Sprint Refuses To Cancel Dead Brother’s Cellphone

Sprint refuses to cancel the cellphone service of a reader’s dead brother. The most they’ll “bend” for reader M is to “put the account on vacation,” at $5.95 a month.

This is despicable.

M, if you’re reading, check your email or write back. We’d like to follow this one up further. Also, check out this post, “HOWTO: Handle Closing Dead People’s Accounts.”

Lastly, can’t faxing over a death certificate and a letter testamentary do the trick? (A letter testamentary is a court document saying whom is the appointed estate executor).

Read M’s really really sad letter, inside…

    “Dear Consumerist,

    I love reading your stories and must admit I never thought I might be one. My brother passed away suddenly in December. I have been dealing with his estate since. Most creditors have been easy to deal with and have even offered their condolences. Sprint is an exception.

    I contacted Sprint to cancel his cell phone service. I spent over forty minutes on the phone. First I went through fifteen minutes of being on hold. Then I spoke with Alex. He was a bit gruff with me and didn’t understand why I did not have the account phone number memorized. I told him I called him from 611 and he should have the number. I also explained I had not received a bill from Sprint since his passing in mid-December. I had to look his number up on my own cell phone.

    Eventually Alex passed me off to another department, staffed by the lovely Marie. Marie would not cancel the account either and when I started explaining how an $80 bill was not worth Sprint’s time going after my brother’s estate in probate court she claimed she could not hear me, repeatedly. I told her it must the the Sprint network quality service. I live in a major city and had full bars.

    Marie’s claims of hearing impediment led me to ask for her manager. I spoke with Kevin. He eventually asked to call me back on a land line. I told him to call me back on my brother’s phone. In the end, all he would do was put the account on “vacation”, still charging $5.95 per month. I still do not understand why he would not cancel it since I had all the passwords they wanted. Sprint will not get a payment from the estate unless they pursue it in probate. They will spend more money on the paperwork.

    Thanks Consumerist. I do not care if you print this or not. I am happy to have vented.”

M, our sincere condolences for your loss. It’s very hard to lose a loved one. It’s even harder when a company is behaving callously and duplicitously to take advantage of your situation.

Based on what we know, your brother’s estate is responsible for the final bill and any charges up until your brother’s death. However, they cannot hit you with an early termination fee. Nor should your brother’s estate continue to be charged $5.95 for a dead man’s cellphone.

As we said in the intro, this matter can be resolved by faxing Sprint a copy of your brother’s death certificate, and by Sprint canceling the contract without being disgusting pinheads.

Although, it’s not like they don’t have a history of this behavior. See this post from October, “Sprint Harasses Grieving Mother For Two Years.” — BEN POPKEN

Related: HOWTO: Handle Closing Dead People’s Accounts


    “Dear Consumerist

    I am amazed you have already posted the story about my ordeal with Sprint last night. To clarify, my brother passed away in mid-December but the City of St. Louis Medical Examiner’s Office will not issue a death certificate for 8-10 weeks, meaning late February because he passed in his sleep and there was no apparent cause. In the absence of a will I have affidavits from our remaining family members nominating me to be the executor (we were the closest siblings). I will not be able to begin proceedings in probate court until the death certificate has been issued.

    All other creditors have been understanding of the situation. I know the estate (read “I”) will have to pay the Sprint bill in the end. First, the estate will notify all creditors and it is their responsibility to reply. After my experience last night I am happy to create a bit more work for them. Incidentally, this reminded me to call Cingular about an issue with my service. I was on hold for a few minutes but then Latoya was very nice and handled my request promptly. At least one person at the end of a customer service phone number understands her job title.”

UPDATE: Here’s another place M could send his complaint: shareholder.relations@sprint.com or Shareholder Relations 1-800-259-3755, press option 4.