Want to cancel your gym membership in favor of outdoor exercise this summer? Beware the cancellation fees. A key part of customer retention strategy, these hefty charges are designed to keep you hooked.
Some cell phone providers charge customers up to $350 to leave a service agreement before its expires.
The good news is that if you're smart about it, there are some cheap ways to back out of contracts. Here are some tips to help you get out of service agreements without paying exorbitant early termination fees:
Read The Fine Print
To begin, read the terms and conditions of your original contract to determine if it allows some ways to get out without paying fees. You never know, you might qualify for an exception.
Contact Customer Service
Call your service provider to negotiate a way out of your contract, especially if you have a gripping personal reason like losing your job. This may take more than one attempt and might require appealing to multiple people. Contacting service providers through social media has also been proven effective. <a href="http://www.ehow.com/how_5706380_out-contract-early-termination-fee.html" target="_hplink">(h/t eHow Tech)</a>
Are you a Verizon customer and want to switch to AT&T? Chances are there is someone out there willing to swap service providers with you. A number of websites connect people who are interested in switching contracts. For example, Celltrade, TradeMyCellular and Cellswapper are sites that connect phone swappers. <a href="http://www.cultofmac.com/76570/wanna-switch-carriers-avoid-paying-your-early-termination-fee-how-to/" target="_hplink">(h/t Cult of Mac)</a>
Report Bad Service Or Violated Terms
If the other party has violated or changed any terms of the contract, that usually leaves you entitled to walk out. For example, when Verizon charged a regulatory fee last year, customers were entitled to break free from their contracts without paying termination fees, <a href="http://consumerist.com/2011/06/new-fee-lets-you-break-verizon-contract-without-early-termination-fee.html" target="_hplink">according to The Consumerist. </a> Report fee increases or service interruptions as reasons for cancellation. <a href="http://www.cnet.com/8301-17918_1-57401148-85/8-tips-for-ditching-your-cell-phone-contract-early/" target="_hplink">(h/t CNET</a>)
Sell Your Contract
Find someone to take over your contract. You can try posting an ad on Craigslist. Some small phone providers or <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_mobile_virtual_network_operators" target="_hplink">mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) </a>are so eager to acquire new customers that they offer to buy out previous contracts. (h/t <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5913869/how-to-get-out-of-your-cell-phone-contract-without-paying-termination-fees" target="_hplink">LifeHacker</a> & <a href="http://voices.yahoo.com/how-out-cell-phone-contract-without-2396884.html" target="_hplink">Yahoo Voices</a>)
Cut Bill Below Termination Fees
If you trim all your services such as texting or voice time on a phone contract, you might be able to decrease your monthly bill to less than the termination fee associated with ending the contract. In this case, it might be more cost-effective to let your contract run its course. <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5913869/how-to-get-out-of-your-cell-phone-contract-without-paying-termination-fees" target="_hplink"> (h/t LifeHacker)</a>