How to get out of your mobile phone contract

Many consumers think that they should not be forced to pay costly termination fees when they want to cancel their mobile phone before the terms of the contracts have expired.

Sometimes the reasons are valid, such as a loss of service. Other times they're not, such as wanting a new phone that is only offered by another network. Regardless of the reason, consumers don't have many options for getting out of a contract early without paying a fee. The options they do have can be challenging, stressful and time consuming. Here are some options you can try.

Negotiate your way out over a change to your contract

If your mobile phone provider changes the pricing of a service you use mid-contract, and this change will cost you more money, you may be able to argue your way out of your contract. By argue - we mean ask politely, firmly and repeatedly.

The mere implementation of a change by your provider isn't likely to be enough to get you out of your contract. If your carrier is increasing its individual text message rate, but you have a text message package and the rate increase won't affect you, you don't really have a leg to stand on. It's hard to say when, or if, your carrier will change your contract.

Can You Pass on Your Contract?

Unfortunately most companies do not allow you to 'sell' your partially used contract on to anyone. You can only buy the rest of the contract off your service provider. However, perhaps you could see if any of your friends and family are interested in taking over your contract, and arrange this without including the provider in your discussions.

Pay the Cancellation Fee, but Resell Your Phone to Recoup Part of the Cost
The newer your phone is, and the better the condition it's in, the more it will be worth. You can sell just about any phone on eBay as long as you describe its condition accurately.

You'll have to pay a small final value fee on the sale price, but if you plan to get a new phone when you change carriers, you might as well limit your losses on your old phone.

You can also get paid to recycle your old mobile. Comparemymobile.com will allow you to compare the current rates being offered by a range of recycling sites as an alternative to eBay selling.

Contact Corporate

If your conversations with customer service aren't fruitful, and you have a legitimate reason for wanting to exit your contract early, try contacting one or more people at 'head office' to resolve your complaint.

This contact information is often difficult to track down through the company's website, but sometimes consumer activist websites or bloggers will locate the information and publish it online.Online search engines are very helpful in this regard. If you can afford to wait a couple of weeks, you can also try writing a letter.

Remember to explain your situation clearly and concisely, to state what action you want your mobile phone company to take, and to be respectful. It's tempting to be rude when you feel you've been wronged, but the person you talk to is rarely responsible for the problem you're trying to solve.

Make them sympathize with you rather than putting them on the defensive. Be sure to keep copies of all correspondence with the company for future reference.

Generate Negative Publicity

If you've truly been cheated by your mobile company and you've exhausted your other options, a potential blow to the company's reputation might be your only recourse. You could try contacting BBC Watchdog and the Direct Gov website  will also be able to give you excellent advice as to whether or not you have a legal case.

This route will take up a lot of your time and may be stressful, but if you feel you have been truly wronged, you may eventually be able to get your money back.

The Bottom Line

Nobody wants to pay an early termination fee, especially one that's in the hundreds of pounds. If you can't live with your mobile phone contract any longer and you feel it's worth your time and energy to try to avoid the fee, one of these methods may do the trick.

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