Can You Break Your Mobile Contract Mid-Term?

by , Last Updated: 22 October 2014

Are you in the middle of a phone contract but want to switch mobile network? We look at whether you can break your contract early and what will happen if you do.

Annoyed On Phone

There could be any number of reasons that you might want to switch mobile phone network providers; perhaps you've found a better deal elsewhere, the prices on your tariff have increased, you want to upgrade your phone or you're just not happy with the level of signal or customer service on offer.

If you use a pay-as-you-go service then it's quite simple to switch as you aren't tied in to any agreement; however if you have signed a contract with your mobile provider, you'll find it a little stickier to get out early.

What can I do?

If you want to cancel your contract mid-term, the first thing to do is contact your service provider and suss them out to see what their policy is on ending a contract early.

Bear in mind that it's likely that you will be charged a termination fee, which is usually equivalent to how much it would cost to see your contract through to the end, regardless of which network your deal is with - as such cancelling becomes essentially pointless as you'll be paying out for something but getting nothing in return.

You are able to leave you contract mid-term if your monthly subscription charge increases. In 2013 Ofcom announced that you should be allowed to exit your landline, broadband or mobile contract without penalty if your provider puts up the cost of your monthly deal. Your provider should give you 30 days notice of the increase, and you then have this time to leave your contract.

In some cases your provider may allow you to downgrade your tariff to the cheapest package available - which will be the bare minimum service with no added extras - for the remainder of your contract term. However different providers have different policies on this; for example O2 do not allow any down-grades within the first 6 months of the contract. Also, you'll usually only be able to drop down one package per month.

In most situations dropping to the lowest possible tariff will be the best course of action if no other solutions are available; you'll be paying out the cheapest possible amount until your contract ends. However it's worth noting there may restrictions on this if you're getting other free services such as a landline or broadband, and depending on the free phone you were given when you took your contract out.

Why can't I end my contract early?

What it comes down to is that any contract you have entered into with your mobile service provider will be a legally binding agreement, and as such you won't be able to cancel your contract until the end of the agreed term without paying for it. However although you might not be able to cancel outright there may be ways to control the amount of costs you'll incur.

As your contract is an agreement between you and your mobile provider, if your service has changed from that set out in the contract then you could use this as grounds for claiming that your provider has breached the contract.

For example, your provider may have recently upped the roaming charges on your mobile. Even if this is covered by a clause in your contract, your provider may be a little more lenient on you in terms of levying charges if you make it clear you believe they have breached the contract agreement. It's a good idea to check the small print of terms and conditions on your contract.

What else do I need to know?

If you are having a particular issue with the services offered by your mobile provider it is worth making a formal complaint to them in writing. This may also limit the cost of terminating your contract; particularly if your provider is unwilling to resolve the problem.

Occasionally another mobile company may offer to pay off the remainder of your contract if you agree to switch to them (usually for another contract of at least 18 months), though this certainly isn't offered as a matter of course.

The only completely viable way to get out of a mobile contract before the end of the agreed term is if you're still within the 'cooling-off period'. This usually lasts for about 7-14 days after your mobile contract begins - if you decide to cancel within this period, you won't incur any costs. For most of us, however, it's a case of persevering with your mobile provider until the end of the contract while paying out for the lowest tariff possible.

Responses

add your response here

Hi Jackie,

As far as I'm aware this isn't the case as when you accept the terms and conditions of a contract online this is effectively the same as signing your name on the dotted line.

Hannah

by Hannah from money.co.uk, 18 Nov 2009

will i be taken to court if i just stop paying my contract?

by gaasdsinger1, 6 Oct 2012

Well yes, it's a legally binding Contract under civil law which means that by not paying they can put a default next to your name, effectively this cancels the contract and they will disconnect your phone but you will STILL owe them that money as you signed a contract agreeing to pay x amount a month for a minimum of 18 months or 24 months, you can't just back out unless they back out as well which they won't because they'll lose money, so unless you're willing to make arrangements to pay them they can take you to county court and sue for the money you've lost them as a result, you won't be taken to court they'll just place a judgment on you as you'd have absolutely no defence to the case whatsoever. sorry to say that.

by reecec, 13 Jan 2013
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i had thew same problem and the phone company had those debt collectors to chase me so i ended up paying all the contract

by katia, 6 Oct 2012

i have a 2 year contract i have had it for a year but i really dont like the phone i have so i rang 3 to ask if i could change the phone i was quite willing to keep paying the 30 pound a month just change the phone thet said yes it would cost me 300 pound if i sold it i would only get 10 quid for it i have been with 3 for about 10 years

by elizabethj, 9 Oct 2012

they won't allow you to switch phones because you're paying for the phone over the length of the contract, hence why sim only plans are cheaper because you're only paying line rental and not a handset charge on top, you effectively have the phone on credit

by reecec, 13 Jan 2013
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hi i am with 3 mobile and i have upgraded for the iphone4 to the iphone5 and to be honest i thought that apple had made major changes to the ios platform but was very disapointed with it its still the same but only the screen is bigger i want to change to an android phone as this seems that you can add your own wallpapers and ringtone and not have to pay for the unlike with the iphone you have to buy them you are very limited to what you can do with it i just want to know if anybody can help me out with this thanks.

Kind regards.

by kev27, 20 Nov 2012

kev27- you need to jailbreak an iphone to access its full potential

by chris28071184, 15 Feb 2013

Hi Charlie,
You can give them a set amount of time to put things right (which it looks like you have done already). If they don't fix the issue within the given time it would be them who breach the contract so you shouldn't be held liable. They may still pursue you in court and you will have to defend the case. However, based on my experience they do pass the accounts to debt collectors but that's where it all ends

by gabriel71, 30 Apr 2014
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I have had technical line faults, with a bad line and calls dropping since the start of my contract, the company technical team say it is my area, after I proved it wasn't they said it was my sim, after my 3rd sim and the same problem they said it was my handset, I replied I have had the same problem with 3 different handsets.

when i entered my contract with them we both entered a legally binding contract, I always pay my bill on time, yet they cant even provide the basic of a line which is actually usable, technically shouldnt they let me terminate my contract early as they are breaking their end of the contract by not providing me with the service that I am entitled to and paying for.??

by Charlie87, 29 Mar 2013

Hello, there are service providers like www.contractvillage.com that can help you pass on your contract. Is does need to be fulfilled but not necessarily by you. . You might not be happy with what you are getting for your money, whereas someone else who is more interested in having a short-term contract than saving money, would be more than happy to take your contract on. Check them out. www.contractvillage.com

by candye, 12 May 2013

im with Vodafone , and have been for 6 months , during that 6 months I have changed the sim card three times and the phone twice as I cannot receive calls , and dialling out 60% of calls wont connect, I travel a lot so the loss of service is not in one area, last week my phone didn't call for 4 days and on Friday 19 messages come through were people had left messages where my phone didn't call, 3g hardly ever works, I has lost so much money though clients not being able to get hold of me it isn't funny, I said that if you bought a new car and it didn't work you wouldn't pay for it so why is it woth a mobile phone you do!

by karmadjez, 10 Jul 2013

Under civil law if I don't physically sign for the mobile contract I receive can the mobile company still take me to court for coming out of the contract? Because I have noticed a lot of the mobile company's can provide the phone to you online and deliver to your house? So at what point could they say I have signed for any legally binding contract?

by sammy247, 30 Jul 2013

You will find that somewhere in the ordering process you had to tick a box confirming you had agreed to the terms and conditions, that is as good as a signature.

by Bonz1957, 13 Oct 2013
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What if i am now unemployed and i have no money coming in to pay for my phone

by jayne2157, 5 Aug 2013

You could try handing the phone back to see if they will terminate the contract.

by Bonz1957, 13 Oct 2013

im having the same problem but they wont reduce my tarriff

by kat1963, 24 Oct 2013

Unfortunately there may be little you can do, as you did sign a contract. If it was the other way around and they decided they didn't want to continue supplying the service you had a contract for, you would probably feel very annoyed. It works both ways.

by Bonz1957, 24 Oct 2013

I am with three, when i started my contract, they were charging 1p for a delivery report. Now its gone up to 1.2p.....i want to leave for something cheaper..... i know its only a small increase, but they have changed the pricing..not what i signed up for. So is this enough for me to challenge them with??

by misty65, 6 Nov 2013

Probably not, Misty, it is likely to be in the T&C's somewhere. Why do you need to have delivery reports at all, I turned mine off as they are just a nuisance.

by Bonz1957, 6 Nov 2013

Its not that i want or dont want delivery reports.... i want out of the contract... am looking for a loophole .

by misty65, 6 Nov 2013
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I have left UK definitely and I am living in France. I have an O2 contract with another 6 to 8 months to run. BY being resident in France is there any way I can break this contract legally. Bob St Raphael.

by bbeyns, 13 Oct 2013

i am on orange sim only the coverage is rubbish it is always going on emergency calls and also tells me i am not registered with the network. i am going to be phoning them to see if i can get out of the contract it ends June 2014 so will see how i get on .also sent for giff gaff sim card at least i know they work

by tinaj6, 10 Nov 2013

I have been having a nightmare with Vodafone - gets worse today as they sent me an sms yesterday saying I was late paying my bill and would be charged - rung them today to find out why bearing in mind I had spoken to 4 different people because they all kept setting direct debits up for the wrong date - bearing in mind I get paid on 20th of each month and wanted to pay direct debit on 20th, they took it once on 13th - which happened to be my birthday and meant that when i went out for the day I had £45 less than I thought I did - which at nearly the end of a pay run is not good news anyway... they then didn't take the money on the day I had set up a card payment for (20th), and suspended my service because someone hadn't set it up right - they then told me that instead of setting the direct debit for 20th again like I had asked it had been set up for 19th, then someone told me that they had changed how direct debits are arranged and you had to pick your dates, either 5th, 13th, 19th or 26th of each month. I picked 26th, only to be told today when I rung to find out why they are saying I need to arrange payment - that Vodafone no longer take any payments from Halifax due to 'money laundering'.... news to me and Halifax too!! I was told it was all very easy - all I need to do is to set up a new bank account with another bank and set up my direct debit from there instead. I am still waiting for a manager call back. I was also told that fees had been applied to my account because i wasnt paying by direct debit - what i want to know is - surely as this situation is not mentioned in my T&Cs - ie 'if we decide we no longer want to deal with your bank any more we can charge you to pay via other means than direct debit or you will have to go and open a brand new bank account' then this makes my T&Cs null and void - because they have introduced new circumstances that make it impossible for me to pay them without them charging me. Their T&Cs state that if I 'don't want to pay by direct debit' - well I DO want to pay by direct debit - but their apparent change in circumstances means that I cant.... not my problem! help someone - I can't deal with wasting more of my life talking to useless disinterested 'customer service' reps any more who are only interested in interrupting me and repeating over and over what they have already said, without acknowledging what I have said to them!!

by sljeffers, 25 Jan 2014

I took out 2 iPhone 5 contracts at £35 per month ten months ago unlimited calls and texts and 1gb internet.. So therefore was expecting to pay £35 per month per phone totaling £70 per month during this ten months the average bill has been around £100 and even as much as £120 After several phone calls and being fobbed every time.. The last call I made of one of Ee customer services has informed me that I'm signed up to a business account and paying vat on everything. I have started early proceedings of making a complaint where I have been told by ee it's not a problem I have to take up complaint with them. Even tho they have previously informed me that I need to send them a copy of the contract they would look into it they are now stating That I have to go back to the store where I purchased this phone and make complaint to them (get connected) I don't really know where to turn next as I have no reason to be on a business account I don't earn enough to pay vat and also would have no means in which to claim the cat back.......help x

by spearey, 28 Jan 2014

My wife signed up to a orange contract January 2012 and was meant to get 20% off with her been a teacher. Not been getting it and after ringing them and sending copies of her contract not getting no where. Can she cancel as breach of contract?

by markp2001, 4 Mar 2014

My 2 year contract with Orange was up for renewal last month so I upgraded but I've been without a signal now for 4 days and was told by Orange today that they don't expect to fix the issues with the local mast for a further 7 days leaving me without being able to use my phone for atleast 11 days. I'm self employed and my mobile is the only way for customers to contact me other than email.

Is there anything I can do??

by willow1872, 1 Apr 2014

Hello willow1872
A good thing to try is contact them and ask for disconnections -if possible try and do it using a phone from a different network, not any companies in the EE group a all use same masts
(as you are unable to use their network as previous )
Use an app such as 0800 wizard or say no to 08 downloaded on
the other phone then it will be free to use from the mobile to call them as it will come out of your contract minutes -good to try for a landline number for any call centre
Dial 0800 100150 (or your normal customer service number)
and ask for UK customer services -and if successful you will not be speaking to some body in INDIA
On calling them the number shown on screen will not be your usual number and it may even tell them that it is not an orange line
Ask how you make a claim for compensation not providing service etc and loss of business
(I got half price for 18 months as poor internet and service -the operator told me that the nearest mast to me was not due to be up and working again for over a year. At first was offered an increase from 20% to 25% I turned round and said " what extra and was offered 50%
Even contact them this way if your problem has been fixed
Also in future try not to upgrade ,get prices as a new connection from other shops or websites then tell them what you have seen and they will usually match your lower price or quote and tell them that you have been offered discount from their competitors as would normally be about 150.00 saving (5.00 - 10.00 less a month)
If you did take a new line then PAC code your existing number they need to pay the company who you were going to deal through - so why not reduce or credit you instead? even if with more data etc for the same cost

by backjack, 13 Apr 2014
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I'm having a nightmare with Orange /EE - they won't budge and I either have to pay 350 quid to get out of my contract or pay the 40 quid a month till it is finished. They won't offer me a lower tariff yet, but the phone is useless anyway - i'm now living in UAE and using the phone on the current contract is financially unviable, particularly as I don't have a job yet and my husband is having to shoulder the bill. I didn't know I was moving to the middle east till some time after taking out this latest mobile contract. Any thoughts on any options there might be? Unexpected changes in life, other than death, don't seem to sway the money making machines that pass as phone carriers. I am grateful at least for the chance to sound off - it's soul destroying!

by maggie30, 22 Apr 2014

My provider said my contract ended then offered me a really good deal to stay which I accepted. They then sent an email saying they made a mistake and I still had 12 months left on my contract so I remain stuck

by baskar, 1 month ago

Hi everyone

Could someone tell me what the consequences are if I transfer my contract to a friend who's leaving the country for good?

by dissad, 1 month ago
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