Terminate a Contract With Three UK (the easy way)

Something I see posted quite a bit on a variety of discussion forums I frequent is people asking how they can terminate their contract with three, particularly when their customer services occasionally don’t take the news that you want to leave well and will employ every (dirty) trick in the book to try and keep you. Luckily there is a way to terminate relatively painlessly without the need to talk to anyone on the phone. My other half used this method to terminate her contract with three in January 2013 and did so relatively painlessly

Whilst this advice was originally designed for customers of 3, there is no reason why the templates and procedure cannot be adapted to work for customers of O2, Orange, T-Mobile, EE, Vodafone, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Media, Virgin Mobile or indeed any other UK mobile phone network! Indeed I have terminated on O2 previously using the same letter and with far fewer attempts to call me still!

Step 1 – Check you are out of contract

Whilst it is possible to terminate in contract, this will involve the payment of an early termination fee which unfortunately may involve talking to someone

Step 2 – Ignore any information on terminating on their website

Three’s official line on terminating your contract is to simply(!) give them a call on 333. DO NOT DO THIS if you value your blood pressure. The following YouTube video should demonstrate why

Step 3 – Get your word processor out

The key to a painless termination is to do it in writing. The following is the letter that my other half sent to three which you are welcome to use as a template. The section on not needing a PAC code may need amending if you wish to keep your number but besides that you should be good to go once you insert your own details in the square brackets






Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to give the required 30 days notice to terminate my contract in respect of the above referenced account/mobile number.

Please note that this letter has been sent by recorded delivery and therefore notice will be deemed to have been served from the date the letter has been confirmed signed for by Royal Mail. I do not wish to retain my mobile number and do not require a PAC code.

Please confirm IN WRITING that you have actioned my termination request and the date on which my service with you will terminate. I would also ask that you dispense with any retention activity. My decision regarding this termination is final and any attempt to call me to retain me will serve as an annoyance which may reduce the likelihood that I will return to three in the future

I look forward to receiving written confirmation of the ending of my contract

Yours Sincerely


Step 4 – Place letter in an envelope

Put the letter in an envelope and send it to the following address

Three Customer Services
Hutchison 3G UK Ltd
PO Box 333
G2 9AG

Step 5 – Take letter to a post office

You need to send the letter by either 1st or 2nd class recorded delivery (at a cost of £1.55 or £1.45 respectively at the time of writing this blog post). It is imperative you send the letter recorded delivery otherwise it could get “lost in the post”. Keep your receipt to track the letter and keep an eye on the tracking so you can see when the letter was signed for. Make a note of the date the letter was signed for and work out 30 days from that date. This is the date your contract should be terminating on so remember it to compare with any correspondence you get from three.

Step 6 – Ignore your phone

Despite the letter stating that you would consider any retentions activity an annoyance and that they should communicate with you in writing, three customer services grasp of the English language isn’t too great. They will still call. Let voice mail deal with them. As a general rule of thumb if the number they are calling from contains a lot of 3’s then it is three. Also google any numbers calling you that you do not recognise and ignore calls from withheld numbers. If three leave a message asking you to call them to discuss your letter ignore them. Your letter has made it quite clear that there is nothing to discuss and as you have proof of when the letter was signed for, the clock is ticking

Step 7 – Wait

Eventually after a few days of receiving the cold shoulder, three will eventually do what it is you asked of them in your letter and will terminate the contract. You will receive a SMS confirming this though the SMS may say that your contract will terminate in 30 days. Ignore this for the time being. Soon after a letter will arrive and this should (with any luck) confirm your termination with notice being given from the date your letter was signed for. If for any reason the date is wrong then you may have to get in touch with three. I’d recommend either writing again or on facebook (search for three uk ) or twitter (@threeuksupport). After going through all this the last thing you want to do is talk to them on the phone.

Step 8 – Wait (again)

You may still receive the odd call from three. Continue to give them the voicemail treatment. Eventually your termination day will arrive and all being well your phone will terminate. If for some reason it doesn’t you may have to contact them. Again social networking is probably the way to go with contacting them as talking to them can be bad for your health

Hope people find this guide useful

146 thoughts on “Terminate a Contract With Three UK (the easy way)”

  1. Thank you for that. I have taken your advice and sent the appropriate letter. It was very well expressed and very gratefully received!
    Lorna Johnstone

    1. You could, although I hope you got a screen print or other form of transcript of the chat. Live chat’s are notorious for false promises and not doing what they say they will

      Worth mentioning that Three didn’t have a live chat service at the time this post was written. Plus my method guarantees you won’t have to deal with any pushy retentions people. Or people that say they have cancelled your account when actually they haven’t

          1. Hi, I took an early upgrade in January to an iPhone 6 after having an xperia z for 1 year with 3, however I moved house and for the past few months I haven’t had any signal whatsoever, I have had to rely on wifi but even at that, because of where I live the wifi signal is also quite bad, therefore I am desperate to cancel my contract because I am paying £49 a month for a phone I actually can’t even use. I was wondering if there is way to get out of the contract because of this? I have written to 3 and they will have tried to call me but won’t be able to as I have no service so I guess that is solid evidence to support my complaint and reason for wanting to leave. I’m worried that because I am now 5 months into my contract there is no way out of this and I will ultimately have to suffer and pay £49 a month for a service I am not recieving… Please can someone offer any advice to me, I am desperate now.

            1. 3 are unlikely (although it is possible) to let you cancel because of this. The only instance they would normally let you cancel over signal is if they’d turned off a mast or changed something with the network to make your signal unusable.

              More than likely they will suggest downloading the 3 in touch app which allows calls to be routed over wifi in low signal areas or they will provide a home signal box which connects to your broadband router and provides a 3 mobile signal for your home.

              Either of these solutions, whilst not perfect, should improve things at least while you see your contract out. I’ve also heard of some instances of three offering discounts off the line rental for people with signal issues

              1. Hi Dave i just got a contact with Three for £15 a month and looked at my first bill and they say I owe £60 already first bill. Can I brake my contract ?

                1. Quickly request a cap put on, so you can’t get charged for going over your inclusive minutes… Bet thas wat the cheeky fukas did lol 🙂

          2. do you need to pay the outstanding fee? I am only 15 and pay for my contract with 3 however my phone and sim has been stolen which I went into store to say. however they charged me for a new sim expecting me to pay for a contract I no longer have a phone for, they always charge me over the amount as to which my phone bill is meant to be and I have continued paying for my phone bill as I don’t want my mums bank account being blacklisted.

            1. Hi Kelsey,

              Regrettably you/your mum would have to pay a fee to terminate if you are still in contract. The fee is normally equal to the remaining monthly subscriptions minus a small discount of a few percent.

              I’m assuming your mum doesn’t have insurance she could claim on to replace the handset. In that case your only real options are to either

              1. Pay the fee to terminate all in one go. If a long time is left to run on your contract this may be expensive for you

              2. Continue paying monthly until the end of the contract and then terminate. This would spread the payments out but as you say you are paying for a phone and service you don’t currently have

              3. Source a 2nd hand phone and use your sim with that. You could possibly pick up a cheap 2nd hand phone from a market stall, an independent phone shop, eBay or a store like CEX. This would need to be a 3G or 4G phone to be able to be used on 3’s network as 2G phones won’t work. Most phones these days are at least 3G. You’d also need to make sure it was unlocked or locked to 3

              It’s good that you’ve continued paying even though you don’t have the phone. As you say stopping paying would cause problems for your mum. Her bank account wouldn’t be blacklisted as such but 3 would register a default on her credit file. This would cause problems in the future for her obtaining things like phone contracts, bank accounts and credit cards and is definitely something you want to avoid.

              Hope the above helps

    2. If you read carefully fella, it’s a trick they play and won’t be as easy you think it is via online. I used to be a three customer not anymore 😛

    3. I just tried to cancel via web chat (03/08/2016) only to be informed that they do not accept cancellations , you must ring them.

      1. Yeah they seem to be wanting people to ring them. Obviously that’s so they can be subjected to the high pressure sales techniques the retentions department love to go through. Should still be able to cancel in writing as per this guide especially with proof of delivery

        1. This might be a silly question but can’t I just cancel my direct debit? (I am out of contract now)

          1. Not a silly question but this isn’t a good idea. 3 will still generate bills which will be owing and when they can’t take the money they will default you and pass it on to a debt collection agency. You need to give notice which this guide details a way of doing so without needing to talk to 3

            1. Hello! unfortunately I have to leave Scotland, but I made a contract with 3 pre year. I can cancel without paying taxes?

  2. Hi, just wondering about the response time they (Three) took to terminate your line. 1 month? 1 week?

    1. It took between 1 and 2 weeks to get a letter confirming cancellation but they effected the notice period from the day the letter was signed for

  3. Hi Dave. Have you ever experienced where Three refuse to sign for your letter? I posted a letter off on Wednesday last week, Royal Mail signed for, but there is no trace of it being delivered yet. Any help would be greatly appreciated as Three really are trying to dodge my attempts to cancel. Thanks

  4. Thanks. I’ll give it a go. Do I have to wait for the exact date or otherwise be charged. I believe my contract ends in early February but with festive season and all that I thought I make a headway. Cheers.

    1. You can terminate now but will be charged until the end of your contract still. It’s usually best to time the letter to arrive 30 days before the contract runs out

  5. Hi, was just double checking if that address you put is still the one you write to? Sending a letter today and they appear to have several different addresses so in abit anxious. Thanks!

  6. Hi Dave, my contact runs out in march. If I give them my notice now(via webchat), will they cancel at the end of January or in a week( or earlier).


    1. You have to give 30 days notice so your cancellation will take effect from 30 days from when you give it to them. You’ll pay an early termination fee to cover until the end of your contract.

      Although web chat has become a new method of terminating since I wrote this post, I would strongly suggest that you take a screen print of the chat window so you have proof notice was given. Live chats have a reputation for not actually doing what they say, an issue for most providers and aren’t often recommended for anything but basic queries, partially because again they are outsourced to other countries and so there is a language barrier

  7. Thankyou! I have just received a letter from them asking me to call them so they can talk about why I want to leave.

    Then later in the letter it says they will close my account later this month in line with the 30 days notice and they will keep my direct debit active until they’ve collected the last payment.

    I assume thats is it then as I will not be ringing them to discuss why I’ve left.

    Thanks again! 🙂

    1. Yeah that should be it. I’ve had the same letter back off them. They’d like you to call because that allows them to try and badger you in to staying but there’s no need. Your account will terminate on the day the letter says.

      You’ll get a final bill in the post a few weeks later and then another bill a month after that either indicating the balance is zero or there’s a small credit balance which alas you will have to call to get them to credit but I’ve found it to be relatively painless and there’s been no attempt to discuss why I left or get me to come back when I’ve done it

  8. So do I have to wait until my contract fulfilled before giving 30 days notice or can I do it within the last 30 days ?

    1. You are best trying to time your notice so it reaches them 30 days before your contract is due to end. This way your notice period is the last 30 days of the contract and you won’t have to pay any extra days beyond your contract, or an early termination fee if you terminate too early

  9. Cheers for this info I’ve had hell with 3 I’ve made phone calls sent emails and got no where but after sending this in a letter within 5 days I have in writing it’s being cancelled (including the final date) so again thank you for the help.

  10. What if your only a few months into a 2 year contract? Can you say you’ve been made redundant or something along those lines? I’d pay a one off fee but don’t want to pay the full amount of contract left!

    1. The guidance here is for if you are at the end of your contract and don’t want the headache of talking to retentions. If you have time to run on your contract your options are to see it out or terminate but they will charge a fee equal to (or just slightly less than) the monthly fee multiplied by the number of months left to run.

      They won’t consider redundancy as a valid reason to terminate. You could stop paying if you can no longer afford but this will result in a default on your credit file and debt collectors will send you threatograms every few weeks or so

  11. Hi, My contract ends on 2nd March 2015 and I want to do this letter thing. I have a few days left until the 30-day notice period so would it be best now if I sent the letter off? Or shall I send the letter when I have 30 days left?

    1. By my reckoning if you give notice tomorrow, it will be 30 days before your contract ends so send the letter ASAP. You don’t have to wait for your contract to run out before giving notice, you can time your notice period so that the notice expires on the last day of the contract. Which means no termination fees and also no paying any longer for service than you have to

  12. Dave, I want to cancel my son’s “pay monthly contract” and will use your template.
    The space for the account number ?…….Is this my bank account (direct debit) or is it the account number with 3, if it’s the latter then I don’t have it. Therefore would the mobile number on its own be sufficient ???

  13. Hi Dave, I’m gonna do exactly the same in 2 months time. I moved to my new house recently and there’s no Three coverage on this part of the town. Their customer service staff is the most rude I’ve ever come across. Thanks for posting this hassle free contract termination procedure which will surely save me the torment of having to speak to their CS staff again

  14. Hi Dave

    Sent in my letter using your template. I got a letter back from them saying I need to give them 30 days notice?? The letter was posted 27 Feb 2015 and sent first class recorded delivery. According to RoyalMail THREE UK recieved the letter 2 March 2015. My contract ends 31 March 2015.

    Any thoughts?

    1. That does seem weird. Personally I’d write to them again enclosing a copy of the original letter with another letter pointing out that you gave 30 days notice which was signed for on 2nd March and as such as per that notice your contract will be considered to be terminated as from 1st April 2015. Also say that as they have not actioned your original notice that they are to consider this a formal complaint in line with their complaints procedure and that if they don’t action your cancellation as per your original request you will refer the matter to the communications ombudsman.

      Send it recorded again so you have proof of receipt. I’m pretty confident this will sort things out but if not it should be an open and shut case if you do have to go to the ombudsman although I’m confident you won’t!

      1. Got a new letter saying the address I listed on my letter isn’t the same as the address they have on file (I’ve recently moved) and that for data protection reasons they cannot action my request.

        1. You may have to phone then. Or phone to change your address which won’t make you have to deal with retentions and then send the letter again once your address is changed with them

  15. Hi. Wondering if anyone could help. Trying to find info on where i stand if i want to cancel my contract within 7days of starting it. I recieved it 3 days ago and the signal is so poor that i have to go outside to make and recieve calls for work purposes which means i have to leave my 2 young children unsupervised. Will 3 allow me to cancel the contract due to signal issues? Thanks.

    1. Your return rights will vary depending on how you bought the phone. If it was in a 3 store you may have a harder fight to return it as the distance selling regulations won’t apply. If it was online or over the phone you have 14 days to return your phone as long as it is in an as new condition still.

      3’s return policy is at http://www.three.co.uk/Support/Device_Support/Returns

      You can find more info on the distance selling regulations or as they are now known the consumer contract regulations at http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-contracts-regulations

      1. Hi thanks for messaging back. The contract was took out over the phone. Ive used the phone to make calls, texts etc when i can. The phone itself is in the same condition to when i got it out of the box. Dreading the call to them in the morning as i know it wont be as easy as i hoped. Thanks again.

        1. Yeah it’s not going to be easy but if you are persistent they should eventually accept the return. You’ve 14 days to return under the consumer contract regulations and threes return policy seems to be consistent with them. Be ready for them to suggest you use the Three InTouch app to call over wifi in poor signal areas or they may offer you a signal booster box for your home which connects to your broadband router and provides a signal.

          If you are persistent though they should accept the return and arrange for you to send it back to them. You will have to pay for service up until the return is processed and the account is cancelled but that should only be a few quid anyway

          1. Aw brilliant, thanks for your help! I shall definately be mentioning that i have to leave the children unattended, this morning that meant my son covering himself and the house with orange food colouring. The signal issue is more stress than its worth, im using my landline when im home which is also incurring more cost as i am calling mobiles. Thanks again, feeling a bit more positive. Wish me luck! 🙂

            1. Yeah good luck. Going off my previous calls to terminate in the past you may need it lol. It’s one reason I try and terminate in writing where possible. I’ve been told several lies in the past when terminating with 3 over the phone. The last one was a few months ago when I mentioned I’d signed up to EE through a cashback site giving me £70 cashback on a 12 month sim only. 3 tried to claim that my contract wouldn’t be with EE but a third party because I’d gone through the cashback site. Complete and utter baloney!

              If signals an issue at home it might be an idea to pick up a few pay as you go sims for the other networks to try them out before deciding on a replacement network once your return is sorted. Most networks have free sims available on their websites. Would save you going through this again if you pick another network with bad signal at home

              1. Yeah i definately wont take none of their rubbish, ill write a bit down from that article to refer to so they think i know what im talking about which will hopefully make it an easier process. I was on giffgaff pay as you go, no problems. I only went on contract for the phone as i smashed my s4 screen after paying out 50pounds a few days before to repair the usb port and power button. Couldnt spend another 100 plus pounds on it. I think im just going to buy a second hand s4, stick with my giffgaff pay as you go and just purchase the s5 when they come down a bit. Be a hell of alot cheaper for me in the long run! Thanks again for your help and advice, really appreciate it.

                1. No problem. Hope it gets sorted tomorrow.

                  Giffgaff use the O2 network so if you ever considered a contract again in the future and giffgaffs signal is ok for you, you should be fine with O2. Or Tesco Mobile who also use the O2 network.

                  It’s definitely cheaper in the long run to buy the phone outright and go PAYG or sim only than paying contract prices. I’m on sim only on EE and pay £13.19 a month (£7.36 if you include the cashback I got) for unlimited mins/texts and 5GB of data. I’ve a friends and family discount on my account though. Sadly that tariff isn’t generally available unless you know someone who works for EE.

                  1. Thanks, i will be sure to let you know if it goes badly. Fingers crossed they just accept it and its a straight forward process. Yeah ive definately learnt my lesson, shall be sticking with pay as you go from now on. The 3 contract was 38pounds a month not including insurance. I normally just pay 10pounds for a giffgaff goodybag so hopefully i can get this contract cancelled asap before it costs me more than its actually worth.

              2. Dave thanks you for all the ideas i my self work for three retentions & cancellations team- Mumbai i knw you either were a three employee in past who left his job on a bad note who knows in and out of three . Any way But now u hve motivated me more to retain more & more customer .cheers mate

                1. No I’m not a former employee. Just a former customer who has had to deal with being told bare faced lies on multiple occasions when trying to leave. Thankfully I’ve now helped several people leave 3 (or indeed any other network) without even needing to speak to retentions

  16. Hi there, great post ! really helped me send a letter to three customer service. Sent my letter on the 30th March by first class recorded , and online shows it was signed on the 31st. I requested that April will be the last month of my contract to be billed and No reinvention or PAC code is needed.

    Had a call from three this morning but I ignored it, if i continue to ignore it will the contract be eventually cancelled ? or do I have to go to the bank nearer the time for May to be cancelled ?

    Finally will they send me a letter or text to confirm anything ?


    1. My experience has been that they will ring, but if you ignore them for long enough they will eventually do what was asked of them and will backdate the termination to the date the letter was signed for. You may receive a text with the wrong date but a letter with the correct one should follow

      1. Update- I spoke three web chat and they said they have not recieved a letter, I think it is lies because it was signed on 31st and they tried to contact me by phone a few days after. What shall I do ?Now trying to cancel via webchat but seem to be taking a while,hopefully I can cancel here on live chat

          1. You probably could have just held out and eventually they would have done what was asked in the letter. They’ll call and say they need to speak to you but they don’t as the letter has made it clear what is expected of them. It’s all just to try and get you to talk to retentions so they can try and talk you into staying. My experience has been they will call for a few days and then about a week or so later they will finally do what you asked of them

            Live chat is a new method that wasn’t available when the post was made to this blog. It still involves talking with someone albeit over chat and I’d strongly recommend (and hope you did) getting a screen print or some other copy of the chat transcript to prove the chat took place just in case they try to claim otherwise.

    1. The DOB of thing is definitely new. I’ll amend the template though. Last thing we want is them claiming they can’t action the request due to it not having a DOB on it

  17. Dave, at the end of any contracts i have, i normally cancel any direct debits connected as well as cancellation of product, i trust this in order along with signed letter i will send in my case contract ends 4 / 6 / 15 so i will send letter around the 2nd of May2015

    1. I’d leave it to the 4th and send to arrive on the 5th. 30 days from this will take you to your contract end date. I’d also leave any direct debits in place until your final bill has been paid. 3 normally send a second final bill after this indicating there is nothing to pay. When you receive this by all means cancel the DD.

      Leaving the DD in place will help if you end up with a credit balance after your final bill which is possible. 3 will normally return this to the bank account the DD is held on. You normally have to call to request this but I’ve done it a few times and they’ve been friendly enough and done it with out any issues. I half expected them to beg me back but this wasn’t the case 😀

  18. Hi Dave,

    I know this may seem like a silly question but do we need to send the letter exactly 30 days before the contract ends (so it will arrive 28 or 29 days before the contract ends), or time the letter to arrive at three 30 days before the contract ends (so send it 31-32 days before)?

    Thanks for your time!

    1. I’d suggest sending it 31 days before (or earlier if this falls on the weekend). You want to try and time the letter to arrive so that 30 days from the day they receive the letter is the day your contract ends on

  19. Hi Dave!

    My situation is different. I purchased an iPhone 6 with 2 years contract in November 2014th. But things are changed and I have to move from UK to Italy. Do you happen to know if it’s possible to move accounts from UK to Italy considering that Three covers both countries? Or there is no chance to do so and I will have to cancel the contract and pay off all the remaining months?

    Many thanks!


    1. You could ask but I do think it is unlikely. Italy is covered by their feel at home service so you could use your device for a short time while in italy but eventually three would block this if the device was used exclusively there as the feel at home service is designed for short trips or holidays only.

      You would have to pay a termination charge to cancel and given the length of time you have to run this is likely to be quite large. You could offset some of this by selling your handset to put towards the termination fee but there would probably still be some money to put to yourself.

  20. Yes. I had terrible signal with Three in my house and their solution was an app to make calls and text on wi-fi. My signal was there but crap so not quite as bad as your situation. Maybe it would have been OK if my BT broadband at the time had not been slower than my mobile broadband. I simply got an old phone and put a PAYG Vodafone SIM in it and when I was at home I transferred the calls to the Vodafone. I got nice clear incoming phonecalls on the old phone and my texts would still appear on my 3 phone. If I wanted to use the internet or make an out bound call I would have to go up to one corner of the bedroom. Still it worked till I released myself from the contract. It was a pity really because there were some things I did like about 3. Might be worth seeing if you can switch to a cheaper package for teh remainder of teh contract.

  21. Dear Dave,
    I am 2 months into my 3 contract and a family emergency has come up so I need to leave the country and no longer require 3 services. I tried speaking to customer service but they are useless and a manager was supposed to call me back. They are charging me a month fee, 30 days which I leave in 2 weeks, and the rest of the year as a cancellation fee which I am not paying. Although it says it in writing I specifically asked the worker at the store about cancellation fee and he lied. I am beyond annoyed at them because this isnt my first issue. Either way I am refusing to pay 10 months worth of contract for a cancellation fee as I was lied to and feel extorted. Any thoughts. I am writing your template letter now. Anything I should mention?

    1. Sorry for the belated reply. You can certainly ask 3 to release you but anything they do would be down to goodwill unless you have some form of proof the contract was missold and proof of your conversation with the person in the store. Depending on the nature of your family emergency they may exercise goodwill but are under no obligation to do so. Also if they do release you early its possible they may make the return of the handset a condition of this.

      Failing this you could of course sell the handset to raise funds which would help towards any early termination charge

  22. Hello Dave,

    As you might imagine, I’m going through the nightmare of trying to get rid of them (three), and would like to know if I could get the PAC number without having to call them?

  23. Hi, I had my contract with three for two years and two months ago I upgraded for new phone and another two years. But in couple of months I moving to another country and I can’t move my contract to that country. I just phoned them and asked how much I have to pay to cancel this contract and they said is £865 . And it’s a lot of money for me. Any idea how I can get rid of that contract? Or should I switch to another network? And get cheeper price plan and cancel later ? I just can’t pay this money and I moving to another country in couple of months time. Thank you

    1. Unfortunately moving away isn’t something which would make three release you from the contract. You could try selling the handset which would offset some of the termination cost depending on the handset

  24. hi Dave, my contract runs out in October. ive filled out the template letter and i am ready to send it off in September. Just wanted to say thanks for the info! thanks.Lynda.x

  25. Filled out the template and sent recorded delivery. Accepted. Ignored the calls. 30 days later, nothing. No confirmation letter no disconnection. Used the web chat, took 20 minutes before they acknowledged they had received the letter, but stated the address did not match my account. The operator then contradicted himself and said there was no address listed on the letter.Grrr! Bit the bullet as the conversation was going round in circles and accepted a cancellation date 30 days from today

    1. If you wanted to argue the toss with them you could raise a formal complaint with 3 using one of the methods at http://www.three.co.uk/Support/Contact_Us/Complaints_code pointing out they signed for your cancellation letter on xx/xx/xx date however they have failed to action this. You should get the cancellation backdated to the date it was supposed to and possibly a further gesture of goodwill if they are feeling nice. If they don’t backdate it you could refer it to their dispute resolution scheme who when given a copy of your cancellation letter and the recorded tracking number should side with you and award you the backdated cancellation.

      Ultimately if you want to pursue it will depend on if it’s worth the bother to you and how much your monthly subscription for the extra month will be

      1. Thanks Dave. Ordinarily i wouldn’t bother pursing, but the appalling level of customer service has really angered me. It almost feels like entrapment or a war of attrition. Anyway, logged a complaint and highlighted i would refer it to the Ombudsman if they were unable to favourably resolve the issue

  26. phoned 3 today to cancel my mobile broadband. to the question why are you leaving us. i replied i have made other arrangements. i kept repeating this to all the questions, the message got through and was given a cancellation date of 21st Nov, so far so good, i will re post if there are any problems, but was all quite painless. and the person i spoke to quite polite. i am out of contract. so may be different if you are still in contract

  27. say I sign up for a 30 day contract with 3, try the service over a 30 day period and am unhappy with it, send them a cancellation letter as per your instructions, the cancellation clock will start ticking from the day they sign for my letter, and I will not be open to any sort of early cancellation fees or other charges afterwards. Does this about sound right ?

    1. Yeah that’s correct. Only cost you will pay is the cost of your plan up until the date it terminates. Plus the recorded delivery letter cost obviously

  28. Thank you so much for this template letter – it’s saved me so much grief and worked like a dream!

  29. Is the three postal address exactly the same for cancelling a mobile broadband contract with them?

    1. Yeah it’s the same address. I recently terminated an iPad account using this method. Oddly I didn’t receive any correspondence after sending my letter but the sim still terminated at the correct time

        1. Yeah web chat does seem to be a good way of doing it now that wasn’t around when I first wrote this post. My only suggestion would be to make sure you get a screen shot or transcript of the chat as evidence just in case the agent doesn’t put it through

  30. This doesn’t seem to be working any more, as we sent two individual letters in separate envelopes following the template exactly as above, one from myself and one for my Stepfather, neither have been actioned, several weeks later. I’ve just sent a written complaint to Three, and will be following it up with the Ombudsman once I have their reply.

    I wouldn’t advise anybody to cancel their Direct Debit until they know for sure that their contact has been cancelled, because if the letter(s) are ignored and they try and collect a further payment, as in our case, then you would risk debt collector involvement and perhaps an adverse credit score entry. If Three continue to take payment after you have cancelled then the best way of getting the payment refunded is through the small claims court – and Money Claim Online is a great way of doing this, which is exactly what we are currently doing.

    1. Hi Chris

      I’m really not sure why your letters wouldn’t have been actioned. I terminated an account at the start of this year and though I received no reply to the letter the termination was still actioned. The letter makes it clear that you have proof of receipt so it really doesn’t make sense that three would still ignore it in both your cases.

      This is of course why I say to send the letters by recorded delivery. That way you have proof the letters were received by them which strengthens your case should you need to go to the ombudsman or the small claims court. I’m assuming you did if you followed this guide so you should have a strong case.

      The best time to cancel the direct debit from my experience is after termination when three send you a paper zero bill indicating there is nothing to pay and the account is clear. After termination there may still be an amount outstanding on the final bill so the direct debit should be in place for this but once this is paid they should send the zero bill. As you say if a direct debit is cancelled before then and a bill is outstanding three will pass it on to debt collection and record a default on your credit file neither of which are good

      Best of luck with your case with the ombudsman or money claim but assuming you sent the letters recorded you shouldn’t need it

      1. Just to keep you guys posted, it seems you can’t cancel anymore through chat or email now. It’s only through calls. Spoke to shop guy and he told me that.

        1. You can still write in as per this guide. They can’t ignore a letter if it’s sent recorded delivery as you have proof it was received. If they do ignore it you have evidence for a complaint to ombudsman or filing with the small claims court

  31. Hi Dave, having an absolute nightmare! Only just noticed my contract ends tomorrow but I haven’t sent any form of letter or rang them to cancel. If I send a letter now, once it’s been received, do you think I’ll only have to pay one extra month? My bill comes through on the 2nd of every month.

    1. Hi Zara,

      Even though your contract is up you will have to give 30 days notice still. You will have to pay for 30 days from the date the letter is received if you terminate by the letter route.

      Alternatively you are free to upgrade now if you wanted to stay with 3. Or you could request a PAC code if you wanted to take your number to a different network however you would still be billed for 30 days notice from whenever you requested the PAC.

      1. I’m going to cancel my contract with them cause they are useless! I’m already looking to get a contract with another provider so will just go down the letter route and hope I get a reply. Thank you so much for your help!

  32. Hi, My mum had a contract with three in 2013, she’s not so good with the technical side of things and has recently found out that she is still paying £20 a month to them when the contract ended last July, just wondering if anybody could give me advice on this as Three told her that she should have phoned and cancelled, but surely they can’t just take money when there is no contract in place.

    1. Once the contract expires it automatically continues on a monthly rolling basis. If it was a handset contract this will often mean paying over the odds for the minutes,texts and data as the cost of the handset is bundled into the price (with a few exceptions like O2 refresh which separates the handset and airtime cost).

      Your mum should have either upgraded to get a new handset or change the contract to a sim only one which would have been cheaper. Sadly there’s not much she can do bar either upgrade now, take out a new handset contract or switch to sim only either with the same or another network. Sorry this isn’t what you want to hear but three’s position is correct and is covered by the terms and conditions your mum agreed to when originally signing up

      1. Hi, Dave
        I just received a letter from three, they cancelled 2 out of 4 my contracts. They denied that I cancelled on time my renewal, they received my letter in the 14 day period, Royal Mail recorded delivery.
        I just spent over 30 min talking to their cancellation team, to learn that the person is not part of the team.
        I’m sending new letter, probably pre Court tomorrow, because they do not want to cancel the renewal.
        Three it’s really a nightmare when it’s coming to an end.

        1. Three’s treatment of customers terminating their contract is nothing short of appalling. I was going to renew with Three but the shop could not offer anything like the deal I could get elsewhere. The sales person was quite glib saying that Three rely on customer inertia. So I went straight out and signed with a new service provider thinking I was no longer in contract. I requested the PAC code back in the Three shop and they put me on the phone where I had to have the painful conversation. I was then offered a deal £8 a month cheaper than the ‘best available’ offer from the sales person sat in front of me. Eventually I got the PAC code and waved Three goodbye. Then today I get the final bill, Early Termination fee £35. I was livid and phoned to complain, got nowhere. It appears if you request the PAC then it expires after 30 days but that is also the termination date. Therefore the only way to avoid having two contracts for the provision of the service overlapping is to request termination and a PAC 30 days before you go and request the service of a new provider. I think three are guilty of some sharp practice here, they are also economical with the truth. When I complained I was told that they informed me there would be an early termination charge which they did not in my case, but did on termination of my wife account. Surely Three are guilty of anti competitive practices and stopping customers freely moving between contracts. My advice now would be to avoid Three as a service provider

  33. Hello Dave,
    I know this might be a dumb question but I was wondering if I would need a PAC code even if I don’t wish to keep the Three number that’s in my contract (I have a 12month mobile wi-fi contract)? Also, my minmimum term ends on the 5th of October and I’ve been told that they don’t accept cancellation in writing. Do you have any advice? Should I try sending a letter via recorded delivery anway and insist on them closing the account? As I am not sure when they’re going to receive the letter and they require 30 days’ notice (they told me to call again on the 5th of September), I’m uncertain when exactly it is that I should post it: Would it be possible to send a letter within the next couple of days but use “5th of September” as the date? Thank you so much in advance. Nicki

    1. Hi Nicki,

      I’ll answer your questions in turn

      1. If you don’t want to keep your number you don’t need a PAC code

      2. Three will say they don’t accept cancellation in writing because they want you to call them and be subjected to a high pressure sales call before processing cancellation. They can’t ignore written notice especially when you have proof it was received by them. Yes you should send a letter still as per this guide

      3. If your contract runs out on 5th October you need to time the letter to arrive 30 days before this date which would be 5th September as you say. You should therefore aim to send your letter on Friday 2nd September so it arrives on 5th September which is the following Monday. You will have to wait until this date before sending the letter as if you send one now chances are they will process it for 30 days from when they receive it and you’ll have an early termination charge to pay

      Hope this helps


      1. Thank you so much for your reply!
        As I am not sure if the letter is going to arrive on the exact day I want it to arrive, do you think it would be okay to sent the letter let’s say a week earlier and just date it “5th of September” to indicate that my letter should come into effect exactly 30 days before my minimum term is due to end?
        Sorry for bothering you with this matter.

  34. Hi Dave,

    My contract will finish in 29 days… Do you know how much they are charging for a few days after the contract finishes and how much is for keeping the number and asking for the PAC code?

    Thank you


  35. Hi Dave,

    Thanks very much for this contribution.

    My son cancelled his contract before the final 30 days as stipulated by 3. He did this at a 3 shop. Unfortunately they did not provide him with proof.
    That’s the lesson.

    He, (my son) lives abroad and, upon arrival for a holiday, in the UK this year, discovered 3 had been taking direct debits at £15 per month for 19 months after he had directed the shop to cancel. There was no usage on the account so it was obvious that it had become dormant.

    He has also visited other 3 and general mobile shops to reiterate the cancellation and was again assured this had been actioned. Not so! Why?

    He stopped his Direct Debit and I have received forwarded letters from his old UK address from a debt recovery company acting for 3 (Moorcroft Debt Recovery) demanding a further £70 outstanding payments.

    We are awaiting a response from 3 as to what they propose to do following our complaint.

    We will litigate with them if they fail to refund his payments.

    My advice to anyone is to use PAYG and be more careful with your usage.

    Basically, the providers are a load of grabbing buggers making a very lucrative living off the backs of all and sundry. Take heed!

    1. Hi Bob,

      Sorry to hear about your Son’s experience. As you say it does highlight precisely why it is imperative to obtain proof of cancellation. This doesn’t just apply to mobile phones but also any other kind of service contract. Verbal termination sadly isn’t always worth the paper it is written on unless you use a PAC code which automatically terminates.

      My only suggestion would be to raise a formal complaint with 3 using the complaints process detailed on their website. If 3 don’t respond satisfactorily then refer the matter to the ombudsman. You should also raise a formal complaint with moorcroft referring that to the financial ombudsman if need be

      Hope this helps

  36. Hi! Thank you very much for this article but I have a problem: I called them to cancel my contract and they said they were going to do it. Just in case I sent a letter and I have the proof that they received it the following day but after almost 2 weeks I still didn’t receive any confirmation letter or my PAC number. I don’t know if I have to wait until the end of my 30 days notice and stop the direct debit or if I have to call or write again to tell them that I am going to leave in two weeks as they received the letter?

    1. Don’t stop the direct debit as if they haven’t processed your termination they will continue to bill you and it could result in defaults on your credit file and/or debt collectors.

      I’m pretty sure on one occasion I’ve sent the letter I heard nothing back but the cancellation was still processed. Just keep an eye on things, if after the 30 days its still active you’ll have to raise a complaint with 3 complaining that they failed to action your cancellation

  37. Thanks, it works fine. I had no contact from Three during the month’s notic so I was a bit worried but I eventually received confirmation letter the day before they shut the line.

  38. I tried the writing to them. No answer after 3 weeks. I put a message on their Facebook page to let them know. They answered thay don’t accept cancellations by writing , only by phone.

    1. The reason they say you can’t cancel in writing is because they want you to phone them and go through the lengthy retentions procedure. If you have proof that a letter was sent and confirmed signed for as per this guide then if they don’t terminate the account they won’t have a leg to stand on should it become necessary to refer to the ombudsman or a court.

      Not that it will become necessary. Recent experiences of people here (and my own) have suggested that 3 now won’t bother writing to confirm the cancellation or if they do they write at the last minute but that the line will still terminate once the 30 days notice period is up

  39. Hi, Dave!
    Thanks for your article and all the comments….everything very helpful. I need an advice. I’m in the middle on my 2 year contract and I needed to move to another country. They said I can’t cancel my contract unless I’m ready to pay for every month until the end of my contract plus cancellation fee (and it’s a lot as I pay £48 a month). When and how the earliest I can end my contract? Do I need to change my address in their system? (I live abroad now and I don’t know how this system works). I want to get out asap as it’s annoying to pay £48 monthly when I can’t use my phone. Could you help me with your recommendations?
    Thanks a lot.

    1. Hi Marina, sadly what 3 have told you is correct you can’t terminate just because you’ve left the country.

      You have three options really. One is to do what you are currently doing paying your £48 each month until the end of the contract. The earliest you could terminate this way is 30 days before the end of the contract as per this guide. You should follow this guide but send the letter by an international signed for service or get someone you know in the UK to send it recorded delivery. If you don’t change your address with 3 and I’ll talk a bit more about that later you will need to include the address they have on file somewhere in the letter otherwise they will claim your details don’t match up and not action the termination.

      Your second option is to terminate now. You will still have to pay the remaining months of your contract but networks will usually offer a discount on doing this all in one go. In 3’s case it is 3% if you are in your first contract with them or 10% if you upgraded. You could also sell your handset to offset some of this cost. Despite what 3 told you, you don’t have to pay the monthly charges plus a termination fee. The monthly charges are the termination fee. The language barrier and/or 3 customer service agents misinforming you are likely the cause of this confusion. If you can afford this option it’s probably the best option for you as it’s cheaper overall than the first and it gets it terminated now.

      Your third and final option is if there is a friend or family member willing to take over the phone and contract still living in the UK you could pass the phone onto them. Whilst this option is the cheapest for you it isn’t without risks as you would still be liable for payments if your friend or family member didn’t pay the contract.

      I’m not sure if 3 will let you change the billing address to a non UK address. If someone you know still has access to the mail at your old address personally I wouldn’t bother. If you were renting it may be an idea to try and change it if not only because it could leave you open to ID theft if mail is still going to an old address. If you can’t change it to your current address you could change it to a friend or family members address instead although this may then link you to that address on your credit files

      Hope this helps

        1. If you cancel it with your bank 3 will continue to bill you and will eventually terminate the account and charge you the early termination fee, register a default with your UK credit file and pass the account onto debt collection.

          How much this would affect you abroad depends on if you are planning to return to the country and how persistent the debt collectors are. It’s unlikely but not impossible that they would pursue a debtor no longer living in the country. A default on your credit file would only cause you issues if you return to the country within the next 6 years and you’d find it difficult to get another phone contract, banking or credit in the UK

  40. Hi Dave,

    I hope you can help!
    My boyfriend recently found out that he’s been paying £35 a month for 6 years after he cancelled a 3 contract (I know!) He’s not used the account for this period. Do you know if there is any chance he can reclaim any of this back?

    1. Hi Erin,

      6 years is a very long time to be paying something without noticing and three will probably say that he really should have noticed before now.

      If he has proof of cancellation in the form of a recording of the call or proof a letter was received as per this guide then he may be able to claim it back but it’s probably still going to be a struggle as he’d probably have to raise a complaint with three which may then have to go to the ombudsman or court and he’d have a hard time explaining to the adjudicator or judge why he didn’t notice the payments leaving his bank before now.

      Without proof of cancellation he’d be entirely dependent on the goodwill of three and I highly doubt they will feel enough goodwill to refund 6 years of payments totalling over £2.5k.

      Probably the thing to do for now is to write to three with the letter in this guide but also mention that he cancelled the account over 6 years ago and state that he wishes to raise a complaint that the original cancellation wasn’t actioned. Make sure to send this letter recorded delivery like this guide and see what three say. They may surprise you (and me). Do not cancel the direct debit as last thing your boyfriend will want is a default and debt collection getting involved and three will continue to bill him even if the direct debit is cancelled. Cancel as per this guide, raise the complaint and see what happens but realistically he may have to chalk this up to experience given the time that has passed

  41. Hi Dave,
    I just signed up with 3 in store for SIM only plan but would like to cancel. When I called 3 they said because it was done in store I would get charged for cancellation. I’ve read their return policy and it only stated if you purchase a device or accessories…SIM would not apply to this right?

  42. Hey, I was wondering if you can shed some light here. My bill date is on the 2nd of every month and my contract expires on the 4th of Feb 2017. I was told i can upgrade on the 4th of Jan (30days early), however that is after my bill date and will still have to pay the 40 pounds.

    I wanted to upgrade however even if I do, i will still have to pay the 40 quid….this makes me want to leave 3…

  43. Hi dave, i have just started my contract with 3 a few days ago but am not happy with the phone and was wondering whether i can swap to a different phone on the same network? Will i be charged for this?

  44. Hi Dave, my contract ends 16th February. What can I do as I’m not going to be sending the letter in the 30 days???

    1. Hi Ang,

      Send the letter now. Your contract should terminate 30 days after they receive it

      Obviously the idea situation is to time that 30 days for the end date of the contract but it doesn’t matter if you don’t. Still need to give 30 days notice though even though there is less time to run on the contract

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