Friday, September 7, 2007

One Way to Get Out of a Cell Phone Contract

Suzanne Barlyn has an interesting piece in the online version of Wall Street Journal titled How to Dump a Cell Phone Contract. Here's a quote that gets directly to the solution:

...some consumers are now avoiding early-termination fees by relying on a common loophole in many cellphone contracts that allows transferring the remaining term to a third party whom the carrier approves through a credit check.

If you want to terminate a contract with most carriers in the United States you are faced with at least a $150 termination fee. However, if the contract is transferred to a third party, there is no early-termination penalty fee. If you can find somebody to take over your contract you are cell phone contract free!

A number of websites have been setup for cell phone contract transfer. Pay sites reviewed by Suzanne were:, which provides free listing with photo. If you do sell, charges an $18.95 transfer service fee. You also have the option of paying $14.95 up-front for something they call "Power Poster" which provides featured placement and then waives the transfer service fee when you do find someone to pickup your contract. also provides free listing with photo. They get a one time $19.99 fee that allows the seller to access messages from buyers.

Both of these pay sites provided nice user interfaces for both sellers and buyers. Free sites reviewed by Suzanne were:, which allows free advertising with photos. also allows free advertising with photos.

At first I thought sure, it makes sense for someone to want to unload a cell phone and contract but why would someone want to get someones old phone and assume somebodies contract? After looking at the different sites and thinking about it it does make some sense. People can pickup short term contracts with no activation fees and a free phone. In addition sellers often sweeten the pot by adding things like extra chargers and even cash.

I've been asked for termination advice by several students (and a few faculty!) over the past few years that were locked in to contracts they said they really could not afford. The next time I have this kind of conversation I'll be sure to suggest taking a look at these sites.

1 comment:

ItsMeAgain said...

I moved to New Jersey a few months agao. I read a previous article on in the WSJ. After calling my provider "Verizon Wireless" to tell them that I have no service in my new town in New Jersey they told me that I was still in a contract because they had service in NJ just not in my town. I decided to give celltradeusa a try. I joined for free and waited. I received a few responses pretty quickly so I paid the fee to unlock the messages. 2 of the 3 people that wanted it didn't pass credit check and the other didn't respond. Now that I paid for the service I decided to get pro active. I posted my ad on and directing them back to my celltrade listing. I ended up passing it off to a fella I met on NJville Took a little bit but it was absolutely worth the effort. I now have my new phone that works in my new town :)