early termination telecom contracts switzerland

A Guide to Terminating Swiss Telecom Contracts Early

September 13, 2023 - Ralf Beyeler

Do you want to terminate your Swiss mobile plan, home Internet plan, or TV plan before the contract expires? Find out what to pay attention to and whether you have the right to an early termination in this moneyland.ch telecom guide.

Many telecom customers want to quit their mobile, Internet, or TV plan ahead of schedule. This may be because they are not happy with the service, or because their situation and needs have changed. A move can also lead to you wanting to change telecom plans – if connectivity in your new location is poor, or if you leave Switzerland, for example. In this guide, moneyland.ch answers the most important questions about terminating Swiss telecom plans early.

What is an early termination?

Many telecom contracts have a required notice period. If you want to quit your contract, you have to give notice before that deadline. Additionally, many contracts have a minimum contract term. In a standard contract termination, you give notice before the deadline, and your contract is terminated when its specified contract term ends. In an early termination, you quit the contract either within giving the required notice or you quit before the minimum contract term expires. Depending on your situation and the service provider, an early termination can be very expensive.

How can I find my Swiss telecom contract’s minimum term and required notice period?

The deciding factor is which conditions you agreed on with your telecom service provider when the contract was created. These are outlined in your contract’s terms and conditions. Note that some Swiss telecom companies use contract extensions. Normally, a contract extension results in a new minimum contract term beginning. If you do not want to read through your contract’s fine print, you can simply ask your telecom provider about the minimum term and notice period.

The guide to common notice periods and minimum contract terms for Swiss mobile plans can give you a good idea of the conditions used by many Swiss telecom companies.

Can I terminate a mobile plan, a home Internet plan, or a TV plan whenever I choose?

As the customer, you have the right to terminate a telecom contract whenever you want to. But telecom companies usually charge you penalty fees when you do not stick to the contractual agreement. These penalty fees can be as high as 4800 francs, depending on the situation and telecom service provider.

Can a telecom company terminate a contract whenever it wants?

In their contract terms and conditions, Swiss telecom companies give themselves the right to terminate a contract. The terms and conditions also specify the situations in which the telecom company can terminate a contract early.

  • All of the analyzed Swiss telecom service providers are free to terminate a contract early in the case of abuse. Misuse includes sending spam messages, hacking, phishing, and the harassment of third parties. Some telecom providers also include the downloading of videos from questionable sources in this list, even though it is not illegal in Switzerland. Some even forbid you to give your phone to a third party, even if the person is a friend or partner. According to Sunrise, the prohibition on sharing your phone only applies to cases in which the requirement to identify a phone number’s user could be compromised.
  • Many Swiss telecom companies also include clauses that allow them to terminate a contract in the case of abnormally high use of their services. These fair use clauses are often written somewhat vaguely. For example, they may state that the telecom company can terminate the contract immediately and without compensation if your use of the services deviates substantially from standard use, or that the company can take measures if you exceed normally use. But Sunrise says that it rarely applies its fair use clause.
  • A telecom company can terminate your contract ahead of schedule if you fail to pay your phone bills. In practice, this only happens if you have several outstanding, unpaid bills, and have not disputed the amount you were billed for.

Normally, telecom service providers still charge you the penalty fees listed below even when the contract is terminated early by them.

Which fees apply when I terminate my contract prematurely?

The penalty fees for early contract terminations vary between Swiss telecom service providers. Some companies charge lower penalties, or none at all, if certain criteria are met (these are listed further below).

  • All outstanding fees for the unused portion of the contract term: A practice that is widespread among Swiss telecom companies is to continue charging you the basic, ongoing fees for your plan until the minimum contract term expires. Depending on which plan you have, the outstanding amount can easily exceed 1000 francs, and can be as high as 4000 francs in extreme cases. If the minimum contract term has already expired, then you only have to pay the outstanding fees up until the notice period expires. Regardless of whether you are terminating ahead of the minimum contract term or just the notice period, telecom companies will require you to pay the full outstanding amount in both cases. If you also have a device subscription or installment plan for your phone, you have to pay the full outstanding amount owed for that as well. These rules are used by Swisscom, Sunrise, Aldi Suisse Mobile, Coop Mobile, Lebara, M-Budget Mobile, Yallo, Quickline and Wingo. Sunrise and Aldi Suisse Mobile also charge an additional administrative fee of 100 francs on top.
  • Flat penalty fees: Salt and Lidl Connect specify the penalty fee for an early termination in your contract. If your mobile plan is only for the SIM, without a phone or other device, then the penalty fee is normally 199.95 francs. Sunrise leaves room for possible flat penalty fees in its terms and conditions. Sunrise says that it has not yet included such a fee in any of its contracts, but that such a fee may be included in special promotional offers in the future. The exact terms and conditions are published along with each offer.

When are penalty fees waived?

In many cases, customers want to terminate a contract early because their situation has changed. The overview below shows you which fees apply to early terminations in various cases. Some telecom companies waive the penalty fees entirely under certain circumstances.

  • Moving within Switzerland: If certain conditions are met, Sunrise and Swisscom let you terminate your contracts early without penalty fees if the inside (and outside) of your new home is completely uncovered by their mobile network. If, on the other hand, you terminate your contract just because the mobile reception in your new home is poorer or the Internet connection is slower, you will normally still be charged the penalty fees. Sunrise told moneyland.ch that the risk of poorer connectivity due to a move is borne by the customer. Swisscom and Quickline both told moneyland.ch that they aim to work with their customers to find solutions together. Swisscom says that in many cases, it waves the early termination penalty fees for customers in this situation. Because Salt’s home Internet plan can only be used in around 40 percent of Swiss homes, Salt customers often do not have the option of continuing to use their plan after a move. But in spite of this fact, Salt still charges a penalty fee of up to 99.95 francs for early terminations.
  • New workplace: If you have poor or no connectivity in a new workplace, you will often have to just bite the bullet. Only Sunrise offers the possibility of terminating your contract without penalty fees in that case. But even with Sunrise, penalties are only waived if there is no reception from the Sunrise network at all. Tip: Using Wi-Fi calling in your workplace can provide an alternative, if your mobile provider has this option, and your employer allows you to make calls over their wireless network.
  • Leaving Switzerland: The only Swiss telecom service provider included in the analysis that never charges a penalty fee when you terminate your contract early due to leaving Switzerland is Quickline. Swisscom, Coop Mobile, M-Budget Mobile and Wingo only charge penalty fees in this case if you benefited from a discount in the past six months. If you do not have a discounted plan, Swisscom, Coop Mobile, M-Budget Mobile and Wingo let you terminate your contract early without any penalties if you prove that you are moving abroad. Other service providers like Sunrise, Salt, Aldi Suisse Mobile, Lebara, Lidl Connect and Yallo charge penalty fees for early terminations even if you quit due to leaving Switzerland.
  • Death: All Swiss telecom companies take a customer-friendly approach in the case of death, allowing relatives in this difficult situation to terminate the deceased’s contracts immediately without paying penalty fees. This applies to Swisscom, Sunrise, Salt, Aldi Suisse Mobile, Coop Mobile, Lebara, Lidl Connect, M-Budget Mobile, Yallo, Quickline and Wingo.


Do I have the right to quit my contract without penalties if the telecom company raises its prices?

Swiss contractual law does not include any general right to terminate contracts due to price increases.

With the exception of Quickline, all of the analyzed Swiss telecom companies include clauses in their terms and conditions that allow them to raise their prices once a year to match changes in the consumer price index. The fine print also states that these price increases do entitle customers to terminate their contract early without penalty fees.

You also normally cannot quit your contract early without penalty fees when the price goes up due to changes in copyright fees or taxes (value-added tax, for example).

Other price increases may entitle you quit your contract early, if certain criteria are met. The primary criterion is that the price increase has to actually impact the price you pay. Additionally, some telecom companies specify that the price increases must be substantial. Important: Make sure to immediately let your telecom provider know that you are not in agreement with a price change. You only have a small window of time in which you can dispute a price increase.

The contract terms and conditions used by some telecom companies give them the right to make you a counter-offer and to waive price increases on an individual basis when you submit a termination. In they do this, you will not be able to terminate your contract early without paying penalty fees. Customers of Sunrise and its subsidiaries Aldi Suisse Mobile, Lebara, and Yallo, should be aware that Sunrise can make a counter-offer up to 14 days after you give notice to terminate your plan. Because of that, you should wait until the 14-day period expires before getting into a new mobile contract with a different telecom company.

Do I have the right to terminate without penalties if the telecom company makes negative changes to my plan?

Price increases are not the only thing that can make a telecom plan less attractive. It is also possible for telecom companies to reduce the services included. For example, the amount of data or the number of call minutes included in a mobile plan may be lowered. A telecom company may also remove a country from the list used for your international call minute allowances. The TV recording capacity of your TV plan may also be reduced.

Swiss telecom companies allow you to terminate your contract early without penalties when a negative change is made to your mobile plan or home Internet. The details are laid out in the terms and conditions. Swisscom lets you quit your contract without penalties when it makes a considerable change to the services you receive – with considerable being the key word. If the change is not considerable, Swisscom can refuse an early termination without penalty fees.

Other service providers make allowances for penalty-free early contract terminations by customers at the time that a substantial change is made, with substantial being the key word. Many service providers give themselves the option of making you a counteroffer when you terminate your contract due to a negative change. When the telecom company makes you a counteroffer, you lose your right to terminate your contract without penalties. If you use Sunrise, Aldi Suisse Mobile, Lebara, or Yallo, be aware that your telecom service provider can make you a counteroffer up to 14 days after you give notice.

Which fees apply if I transfer my phone number to a different plan before my old contract’s required notice period expires?

Many of the forms for porting phone numbers let you request to have your number ported when the contract term ends. If you enter a date that is earlier than your contract and/or notice period’s expiry date, then you will be charged a penalty fee for premature termination. But if the number is ported in keeping with the required contract term and notice period, then the costs will normally equal your old plan’s basic flat fees for a maximum of two months – roughly 40 to 400 francs.

What should I pay attention to if I am paying for a phone in installments?

Some Swiss telecom service providers give you the option of buying a phone or other device in installments. The installment plan for your device is typically linked to your mobile telecom contract.

If the mobile plan is terminated, then the installment plan for your device is automatically terminated as well. You then have to pay the total outstanding installment payments for your device at once, in full. This applies even if you are not charged penalty fees for the early termination of your mobile plan.

What can I do if the service provider insists on charging high fees for an early contract termination?

Depending on your situation, you may end up being charged very high fees to terminate your contract ahead of schedule. These fees can easily add up to several hundred francs and in extreme cases can even exceed 4000 francs, depending on your situation and mobile plan.

Many telecom customers are not aware that when they signed up for their mobile plan, they gave their consent to being charged these penalty fees for early contract terminations.

You can try to negotiate lower fees with your telecom service provider. It is possible that the telecom company may meet you halfway, especially if the penalties add up to several hundred francs or more. Of course, the telecom company will take the overall situation into account, including any discounts you were getting, any special promotional benefits included in your plan, and the size of the fee.

If the telecom company is not willing to negotiate, or is not accommodating enough, then contacting the Ombudscom telecom arbitration office is recommended. Some consumers have been able to get the company to waive their penalty fees by using the argument that they were not properly informed about penalty fee when they signed up, and that the high penalty fee is completely disproportionate and surprising.

If arbitration is not successful, and both customers and service providers fail to respond to your demands, then the case will have to go to a court. It is beneficial to get legal consultation before you open a court case.

How can I avoid paying penalty fees for early terminations?

Before you even sign up for a telecom plan, you should make sure that the service provider has customer-friendly contract terms.

You should also make sure that the contract does not have a minimum contract term. Sticking to plans without minimum terms lets you avoid having to terminate your contract early, along with the penalty fees that come with that.

More on this topic:
Compare mobile plans now
Compare home Internet plans now
A guide to terminating mobile plans in Switzerland
Tips for changing mobile plans

Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at moneyland.ch and also covers other areas of personal finance.
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