Air Force

July 13, 2012

Protecting yourself from termination fees

by David Askander, legal specialist
452d base legal office

Uniformed service members are constantly confronted with stressful situations, such as receiving permanent change of station orders or being told to prepare for a short-notice deployment. The last thing they need is added stress from a company charging them early termination fees to get out of a contract.

As a precautionary measure, members should ensure all service-related financial obligations include a military clause, prior to signing a contractual agreement.

The March Air Reserve Base legal office is currently investigating several cases of local Airmen who had difficulty terminating service contracts, despite providing advanced notice and a copy of their orders.

Companies such as ADT Security Systems and Cox Communications, have corporate policies that provide protections to military members. A Cox Communications consumer relations liaison said that when a military member wants to disconnect his or her account, the Early Termination Fee does not apply.

While conducting investigative research, the legal office noted that the deception was not with the company’s corporate policies, but with its authorized independent contractors. Some dealers do not honor their respective corporate’s methodology, and will charge military members steep cancellation fees or forward those consumer’s cases to collection firms.

Although, according to ADT, they cannot force their independent dealers/installers to follow ADT corporate policy, there is a program in place to help servicemembers combat this issue.

The Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act, successor to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Relief Act, was enacted to create certain protections and rights for active duty military or Reserve when dealing with service contracts.

The purpose of the SCRA is to afford military members the ability and flexibility to focus on their commitment to serve without the worry of civil prosecution, foreclosure, or eviction under uncontrollable (defense needs of the Nation) circumstances. However, the SCRA is broadly stated and does not provide specific guidance on all service-related firms. It allows for military members to be relieved of contractual obligations for cell phones but makes no mention of other types of service agreements like cable, internet or satellite TV.

Not all companies are willing to help the military, said Maj. Deric Prescott, staff judge advocate, 452d Air Mobility Wing.

“It is well understood that military members may be required to relocate, sometimes earlier than planned,” Prescott said. “It is critical that military members make sure the companies they enter into a contract with, agree to release them from that contract if the military member receives orders.”

What can you do to protect yourself against unwanted service penalties?

  • Shop around. Service providers are competing for your business; many of them have different types of contractual agreements. The important idea is to keep your options open and consider what is best for your current living situation.
  • Include a military clause in the contract. When deciding to have a service installed (cable, internet, security, etc.) make sure the service provider will honor a military clause that relieves you of any penalties from ending the terms of the contract early. You must be diligent and demand that either a military clause be inserted or receive written documentation releasing you from your obligations upon a PCS or deployment. If a company is not willing to add a military clause, keep shopping around.
  • Get a name and a number. When calling to address a grievance, a name, case number, or file number is necessary for better and faster service. Make sure to keep good documentation.
  • Report them. The Better Business Bureau is a strong and diligent advocate for consumer needs. If you are not making any progress with a dishonest service provider, notify the BBB to register a complaint. Most large companies will quickly respond to complaints, especially when it involves military members.
  • Contact your local Senator or Representative. Prior to the 2003 amendment of SCRA, cell phone contracts were not included in SCRA. It was not until after legislative pressure that §535a was included that provided military members protection against recourse when terminating telephone service.
  • Visit the base legal office for guidance. Sometimes, correspondence from a legal assistance attorney might help your situation.
  • Read the fine print in all contracts. The best way to avoid finding yourself in such a predicament is to make sure you read and understand what you are signing.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Base Legal Office at 951-655-4479.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/Megan Crusher

‘The Spirit of Ronald Reagan’ gets nose art

U.S. Air Force photo/Megan Crusher Col. Russell Muncy, commander, 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base, California, and U.S. Congressman Ken Calvert, California’s 42nd district, unveil C-17 original nose art, creat...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo/Robert Rubio

Basic Military Training enters new ‘real life’ era

U.S. Air Force photo/Robert Rubio Trainees receive their initial clothing issue. They are in the first group that will experience capstone week, focused on character development. The 8½-week journey from recruit to Airman will...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

Cody gives enlisted perspective at AFA expo

(U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash) Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody delivers his “Enlisted Perspective” at the Air Force Association’s annual Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition, Feb. 12, 2015...
 

 
Blk-History-Month1

A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture

(First in a series of three) Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role they have played in U.S. hi...
 
 

USAF Information Tickets & Travel

Outdoor Rec monthly trips: Feb 14 – Whale watching and shopping at Horton Plaza; $35 per person; 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.; min. age 10. Price includes whale watching ticket and transportation. Deadline to sign up is Feb 9. Feb 28 – SINGLE AIRMAN PROGRAM 3/4-day Fishing Trip. This trip is free and open to...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Joseph Dangidang

452nd Maintenance Group hosts Assumption of Command ceremony

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Joseph Dangidang From left: Col. Russell A. Muncy (left), commander, 452nd Air Mobility Wing, Chief Master Sgt. Daniel G. Willers (center), command chief, 452nd Maintenance Group, and Col. Ken...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin