Understanding AT&T Early Termination Fees

Is AT&T charging you a bogus Early Termination Fee? FairShake can help.

"What you should know about early termination fees"

If you have signed up for AT&T cable and internet, you might be in for a surprise “treat” when you cancel your account. 

Many people don’t know about the early termination fee and even fewer know whether they have an early termination fee associated with their cable and internet package. 

Why does AT&T charge early termination fees?

Early termination fees are a central part of your agreement to use service for cable, internet, or cell phone packages. When you take out cable and internet services with AT&T or any other company for that matter, you usually sign a contract for a specific length of time. Most contracts are 1-year or 2-year contracts. Ideally you will honor the length of that contract by paying AT&T for your cable and internet service every month for the length of your contract.

If, however, you no longer need their services, you have the option of canceling your account early. That is when they charge you an early termination fee. This early termination fee is meant to help them recuperate the lost profit they would have made every month of your full contract.

Are early termination fees legal?

Yes, early termination fees are most of the time considered completely legal so long as they are included in the contract and you were made aware of them when you sign up for a new service. Problem is, most people don’t know where they are hidden in the fine print of the terms and conditions.

How much is AT&T’s cable and internet early termination fee?

AT&T has early termination fees for every cable and internet package. If you sign an agreement with AT&T for 1-year or 2-year contracts, you have 14 days after you purchase to cancel your service without the early termination fee. If you cancel after that, the fine print in some AT&T contracts stipulates that you are charged an early termination fee of $150 which decreases by $4 per month for every full month you use their service. This applies to any internet package for any connected device, applicable to one-year and two-year contracts. 

For example: If you have a one-year contract and you quit after 5 months, $20 is subtracted from that $150 total. This applies to a two year or one-year contract.

Note: AT&T will also charge you a restocking fee for any device that you returned within that 14 day grace period of $55.

Can I reduce or avoid the early termination fee?

If you are not yet signed up for service, you can try to negotiate for a reduced or alleviated early termination fee on your contract. Start by just asking customer service and going up the customer service chain until you have explored all your options. Obviously reading the terms and conditions so that you know what fees are levied against your account will help you prepare for what to expect if you have to cancel prematurely.

If you already have a contract, there are a few things you can do to try to reduce or avoid your fee. If, for example, you have multiple lines or multiple services, you can avoid the fee for all of them by reducing or canceling only the things you don’t need.

Alternatively you can try to lower your plan so that your total monthly bill is not as high, and then pay out the remainder of your bill until such time as it equals your early termination fee.

For example:  With the $150 early termination fee for AT&T, prorated at $4 per month, if you are just a few months into a 2-year contract and you want to cancel, you might still owe $138. If your monthly bill is $65, you can try to reduce it to 1 line and negotiate with AT&T to avoid the early termination fee for any other line to cancel because you are staying on as a customer. After that you might be able to cancel the remaining line when you have a few more months the prorated credit put toward that total fee. 

How do I know if my contract with AT&T has an early termination fee?

Review the AT&T cable and internet consumer service agreement which sets out all terms and conditions for the services you have including early termination fees as well as the terms and conditions.

I’m being charged an early termination fee but I shouldn’t be, what can I do?

If you are being unfairly charged, let FairShake help. We understand how stressful it can be and we work with thousands of people who have been incorrectly charged. 

We work hard to help you get your money back. Get started now…

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