If I stopped cable service and the company is attempting to charge a disconnect fee, is it legal if I have no contract with them?

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If I stopped cable service and the company is attempting to charge a disconnect fee, is it legal if I have no contract with them?

I have 2 services through a cable company – TV and internet. I called to tell them that I was cancelling my TV service. They told me I would have to pay a $29 disconnect fee. I do not have any contract with the company as it is an at-will service. Is this legal to charge a fee for discontinuation of a service without a contract? There is no indication or notification of this termination fee in any of their paperwork or on their bills.

Asked on May 2, 2011 under General Practice, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, no--to charge a disconnect fee for discontinuing a service, there should be prior notice of the fee and a prior agreement to pay it, whether or not the service was provided on an at-will or on an annual (or even longer-term) contractual basis.

However, that said, this may be a case where discretion is the better part of valor. If the cable company believes they are entitled to the fee, they may try to report you to the credit rating agencies as delinquent if you don't pay it; even if you then took action and won, the damage to your credit rating and the cost of correcting matters could easily exceed $29.00. That's not say you should try to get them to waive the fee; but if they won't, it may make more sense to pay rather than fight.


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