Comcast Refuses To Believe My Father Is Dead

The death of a family member is never easy to handle. And the last thing you need in the wake of a tragic loss is to get caught up in red tape and incompetence over something as minor as canceling your late loved one’s Comcast account. Unfortunately for Consumerist reader Wyatt, that’s exactly what is happening to him and his family right now.

Wyatt’s father passed away in February and of all the hassles involved in closing out the estate, Wyatt says his dealings with Comcast have been the worst of the lost.

Writes Wyatt:

The story starts back in early March, after the funeral and all the immediate issues had been taken care of. My family and I began identifying services that could be cut right away — cable and television being at the top of the list.

I called Comcast, who assured me that the service could be canceled, as soon as I faxed over a death certificate. I sent one over, problem solved. Except… bills kept arriving.

I called again — this time, it’s a mix-up, service will be canceled shortly.

Another bill arrives. I call again, and they insist they need their equipment back before anything can be done.

None of the other representatives mentioned that before, but okay, they need their equipment back. Makes sense. I have relatives visit the house and deliver the boxes to a local retail center (I’m 8 hours away at school, and can’t do it myself.) Predictably, another bill arrives.

No cancellation of service — instead, we’ve got a bill for continued service of $580 and change. After another, angrier call, I’m told they need the death certificate again. I fax the certificate again, and my reward? An updated bill in late July, where service is finally canceled… and backdated 49 days, to the middle of June. Comcast still insists the estate owes $370, despite nearly all of that bill being for services they were told to stop providing for a dead man.

Once again, I called Comcast. This time, I was told that there was nothing they could tell me, because I wasn’t the owner of the account. They insisted I would need to fax the death certificate to them a third time, or take it into a local service center (the nearest one for me being over 50 miles away) before they could even discuss the account with me.

So even though Wyatt has made countless calls on behalf of his late father and sent multiple copies of the death certificate, Comcast now insists they can’t talk to him because he’s not the deceased?

Sounds like Comcast has kick-started their campaign to win the next Worst Company in America tournament.

Comments

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  1. RyansChestHair says:

    Stay Classy, Comcast!

  2. ShruggingGalt says:

    Sounds like the problem my wife and I had with her parents’ estate…and one of those “fallen and can’t get up” lifeline services.

    Can’t cancel unless we return equipment

    Can’t drop off package at UPS, they have to pick it up

    Refuse to send UPS to anywhere but the former address (even though no one lives there anymore)

    Can’t tell you when UPS will be there (so you could go to the house rather than leave it out and hope it doesn’t walk….)

  3. seanx says:

    Does anyone live in the house where the cable service was? If it was just the father living there, who cares? Comcast can’t collect from a dead man

    • Shadowfire says:

      They can collect from the estate, though.

      • wickedpixel says:

        I believe they would have to prove the charge were from prior to the man’s death to collect from the estate. I don’t think they have any legal standing to collect charges after the man’s death.

        • Krang Krabowski says:

          But see the debt is being claimed that’s what bills are. any court would recognize that. to the OP i’m sorry deaths are always hard especially a parent. Unfortunately equipment has to be returned and a death certificate is the only way for them to date the account properly. I would suggest a trip in even though it is 50 miles. We’re talking hundreds of dollars here if you leave it the debt has already been claimed and you lose that from the estate, it’s worth an hour drive to get it resolved.

      • common_sense84 says:

        Well they can have fun with that. By the time they send it to collections and collections chooses to sue, the estate will already be distributed.

    • DarkPsion says:

      That’s what Probate is for. After the Probate period has passed, any debt that were not declared are rendered null and void.

      If the Will & Probate has been done, they cannot bill your dad’s estate.

  4. shamowfski says:

    xfinity surely won’t have these problems.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      I’m only a few miles from local ComCo$t offices, so when my mother passed away, I took in the cable box and a copy of the death certificate and had them print me out a receipt for the box and noting the cessation of service. The ComCo$t phone CSRs seem to always be a special breed of malcontents, but the office always handled things smoothly.

      I guess next time try a certified letter instead of faxing, since they don’t seem to have their act together. If I don’t get an e-mail (or see a change in an online account) confirming whatever change I requested by fax, I usually call 1-2 business days after faxing to follow up.

  5. CookiePuss says:

    A friend of mines husband suffered a stroke and could barely speak anymore. I remember the wife ran into that problem alot when trying to speak on his behalf to companies over the phone. That has to be quite aggravating dealing with that on a daily basis.

    • nodaybuttoday says:

      in that case, I would say power of attorney would work wouldn’t it?

      • sonneillon says:

        You have to get it first and that can be a chore in an of itself if the person isn’t competent enough to sign over power of attorney. Different states have different rules but with my Grandma it took a couple of months.

      • Myotheralt says:

        I gave my mom POA to pull my car out of repo, but they wouldnt release it to her or talk to her about it at all without me specifically telling them to. It has always been explained to me that POA would basically be “for the purposes outlined, she is the same as me”.

  6. IphtashuFitz says:

    Send an e-mail to we_can_help@comcast.com and they should be able to get this resolved fairly quickly. That’ll get you to their executive support. Every time I hear horror stories involving the idiots at Comcast’s frontline support I also hear followups after contacting them this way and eventually getting the problem resolved.

  7. skapig says:

    Get in touch with whatever local government representative is responsible for overseeing Comcast. They will likely be more than happy to help you out. You better believe Comcast is a bit more responsive to them.

  8. TBGBoodler says:

    I had some similar stuff happen when my dad died. Fortunately, I am the executor of the estate. Wyatt needs to either 1) be executor of the estate or 2) get the executor to start working on this.

    Even a couple of years later, I got credit card privacy notices from cards Dad canceled or hadn’t used in years. I call, am told the holder of the card must call, joke with the CS rep about how funny that is. But ultimately, my position as executor makes things happen. Eventually. Just takes patience and a little “serenity now” therapy. :-)

    When Mom was on her deathbed, my sister had to get some addresses changed with several companies (including Social Security) because Dad had moved from their home of 50 years to a retirement facility. At one point, she just began telling folks that she was Mom, instead of having to explain the whole brain tumor/death bed/hospice situation. One woman actually told her, “Honey, you have the voice of a young woman.”

  9. stebu says:

    Chase once tried to get me to upgrade my sister’s credit card when I was calling to cancel it after she passed away.

  10. ComcastBonnie says:

    Oh my goodness! This is horrible in so many ways. I’m going to reach out and get this fixed for poor Wyatt. This only adds to the grief he’s already dealing with :(

    *hugs for wyatt*

  11. fantomesq says:

    You need to be the executor of the estate for them to deal with you.

    • ArizonaGeek says:

      Thats very true. I was the executor of my uncles estate when he passed away last year. I was actually surprised at how easy it was to cancel everything. But I had all the necessary paperwork in hand. A letter from the lawyer stating I was the executor, the death certificates (we got those about a month after he had passed) and if anyone gave me a hard time, I told them they could try to sue a dead guy who only had a few thousand dollars in his estate and good luck with that.

      I say the OP has done above his job and if they want to collect let them try to get it from the estate which takes a LONG time which by then the estate will be closed. We had my uncles estate closed in less than 6 months, maybe 4 months, I think it needed to be open 3 months per state law .. after that close it. They can’t do any thing after that time.

  12. Boston says:

    I went through this for a few months, and then stopped even trying. What was the worst thing that would happen?My mother was dead, there wasn’t much a ding on her credit was going to do. They give up, eventually.

  13. Zeratul010 says:

    I’m the person who sent in this story. For those who are mentioning it – I am the administrator of the estate. It’s essentially the same as executor, but there are some slight differences due to difficulties we had in certifying his will (which was nearly older than I am).

    • JGB says:

      you made an honest effort, you arranged to get them their equipment back. Time to walk away.

      Ignore their calls and/or tell them “there’s nothing I can do for you”. What are they going to do about it? Ding a dead man’s credit rating? They want to sue his estate, let them.

      I don’t understand the theory that all business/commercial disagreements must be settled with everybody’s concurrence. I have no problem leaving the matter unresolved (as they see it).

      I got into it with (another) cable company over a final bill the last time I moved. They were obviously wrong, a fact that could, and was, verified. So they had fallen back on that same BS that companies like these use in these situations…they claim procedural roadblocks are preventing the situation from being resolved in pretty much any other way other than in their favor. So what? These are their rules, nothing that passed congress for christsakes. I provided all the data, they claimed it needed to be sent again. I told them I would not send it again and was told, well, you are going to still owe us the money. I told them I guessed we were just going to have to agree to disagree and hung up on them. They tried to report it to the credit agencies, I gave a copy of the final bill/canceled check to them, and it disappeared.

      Don’t grant these people authority they don’t have.

    • TBGBoodler says:

      Wyatt… just want to add some condolences on losing your father. Sorry you are going through this. I hope Comcast Bonnie can help you out!

    • Bob says:

      Condolences to you Zeratul010. I know it is difficult to lose a father as I lost mine almost 5 years ago. For those of you who will be dealing with this at some time in your life know that Certified Mail is your friend and the magic words are “executor” or “power of attorney” in your written correspondence. You may still get the run around but written evidence is gold in getting your way with regulator’s office and/or small claims court. I think Comcast needs many more suings and hard rap on the knuckles from regulators before they get it.

      Also I suggest you report them to any applicable federal agency. Your story itself will not make them act but 10,000 stories just like it might. Remember how the no-call list was made real? It took millions of complaints to get the feds to get off its butt, fight, and defeat the telemarketers’ moneyed lobbying and the Congress critters . If we didn’t complain we would still be getting calls at supper every night. Be that raindrop in the flood!

  14. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Ugh. I am so sick of these companies that play these stupid games. I just kept asking for a supervisor once the games started after I had to take care of my parents affairs when each died. Thankfully my mother’s affairs were easier to deal with than my father’s was. The worst was cancelling AOL. I finally asked the guy on the other end if he wanted to dig up my dads’ ashes so he could talk to him. That worked.

  15. erratapage says:

    When my Mother died, I called all the appropriate companies, and faxed death certificates and the like. It’s a major pain. The real question is whether it matters if there is an outstanding bill in the estate. Sometimes, these types of bills can result in probate (or in this case, non-probate) proceedings, but more often? Someone with some brains finally realizes that the debtor has died and collection is unlikely to occur.

  16. dg says:

    Just don’t pay. Don’t give them back the equipment – let them come pick it up. Cut the cables off the side of the house, rip them right off the pole…

    Tell them to collect from the dead man….

  17. Difdi says:

    Save the records of what you’ve done, and just tell Comcast that you dealt with the matter as soon as you faxed them the first death certificate. Anything after that is on them, as their mistakes, not the estate, and if they keep harassing you with fraudulent bills, you will report the bills as fraud to the police.

    The account-holder is dead, so there is no risk at all to his credit score getting mauled by an unpaid bill going to collections, and if Comcast sues, you just inform the judge that you informed Comcast of the death and faxed the death certificate three times, none of which stuck. If the billing is Comcast’s error, the estate is not responsible for it.

  18. twofatfeet says:

    Considering my wife and I have had to call three times just to change our online-account password—a process that required answering a security question (“What’s your favorite beverage?) we had never set up—this story is not surprising.

    Considering that Comcast once charged us for TV service that we had canceled six months beforehand, this story is not surprising.

    Considering that this is Comcast we’re talking about, this story is not surprising.

    • CoachTabe says:

      Stuff like that is why all of my interactions with Comcast are now done via their Live Chat feature. That way I have a transcript of what was said and can prove my case later. Once had a rep promise me free DVR service on both of my DVRs and it mysteriously never showed up. Eventually had to CALL to get it straightened out and they denied that I was due anything – until I faxed them the transcript. That took care of the problem, along with a refund of overcharges and a big pile of other discounts.

  19. Zeratul010 says:

    To the credit of Comcast, this bill has now been disposed of, thanks to ComcastBonnie’s assistance. I still think it’s not a shining example of Comcast’s service that it had to get this far, but I appreciate Bonnie’s swift help with this matter.

    • runswithscissors says:

      Boo to Comcast’s initial reaction, but yay for ComcastBonnie – spiritual successor to Frank!

  20. backinpgh says:

    Well if they can’t get this straight I’m sure they can’t get their shit together long enough to sue the estate or anything like that, so I’d just tell them to shove it and move on with my life.

  21. EcPercy says:

    Why after the first couple phone calls are you even calling them anymore? Certified letter with return receipt.

    State your case in writing with another copy of the death certificate. If you are executor of the estate then include some document stating this.

    After stating your case in writing. Just wait until the estate is closed (as others have stated here). Death discharges debt so I doubt you have anything else to worry about here.

  22. Juhgail says:

    Comcast sucks balls. I am angry over this. EVERY day there are “Comcast is outrageous” stories here on Consumerist!!

  23. pot_roast says:

    Sounds like he needs to a)escalate this with an EECB or b)sue them in small claims court.

  24. GrantGannon says:

    Frank Eliason leaves and the whole company goes to hell.

  25. Resurgent says:

    Concrap only cares about it’s customers dead or alive, when they get bad press like this. Now that it’s making headlines.

  26. Bob says:

    Sounds like a lot of these businesses will not respond to anything short of Certified Mail. After dealing with insurance companies I would only call to get an address to Mail them stuff. At least when I walk into court or a regulator’s office it will be a nearly slam dunk case against them because you have physical proof. They can’t say they “lost” it or “you didn’t send it and you’re lying” because you have proof that John signed for it at Company XYZ.

  27. ComcastBonnie says:

    Wyatt is good to go now. Just wanted to update ya’ll about the situation!

  28. Blious says:

    These stories are always tough to handle

    Sadly, I have dealt and seen people use family deaths as a way OUT of payments and the parents did not really die

    So, needing verification is not really that outragous

  29. twinedog says:

    I don’t know what state this occured in but I know that its frequently difficult to deal with other parties and financial institutions when wrapping up someone’s estate. In California many places refuse to deal with someone absent both a death certificate and probate letters. If the estate is being probated you might merely reject a portion of the comcasts creditors claim. There is also a statute of limitations on collecting on debts of a decedent. So you could leave them blowing in the wind and see if they actually do anything in the time alloted. Chances are they aren’t going to go through all the trouble to sue a beneficiary for a few hundred bucks. I supppose if the residence will be used by family they could refuse to bring service back.