Question: My friend Adam died March 3. He was disabled and lived with my family.
I called T-Mobile to notify it the day after his death. I was told that since he had no contract and was paying monthly that his account would simply cancel out for non-payment.
They would not accept my information about his death because I was not on his account. The next month another bill arrived, and it was larger. I called again. This happened for three months.
Finally, a customer service representative told me that I had to write a letter to their customer relations department and explain the situation. I did, and I sent a copy of his obituary with the letter.
I was sent a letter from them that said I had been added to his account without my request or permission, and that they would be sending a final bill for his estate to settle. I had explained in the letter that he was disabled and had left no estate.
After another month of billing, the invoice was up to $98 for a service that cost him less than $20 a month. I repeatedly called customer service, tried calling the customer relations department and was told very firmly that they never took phone calls and I could send a letter if I needed to contact them.
They sent me back to customer service, and I was told that only a certified death certificate was acceptable to prove death, and that if I wanted to do that I would have to contact the state, pay a $15 fee plus postage, wait several weeks, and send it to them.
I am not, nor have I ever been, responsible for this bill. The customer service person did not deny it when I asked if they just keep running up these bills and then take a large deduction for taxes from writing them off. This is, in my opinion consumer fraud.
I worry about the other people that are being forced to pay bills for services that were never rendered – in his case the service was totally suspended after the first non-payment.
This is wrong, and I need your help to resolve it and remove that bill. No one is going to pay it and there is no one responsible for it. Thank you for whatever you can do to help. I really appreciate it. — Merry Bauman, Peck, Kan.
Answer: My condolences on your loss. T-Mobile should have canceled Adam’s phone service as soon as you sent it evidence of his death. It should have made the process as easy as possible — not a frustrating series of emails and phone calls that ended with his bill growing more than fivefold.
As far as I can tell, T-Mobile doesn’t directly address the issue of a customer’s death directly on its website. But it offers a few clues. In a section that deals with early termination fees — those are the annoying surcharges imposed when you exit your contract before its term is finished — it describes the proof T-Mobile requires to confirm a customer’s death. The evidence includes a mobile number, account number, name of the responsible billing party and a death certificate or a legal document confirming the customer’s death.