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Sprint cell phone lease in Active Chapter 13

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  • Sprint cell phone lease in Active Chapter 13

    Another financial bow , just when we thought the load might be letting up! We believed our cell phone bill would decrease by $50 per month starting in January since we had completed our two year contract. Instead Sprint is tacking on an additional $25 per phone as a lease charge permanently while the"fair market value" is only $95 per phone to own the phones outright. We understood we would own the phones after two years but this is not true. So the only way out seems to be to pay $95 per phone over two months -meaning we have $200 + (with taxes) less to pay off my immense medical bills (about $1500). Has any one else had this happen during their chapter 13 when you completed your two year contract?
    As I understand, you can not switch to another carrier ( like Verizon) while in a Chapter 13 and not have to pay exorbitant additional fees because of your poor credit. (We will be paying only $100 for two smart phones starting in March if we pay off one phone per month.) These are both in excellent shape and while they are not the latest and greatest they offer everything we need for now. Were we to switch to Verizon,for example, we would surely have to pay a lot more and we are struggling as it is with our current Bk budget.
    Last edited by Barbisi; 12-30-2017, 03:59 PM.

  • #2
    Why didn't you include that lease in the Chapter 13 (or even Chapter 7) and be done with that portion? Sprint cancelled my lease and I essentially got the phones for free. They didn't want the phone returned. They opened a new account.

    There is nothing stopping you from using another cellular phone carrier in a Chapter 13. They are (although technically may not be) a utility company. That's the same as your electric company or the company providing water to your home. That would be the "ordinary course of business" exception in Chapter 13s which allows you to continue to do things like pay rent, pay a mortgage, and pay for utilities.

    I'd call Sprints BK department and have the lease cancelled. You may need to return the phones and I don't guarantee that your outcome will be the same as mine. Mine was super easy.
    Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
    Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
    Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

    I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.


    • #3
      Thanks justbroke but if we return the phones now we have no other phone. (We cancelled our land line in January to save money right before this BK was filed. ) I don't think we should be without some kind of phone service. My husband needs a phone while he searches for a new job and what about emergencies? What if I needed help if I was alone on the road and some one tried to harm me? (I am female.)Also, we have paid for this contract outside the Bk since the beginning because we were current. The lawyer has made it clear we can not change our payment amount even in a medical emergency (i.e. that November foot tumor scare) so I doubt he would be amenable to us trading in our phones for a new cell phone lease. My husband told me that the lawyer said it was not worth it to include the phone contract in this Bk. So I guess that was more bad advice, right? I really question if our petition was shoddily done and I wonder if we panicked and filed too soon and if we should have waited a few more months. Maybe that's why we are struggling so much -poor planning and a less than stellar attorney!
      At least we will own the phones outright and can switch to a cheaper provider if we have to and we will save money in the near future by not leasing the phones for $50 a month!
      Well ,Happy New Year to all!
      Last edited by Barbisi; 12-30-2017, 06:38 PM.


      • #4
        I can't tell you whether it was bad advice, because I can't tell you the impact of having included the contract in the bankruptcy. I was treated extremely fairly and got to keep the phones, no deposit, and everything went mostly smoothly. I am even on good terms with Sprint and can order practically anything on installment without any deposit required. I can't tell you what would happen in your case because history is likely important to them.

        Chapter 13 debtors seem to lament their petitions after they learn new things... hindsight is 20/20. We typically filed because we had a pressing issue and, regardless of any errors that we may have made or overlooked some key issues, we make out okay. At least that Chapter 13 debtors that file for a good reason and intend to complete the plan. Many/Most Chapter 13 debtors file just to delay a foreclosure or other action in State non-bankruptcy court. The rest, we survive because the alternate was not an option.

        I want to address the notion of returning the phones. That entirely depends on the contract language. In my contract is specifically read that there was no security interest in the phones. That specifically meant that the phones were mine the day that I received them. If there is a security interest, then you would have to return the phones. No security interest? Then you would not need to return any phones.

        Moist attorneys don't want to get into the nitty-gritty of reading phone contracts and security interests because it's... the nitty gritty.
        Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
        Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
        Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

        I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.


        • #5
          Thanks justbroke.
          It appears that this "new" charge has nothing to do with the Bk -our two year contract has expired and now they are charging us a leasing charge of $25 per month per phone. We can pay them off with no further "penalty" than the $95 " fair market value". Of course they may have found out about the bK,who knows? But we will definitely not gain anything by contacting Sprint's Bk Department or the attorney for that matter. It is just hard to have to cough up over $200 more for something else instead of paying more to the many medical bills we still owe. (I got a "final" notice today from the MRI company warning me my bill would be turned over to collections if I didn't promptly pay the remaining $441 still due for 4 MRIs (2 worthless ones done for a non-existent "tumor" (actually the surgeon told me the pathologist determined it was only benign "Inflammatory tissue" most likely caused by one of my many ankle falls or sprains.) I will contact them on Tuesday and start paying what I can (about $25 a month until some of the other bills are paid off.)
          It's funny: most people on here lament about not filing sooner, for me it's the opposite -all my health woes began in earnest only after we filed -had we waited 4-5 months later a lot of our medical bills could have been included in the BK. I realize for most people filing relieved stress ,for me it has been an unending road to hell and of course no one can condemn me for not enjoying this ride to purgatory. As my long-dead great -grandfather used to say ,"I wonder what to marrow will bring forth. "


          • #6
            You can get rid of the lease, but that means you don't own the property (never owned the property). I guess you did one of those lease programs where you can get a "new" phone every year or two. I would pay fair market value rather than $25/month. I didn't really read much into it when you wrote "lease" because I assumed it was an installment plan; not a lease plan.
            Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
            Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
            Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

            I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.


            • #7
              Thanks, justbroke !
              I'm glad you agree this payout is the best solution. You see when we got in this lease around Christmas 2015, we had no idea my mother would die 4 months later, the house we hated so much and by that time had already spent about $70000 fixing up, would be sold at a loss in July 2016 and we would buy another much nicer home for the same price for which we managed to sell the investor home from hell and be forced to file for bk 13 when we could no longer pay the cc bills each month. This kind of nightmarish outcome doesn't often happen to people who always before could pay their bills in full on time. I do not expect a great new year but just more of the same. We'll see how thing go.


              • #8
                Thank you all for this wonderful info. I just received my BK 7 discharge paperwork. We included Sprint in our bankruptcy. So what do I need to do now?

                my wife's phone is a lease and mine is an installment plan.

                should I call their BK department?

                thank you in advance.


                • #9
                  I wish I could advise you, but justbroke is the one you need to get answers from. You are very lucky to be in a 7 and not a 13 - four more years is a long time, believe me!


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