We talk a lot about early-termination fees, or ETFs, here at CNET because we have a love/hate relationship with signing a two-year service agreement (or three years if you're in countries like Canada). On the one hand, who doesn't love being able to own a $500 or $600 smartphone for $200, $50, or even a penny? You just can't swing that in the unlocked phone market.
On the other hand, few people enjoy being tied to a carrier, and to their carrier's phone selection, over the course of two years or longer. What if you change your mind about the service quality, what if your dream phone just came out on another carrier -- what if? Once you sign your name on the dotted line, there's little you can do to avoid an up-to-$350 fee to jump ship.… Read more