Can a cell phone company charge a early termination fee if no contract was signed?

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Can a cell phone company charge a early termination fee if no contract was signed?

I have been with my cell phone provider for 6 years; I have been in the military for 10. The provider offers a military discount that I had not been receiving up to 6 months ago. I was told that a new 2 year contract must be agreed upon in order to initiate the discount. I told the operator that I was not going to agree to a new contract and after about a half hour of arguing my case they waived the contract requirement. Now I am trying to terminate service and they informed me that I am currently locked in a contract and that I will be charged a $200 early termination fee for 2 lines. I never signed nor agreed to a new contract. Will the provider be able to apply this $400 to my credit report if I terminate my contract and do not pay the fee?

Asked on February 4, 2012 under General Practice, Virginia

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You need to absolutely get this resolved immediately. Your cell phone provider can certainly try to charge this off and then have a collection agency try to collect from you. Do not wait to dispute it. The cell phone company doesn't need your signature on the contract if you acquiece by telephone to enter into one or extend one if it is pre-existing. The best thing to do here is to talk to the representative and indicate that the notes should say you did not wish to enter into a contract. If the representative sees that in the notes, then indicate you wish to end your time with this carrier and that you understand there is no termination fee if you don't have a contract. If you do have a contract, one based simply on your renewal of service with the company, you need to ask how the company considers this contractual in nature. In essence, put the burden back on the company to show why it can charge you. if all else fails, file complaints with all agencies at state and federal levels who can help you resolve this matter.


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