Disconnect on a phone contract
Q: My husband passed away in November 2007. I didn't get around to dealing with the Alltel cell phone contract until April 2008. I was still in a state of shock and getting titles, insurance and homestead exemptions put into my name was a first priority that took up a great deal of my time.
In April I visited the New Port Richey Alltel where I had purchased my own phone and explained my dilemma with the death certificate in hand. I was told by a young employee that a two-year contract was signed and therefore I had to continue payments until it expired. I was so flustered I didn't even think to ask when the contract expired, but I assumed it would expire by the end of the year.
I went back in October and tried to explain the situation again. This time a different young employee told me it would be cheaper to make the monthly payments than pay the $200 cancellation fee.
It wasn't until I told this story to family and friends that I realized I was definitely in the right. They said that a death certificate was valid to break other contracts and should be accepted in this situation as well.
So, I am appealing to you to please look into this.
A: We're happy to report your situation has been favorably resolved.
You called to let us know you spoke with an Alltel representative who promised a refund check would be processed and mailed within seven to 10 days. Your account was thoroughly reviewed and it was determined you were owed more than $400.
According to the representative, you said, the reason you had so much difficulty canceling the account was because the phone was still under the name of the company your husband and you previously owned.
We spoke further with Scott Morris, public relations specialist at Alltel's corporate office. "We do apologize for any inconvenience that (Mrs. Hawver) suffered in this particular case," he said.
Morris also reviewed your husband's account. "It is not our policy to require a death certificate to disconnect a deceased person's account," he said. "She should not have run into the difficulty that she did."
Morris contacted the customer service representative that you spoke with and confirmed that Alltel will be refunding you all of the monthly charges the account accrued since you first tried to cancel it.
You were fortunate to have the means to continue paying on the account, even after you finally took it up with Alltel and worked toward a resolution. Others may not be so lucky.
This is a good time to remind readers to keep detailed records of personal accounts, including any passwords associated with them, so that loved ones aren't left in the dark in the event of death.
It's important not to put off dealing with any financial matters in a timely fashion.
Delay can affect your wallet, as some matters may be time sensitive. But if a bill goes unpaid it can affect your credit score and thus, your ability to borrow money.
Grief is hard enough to work through on its own. There's no need to add financial distress to the burden.