Sunday, May 29, 2011

Customer service on Planet Zargon

A reader sent this. I don't know if it's a true story or not, but it makes for a good chuckle (and a good warning).

Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die! This is so priceless, and so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank. Here is the exchange:

Family Member: 'I am calling to tell you she died back in January.'
Citibank: 'The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'
Family Member: 'Maybe you should turn it over to collections.'
Citibank: 'Since it is two months past due, it already has been.'
Family Member: 'So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?'
Citibank: 'Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!'
Family Member: 'Do you think God will be mad at her?'
Citibank: 'Excuse me?'
Family Member: 'Did you just get what I was telling you - the part about her being dead?'
Citibank: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.'

Supervisor gets on the phone:
Family Member: 'I'm calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.'
Citibank: 'The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.'
Family Member: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?'
Citibank (stammer): 'Are you her lawyer?'
Family Member: 'No, I'm her great nephew.' (Lawyer info was given)
Citibank: 'Could you fax us a certificate of death?'
Family Member: 'Sure.' (Fax number was given)

After they get the fax:
Citibank: 'Our system just isn't set up for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.'
Family Member: 'Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won't care.'
Citibank: 'Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.'
(What is wrong with these people?!?)
Family Member: 'Would you like her new billing address?'
Citibank: 'That might help....'
Family Member: 'Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69.'
Citibank: 'Sir, that's a cemetery!'
Family Member: 'And what do you do with dead people on your planet???'

And you wondered why Citibank needed help from the Feds?


  1. "This call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes."

    Ya think???


  2. This made the rounds a while back. Probably not true, but then... I have never heard a word of protest or denial from Citibank about it!

  3. Whether that particular story is true or not, I know stories like this that do happen.

    My friend's father passed away last year. Comcast (the cable tv company) would not turn off his service without proof of death! His account was not past due, he owed no money, but they were rude regardless. My friend was wanting to give back their equipment, but they would not accept it without his death certificate. And they would not accept a copy. I never did ask her what the outcome was on that one. Her husband shoulda just called and posed as her father to cancel the account. It would have been less stressful on them.

  4. This one doesn't surprise me at all! Thanks for sharing Mrs. Lewis!

  5. hahahaha! this is good. problem is the feds are just as bad..especially the department of veterans affairs!

  6. My Papa passed away in a house fire a few years ago. The cable company continued sending bills to his post office box. My father, his executor, contacted them, provided them with a copy of the death certificate and requested the service account be disconnected.

    This continued for 3-4 months with additional billing, threatening letters etc etc due to the "overdue" bill.

    My father finally got frustrated and told them that there was a problem with the service and he couldn't get reception, requesting that they fix if they wanted their money. The appointment was made and when the service tech came out my dad advised him to "hook it up" The service tech had a priceless look on his face due to the fact that the house was wood frame and no longer existed due to the remnants being hauled off.

    Still took a few more months of going round and round with them to get it sorted out. Apparently they don't have a way to have service disconnected by a party not on the account.

    Maclenny, FL

  7. I've been involved in a number of these circumstances, and based on my experience, I always give the same advice: If you are the family member responsible for taking care of some of these mundane affairs, you can accomplish so much more with great ease by thinking outside the box. Which means doing everything you can possibly do BEFORE anyone finds out the deceased is no longer around. I'm not talking about fraud, or cheating anyone out of accounts due, just cleaning up some of these ridiculous, trivial loose ends without allowing the brain-dead customer service idiots room to maneuver. "Hi, this is Bill Jones, cancel my service and send me a final bill." Easy-peasy. Otherwise access to accounts gets locked up, everyone wants an original birth certificate and reams of forms signed in triplicate. Over nonsense like the cable TV service.

    Jeff - Tucson

  8. Sounds exactly like what I went thru when my Father passed away....yes, they REALLY ARE this stupid, and it's not just banks/credit card companies.....

    The best part was when they threatened to screw up his stellar credit rating - to which I said, go right ahead I'm pretty sure he won't care....LOL.....

    In many cases, other than these, most not only wanted a copy of the death certificate they also wanted a copy of the published death notice as well.....I guess it's not real until it hits the newspapers....*laughing*

  9. Include the newspaper ,which I contacted frequently but found a 2 foot high pile of newspapers out by the road under her full paper box this went on for months , and same for the garbage service who claimed they could not discontinue service without actually hearing from her in person. It is so hard to keep saying SHE is DEAD over and over while you are still in mourning it feels so harsh and yet I was practically yelling it after a few months.I finally caught on and just lied to her credit card service that I was she and cancelled, it is hard to think though when going through so much.