Friday, June 22, 2007

Death and Your Cell Phone Contract

InfoWorld, in preparation for the Apple iPhone release, ran an article detailing ways to get out of your current contract so that you can get an iPhone. One method, however, was a little extreme:

In the most extreme situation, a contract is terminated if the customer dies -- though this circumstance does put a crimp in the deceased's future iPhone enjoyment.

According to the New York Times, it's not always automatically terminated:

The companies will waive the early termination fee if you die. Pretending to be dead, however, does not work well as a way to break a contract. Sprint Nextel, Verizon and Cingular, for example, may ask for a death certificate. T-Mobile says it does not. “They want to take people at their word,” said Graham Crow, a spokesman for the company.

But, as CBS noted in 2004, even death might not get you out of a cell phone contract:

After Julie McMurry's husband died last summer, Verizon Wireless told the Enumclaw, Wash. woman that she would have to pay an early termination fee on his cell phone contract. "I said, 'This isn't an arbitrary thing, I'd be glad to fax you a copy of the death certificate. The man's dead."'

The Verizon rep said McMurry could either pay the fee or give the phone to another family member.

She called Carl Hilliard, president of the Wireless Consumers Alliance. "I just happened to be in a meeting with Verizon Wireless's attorney and mentioned it to him," Hilliard said. "It was reversed."

But we love the free phones so much that this will continue.


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