After Mom Suffers Stroke, Comcast Tells Kids They Can’t Cancel Her Account

Image courtesy of Matthew Keys

We’ve talked before about the grim but necessary business of having to close accounts and tie up loose ends for recently departed family members, but what about those instances when your loved one is still alive, but unable to participate in the process?

In a recent piece for Salon, Journalist Erik Lundegaard writes about having to navigate the Comcast bureaucracy just to get his mother’s cable service cut off after she suffered a stroke.

Lundegaard’s sister found their 86-year-old mother on the floor of her condominium. She’d had a stroke and was unable to communicate.

They were able to find their mom a spot at a nursing home, and set about the process of sorting out her finances. That’s when they realized their mother was paying $126/month to Comcast; time to cancel that plan.

Here’s one of those situations where simply lying and saying you’re the customer would probably save you a lot of time and hassle. Instead, Lundegaard explained his mother’s situation to a Comcast customer service rep, who told him he’d need to return his mom’s equipment to an Xfinity store and bring a power of attorney showing that he could represent his mother in these matters.

“I’m not trying to take money out of my mother’s bank account or anything,” he explained to the rep, to no avail. “I’m just trying to cancel a service.”

Neither her phone provider nor local newspaper had brought up the power of attorney issue when canceling service, just Comcast, says Lundegaard. (However, he’d later find that other accounts — car insurance, a Talbot’s charge card — would indeed demand this paperwork.)

He decided to just see what happened when he showed up at the Xfinity store without the power of attorney documentation. You probably already know what happened.

When he finally got up to the counter, Lundegaard learned there was now a note on his mother’s account, as the in-store rep asked to see the power of attorney.

“[W]e don’t have it and my mother can’t give it,” he tried to explain. “Surely, Comcast isn’t going to keep billing my mother in perpetuity for a service she can’t use.”

The rep was unmoved, and the rep told Lundegaard he’d need to wait an hour or so to maybe speak with a manager.

Out in the parking lot, he called Comcast again. That rep told him to try speaking to someone at an Xfinity store, as if he hadn’t considered trying that while visiting the building he just left.

After being passed around, he finally got a phone rep who agreed to cancel the service, and had additional good news: No need to wait in line again; just drop the returned equipment in the dropbox at the store. The bad news: That dropbox had been removed months earlier and he would have to wait in line; but at least the service was finally canceled.

Now let’s just see if — as we’ve heard too many times — Comcast tries to charge his mom for unreturned equipment…