Can a cell phone company charge me fees for terminating a contract for services they failed to provide?

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Can a cell phone company charge me fees for terminating a contract for services they failed to provide?

I was under contract with to have 2 lines with unlimited talk, text and data for around $160 per month. The texting and data services rarely worked even if I was sitting in the parking lot of their store. I dealt with their customer service for several months trying to get the issue resolved. However, I got nowhere other than excuses. After about 6 months of these problems I told them to shut off the phones and that I expected the early term fees of $400 to be waived. They said no problem we will put in a request. I heard nothing form them for a couple months until I got a letter threatening to sue me.

Asked on April 27, 2012 under General Practice, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if the phone company breached the contract in a material, or significant or important way--such  as by not providing the service you were paying for--their breach would give you the right to terminate the contract without penalty. As a practical matter, though, it is almost impossible to prevent them from at least filing a lawsuit and forcing you to defend yourself, such as by showing their breach in court through your testimony, any emails or correspondence, etc. Given that they can almost certainly at least initiate a lawsuit and force you to respond, you may wish to consider seeing if you could settle with them for some lesser amount, rather than go through with litigation. If you do, make sure you get the settlement in writing.


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