VZW charges $350 ETF to Marine widow

Ari Robbins
Contributing Editor from  Atlanta, GA
| June 29, 2010

Early termination fees (ETFs) have long been a hot topic in the wireless industry.  Each carrier has different fees and policies, but overall if you try and leave a contract before your time is up, you're probably looking at forking over somewhere between $200-350.  There will always be extenuating circumstances, but you'd be surprised to find out what will get you out of your ETF and what will not.  Today, CBS is reporting that the widow of a young Marine Lance Corporal who died in Afghanistan after an IED was remotely detonated, was told she would have to pay the full $350 ETF, regardless of her situation.

Michaela Brummond, widow of the late Gavin Brummond said, "I called them [Verizon] to cancel.  I told them the situation with my husband.  I even said I would provide a death certificate."  Unfortunately, the CSR who took the call was unwilling to budge.  Brummond, who is clearly having a difficult time with her situation has decided to move back to her hometown to be with her family.  However, the small town she comes from (Copperopolis, CA) does not have coverage from Verizon (hence the need to cancel).

Fortunately for Brummond, there's a somewhat happy ending here (though I'll be honest, it seems a bit forced).  After the story was aired on the local news, Verizon released the following statement:

"Verizon Wireless has long supported our troops and worked with members of the armed services with flexibility. Once we understood this Marine's widow's circumstances, we quickly resolved the situation. We regret any undue frustration we may have caused the Brummunds. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Brummund and her family."

It seems that Verizon didn't have many options here.  It was either release the above statement or take a pounding in terms of negative press.  How do you think VZW should have handled this? Let us know!