Success story here with AT&T… persistence and kindness were the key.
We’re heading out to the Dominican Republic in 3 weeks, and I was getting worried about the ETFs associated with our two lines w/ AT&T. I had called last August to find out our options, and was told that State is treated the same as the military. This means that we can suspend our service while deployed overseas. Score.
Well, I tried to do this today, and since it’s AT&T you can guess the initial results. After speaking with 3 different CSRs, however, I got my desired result (suspension of service effective 8/5/2010) with a little sprinkling of bonus on top.
First, CSRs are the only ones who can help… DO NOT talk to Customer Relations… they’re powerless and (incompetent).
Second, be nice. Small talk and a little bit of feigned ignorance/naiveté on my part went a long way. Not quite “deer-in-headlights” level, but think Bambi and Thumper.
As it turns out, State IS eligible for the suspension of service, wherein you keep your number(s) and contract(s), but don’t pay for service. Your contract continues to exist and run out, so for most of us, when we get back our contracts will have expired and we can then cancel service without an Early Termination Fee (my little bonus). The caveat is, however, that your upgrade options may be affected. A small price to pay, IMHO – you’re out of your contract.
What this means to you: GO OUT AND BUY THAT FANCY NEW iPHONE 4/Aria/Evo 4G/Kin!! (or whatever shiny, new smartphone you want) I think all the cell providers have the same-ish rules for military suspension, so your new contract will expire while you’re overseas, and you can cancel your account rather than renewing (if that’s what you’re looking for) without penalty. Please check with your provider first… I assume no responsibility for Sprint/T-Mobile/Verizon policy differences.
I know there had been some talk of this over the past few weeks/months, and some policy changes with the wireless carriers. This was my experience with AT&T… your mileage may vary.