to discontinue July 7th.

With their “materially adverse” contract clause potentially exposing them to hundreds of dollars in lost cancellation fees they cannot impose, nobody said they would make it easy for you to jump free without some hassle.

When calling Verizon Wireless and requesting the “cancel service” option, expect the representative to pretend they don’t know what you are talking about, claim you still owe a penalty, or even express shock you are trying to escape them over a measly three cent rate increase.  Some may even try and credit three cents for each month remaining on your contract and claim that since you are no longer effectively paying the increased fee, you have no right to complain.

Tell them tough cookies — go and read their own contract:

Can Verizon Wireless Change This Agreement or My Service?

We may change prices or any other term of your Service or this agreement at any time,but we’ll provide notice first, including written notice if you have Postpay Service. If you use your Service after the change takes effect, that means you’re accepting the change. If you’re a Postpay customer and a change to your Plan or this agreement has a material adverse effect on you, you can cancel the line of Service that has been affected within 60 days of receiving the notice with no early termination fee.

Ask them to find the clause in their terms and conditions that says once they announce a rate change, that does not represent a change to your plan.  Then ask where it says in their agreement a subsequent credit frees them from the obligation of allowing you a penalty-free window to exit once a materially adverse change has been announced.  Let them know the only way they could have kept you from exercising your rights under the contract was if they never announced the price change impacting you in the first place.  Expect a long wait on hold.  A very long wait.

To truly escape Verizon Wireless’ contract, you will need to be prepared to say “no” to all of their counteroffers, and they will pelt you with them like an Oklahoma hail storm:

  • Reduced price phone upgrade?  No.
  • Free service for a month?  No.
  • Free accessories?  No.
  • Free texting plan?  No.
  • A free sample of their data or tethering plan?  No!
  • Cancel. Cancel. Cancel!

If they still want to argue, repeat after me:

“Despite your willingness to credit my account, once you are legally obligated, under your contract, to notify me of your intention to change my plan by raising prices that are within your control, you triggered the materially adverse clause, regardless of your subsequent attempt to credit my account.  Cancel the account immediately or I will escalate this to the same Executive Customer Service office that slapped you guys down the last time you tried this.  Once you notify us of a fee increase, the window to exit penalty-free is open, and only I can close it by agreeing to stay after 60 days.”

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Currently there are 96 comments on this Article:

  1. shawn808 says:

    It did not work for me after an hour plus on the phone…

    They said that when i agreed to that contract I also agreed to any plan rate increases in the same contract.

    All they would do is refund the .03 cents a month.

    All I want to do is drop this crap HTC eris for an iphone that wont cost me 800 bucks….

    • Nonsense from them, but that’s okay. We’ll help you take the next step.

      File a written complaint with the Better Business Bureau here: https://odr.bbb.org/odrweb/public/getstarted.aspx?siteID=113

      You will end up filing it most likely with the Trenton, NJ chapter of the BBB which handles most complaints for VZW nationwide. Just follow the steps on the form. What this does is get you assigned to an executive customer service representative, one that will say “yes” when ordinary CSRs argue away.

      If you still encounter resistance, tell them you want to start a formal arbitration procedure and to “start the paperwork.” That usually helps do the trick to let you out. Just remember to turn down all of their counteroffers if you really want out. If you want to stay, but get a new phone/contract, they may eventually offer that to you to appease you.

      You are not the only one fighting it out with them. The Consumerist reports lots of resistance this round, with open lies about the regulatory fee being a “government tax” which is complete nonsense — it’s their junk fee.

      http://consumerist.com/2011/06/canceling-verizon-without-etf-over-fee-increase-is-hard-but-doable.html

      Don’t play their game about the money issue. Tell them this is about their changing your contract mid-stream. You think it’s unethical and unacceptable and you won’t continue to do business with a company that does those kinds of things, period. (Of course, right after this you can walk right into a store and start a new contract.)

      • Randy says:

        Hi Phillip,

        I am wanting to take this to small claims court as they basically said the same thing to me. “It is a government tax we have no control over. They are keeping my $400 deposit. Do you know what address I need to serve them court documents? I am not sure if I should use the local outlet store where I deal or a corporate address…Thanks so much.

        • It is absolutely NOT a government tax of any kind. From Verizon’s own website (note the sentence before the last):

          http://wirelesssupport.verizon.com/faqs/Account+Management/faq_billing.html?t=1#item25

          “What are Verizon Wireless’ Surcharges?
          Verizon Wireless’ Surcharges include charges to recover or help defray costs of taxes and of governmental charges and fees imposed on us, including a Regulatory Charge (which helps defray costs of various regulatory mandates, including government number administration and license fees) and a Federal Universal Service Charge (and, if applicable, a State Universal Service Charge) to recover costs imposed on us by the government to support universal service, and may include other charges also related to our governmental costs. It also includes an Administrative Charge, which helps defray certain costs we incur, currently including (i) charges we, or our agents, pay local telephone companies for delivering calls from our customers to their customers, (ii) fees and assessments on network facilities and services, and (iii) certain costs and charges associated with proceedings related to new cell site construction. Please note that these are Verizon Wireless charges, not taxes that we are required to collect from you. These charges, and what’s included, are subject to change from time to time.”

          I strongly recommend a Better Business Bureau complaint and a complaint filed with your State Attorney General before pursuing time-consuming legal action. Verizon may compel you to binding arbitration (check your wireless agreement). In virtually every case, complaints with the BBB and a state agency generate enough of a nuisance factor to make it worth their while to let you go penalty-free.

          Unfortunately, many small claims actions have to be brought in the jurisdiction of the corporate entity, which probably means New York, New Jersey or Delaware. Read your service agreement for more info.

          • Randy says:

            Hi Phillip..thanks or taking the time to answer.

            I have my original contract as well as their customer agreement and in my contract it clearly states i am signing and accepting a ‘regulatory rate of $0.13′

            I filed a complaint yesterday with the BBB and the FCC. I went down to the Verizon store yesterday and they said I had to dispute it with Verizon via a mediation request. All a bunch of crap.

            To top this all off now, they are saying I must send in my payment for my current bill even though they already have $400 of my money. I am beyond livid right now. They are telling me if I don’t send additional payment, it will go to collections!!

            And yes I did show them on the contracts where the regulatory fee is theirs and not a government tax, etc etc. They just kept saying ‘yes it is’.

            According to the customer agreement and mediation forms, we do have the right to take it to small claims. I want to do that. Right now it is worth it to me to spend that $40 to file just to show them I am not going to take their BS!

            Like I said I just need to figure out what address I need to physically serve the court papers. Neither my contract or the Verizon customer agreement give any pointers on where to send anything like this.

            Will keep digging… I am not going to let them get away with this one.

            Every single month since getting Verizon, I have had to call the billing department and go over my bill and get all kinds of bogus charges removed…usually to the tune of $10-$30. Now if they do this to every single customer and even if 3/4 of their customers do this for each bill, the other 1/4 of their customer base that just pays the bill without checking..well it boggles my mind to think of the additional revenue they steal every month…considering they boast a 40 million customer base!!

      • Bruce Berman says:

        I had a cell phone family plan with Verizon for several years. I had no problem at all with the service, and I always paid my bills on time. when my wife and kids wanted iPhones, only AT&T was offering them. So, I waited until my contract ran out and cancelled with Verizon. I signed up with AT&T and we started using them immediately. somehow, my daughter’s number didn’t get cancelled, and I received an extra bill from Verizon for about $35 dollars. I called them and pointed out that the service was cancelled and that there were no calls in or out on my daughter’s phone. Didn’t matter. Eventually, they put me into collections for the $35 charge, and I received many many calls from the collection agency. Talk about burning your bridges behind you.
        I wrote to the BBB and to the FCC. In both cases, Verizon called, but still insisted I owed them the $35. Go figure.

        • Gilbert says:

          WOW! I had the same issue! Verizon told me verbally on the phone that my contract WAS expired. Went to ATT and ported numbers over and after that called Verizon to get final bill. To my surprise they tell me that I would be subject to early termination fees of $500 for 4 lines since I apparently had 3 months left on contract!! So went back to Verzion next morning turned in equipment to ATT but ATT failed to port over 4th line and then did it without our consent 9 days later. And I cancelled within 24 hours of having ATT!! Well after 3 months and over $1200 in credits betweeb ATT and Verizon I was told only 1 line was still under contract and the other 3 were out of contract at the time I tried switching!!! so basically Verzion gave me the wrong invformation since I cannot find anything on our contract status online. I can find easliy if I am eligible for upgrade but not when my contract is up!!! I just wish there was a way to get the better smart phones with NO data.
          Then Verizon tried hitting me with another bill of $170 bucks and sent me to collection agency because they failed to remove the early termination fees and activation fees on the account. I was within my 72 hour window of cancelling my contracts and should not have been charged for this. Verzion kept telling me that I HAD to pay iot because that is their policy but after reading them their contract and many hours on phone finally got it credited.

          All we want, is just a dependalble phone with features we as the consumer wants and no additional charges being enforced.
          I am thinking of going with pagepluscellular just so I can get the phones I want to get and not get hit with data plan!

          • Tatiana says:

            I’m just about to have enough with Verizon and looking for a lawyer to sue them.
            I had a family plan with my daughter and son.. for many years…well last yr i received a promotionall letter from vz saying that if i updated my contract for another yr with them i would get a month off so i called and spoke to someone. This person asked me if i wanted a whole month free on my total bill of 150 and i said no.. i would like to renew the contract for another yr and you can just credit my part of the bill which was $80.00 and i will pay the difference on the bill because my daughter and son are not extended their contract .. so they applied $80 credit on my next bill and all i paid for was $57.00 which was the charges for my 2 other lines… well my kids were contract free with vz for many years and just last week they both signed up with att and as im looking at vz bill on line the other day i notice they’re 2 early term fees totaling over $300.00… i said : what a joke! Called them..spoke to customer service rep which did nothing for me but tried convincing me that i signed up a contract for a yr and my kids were also included in that contract… well how is that possible and i chose to have only my charges credited and my kids paid for their part of the bill…I purposely told their rep that i was the only one the renew contract… This is like having a family plan with 3 other ppl and you get a new phone for free and for receiving a free phone u basically renew your contract for another 2 yrs.. well then how does this effect the other 3 ppl that didnt get a new phone… their contract stays the same! doesnt get renewed.. only the person with a free phone gets it renewed… Well same thing in my case.. i got credited for $80 for my part of thebill and renewed contract for a yr but my kids paid their part of the bill and should not be responsible for any new contract agreement…. Called vz twice and no manager availb to speak to so someone;s suppose to return my call and hasn’t yet.
            I’m about to get really agreevated and so dissapointed at vz for being such a long and loyal customer…

  2. Tim says:

    Phillip, I think you should read the last sentence of this paragraph. I put parenthesis around pertinent part.

    “What Charges Are Set by Verizon Wireless?
    (You agree to pay all access, usage and other charges) that you or the user of your wireless device incurred. For Postpay Service, our charges also include Federal Universal Service, Regulatory and Administrative Charges, and we may also include other charges related to our governmental costs. We set these charges; they aren’t taxes, they aren’t required by law, they are kept by us in whole or in part, (and the amounts and what they pay for may change).”

    Does this still though constitute a change to your contract though? If so, then couldn’t you still get out of it by not agreeing to the change? Wish someone would chime in that knew contract law well.

    • Yes, you should agree to pay all charges that constitute your bill, but when you enter a term contract, it’s for a set price for basic service. They are raising the price unilaterally on something you cannot control by your usage of the phone. Term contracts have to benefit both parties — the ones who can hold you in place for up to 24 months, and you for agreeing to be held in place for a contracted price. Your bill can change based on usage, but at the contracted price (in other words, they can’t suddenly say each minute costs $1 when it used to be 45 cents.)

      This is also why Verizon customers already on unlimited data plans will keep them at least until the end of their contract. If Verizon changed that, you could also leave penalty-free.

      • Alex Perrier says:

        Thank you Philip for your encouraging feedback. When i signed my contract with Telus Mobility for two years, i agreed to pay 15¢ for additional sent text messages. 250 of these are included every month at no extra cost.

        But Telus recently sent a bill saying that the 15¢ rate would now change to 20¢. So i plan to call them again, but if they still do nothing to help me, i will fill a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

        Again, thank you for publishing all these important news stories and comments! :)

  3. Scott says:

    That’s BS, by their logic they could double your plan rate and you would still be bound by contract to keep paying them.

    You just got a rep or supervisor that’s trying to argue you out of your right to cancel the contract.

  4. Matt says:

    So here is my question about this whole possibility of canceling my contract.

    I get a discount through work for Verizon, so completely leaving them would be silly for me.

    I have a 4 line family plan that was in full use. I want to break them all off except for my primary line.

    Would I have to call and completely cancel the contract (and lose all the numbers) or will I be able to call them up and argue the cancelling of 3 lines ETF free and upgrading my current phone as an individual line?

    I have been on contract for 1 year for 3 lines, and the other has been 16 months. My primary has been 1 year.

    Thanks,

    -Matt

    • If you exercise this option, you would be ending your contract for all of your lines. You could either transfer the numbers to another carrier, or potentially lose them. I don’t recommend trying to preserve one line — you are really seeking to terminate the entire account under the materially adverse clause.

      Verizon allows for early upgrades after around 18 months, so if you are looking for a better phone, you might simply want to wait.

      Most of the people I’ve seen hellbent on ending their contract using this method are looking to switch providers or have no allegiance to their existing cell phone number and are willing to walk away from it to start a new contract with a new number.

      • Matt says:

        Well the issue being that 1 line is no used anymore (my mother’s phone) since she and my father are home now (retired). It is a waste to keep on paying for a line that just sits there.

        So from what you recommend, canceling all 4 lines is the smartest option in this instance. I am not super verizon loyal, but having 4g lte would be nice.

        Would I be able to sign a new individual contract with them (losing my old number) without any problems?

        Thanks again for all your help and for the article,

        -Matt

        • Yes. My only concern is timing. You should expect a lot of drama from them getting out of the contract, and it may require a written BBB complaint follow-up. Is there any chance your other phone lines are now off-contract (if they are eligible for a phone upgrade they should be). Login to Verizon Wireless and see. If so, you can drop those without any penalty as far as I recall. They just want their subsidy back for those phone lines. You can even cancel and pay a pro-rated ETF. Whether that makes sense or not to you is another question. (This assumes you don’t want to abort the whole thing and demand out of your entire contract).

          If you want insurance of getting locked in with unlimited data before Wednesday night, the best I can suggest is launching a brand new account with one line on it to lock you in with what you need and then keep working on canceling the old 4-line account, which I suspect will take more than 48 hours to complete anyway.

          Some people are starting brand new individual accounts just to lock in 4G unlimited data (they also want the tethering option for $30 unlimited use that will expire on Wednesday night.) See my latest Verizon update for more on that.

          I wouldn’t mind getting a guarantee of unlimited tethering myself, but the price point is incredibly steep. I’d have to commit to a $30 unlimited data plan -and- a $30 unlimited tethering plan. That’s $60 a month! I cannot justify that. I’d rather go and deal with Sprint even though their 4G is not that great.

      • Nikeem Coleman says:

        @Phillip Dampier Hey I tried all the things you said to word for word, but was unsuccessful. First I called Big Red and got one of the regular reps. I asked to be transferred to the Retention Department, and so I was. I got another rep and she proceeded to tell me that they can only credit my account or I can cancel but still get charged with the ETF. So I told her no thank you and asked to speak to her Supervisor. The guy picks up and basically tells me that it i not materially adverse to the contract and that only thing I could do is cancel my contract and pay the ETF or they can credit my account for the remainder of the contract. So I told him no thanks aswell and proceeded to file complaints through the FCC, BBB and I also sent an email to the VP of National Customer Service(John Bianchi). Anything else I’m missing?

        • The BBB complaint is usually the best way to a high level CSR that can make things happen. Low level CSRs must not be authorized to approve this kind of exit, so you have to kick it up higher to get someone who can.

          In reality, VZN can do whatever it wants to make customers happy — it just depends on reaching a high enough CSR to make it happen.

          I am keeping an eye out for other stories of people who do manage success and will pass on any info I find here in the comments.

  5. AdverselyAffected says:

    I have been at going at Verizon for two days and have run across the same things that others have encountered from the VZW reps – it is a fee imposed by the government, it is a fee that only applies to data plans, it only affects e-mail, it’s not something that VZW controls, etc. It gets very tiring to recite the Customer Agreement to these people and tell them that VZW unilaterally changed the contract, therefore I have 60 days in which to terminate the contract with no ETF. We go round and round, then it is off to some other rep and we go through the whole song and dance again. Finally I end up with some rep who speaks gibbersh and basically tells me that there is no way in hell that the ETF will be waived, but let’s see what we can do about my plan and phones. OK, WTF, if VZW can match the same price and phones as AT&T, with the same data plan, I will consider staying. VZW has been fairly decent, they have good coverage, I have not had problems with the phones that have not been fixed, so if they can give me something the same as what AT&T can, then let ‘er rip. Otherwise, I will go the route you mentioned and submit a complaint to the BBB. However, my question on this is: Do I need t stay with VZW while this is being worked, or do I cancel and force the isse while within the 60-day window?

    • File a complaint with the BBB to fight for the opt-out. It will take almost a month to process in most cases. If VZW gives you enough of what you want to stay without dropping the contract, just ignore or drop the BBB complaint.

    • AdverselyAffected says:

      Has anyone been successful in canceling thier contract with VZW and getting VZW to waive the ETF? I have spoken with VZW several times, gone up the chain, but nothing. I have seen a lot of talk on here and elsewhere, but never any recent success stories.

  6. Michaela says:

    Phillip, HELP!

    Verizon has overcharged me every month for data and/or texting since Sept. 2010. They also tried to charge me for a device I sent back to them mere days after they sent it to me. Also, my July bill showed a charge for a Mobile Broadband Device I had disconnected months before, because they claimed I “suspended” the service instead of disconnecting it. They have since credited back all charges because I have complained so many times and finally reached the executive office with my complaints. I switched carriers on June 30 because I have had so many problems with overcharges. Verizon will not agree to wave my Early Termination Fees, even though I’ve had nothing but trouble with them. They are only willing to wave them if I switch back. Will this hike in regulatory charges help me get out of the ETF Verizon is trying to charge? I have complained to the FCC and FTC.

    • Probably not if you are already with another carrier. I would open a new BBB complaint. How long were you on contract with Verizon?

      Since you only started with your new carrier on 6/30, consider telling them (the new carrier) you are still within your 14-day window to leave them penalty-free, and because Verizon is giving you a hard time on ETFs, you might have to go back. You might find your new carrier amenable to giving you service credit either close to or matching the amount of the ETF in dispute if you agree to stay with them. It might be a point of leverage to at least reduce the ETF sting, as long as it’s in the hundred dollar range. You may have to take a hit for some of it though, or get Verizon to give you a partial rebate on the ETF.

      You need to ask to receive, and be prepared to escalate to a supervisor. Low level people don’t have the authority higher level people do to make things happen. Just keep it polite but firm.

  7. Michaela says:

    I have been with Verizon for 17 years. According to Verizon, two of my phones’ contracts expire at the end of this month (although, in my opinion, this is debatable, because I was certain they had already expired), one expires August 2012 and the other expires March 2013…I think. They have offered to let me come back without penalty, and offered to allow me out of my ETFs in the future if I have any further overcharges or service issues. I figure this is a pretty good deal since the new carrier overcharged on my very first bill (charging 4 activation fees, that the customer service rep said would be free), and I am not getting nearly the map coverage I did with Verizon. I am continually dropping calls with the new carrier (Sprint), and I do not get service in my own home. I am beginning to think that with cellular phone service, I am darned if I do and darned if I don’t. Either I am going to have to argue over cellular phone bills each month, or I am going to drop calls and lose signal in most places I go. I have family and friends who are with T-Mobile and AT&T, who rarely get good service in my area. So, I’m afraid I am stuck. Thanks for the advice! If I do not get satisfaction, I will certainly file with the BBB. By the way, I did get a pretty good deal when switching carriers that should more than cover the cost of ETF, but I am still loathe to pay due to the overcharges and receiving such horrid customer service this past year.

    • Check on Verizon Wireless’ website for account documents, which I believe is an option on one of the boxes under My Services. It should include correspondence for the last 12-24 months which should include a copy of your contract agreement sent the last time you upgraded your phone, which should show the contract termination date.

      As for their offer, I’d demand the waiver of any current ETFs as part of the deal to come back. As for Sprint, you need to be fast about bailing on them before the window for ETF-free exits closes. You may get stuck paying restocking fees on returned phones at this point, however. That window could be as short as 14 days.

      Coverage has always been Sprint’s trouble. Verizon excels at delivering robust signals where they say they do, Sprint does not. I fled Sprint in late 2003 over coverage and billing issues and went to Verizon. Sprint fills in coverage gaps with roaming agreements with Verizon, but they configure their phones to only use Verizon service in areas where there is simply zero chance of getting a signal with Sprint — when outdoors! Of course, this means one or no bars in a lot of places the moment you walk indoors, and they still won’t let you ‘roam’ on Verizon’s network.

      Verizon is still allowing customers with special circumstances to be manually configured to keep unlimited data and tethering plans, so as I said — the company can do anything customers want, so long as you reach someone authorized to make it happen.

      • Michaela says:

        “Again, I apologize for your inconvenience and that you had to call in reference to your bill on several occasions, but I cannot promise you that you will never have another billing error and if you do, you will be allowed to get your early termination fees waived.”

        The above statement is a copy/past of a paragraph sent to me by Verizon. Apparenlty, I wrongly took this paragraph to mean that they cannot guarantee there will never be another error, but they are willing to wave ETF if I come back and have further billing issues. When I spoke with her over the phone today, she corrected this statement by saying that she cannot guarantee they will wave ETF if I have further issues with them. I think the key word in the statement above is AND instead of BUT. They refuse to merge my contracts so they all expire on the same day. Basically, they refuse to do anything other than threaten to ruin my credit if I do not pay their ETF or come back to them.

        I still have a few days before my 14 are up with Sprint, but I am constantly dropping calls and do not get coverage in many places I visit. Unfortunately, my husband and I are primary caregivers to my elderly grandmother and elderly mother-in-law, so I really need reliable service. I’m just angry that Verizon refuses to do the right thing.

        Can I go back to Verizon and still file a report with BBB? I do not want my credit ruined, but I think these type issues should be addressed. It seems to me that it should be unconstitutional to hold a customer to a contract, when the customer is getting poor treatment from Customer Service, and is plagued by overcharging issues. Don’t get me wrong, in most cases they credit back the overcharges, but at what point am I allowed to say, “I don’t have time to argue about billing to my wireless service provider…every single month for a year”? Are there no laws against this?

        • Is there a pending report with the BBB Verizon responded to as part of all this? Typically, BBB wants the same issue under the same report/file number. If you have not gotten a response from your BBB report (or did not file one), you can file another.

          At this point, it’s clear Sprint is simply not an acceptable option for you, so you need to prepare to cancel before the two weeks are up. You do not want to fight Sprint -and- Verizon.

          You have a few more options I forgot to mention, if you do not care much about mobile broadband or data (this does not include texting.)

          Both Pageplus and Wal-Mart’s Straight Talk offer prepaid plans that include generous calling and texting features and use Verizon’s network. But they offer skimpy data, so they are not the best choices for smartphone owners.

          I think the best way to avoid overcharges with Verizon is to take care when adding/deleting features. Text spam without a texting plan is a fact of life, so folks routinely have to request credit for the 20c text charges that appear on the bill. Other than that, I’d find a good local store and sit down with someone and see if you can’t identify what is causing data overcharges, if they are still an issue.

          Since the ETF will be in dispute, it won’t show on your credit report for at least 90 days after they bill it, so there should be a window for negotiation before worrying about a credit report issue.

  8. Michaela says:

    I have not filed a report with the BBB, as of yet. I filed reports with FCC and FTC. I am definitely discontinuing my service with Sprint today. There is no need to pay for phones we cannot use. I read somewhere that there are “mediators” for Verizon customers to help resolve issues, but I have not requested one. I knew about the “text spammers”, and I also knew that Verizon could pretty much block any feature on any phone that could acquire additional charges. I requested these blocks on many occasions and was assured they were in place and that there was no way the line in question could accrue additional charges, because the blocks were in place. I should have checked my bill with a fine tooth comb every month, but after 17 years of service I became a bit complacent. What bothers me the most is the fact that Verizon refuses to accept responsibility for the untruths told by customer service representatives. Unfortunately, in order to “win” this dispute, I will in essence still be losing because no other cellular provider has the coverage area that Verizon does. AT&T has terrible service in my area, and T-Mobile is the worst. Apparently, Sprint is no better; however, I have never dropped a call on the Verizon network…at least not that I can remember. The Straight Talk plans are very expensive for families, but at least they are contract-free. Smartphones are nice, but we never had them before switching to Sprint and they are truly not necessary, especially when the service is limited. To be honest, I am now confused. I feel stuck, and in a weird way I also feel victimized. I don’t like having my credit threatened, when I was not the one in the wrong. I don’t want something for nothing, but I do feel like they owe me something.

  9. greg says:

    hello i tried this once before when verizion changed my contract by adding a total of 3 years to a 2 year contract that i was having overcharge issues with… when i took it to the fcc majically those additions to my contract where not there and since verizion had credited the overcharges back to me.. even tho i didnt agree to that sinece i wanted out. the fcc said there was nothing i could do… im pretty sure it will turn out the same this time and really dont have time or the patience for them… any other tips for getting them to drop the etf.im tired of geting pushed around by these big companies…. thanks for any tips

  10. Lindsay says:

    Does this apply to all verizon contracts? I don’t have data/smartphone, and I don’t remember them contacting me about a 3 cent increase… Did they mail this out to everyone or how was this communicated? Just making sure it applies to me before I call them to cancel and get proven wrong!

    • It should have applied to everyone. Check your monthly invoice (the one in PDF format they put online for most customers). It is noted towards the last page in a box of text.

      • Lindsay says:

        You were right, it was on my statement and my rate did go up. However, after an hour on the phone and reaching multiple supervisors, I was told that I still have to pay the ETF since it states on your original contract that the regulatory fee is subject to change. He was right – it did state that – but then it seems that they aren’t following through with other parts of their contract, those being that I have 60 days. I filed a complaint with the BBB. Is there someone else I should file a complaint with? How long until I hear back from the BBB?

        I already switched to Sprint yesterday since they have an offer expiring next Saturday that gives you $125 if you port your number from another carrier. It seemed to good to pass up, even if I do have to pay Verizon’s ETF.

    • Dorie says:

      This piece was a liafjecket that saved me from drowning.

  11. Michaela says:

    Today, I took Phillip’s advice and cancelled my Sprint contract (14 days into the contract, so I shouldn’t owe anything). I ported back to Verizon because I really cannot be without service, as I have elderly family members I am responsible for that need to be able to get in touch with me. Also, I don’t really have a blemished credit record and do not want one. However, I wish I had waited until AFTER the mail carrier stopped by, because Verizon just sent me a new bill that states it is PAST DUE! I don’t know how this can be when my last bill just arrived last week and was not due until 7/27/11. I have been in contact with Verizon since my last bill, because I do not dispute that I owe them something…I only dispute the ETF. I was informed of the amount I owe without the EFT, and it is WAY more than my monthly bill should be (by about $60). I am so frustrated!!! Also, I have never been PAST Due…EVER.

  12. Terrie says:

    My plan is to drop Verizon and switch to Boost Mobile, but that will require buying a phone. I dont want to shell out the money for a new phone so I’ll be buying a used on one on eBay. So….this may take a couple of weeks. My question is…can I fight this out with Verizon and, if/when I get them to cancel my CONTRACT, can I continue to use their service on a month to month basis while I find a phone on eBay, have it shipped to me and get it activated? I can’t be without service. I don’t have a landline.

  13. Matt says:

    It seems the information about having up to 60 days to contest the increase has disappeared from the Verizon website.

    My girlfriend has been trying to cancel for 2 days now, but they keep saying that by using the service you are agreeing, which seems like entrapment since she received no written notification about this.

    By offering to pay you back the 3 cents, they are admitting the issue, but still refusing to allow her out of the contract.

    All in all this seems really shady by them to screw the consumer and expect nothing to be said about it.

    -Matt

  14. Bryan says:

    I’ve tried this twice now. Each time they’ve said we are offering you the .03 cents so it is in fact not materially adverse to you. Which is the only way to really get out of the contract. I’ve left Verizon and still called and said I’m not with you (verizon) anymore so offering me .03 cents now isnt going to do anything for me. To which they reply, “well you were offered that before you left”……………blah blah blah

    BBB complaint filed

    • And for good measure, you might also consider a followup to your state Attorney General’s office, which is another great way to make yourself a pest to such an extent they will let you go fee-free.

  15. Cortney says:

    Hi, I’m thinking about trying to fight this so I can switch networks, but is it worth it or should I just wait 4 months til my contract is up? Verizon randomly put insurance on 2 of my phones and they said they couldn’t do anything about it because it’s been almost a year (last sept, I guess no one noticed). I’m eligible for an upgrade on thursday but I would like to switch to Sprint and I don’t really want to wait until November. Also, because I have insurance I decided to try and use it because my touch screen phone’s touch screen stops working randomly. They told me to make a claim I’d have to pay $50, does that seem right?

  16. Kyle Maxson says:

    I have a HTC eris that is on it’s last leg, over two years old. I still have the unlimited data plan and I tether my phone everyday for internet on my laptop, so using a new plan is not an option as it will cost me far too much a month for same service. I am trying to get a newer smartphone that I can still tether with. My question is how can I change my phone but keep same plan and number, etc. ??

  17. Randy says:

    Hi,
    I have tried for 3 days to cancel my contract with them due to this regulatory charge increase. They just keep telling me over and over that it is a government imposed charge and within their contract right to increase. I have pointed out and highlighted all the points in their contract where they are breaching. I even showed them my contract where it clearly states the regulatory rate I signed for was at $0.13 and it is now $0.16 on my bill.

    Last answer? They are taking my full $400 deposit and I still owe them $2 (current bill $66.)
    I am going to go file this down at my small claims court but I am wondering if anyone knows what address I use to serve the papers to Verizon?

    Any help would be much appreciated.

  18. Randy says:

    One more thing, sorry…

    Has anyone here been able to speak to someone that has canceled their contract without being charged the ETF? If so who did you go about that?

    Again, thank you.

  19. Chris says:

    I have tried this over and over again today each time they say this does not put into effect the material adverse clause which BS it does. as I am out $0.03 extra (pfft not a big deal) They say that it is only effective when they change the rates on my plan wich does this not count as my plan as it is a basic charge and they say they have the right to change this with or without notice with goes against another policy that they have which states the only one they may not notify you if it changes is goverment taxes and I have yet to ever recive the the notifcation as I never recive paper bills never have since i joined the company. so there is an issue right there but another story. I have continued to pester them about it and even gone to supervisors and they have said that this does not constitue that clause. I have contacted the local news station about looking into this and even called the BBB who says they have heard nothing about this and sugest talking to verizon themselfs. If the rate change doesnt constitue a change then they could in theory change the regulatory rate to what ever they so pleased per month leaving no customer a way out because the change does not effect their “plan” but their charges which are subject to change. I see it as subject to accepted robery by a company that is trying to cover it’s own self and increase their profit marin for every 100 people that stay with the company that’s 3 dollars they have what lets say 1 mil. people that translates to a increase at $30,000 and that makes a yearly difference of $360,000 more for just one million people today verizon has made me mad and I will cause such a stink that they want to pay me to go away…. or atleast try to.

    • Do not call the BBB, file an online complaint here: https://odr.bbb.org/odrweb/public/getstarted.aspx?siteID=113

      The local BBB chapters are not handling complaints for VZW, their chapter in NJ is assigned to handle all of these. That’s what that link above is for. This gets you connected to a high level CSR at VZW to state your case. I am also suggesting you file an online complaint with your state Attorney General.

      The CSRs you are dealing with are reading off scripts and they are not authorized to release you fee-free. You need to get beyond them, which is why I am suggesting BBB and the Attorney General’s office.

      Historically, VZW has let people out of their contract without an ETF over a regulatory fee change, but they are not making it easy. It’s clear from comments on other websites they are making it tougher than ever.

      I think it’s time for an Attorney General’s office to bring down the cane on them for some of their reinterpretations of the law.

      • Chris says:

        Oh I so wish i could get hold of my cousin he’s part of the CIA but no idea what he does there might mop the floors for all i know. But the attorney general will be my next step and I will keep annoying Verizon until their little record box is so full they cant hold any more. the supervisor i got hold of was looking for ways to get me out though I give her credit but not as to their contract as to their own service. I just hope the local news station takes the story and posts it even if i’m stuck with verizon till contract up I will be satisfied to bash them with the news. I am also going to see about contacting an instructor of mine Bill landry from the heart land series and see if he can get some publicity into this or get some legals to look into it.

  20. Randy says:

    Chris…they boast a 40 million and growing customer base. Multiply 40 million x $0.03/month and see what their gain is each month. Not to mention all the money they pocket by adding additional bogus charges to bills each month that I have to call, without fail each month, and get them to remove and adjust my bill.

    We all wonder why this country is going to hell. It is because of practices like this by the ‘big guys’. They are not held accountable for their actions anymore..and people are too busy or too tired or too jaded to fight. Sure $0.03 is not a big amount…but that is not the point is it? The point is an agreement is an agreement. It is a very sad world we live in now where someone’s word is not worth anything and now even when there is a written agreement and it is in black and white, it is still not worth anything.

    I hope you continue to fight them on this too.

    • Chris says:

      Randy i’m about to start having fun with this fight being a broadcast major at college with contacts that spread quite far even into Hollywood I’m sure I can find a way to shame Verizon. my next thing to do tonight send a face book petition just so everyone knows verizon is a crook, a scamer, and needs to know who serves who. for without the loyalty of it’s people where is a country. same for a company without loyalty from it’s customers where will the company go? >.< i think they know. verizon has even gone to attacking straight talk recently and I have even heared rumers of that company being forced to close off it's verizon compatability. even though it's own by trac which is a sub-division of verizon? hmm anyone else see a con in the works
      On the phone with the division of customer affairs right now

      • Randy says:

        Chris…FANTASTIC…I did not think of facebook. I am online right now filing with my attorney general’s office for Arizona…I cannot find the Verizon corporate address anywhere online though. Would you happen to know it?

        I also went to craigslist and posted this for everyone that want’s the ability to get out of their contract. I have had a couple of people email me for more information.

        Maybe this can actually lead to some positive changes if enough people get on board!!

        • Chris says:

          I used their Customer service address here

          Verizon Wireless
          Customer Service Department
          Post Office Box 105378
          Atlanta, GA 30348

          I just finished the attorney general complaint and i think i’m going to make a face book page just for this if you would like the page i’ll post it here so we can forward this whole mess across the world and even into the face of verizon. I may also see about talking to some of the criminal justice professors at my college about this. let us rise up and bring light to this

          • Randy says:

            Hi Chris,

            Well after another day and 3 more calls from Verizon, I am still no further ahead with them..but I did get the address to file a small claims court and serve them. I am really hoping others do so as well.

            They did say they received the BBB complaint and are declining to let me out of my contract with no early termination fee. So BBB is at least contacting them. Have not heard anything back from Attorney General or FCC.

            I was told to ask for a mediation form from their website yesterday and file my grievance that way. I looked over that and it seems they send this to an independent mediation firm. (gee wonder how much Verizon pays them?) ..anyway while reading over the whole form, it said that at any time we are free to pursue small claims instead..so I am taking that route.

            It is not even about my money anymore. This is about a principle. They create an agreement that they expect us to follow to the letter and yet they have no culpability to follow it themselves. It is kind of funny now as I have my original contract that has the set $0.13 regulatory rate I signed for. I also have my current bill which has the new $0.16 regulatory charge. I also have them triple charging me on my current bill, that I have not even gone into yet and will just now leave for the court to decide. Each and every one I have spoken to has said that the regulatory rate is a government tax and they have no control over it. They have also said that 3 cents does not constitute a materially adverse affect to me. (Nice to hear they can dictate what I should and should not consider in my own life.) I have also had everyone offer to take off the additional regulatory fees to ‘make it all better’…ummm no thanks.

            So tomorrow I am going to go down to the small claims and file and get the paperwork going.

            Will keep this updated. let me know what your facebook link is and I will send everyone over1

            Randy

  21. Meg says:

    Well, tried calling Customer Service twice last night – both times I was only offered a $.03/mo credit to “remove the material adversity.” Both times, I was escalated to a supervisor at my request, and given the same offer. My alternatives to the $.03/mo credit were to cancel service with the ETF intact, or to begin communications with their arbitration team and/or their corporate office’s contracts team. The second supervisor I spoke with actually hung up on me, too. Great job Customer Service, right?

    Anyway, I found this blog and this specific thread last night after calling CS twice, and am now regretting not threatening arbitration as Phillip suggests up near the top.

    Either way, I’ve since filed complaints with the BBB, CA Attorney General, and FCC. Even included links to the customer agreement, definition of regulatory fees, and exerpt from my bill stating they made the change. Let’s see what happens next.

    Phillip, you mentioned earlier that a BBB complaint is the best way to have service escalated and actually get out of our contracts, as our contracts state. How do we do this though – if we call customer service, does Verizon automatically escalate once it receives the complaint, or will they call us, or do we have to tell the CSRs we’ve lodged the complaints?

    I’m really serious about just getting this over with. All complaints are lodged, I’m just not too sure what my next step is in terms of actually making something happen here. Any help would be appreciated!

  22. Randy says:

    Hi Meg,

    They will call you back, trust me. I had another call this morning from them. Not sure what they wanted this time but I did not answer.

    I am going to pick up the forms today for small claims court at my local office. I am filing and naming my local Verizon outlet store as the defendant. That way they have 21 days to get the paperwork to the proper department. If they do not show up for court or answer, it is automatically awarded in my favor. I am tired of asking for the correct address to send the court forms too.

    Do not give up. I am quite sure this is what they want everyone to do that tries to cancel the contract.

    What I am wondering today is if there is a way to file a class action against them?

    If anyone knows this answer, a reply would be appreciated. Meanwhile I am going to do some searching on the web.

    I find it funny now bow they will so easily take off the regulatory fees thinking it will appease the ones who figured out their game. WOW. I am also surprised that they hung up on you. What I don’t understand is if you are of such little value to them as a customer, why don’t they just let you out of your contract and say goodbye? The early termination fee they want to keep is that valuable to them?

    Keep posting here and tell others about this site too…:-)

    Randy

  23. Lindsay says:

    I filed a claim with BBB a week ago and got a call back yesterday. I wasn’t home at the time, so I didn’t answer but they asked me to call back. Not sure what will come out of the call, but it’s worth a try!

    • Meg says:

      Thanks for the responses Randy and Lindsay! Good luck with your call!!!

      Randy -Great idea naming the local store as well. I’ll be doing the same. Why exactly are you taking them to small claims?

      I’ve got a feeling that’s where I’ll be headed to, and I want to make sure that I’m approaching it the right way – I’m thinking cancel the contract, pay the ETF, then take them to small claims to recover the ETF. Is that right?

  24. NobodyImportant says:

    Remember folks, during these calls, make sure you have a recorder nearby and are informing the CSRs that you are recording them if you prepare to go to small claims court with VZW. This will go miles in prosecuting them, especially when VZW just decides to handle the matter by hanging up on you.

  25. Boris says:

    How;’s the good fight going i’m also in Hollywood, CA and they are bsing me as well i am trying my best to opt out i hate verizon, i don’t get reception in my own house, since it’s 60 days theres still time, ive been trying and trying. The executive office numbers are all out of date, that;s the best way to do it imo, as ive gotten things taken care of before by calling the number. Does anyone have any current executive office number/numbers and tell me how it goes Chris, Randy and especially Phillip for all your replies and help you guys are awesome btw and seem to be fighting this to the bitter end i love it and tell me the facebook page ill sign the petition. I don’t want to change to spring because they have even worse customer service but i am very unhappy with verizon i would rather get t-mobile or ATT

  26. Chris says:

    I’m having issues with the face book page at the moment lol might make a website in general for it easier. but as it goes i’ve heared nothing else on the subject but i do think the attorney generals are getting enough complaints to look into this matter when I called she said is this about verizon? lol loved it filed my 2 cents just to help the cause but my next day off i’m going back to finding a way to show them out right no if ands or buts about it.

  27. Meg says:

    Here’s the rundown so far – I’ve spoken with Customer Service twice, and was knocked down both times. I filed complaints with BBB, FCC, CA Attorney General, and CA Dept of Consumer Affairs. I also fired off an email to several of their execs (emails available here: http://creditboards.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=470886).

    I got the call back from the executive office, as Randy promised. Get this – THEY OFFERED A $.03/MO DISCOUNT. AT THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE. THAT’S IT!

    The person I spoke with stated that the discount “is what they as a company decided to offer.” And they didn’t understand how offering a $.03 discount would void the contract. Ignorance. Cute trick. Doesn’t fly in court.

    At least she was a lot more polite than the other CSRs I’d spoken with. She seemed much more sympathetic and apologized several times, and was more apologetic as she told me it was the company’s decided course of remedy.

    At any rate, this is really frustrating. Verizon, you’ve spent more on me than what you’d gather in my ETF. Just let me go already.

    Anyone else having any luck?

  28. ErroneousE says:

    It seems to me the benefit here is to call and get your 3cents back for the remainder of your term and cancel when your contract ends as expected. Then you are not affected and don’t have to deal with all of this complaint nonsense.
    Shove it to Verizon by leaving when you can without paying them an extra dime. All this due to their clear lack of concern and interest in the consumer. Verizon is a lot bigger than all of us little people….so give yourself a break and don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is too short.
    Surely someone knows someone in the news and can share this and get some kind of media on it…that is usually the only way the little people can have an impact on big corporations like this.

    • Scott says:

      Why have contracts at all then? Just let them arbitrarily increase their rates across their entire customer base raking in tens of millions of additional profit and only have to credit back a few thousand dollars after running customers through hours of hassle in phone directory hell and CSR double talk.

  29. Chris says:

    speaking of someone in the news… one of my teachers last semester was Bill Landry from the heartland series if he cant i’ll see about getting this to adrian vanderbosh over in holly wood. or to another couple of people i know who have impact on the media.

  30. Randy says:

    Just to update…still fighting….filed with small claims..waiting for that….just received an adjustment on my bill today (not asked for by me of course) for $0.60..LOLOL…that is their way of making up for the Regulatory fee increase??? Whatever…the fight goes on…everyone, keep posting updates!

    Chris..others…what about a class action suit here? Anyone know any lawyers? :-)

  31. Bryan says:

    Havent seen many posts recently, hope everyone didn’t give up.

    I received my BBB complaint response in the mail today. After several calls to Verizon customer service and finally a call back from “executive customer service” after the BBB complaint I received the letter stating exactly what they’ve been telling us over the phone forever. BBB says I have 10 days to respond via online or mail with a response or they’ll assume the matter settled.

    My question is, what do I respond with????

  32. Dan says:

    This is not working for me at all. I requested the associate director (tier 3 supervisor) to no avail. I was told that I would receive a call back within 72 hours as they do not work on Saturday evenings at 8pm ET.

    I gave the threat of small claims court and was told “go ahead and do that, if you want your lines canceled, I will perform that action but early termination fees would be assessed to the account.”

    I need some help on where else to go or what other actions need to be taken.

  33. Randy says:

    Just checking in…

    I got same canned answer from BBB. Contact them directly by phone and tell them you want to pursue this. I am sending them my original contract with all my charges highlighted as well as the the Regulatory rate of $0.13 that is in my contract. I am sending them copies of my bill where the regulatory rate has increased to the $0.16. I have also found since looking at my original contract that I paid almost $300 up front for 2 years worth of fees that they then charged me monthly for. They are in a heap of trouble here. I am also sending them a copy of the Verizon customer contract highlighting where they state that the regulatory rate is their own and not a government fee as well as highlighting the part about having 60 days to cancel with no early termination fee. No idea what they will do, but at least I am trying to get the BBB to take notice.

    As for the Small claims court. Call your local office and tell them you want to sue Verizon and that they are out of state. I had to go to a specific court house to do this. On my paperwork I have delivered it to the local Verizon store where I originally signed my contract. It is up to them to figure out where it goes and get it there within 21 days. If they do not answer the courts within that 21 days, it will default to me, the plaintiff…so I wanted them to scramble to get it their law department…LOL…should be interesting..I have not heard nothing back yet…just kicking back waiting.

    What is really strange is since all of this, even though I was very clear to them that I was canceling my contract and requesting the final bill for anything they claim I owe…my phone is still connected!!..LOL I am not using it of course.

    Good luck and don’t stop the fight..that is what they are hoping everyone will do I am sure.

  34. DJ says:

    I had spoke to a few Verizon representatives and I was told that no they will not waive the fee to get out of my contract early. So I did what you had said and put in a complaint to the BBB. I got a call from Tracy with the Executive Office of Verizon within a few days. I was told by Tracy that the regulatory fee does not qualify for as an adverse effect and so she said she cannot waive the early termination fee. I noted where it says on their contract:

    If you’re a Postpay customer and a change to your Plan or this agreement has a material adverse effect on you, you can cancel the line of Service that has been affected within 60 days of receiving the notice with no early termination fee.

    The only thing Tracy is willing to do is to give a credit for the regulatory fee increase. Tracy refers to this paragraph in their contract:

    What Charges Are Set by Verizon Wireless?
    You agree to pay all access, usage and other charges that you or the user of your wireless device incurred. For Postpay Service, our charges also include Federal Universal Service, Regulatory and Administrative Charges, and we may also include other charges related to our governmental costs. We set these charges; they aren’t taxes, they aren’t required by law, they are kept by us in whole or in part, and the amounts and what they pay for may change.

    My question is, can this be taken to an attorney? I will pay the cancellation fee because I want to avoid being sent to collections. But, if I can still fight this, I will. I think that even if I am not able to recover the cancellation charges, I would like for Verizon to update their contract so it’s distinct as to what is covered and what’s not under an “Adverse effect” because it isn’t clear at the moment.

    I appreciate the posting of this article, though I wish it would have worked! I recently lost my job and worked my last day at temp job yesterday. Verizon charges way too much and I was able to get a cell phone plan for $60 a month for the same service with another company. Much better! It’s less than half of what my Verizon bill was each month!

    • I would not waste money taking this to an attorney. It’s not worth it. Tracy read to you exactly why you should be let out of your contract. They are changing your pricing unilaterally and it is not a government mandated fee. You don’t want to accept their unilateral, materially adverse change

      I am beginning to think Verizon has changed policies upstairs to try and shut down this escape clause, based on all of the detailed responses I am reading here. What may have worked in the past may not work in the future, it’s starting to look like.

      Remember too your early cancellation fee is reduced for every month you stayed under contract, so it might not be the full $300+ dollars.

      However, there are some other alternatives everyone can explore if you want out of Verizon or want to switch to another carrier:

      1) If you want to head to Sprint, they will pay you up to $125 towards any early termination fees as long as you buy a new phone from them directly. If you want an unlimited Sprint plan, this may be a good deal for some of you, but you will want to select a handset aggressively priced from them. Otherwise, you may overpay for a phone from the Sprint website or store and end up with a wash once the $125 is deducted. New customers can get some very aggressive deals ordering from Wirefly or Amazon Wireless, so compare prices. More info here: http://stopthecap.com/2011/08/15/sprint-paying-customers-up-to-125-to-dump-att-verizon-or-t-mobile/

      2) There are a few websites to let people escape or trade wireless service contracts without incurring termination fees. I have no direct experience using them, but they are well explained here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/01/technology/personaltech/01smart.html

      The good news is Verizon is usually the carrier in greatest demand, and if you have an unlimited data plan to trade with someone, you shouldn’t have much trouble attracting takers. Remember, Verizon will let you out of contracts penalty-free if someone — anyone — is willing to assume the remainder of your contract term.

  35. Meg says:

    I spoke with my county’s “Small Claims Adviser” who’s staff counsel for the county superior court. I described the scenario very much as you have, DJ. They told me that since Verizon is offering the credit which would mitigate the material adversity, it would be an uphill battle to sway a judge that the contract has been broken, and ETFs would be waived.

    I don’t think I made clear that I had NOT accepted their credit offer, so I’m not entirely sure my conversation is accurate and relevant, but that’s my (limited) knowledge of whether this flies in court.

    I’ve definitely gotten cold feet after that conversation, but I still very much want to end my service with them sans ETF. Randy, any luck yet with your case? Anyone else?

  36. Dan says:

    This isn’t going to happen. I have to imagine some idiot created this and is majorly uneducated in regards to the terms of a contract. If you read the service agreement it does say the change is in regards to service (not universal/regulatory fees) and Verizon DOES reserve the ability to offer the refund/credit of the fees charged to satisfy under the material adversity you may/may not have. This WILL NOT and DOES NOT work, don’t waste your time

  37. DJ says:

    So if there are so many of us trying to fight this individually and not getting anywhere, is there a way for us to all join together and as a group to take on Verizon? I think it would so much more powerful when you have a large group of people, verses each of us going about this individually. I truly believe that Verizon needs to add clarity into their contract as to what is allowed under an “adverse effect”.

    • Scott says:

      The sticking point with Verizon seems to be they feel they can violate their contract by changing increasing fee’s by a few cents since that’s not what they consider materially adverse.

      The issue I have with that is, so Verizon then gets to determine the amount of $$$ that’s materially adverse? Is it .50 cents, $1, $2, $5? What’s the magic number for how high they can increase your bill then before triggering and breaking the contract?

      Also, while another few cents a month may not be considered materially adverse for a single customer, it sure as hell is for when you apply it across say 90+ million customers and end up with an additional 3 million dollars a month or 36 million for the year.

      Once you get into numbers like that it’ll likely attract a class action lawyer, but at best affected customers won’t see anything other than maybe a ruling that does give you actionable recourse to terminate your service and the fee credited while the lawyers take in several million dollars in fees.

      This is exactly why our country need a government Consumer Protection Agency, to prevent abuse like this and the joke of “abritration” clauses these companies use in all their contracts.

  38. Bryan says:

    So an update on my case (see above)

    I checked the BBB wedsite today and on the 11th of this month my case was “sent to council for arbitration”…well find out what that means…ill keep everyone posted

  39. Noksucow says:

    Talked to 3 different reps, 2 of which were supervisors, and I got the same responses. No luck. It’s not looking good.

  40. Joseph says:

    Phillip.. I really Need help asap. I called verizon like 500000 times… They all said the same thing…. I have used THERE contract AGAINST them. And It clearly Says : If there Is An Adverse Effect.. I have the RIGHT . to Cancel My Contract WITHOUT an early Termination Fee. What Can I do Exactly go get my Contract Canceled? They have changed my total amount for two months… I have the bills and Im in the 60 day time. They keep changing the subject.. and Going in Circles… What can I tell them In order to cancel My Contract for good?

  41. Annette says:

    Verizon has bumped contract dates on two of our phones (we have 4). One through an insurance claim, the other through a MANUFACTURE replacement. Are they allowed to do this? They also charged us for 2 media packages that we DID NOT need, nor EVER used for a year, and said the best they could give us was a 30 day credit for those packages. Does that sound right? Are they allowed to legally do all of this?

  42. Just an update for readers:

    Verizon is increasing the admin fee AGAIN — $0.99 effective 1.1.12.

    Also, the company will now charge a $2 monthly fee to pay your bill by phone or online. The latest coverage, and why the material adverse clause no longer seems to work to escape Verizon’s two year contracts, are all explained here:

    http://stopthecap.com/2011/12/29/verizon-wireless-will-charge-customers-2month-to-pay-their-bill-admin-fees-also-increasing/

    • Ashley says:

      Hi Phillip!
      Thank you so much for educating us customers on our rights…that being said I have found a way to cut my bill ion half and get an upgraded service with a different provider. I have another year left with verizon, am I too late to cancel my service within the 60 day window of fee changes? In your article it says before 1.1.12 you can opt out of your contract due to service fees and admin fees getting changed with the new year. Which would mean I have to wait till the next change in contract….hopefully there is a way for me to not have to support the fat cats of telecom. Again thank you for the education!

  43. Stan Chulsky says:

    Hi Phillipp,

    I wanted to see what would you suggest to do in my situation. 1st I never received the notice.
    Looking at my charges I found that I am being charged $10 per line in addition to the $70. Per what i remember from 2 years ago, the contract was supposed to be $80 for the 1st two and then 10 for each additional line. I called and asked to have a copy of the contract I signed up for mailed to me and they told me they can’t provide it to me.While I realize I might not remember the true terms I signed up for I can’t find their plans from two years ago anywhere on the internet. The fact that I can’t request a copy of the contract is also very disappointing.

  44. tricia says:

    I have a verizon iphone, i cancelled my service and ported out my number to another company, but bc i did that they wont unleash my phone til end of my billing cycle! which is BS. What can i do to fix this??

  45. Kimberly says:

    I have the same issue with Verizon, who refuses to cancel my plan until the end of the cycle even though I was only 3 days into the cycle and ported my number out to another company. It seems ridiculous to pay for a month of not using the phone. Is there any other way to get out fee free or get them to pro-rate the cost of the plan? I have never experienced this issue with any other company before.

  46. Mackenzie says:

    I have a Droid Incredible phone with the unlimited Data Plan. My husband and I are saving for a house and looking for anywhere we can save a little extra money. I like the smart phone, but I don’t really need it. My contract isn’t up until February of 2013. I’m wondering if cancelling the data plan, but keeping the Verizon phone number is still considered “breaking contract.” If so, how much would the breaking contract fee be?
    Thanks.

  47. Fred says:

    So, just for the information of everyone who’d been posting here. I tried to cancel my VZW service immediately following the notice of increased regulatory fees. I spoke to about a dozen people and as many hours dealing with people. I got the same answers from everyone about the fees being government fees. After I quote the Agreement, they change the answer to giving me a credit for a few cents per month. After that, they say that they have the right to change fees. Then I say I have the right to leave without ETF. Then they say “you can leave, but you will pay ETF”. Every single person I dealt with gave me pretty much exactly the same answer. I spoke with Executive Resolutions Team, same answer. I filed BBB report and FCC report, no resolution. I finally ported out anyway.

    The ETF was charged to my auto-billing credit card. I filed a dispute with AMEX. AMEX reversed the charged. Then Verizon sent me to collections. According to collections notice, I could dispute it formally by mail. I did so. I got a call from Verizon saying that the charges were still valid.

    THEN, the person at Verizon collections told me, “had you terminated within 30 days of the contract change you would have been free to leave without ETF”. I told her that I had asked to exactly that about 10 times and each time I was told that was not the case. Now she is telling me the exact opposite as a reason WHY I’d have to pay the ETF!!! She again re-iterated that the charges were valid and there was nothing further she could do. If I didn’t make arrangements to pay, my credit would be negatively affected. I asked her for the address and name of VZW Agent for Service of Process. She would not give me this information.

    I am filing in small claims court. I did find the Agent for Service of Process for anyone else interested:

    CT Corporation System
    818 W. Seventh St
    Los Angeles, CA
    90017

    This whole thing is ridiculous. I don’t know what I’m going to do if small claims court rules against me.

  48. sgt says:

    These companies are a perfect example of how to run a business without paying any costs yourself. By the time they’re through passing on ALL their costs to the public, they have to be making some fantastic profits.

    • Loons In June! says:

      “These companies are a perfect example of how to run a business without paying any costs yourself. By the time they’re through passing on ALL their costs to the public, they have to be making some fantastic profits.”

      Clearly you have not run a business, if you do not pass ALL your costs on to your customers, you dont have a business.

  49. Nic says:

    You guys really make no sense. You are disputing a .03 cent charge, I get that you think they could charge any amount next time and get away with it but seriously get real. Look up the definition of materially adverse. While no one can put a monetary value on it by offering a to credit your so called “materially adverse” .03 cents they are not breaking their contractual agreement. One thing you got partially right is no they are not required to charge you the regulatory fee and it is not a tax but it is imposed by the federal government and every single cell phone company charges it.

    Annual Regulatory Fee – Telecommunications companies are assessed an annual regulatory fee (sometimes called a Federal Regulatory Charge) by the federal government. This results in a one time annual charge per cell phone number. As of October 2002, it was .24 cents.

    So lets calculate that and with the rate of inflation that the federal government likes to impose that whopping .24 cents per cell phone number in 2002 is surely substantially higher in 2011. Can you seriously get some perspective on this? And for all you who think that cancelling the contract and going to another carrier is the answer you really are mistaken. I have been a Verizon customer for a few years now but prior to that I had AT&T…same fee! If you bothered to review the other cell phone carriers websites on all of them is a very helpful description of their charges and regulatory fee is on every single list.

    In fact upon futher research into this topic since I was so intrigued by it I found that many other carriers, all the big names Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile, were also instituting a regulatory fee increase. T-Mobile customer’s will have a .20 cent per month increase in their federal regulatory fee. But Verizon is the bad guy. Seriously if you put just 30 min of effort into researching it you would see that it is common practice in the wirless industry. The only way you avoid it is by having prepaid service in which you are subject to sales tax only. If you don’t like it go back to the stone age and give up your cell phone entirely or take it up with with FCC since they are the ones that impose the fee on all wireless carriers.

  50. Rjdafoe says:

    There is a big difference in what they are doing. Passing the cost is part of paying for the service. Adding bogus and semi hidden fees is not part of that. When was the last time you went to the mall, bought something and at checkout there was the cost of the item, tax, rent fee, parking fee, garbage collection fee, service fee and shelf fee added on at the register? This is effectively what they are doing. There is a cost of doing business just by being a business. Your profit should cover your costs. By hiding it in a fee tacked on at the end of the product, you are being dishonest about what your product costs.

  51. Nic says:

    Again with the misinformation…where exactly is it semi-hidden?? I have viewed many of the comments above and many of them state it is a fee that was shown on their initial contract that they signed. I have also reviewed mine and it is listed on mine. Hidden fee or semi-hidden implies that there is a cost with no name or description associated with it. Aside from which as i said in my initial post all the fees are explained in full on their website as well as in the information brochures that were included with my paperwork at the time my contact was signed.

    It is a legally binding contract with many subsections. Someone apparently felt it neccessary to look up the information when it was convenient for them to try and pull some rediculous let me out of my contract because of .03 cents game. We as consumers need to take some responsibility and educate ourselves before we shop. Ignorance is not an excuse anymore with the information so readily available on the companies website no less. So go home now pick up your cable company bill or electric bill and review each charge on those too. With your definition I’m sure you will find “bogus and semi-hidden” charges on those. Have we really become so complacent that we don’t bother to read a contract before signing it and then complain about what we didn’t know?

    The store at the mall that you speak is no comparison for a cell phone company cost of doing business is completely different. The base costs are all the same and for a national business and then tack on all the cost for cell phone towers and upkeep and upgrades to the network cause lord knows you all complain about the internet not being fast enough or dropped calls etc etc etc. Then take into account the discounts on all the equipment they offer. I sure as hell liked paying $99 for my iPhone and not $549 for it. So I am gonna bet that their operating costs are just a bit higher than the clothing store at the mall. Why don’t we complain about paying $50 for jeans at the mall when we can go to Walmart and get them for $20? Hey…now that I think of it I will work on that website and let you know when its up and running…I don’t think I would hold my breath waiting though.

    • rjdafoe says:

      Becuase you are being incredibly ridiculous. The name is the way it is because they now most people will assume it is a fee that the government imposes. It is done that way for a reason. An admin fee? Are you kidding me? That is like a fee for sending me a bill every month. It in no way is part of their network costs and you know it. It has nothing to do with reading the contract. All contracts state that basically, they can do whatever they want, and you have no recourse most of the time. Face it, it is a bogus fee that is a cost of doing business that should already be in the cost of the plan that you are paying for. Plain an simple. The fee is there, so that they can raise the price of the plan, without raising your service cost, so as to not break the agreement. It is a slimy way to do business and you are the one that is complacent with the way these companies (including all the ones that you have mentioned – although at least around here, I do not have to sign a 2 year contract for cable or electricity).

      The 2 year contract is for them to get the cost of the phone back. At about $90 a month for the average iphone bill, can looking at the profits of these business, they are in no way “hurting” and not making alot of money off of what they are providing. The problem at this point in time is that the cell phone market is pretty saturated. The only way to keep wall street happy is to raise prices, and the only way around the contract price is to add these bogus fees.

  52. Nic says:

    I don’t sign a contract for cable or electric but let me assure you they tack on the same regulatory fee. You act like every company is sitting here adding this fictional cost on your bill. It’s not fiction in is a real cost of doing business and to off set some of it they bill you a whole .16 cents. On my cable bill it is almost $2. It has everything to do with reading the contract. They don’t hide a damn thing and if you bothered to read it you could question it at the time object and say no thanks. Get a prepaid phone and feel justified that you aren’t paying them for anything more than your service. Quit complaining about something that was fully disclosed whether or not you agree with it. They will not cancel your contract over a .03 cent regulatory increase. Your time and energy is wasted and given the BBB’s response they don’t find it to be in breach of contract since they are offering you the credit. Don’t waste more of your own money in small claims court I honestly doubt it will work either. Try convincing a judge that .03 cents is materially adverse. The cell phone market is saturated that’s why are seeing less and less Basic phones and more and more smartphones. Now they sell tablets with Internet and broadband services. There are new ways to increase revenue other than a .03 cent reg fee that they I’m turn paid to the FCC. The only way to avoid it again….is go get a prepaid phone or just give it up entirely but really have fun with your lame attempts at getting out of your contracts ETF free.

  53. Rjdafoe says:

    You don’t get it and you did not even read what I wrote.

    I don’t have Verizon thanks. I don’t agree with the they do it and it is not a regulatory fee no matter what they label it. I do not care that it is in contract or not. It is they way they do it that bothers me. They take advantage plan and simple.

  54. Nic says:

    On the contrary I did read what you wrote…you didn’t read what I wrote. Look it up and stop sounding like a buffoon. A regulatory fee is a real fee assessed by the FCC on all wireless carriers. You can think it’s bull or for some other purpose but unless you wanna sit down and review all their publicly available financial records and determine that they are using it for something other than its designated purpose…deal with it. End of story…good luck taking this argument against any wireless carrier. Open your eyes bc the only way things will change is a full on boycott and no one is giving up their phones anytime soon.

  55. jon says:

    Im 18 and my dd is tired of paying for my part of the phone bill. is there any way he can drop me off his plan and can i get a cheaper phone without internet access and start paying the bil my self?

  56. David says:

    A petition has been started regarding this situation. If you have gone though or are currently fighting with Verizon, please sign it.

    https://www.change.org/petitions/daniel-s-mead-admit-you-are-breaching-your-contract-when-you-raise-your-fees

  57. Peyton Thackerson says:

    Hi i have a Question about verizon internet …
    I have been paying full amount… of are bill but we canceled the internet and canclation fees where 300$. that time i checked i paid that and i came back 2-3 months later with 3,000$ charges…… and Im about file a complaint because i told them to cancel are internet … but apperntly they didnt like they said they would.

    and i called them saying that the amount not correct. and they said it was data ussage charged and we couldnt use the internet because it was being disconnecting alot and it was eating up are data usage because we kept managing them… and now they are charging us 3000$ how we cancled it in apryl but some how were still being charged…. 3,000$ they are greaty with money i tell yea I dont want to pay 3,000$ if we cant play on internet sorry verizon not worth it







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