On Your Side: AT&T Early-Termination Fees

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I have been an AT&T customer for over five years and have used or upgraded the company’s services much more than the average person. My wife and I moved to northwest Arkansas and discovered that the cell phone service in our area is very poor. I’ve contacted AT&T many times, and the company says that it is unable to guarantee service in any location. I realize that AT&T didn’t ask me to move to an area that had poor service, but you would think they could give me, a good customer, some consideration when I have a problem. I’d like to switch carriers, but I’m stuck in a contract. Is there anything you can do?

Brian Allen, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

OYS responds: After we contacted AT&T about Allen's problem, a company representative called Allen and offered to waive the early-termination fee (ETF), the charge (usually steep) that AT&T and other carriers apply when customers cancel their cell phone service before their contract expires. Allen accepted the company's offer and saved $190.

Early-termination fees vary, and even prorated fees can be high. For example, a new Verizon customer with a smartphone and a two-year contract would still have to pay an ETF of $120 after 23 months of service. Before signing up with a carrier, do some research on cell phone coverage in your area (simply enter "cell phone coverage maps" in a search engine) and read the contract carefully.

We found one carrier, Credo Mobile (credomobile.com), that will give you a credit covering the cost of the ETF from your previous carrier if you switch.

Rejected Rebate Request

James Greenlee of Glendale, Arizona, contacted us when he had trouble getting a rebate. Greenlee bought an Adobe Photoshop bundle from Fry's Electronics; it was eligible for a $30 rebate. He submitted his rebate request to Adobe, including all the necessary information and the proof-of-purchase tab off the product box. Adobe rejected his request. The problem? Advised by Fry's, Greenlee had used a rebate form he downloaded from Fry's Website. Adobe didn't consider this form to be valid even though, according to Greenlee, it looked identical to the form that was provided in the box.

We attempted to contact Adobe about Greenlee's issue but didn't receive a direct response. Shortly afterward, however, the company got in touch with Greenlee and sent him his $30.

When trying to get a rebate, submit the official request form from the manufacturer if possible. Also, make copies of anything you send in so that you'll have the required documentation should you need to submit your request again.

Tekkeon Laptop Battery Recall

Tekkeon, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has recalled about 500 MyPower All Plus external rechargeable batteries used to power portable devices (specifically battery models MP3450, MP3450i, and MP3750). The battery cell can short-circuit and overheat, posing a fire hazard. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled batteries and contact Tekkeon to obtain a free replacement. For more information, call Tekkeon toll-free at 888/787-5888 or visit the company's Website at www.tekkeon.com/recall.

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