Want to cancel your T-mobile contract? Here’s how to do itSeptember 16th, 2009 • 151 Comments
So T-Mobile, then. We’ve promised you some answers and we’ve delivered. Last week the service provider told you it was increasing the cost of international roaming by up to 120 per cent, and then told you roaming charges aren’t covered by your rights to cancel without charge, meaning you don’t even have the right to complain, let alone cancel. We disagreed, and got to work sifting through contracts and talking to folk far more clued-up than us. Trust us when we say we’ve had off-the-record conversations with the right people on this matter.
What are T-Mobile up to?
T-Mobile are claiming you have no right to cancel your contract without paying a penalty – even if the changes will cause your bills to increase (often referred to as financial or material detriment) – because the proposed increases fall outside the terms of your agreement. That’s not strictly true; in fact T-Mobile have created an artificial loophole in your contract to prevent you having any rights in this instance, one that no ordinary customers would be expected to spot.
If we go back to T-Mobile’s Terms and Conditions, your Agreement is defined as:
- The contents of the Terms and Conditions themselves
- The “What it Costs” Booklet for the relevant Price Plan
- The “What it Costs” Booklet for Non Standard Charges
Charges for international roaming are in the Booklet for Non-Standard Charges, so they are clearly part of your agreement with T-Mobile. There’s no question of it whatsoever – so what’s the problem?
In clause 2.11 T-Mobile says it has the right to change the Terms, while in 2.11.2 states the customer has the right to cancel the Agreement without a cancellation charge if there is a change that will cause material detriment. This is where the definitions come unstuck – the Terms are treated as a separate entity to your Agreement, and while the Terms are part of your Agreement, your Agreement isn’t part of the Terms. By using the word “Terms” instead of “Agreement” in the clause above, T-Mobile are restricting the cancellation right to the Terms themselves.
So when you reach clause 7.2.3 where T-Mobile explains the customer’s right to cancel without penalty, you discover this is restricted to changes in Terms or Price Plans only. Nothing in your rights applies to changes to the charges in the “What it Costs” Booklet for Non-Standard Charges, even though are undeniably part of your contract since they’re included your Agreement.
Is it legal?
The bottom line is that T-Mobile are trying to use legal penmanship to confuse you and restrict your right to cancel, even though the proposed price increases affect your contract with them. So the question isn’t whether the contract gives you the right to cancel without charge – T-Mobile have deliberately engineered it so it doesn’t. The big question is - is your T-Mobile contract unfair and against the law? That’s obviously a matter for the courts to decide, not a couple of daft lads in an office like us. However, in our opinion this behaviour falls foul of both Ofcom guidelines and consumer law, specifically the The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (UTCCR). We won’t go into the reasons here – you can read those in in the letter templates we’ve provided below.
General stuff on cancelling contracts and the law
If by this point you’re full of hell and want to cancel your contract, a note from us – you’re a big boy now, the decisions you make are your own. We’re not telling you to terminate your contract – we’re happy to offer advice and tools to take your fight further, but ultimately you are responsible for your actions. Got it? Good.
- you don’t need T-Mobile’s consent to terminate a contract. You can always terminate a contract and stop your direct debit by informing your bank. The issue is whether or not you’ll be liable for damages for breach of contract or other charges, and whether these costs would be unenforceable and declared as unfair under the UTCCR.
- the law and not the contract governs, so unfair and artificial restrictions in the contract will be unenforceable under the UTCCR. Again, consumer law beats a contract every time. The ultimate decision is for the Courts – not T-Mobile. The supplier’s opinion is not determinative and nor is that of the regulators. Only the Courts can say whether a term is fair or not.
- ultimately, if you refuse to pay termination charges on the basis they’re unfair, will T-Mobile be prepared to sue you for a Court Order? If they do –you have a defence. No summary enforcement is allowed where there is a genuine dispute so they cannot collect disputed sums as debts.
What you need to do if you’re going to terminate your contract
- If you do nothing you will be treated as accepting the changes and will not be able to change your mind later
- Check the date of any text or other advice to you – if you do want to terminate you must do so immediately and within 30 days of the notice given to you of the increase
- we’ve prepared a Termination Template letter (well, a friend prepared it) - just add your details and select from the options and post. Keep a copy and send it by registered post.
- The contract requires that you must terminate by telephone, so do this as well. Remember, you are telling and not asking them.
- You need to pay for any items/use for the last 30 days—not included in your advance monthly payment. If you’ve incurred such charges, call and find out what they are.
- You can cancel your direct debit and send any final payment for any extra charges for the last 30 days by a cheque marked “in full and final settlement of all obligations.” They may try to charge you a Payment Handling Charge for this.
- If you are still within the minimum term, you might like to take individual legal advice and/or at least find out what T-Mobile would claim from you in charges, so you know your potential exposure if the court found the term was fair in your case.
- If you want to complain to Ofcom, that’s certainly a very good way to pile the pressure on T-Mobile – see the Ofcom Template letter below.
- If you also wish to complain to the Office of Fair Trading, we thought of that too.
Finally, just so we’re we fully understand one another – please don’t take any of this as legal advice or a substitute for legal advice. We assume no duty or liability to you – if you’ve been out drinking with us, you’ll know we can barely assume duty or liability to ourselves.