If you are experiencing too many dropped calls with your service provider (US - Verizon/ATT), and have decided to terminate your contract, you are probably concerned with Early Termination Fees (ETF's).

One way to terminate your contract without paying an ETF is to document your dropped calls. But there is a strategy I discovered recently when I moved to a new home and experienced an increase in dropped calls that can help you in making your decision.

Whenever I discovered an area where my call would drop, I stopped making calls in that area. It seemed logical until I called to complain, stating that I was experiencing too many dropped calls. To my surprise, Verizon pulled up my calling history and knew precisely how many dropped calls I had. Since I stopped placing calls where I knew they would drop, the number of "actual" dropped calls fell far short of what was necessary to argue my case.

And therein lies the strategy.

Rather than avoiding "no service" areas, intentionally place calls where you know they will drop.

Sound counter-intuitive? It is, from a practical standpoint. It's also a bit annoying. But the point is every time you do this it drives up the percentage of dropped calls in relation to total calls placed. Doing this for one billing cycle will shift the ration in your favor quickly and you will have considerably more leverage in arguing your case.

Here are several fine points to keep in mind:

- Employ this strategy only when you are genuinely dissatisfied with your service and the actual coverage is not what was represented when you signed the contract.

- When deliberately placing a call you know will drop, do it with friends who understand what you are doing.

- Once committed to this strategy, do it a lot! Make it a point every day to place calls that will drop and do it in various places - everywhere you can in your immediate calling area in which a call will drop.

- When you finally call customer service, ask to speak to a supervisor. You do not want to present your case to someone who can't help you, or who will pass you on to a supervisor anyway.

- When talking to a supervisor, they may pass you to technical support, at which time you can explain your situation. When they pull your call log, they will find a large number of dropped calls and you will be in a much better position to terminate your contract without having to pay an ETF.

There are other ways of avoiding ETF's, including websites which will buy the remainder of your contract. There is also the little known "Material Adverse Clause", which I have also personally tested and found to be virtually full-proof. You can learn more about the Material Adverse Clause at http://consumercommando.net/?p=3.

One final note: If and when you do pursue terminating your contract without paying an ETF, know that front-line customer service folks may "push back" and in some cases tell you outright that what you are arguing is not grounds for avoiding an ETF. That is why you want to escalate immediately when you make the call to customer service.

Best of Luck!