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Call Kurtis: How To Ditch Your Cell Contract Without Paying Hefty Fees

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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Looking to get out of your cell phone contract without paying those hefty early termination fees? We call on Kurtis Ming with how to ditch your contract without paying a penalty.

Those penalties are sometimes hundreds of dollars. But here’s a way you can do it without paying a penny.

“It started freezing, just would lock up, calls would drop randomly, restart randomly,” said Jason Corbett, Verizon customer.

Unhappy with his phone’s performance, Corbett considered ditching Verizon. But with 13 months left on his cell contract, they told him he’d have to pay a huge prorated early termination fee.

“There was no way that was going to happen. They basically told me either you pay the $250 or you keep the contract. There was no leeway whatsoever, you’re stuck,” said Jason.

The four major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) charge anywhere from $200 to $350 for early termination fees on smart phones.

“It’s extremely difficult to avoid an early termination fee,” said Jessica Dolcourt, CNET senior editor.

But Dolcourt says if you can find someone to take over your contract, you can, whether it’s a family member, friend or a complete stranger.

“They’re using a system, sort of a loophole, that already exists, that’s already accepted by the carriers,” said Dolcourt.

We checked with the major carriers, who confirm you can transfer contracts, although some may require an activation fee or security deposit for those with bad credit.

If you can’t find someone on your own, sites like Celltradeusa.com, Cellplandepot.com, Cellswapper.com and Trademycellular.com can match you up with someone from across the country for a fee of up to $24.

“They’re definitely saving money because what’s $20 compared to a $150, $200 or even $350 early termination fee?” asked Dolcourt.

Verizon ended up allowing Jason to upgrade to a different phone so he’s sticking with them for now.

“It’s a relief. It’s one less stress in my life,” said Jason.

CNET says the only other way to get out of your contract is if your service drastically drops in your area, although most carriers will recommend you get a signal booster, which could cost you a few more dollars a month.

As for switching your contract, cell carriers tell us it should happen within a day; some take just minutes.

AT&T Statement
At AT&T we realize consumers have choices in a very competitive wireless market and we appreciate them choosing AT&T. We listen to customers, we understand what they want and we work hard to try and satisfy them. Transfer of service is not common, but it can happen. To answer your phone questions, we would change the name on the account. There would be a onetime activation fee of $18.

– John Britton, AT&T Spokesperson

Sprint Statement
Sprint does allow transfer of liability on a contract. The customer assuming the liability would have their credit run. Assuming the credit is a pass and they pay a deposit if required, the account would transfer over to the new customer. If however, they just sell their phone and don’t work through Sprint on the transfer of liability, we will continue to hold the original account holder liable. So the caution would be the ‘seller’ has to be an active participant in the transfer of liability. One way to assure this is to require that both parties be on the phone or at a Sprint store to conduct the transfer.

– Caroline Semerdjian, Communications Manager, Sprint

T-Mobile Statement
T-Mobile cannot comment on other businesses or business models. T-Mobile customers who wish to transfer responsibility for their account to another person or company can do so, provided that the new account holder also contacts T-Mobile and agrees to the terms of the contract. The primary account holder should contact T-Mobile Customer Care at 1-800-937-8997 or by dialing 611 from their handset to request for the change of responsibility. Customers can find more information on T-Mobile’s website:

– Anna Friedges, T-Mobile Public Relations

Verizon Statement
What are the requirements for transferring my account to a friend or family member?
This is a process known as Assumption of Liability (AOL). In order to perform an AOL, all of the following requirements must be met:

Current Account Owner
• You must ensure that the balance on the account you want to transfer is current. You will continue to be responsible for account charges until the transfer has been completed.
• If the line you are transferring is the primary line on a Family SharePlan® or the only secondary line on a Family SharePlan, the remaining line(s) must be placed on eligible calling plans prior to processing the account transfer. Please contact Customer Service at (800) 922-0204 for assistance.
• You must contact Customer Service at (800) 922-0204 to authorize the account transfer and provide the name of the person who will be taking over the account.

New Account Owner
• You must read and agree to the Verizon Wireless Customer Agreement Terms and Conditions prior to assuming responsibility for the account.
• If the line you are taking over is being added to an existing Verizon Wireless account, your account must be current.
• If you agree to the Customer Agreement Terms and Conditions, and up to a one-year contract term, you must contact the Assumption of Liability Department at (888) 832-4540. A representative will assist you with completing the AOL request.
• Note: Your service assumption will be subject to a credit check. You may be required to switch to current pricing and promotions. A security deposit may also be required.

– Heidi Flato, Public Relations & Employee Communications, Verizon Wireless

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