Zone 2

Money Drain: Reading the Fine Print on Cellphone Contracts

Pretty much since I’ve had a cell phone, I’ve been on my father’s family share plan, which was actually a very good idea for a young college person. As I’ve grown, and met with success, I’ve thought about getting my own cell phone plan, to be independent and such. This past fall, my partner and I moved into a rural house. I decided to get my own cell phone plan, with the same company that my partner had for his smartphone. He got great reception, and I thought I would get decent coverage with a voice and text plan.

So I bought a phone and sign up for the contract online, and activated my phone when it arrives. It was a Thursday. Over the weekend, I noticed that I got no reception at the house, and very bad reception pretty much everywhere else. We don’t have a landline, so this phone would be my main contact and I needed reliable reception at the house. I decided to cancel the plan, but I didn’t actually get around to it until Monday. I thought I would just be responsible for the minutes I used, because I was canceling the plan so soon after activating it.

I didn’t read the fine print of the contract until I called to cancel the plan. The fine print says that if I cancel within three days of activation, the activation fee would be waived. I waited four days. They did not waive the activation fee, so I basically paid $90 for four days of crappy cell phone service.

Lesson: Even if it’s tedious, read the fine print before signing contracts.

Submitted by: Alison

Lesson Learned:
I love how the author posted her own lesson learned, she is perfectly right. I think this is a situation that most people experience at one point or another. Signing up for a service to try it out, and not canceling it in time to prevent incurring a fee. Before jumping into any sort of contract based transaction, as tedious as it may be, we should make ourselves aware of the stipulations behind it, especially if we want the possibility to get out of the contract in the near future. And cellphone providers are pretty ruthless with their contracts.

A similar example would be, when myfico.com offers a free 30 day trial for being able to view your fico score (and is probably the best site I recommend for doing so if you need to) for the first time, add it to your google calendar or cellphone calendar to remind you to cancel it before the 30 days is up so you aren’t charged for the first month of monitoring.

Amount Flushed Down the Money Drain: $90

About Crystal Groves, Google+

Crystal Groves is a farmer, web developer, musician, blogger, and personal finance enthusiast from the back hills of Maryland and Pennsylvania. She started Money Drain as a project to encourage people interested in fixing their financial situation to share their stories and learn from the stories of others. We all make mistakes, but in order to change we have to make changes.

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