Too Bad Your Dad Died: Now Give Us $363

Melissa’s father passed away at the end of January. She’s just now settling his estate, and most companies she has dealt with have been accommodating and understanding. The exception? Verizon Wireless, which told Melissa that it was her fault she hadn’t been able to contact them until they sent a collection notice. She owes–or, rather, her father’s estate owes–$362.80 that she doesn’t have on hand. They’re making a sad and difficult time even worse.

Here is a letter I wrote to Verizon Wireless this morning after they are demanding nearly $400 on my dad’s account. My dad passed away on January 31 and I wasn’t able to notify them prior to today. Needless to say, it was a horrific experience.

March 14, 2011

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to express my outrage at the way my situation was handled by the Customer Service staff at Verizon Wireless. My initial shock changed to disbelief after I hung up the phone and quickly transitioned to anger at how unjust it is. I am writing in hopes that it will help make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

I am handling my father’s estate after he passed away on January 31 after a harrowing 4 month battle against brain and body cancer and have been trying to keep up with all of the necessary bills and paperwork. I received a notice from Verizon this morning informing me that I owe $362.80 on my dad’s account and immediately called to explain that I hadn’t had the opportunity to notify them yet. I was willing to pay the bill through the end of January and offered to fax the official Death Certificate, assuming that they would help me. Instead I was met with a cold response saying it was my fault that I hadn’t called to notify them sooner – there was nothing they could do to help me. I was transferred to four different unhelpful people, none of whom were willing to even speak with a manager to see if there was anything they could do.

According to each of your “customer service” people, since I was an “Account Manager” and knew his account password, it was my fault that the service wasn’t terminated immediately upon his death. My apologies that at 24 years old I just lost my father and didn’t think to call Verizon Wireless within a few days to let them know he had passed. The only reason I even knew his account information was because I was named his general Power of Attorney after a brain tumor caused a hemorrhagic stroke and there was no other option. My dad was unmarried and I am an only child. After he passed away my Power of Attorney became void. I am preparing to file probate, so technically I wasn’t able to access his accounts since he passed away. On top of the indescribable grief, one could say I’ve had a lot on my plate. I’ve done my absolute best. None of this mattered to those whom I spoke to at Verizon.

I am appalled with the way I was treated by Verizon Wireless – by the lack of heart, compassion, and willingness to help. Other companies have been very understanding and have gone above and beyond in their efforts to help. With a company as large as Verizon Wireless, I would assume they would have better policies or customer service representatives to help deal with situations such as this. The last thing I want to worry about is how I am going to manage to pay nearly $400 to Verizon Wireless when what would have been my dad’s 70th birthday is right around the corner.

Sincerely,

Melissa

No matter what the company says, the debt belongs to her father and to his estate, and she’s not responsible for it. No one at Verizon seems to be in a hurry to tell her this.

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