Anyone who has been through the ordeal of tying up the loose ends of a deceased loved one’s estate knows that phone companies can be huge pains in the butt, with endless, repeated requests for death certificates and CSRs constantly telling you they can’t speak to you because you’re not the account holder. And for some reason, T-Mobile thinks you should only have a few weeks to cancel this person’s account without having to incur an early termination fee.
CBS 5 in San Francisco has the story of a family that had to jump through hoops to get T-Mobile to cancel their late father’s T-Mobile account, even though his phone had gone unused in a drawer for months.
But it’s not necessarily this family’s story that got our attention, so much as the guidelines provided by a T-Mobile spokesperson.
The first two — Stop using the device/phone; Gather the documents (account info, copy of the death certificate) you need — seem sensible.
But it’s the third item that gives us pause:
Notify the company as soon as possible. While T-Mobile bases its termination date upon the printed death certificate date, customers have only 30 days to send in documentation to be considered for early termination fee adjustment.
So if you’re loved one had a T-Mobile account you didn’t know about (which is not beyond belief for some people, who rarely, if ever, use their mobile phones), the deceased person’s estate could be socked with potentially hundreds of dollars in an early termination fee.
Given the number of stories we’ve heard over the years of people repeatedly sending death certificates to phone companies — who subsequently never have a record of receiving the documents — this 30-day condition opens the door to the even bigger hassle of trying to prove you did follow the guidelines.
This must be why T-Mobile includes the final guideline that tells you to make notes about every time you call and with whom you speak — because the burden of proof is on you to show the estate shouldn’t be hit with an ETF.