Cancelling and terminating your mobile phone contract early

By Adrian Vincent 5 Aug 2021, 16:35 Cancelling and terminating your mobile phone contract early

Taking out a mobile phone contract or SIM only contract is a long term commitment. It’s surprisingly common for customers wanting to terminate their contract early because they believe they’ve made a mistake or they can no longer afford the monthly payments.

If you no longer want to be tied down to a mobile phone contract, it’s possible to cancel your contract early.

However, for the majority of cases, you will have to pay an early termination fee. This usually amounts to the monthly payments for the remaining months on your contract.

Am I eligible to cancel my contract without an exit fee?

There are some circumstances where you can legally exit your contract early without a termination fee:

  1. You’ve changed your mind after purchasing online within 14 days of taking out your contract
  2. The network increases the monthly price and there isn’t a clause in the contract that permits this
  3. You’ve fulfilled your contract length and monthly payments

If you believe you’ve been misled, or there’s a sudden change in the service you are receiving, it may be possible to cancel without a termination fee. However, this is entirely dependent on the network - they are not legally obligated to agree to your request:

  1. You believe you were mislead or the terms and conditions of the contract were not clear
  2. The service you are receiving is not up to standard
  3. An increase in ‘pay as you use’ services disproportionately affects you, such as roaming and international calls

Can I cancel a contract when purchased online?

Consumer Contracts Regulations cancel contract

The Consumer Contracts Regulations entitles you to a 14 day cooling off period, meaning you can cancel your contract without any questions asked. Legally, your provider cannot refuse to cancel your contract and cannot ask you to pay a termination fee.

However, you will still be required to pay for the services you have used during this period. This is usually proportional to the number of days you have used the service and the monthly payment as stated in the contract’s terms and conditions. The provider will automatically calculate this amount for you.

Once you have agreed with your provider to cancel your contract, you must return your purchase to them within 14 days.

If you do not return your item within this period, or you return an item with missing or damaged parts, they can refuse to accept your return and cancellation. It’s always best to return your package with a signed and tracked service. Take photos of the items you are returning and photos of the package for additional proof.

Can I cancel a contract when purchased in store?

When purchasing a contract in store, you have no legal right for a cooling off period to cancel your contract, unlike the 14 day permitted when purchasing online or over the phone.

Some retailers may offer a generous cooling off period when purchasing in store, however as far as we’re aware, most do not - particularly when it comes to mobile phone contracts and SIM only contracts.

For this reason, we strongly recommend purchasing online as you will legally be covered by the Consumer Contracts Regulations, giving you 14 days to change your mind.

Can I cancel a contract when the network increases the monthly price?

Nearly all networks state in the contract that they can increase the price of your monthly payment in line with inflation.

If this is the case, then you have no legal right to terminate your contract early without paying a termination fee.

A network can only increase the price of your contract after 30 days of informing you.

However, if the increase in price is more than the rate as stated in the contract, it is within your legal right to cancel your contract without paying a termination fee.

If a network increases the price of your contract and you’re unsure if it is permitted in your contract, you should contact your network to discuss this and double check over the terms and conditions of the contract you signed.

A network may increase the tariffs outside of your regular monthly payment, such as roaming charges, premium numbers and international calling.

A network is permitted to increase these ‘pay as you use’ charges without allowing you to cancel your contract early without a termination fee.

However, if you think you have an exceptional case where you regularly spend a considerable amount on a particular ‘pay as you use’ charge, you should talk to your network and provide proof of this. They may be able to arrange a discount or exemption.

Can I cancel my contract early if my signal is bad?

Cancel contract early due to poor signal

Unless you are within your 14 day cooling off period, you usually cannot cancel your contract without an early termination fee apart from exceptional circumstances.

If you experience a loss of signal due to your own personal choice, such as moving location, then you are not within your legal right to cancel your contract without paying a termination fee.

If you experience a sudden loss of signal in the same location and you are not aware of why this has happened, you may be entitled to cancel your contract without paying a penalty thanks to the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

If the network is to blame for your loss of signal - perhaps due to a decommissioned or broken phone mast - you may have a case.

However, you should be aware that this will not be an easy process and can take some time. You will have to provide sufficient evidence of your service disruption.

You should always try to talk to your provider directly before escalating a claim.

Can I cancel a contract early without a termination fee if I believe the terms and conditions were unclear?

The majority of contracts should clearly state the terms and conditions of your contract. However, if you believe the network has broken the terms in the contract or they were unclear when you signed, you may be eligible to terminate your contract early without a termination fee.

If you believe this is the case, you should contact your network directly for a resolution.

Furthermore, if you believe you were misled by someone when signing your contract or you believe the terms and conditions were either misleading or manipulative, you may have a case to cancel your contract without penalties.

You should always try to discuss this with your network first for a solution you can both agree upon.

If you do not come to an agreement and you still believe you have a case, you should ask your network for a deadlock letter.

With a deadlock letter, you can take your complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme.

All networks have to be legally enrolled onto an ADR scheme. An ADR company is completely independent and neutral from your network, and will investigate the claim from both sides.

Your network will either be part of the Ombudsman Services Communications Scheme or the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme. If you’re unsure, ask your network.

How can I cancel my contract?

If you want to cancel your contract, you should contact your provider and request a cancellation. Make sure to ask about any termination fees if you’re unsure.

If you want to keep your number when cancelling a contract, it is important to ask for a PAC code. A PAC code will allow you to transfer your number to another contract on a different network. See our guide on transferring your number.

You can also cancel your contract automatically by giving your PAC number to another network. Be aware that this will not allow you to avoid any possible cancellation fees.

Cancel after your contract has ended

If your contract has ended and you’ve paid all the monthly payments for the term of the contract, you can cancel at any time without a termination fee.

You must give your network at least 30 days notice before your contract is cancelled.

If you’re unsure if your contract has ended, you can text ‘INFO’ to 85075 for information on your contract status. Alternatively, you should contact your network directly for further information.

Cancelling your contract early

Once you’re aware of the potential termination fees, you should contact your network directly to cancel your contract.

If you purchased your contract online or over the phone, you have 14 days from the purchase date to cancel your contract without a termination fee.

Make sure to confirm any termination fees with your provider to avoid any unexpected charges.

Finding a better contract deal

Cancelling and finding a better contract deal

Before cancelling your contract, you should make sure to find a better deal compared to your current contract.

You can find a better deal with our Phone deals and SIM only deals.

Our comparison tool can compare thousands of contract deals and filter down to the cheapest contracts within your needs.

I can no longer afford to pay my contract

If you can no longer afford to pay your contract, you should contact your network directly for assistance. They may be able to assist you by:

  1. Reducing your monthly payments
  2. Restructuring your contract for smaller payments over a longer period
  3. Decreasing your monthly allowances
  4. Changing your contract to a cheaper alternative

It is important to contact your network and come to an agreement if you cannot afford the monthly payments. Failure to do so may result in your case being submitted to a debt collecting agency.

A contract is a legal obligation and should be honoured by both parties involved.

FAQs

How can I cancel my contract?

You can cancel your contract by requesting a PAC code from your network and handing it to another network, effectively cancelling your current contract and transferring your number.

Alternatively, you can cancel your contract by contacting your network directly.

If you are cancelling your contract early, you should be aware of any termination fees you may have to pay.

Can I cancel my contract early?

Yes, you can cancel your contract early, however you will still have to pay the remaining monthly payments upfront. Contact your network for more information on your early termination fee.

How long do I have left on my contract?

Text ‘INFO’ to 85075 for free to find out how long you have left on your contract.