Barraging the Bereaved.


A couple of years ago, after my dad died, my mom started to get calls from the last of his remaining credit cards about his unresolved debt. They had declared bankruptcy a few years before, but apparently he still had a card from a home shopping network with a $500 limit.

My mom, being my mom, was having none of it. She didn’t just say she wouldn’t pay, she either yelled for a manager each time or yelled until the poor person on the other end put one on just for reprieve. Finally, after steady calls that stretched over a few months, Mom spoke to someone who finally ‘fessed up. Dad had signed up for one of those “insurance” policies they sell that supposedly relieve you of repayment in the case of unemployment, illness or death. And, even if he hadn’t, she really didn’t have to pay, anyway.

Many times when I deal with credit card companies, I find that a little complaining, explanation, or just steady pressure can get you something. For the most part, until the recent collapse of all things credit, they cared more about you charging and paying, charging and paying, than they did about this or that measly fee. The fees they collect from you over the years are much higher. I’ve often thought that, without a little more self-assurance, I’d be in much worse shape than I am. And if my mom wasn’t the tough old lady she is, she would have been out about $500 at  really crappy time.

Which is why it makes me really sad to read this.*

* But not quite as sad as it made me a few years ago to read this.

8 thoughts on “Barraging the Bereaved.

  1. thinking of a name March 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm Reply

    This pretty much sums it up:

    “Death will be the end of one customer relationship but the beginning of another.”

    And this was just too much for words:

    “If a relative is more focused on denial or anger instead of, say, bargaining, the collector offers to transfer him to the human resources company Ceridian LifeWorks, where “master’s level grief counselors” are standing by. After a week, the relative is contacted again.”

    These articles is just too sad.

  2. Scott March 4, 2009 at 10:04 pm Reply

    What is wrong with the company trying to get the debt collected?

    • quadmoniker March 12, 2009 at 1:36 pm Reply

      Because the person from whom they are trying to collect is not responsible for it.

      • Scott March 12, 2009 at 3:15 pm Reply

        I know a relative is not legally obligated to pay the debt. Do you think the company should just write off the bad debt and not try to collect it? I know they catch folks at a vulnerable time but they do tell folks they are not responsible if they ask.

        • quadmoniker March 12, 2009 at 3:23 pm Reply

          Come on! All that means is that the only people who get out of it are those that know better. They’re preying on the less educated or the least able to resist. Of course they should write it off. That’s why they charge fees and interest. They should be managing their risks well enough that they still make a profit if someone dies with their debt unpaid.

        • shani-o March 12, 2009 at 4:12 pm Reply

          Yeah…no. When my grandmother died, my mother ended up paying off hundreds of dollars of debt because she was being pressed by the companies and she felt some sort of obligation to my grandmother’s name.

          People don’t think to ask about these things until later, and companies know it. That’s why they don’t tell you up front. That’s wrong, plain and simple.

  3. Scott March 12, 2009 at 10:05 am Reply

    Now according to AP Sen. Chuckie Schumer wants the feds to investigate. Don’t the feds have anything better to do?

    • quadmoniker March 12, 2009 at 1:38 pm Reply

      Yeah, I think this is just a politician trying to get attention. There are much worse things going on in the completely unregulated credit card market. And those things are having a really bad affect on people who have done nothing wrong who otherwise might be consumers. With the overall goal of fixing the economy, you’d think they’d want to deal with the other problems first.

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