Cell phone bills often seem to take on a life of their own. Every month they morph to contain figures unrecognizable from the month before, with new, befuddling charges, all documented on a labyrinth of paper.
Imagine the indecipherable confusion, then, of the cellphone bills sent to a deceased customer two months after his death.
Three days after Darrel Dalziel died in late February, his son, Lew Channel, called T-Mobile to cancel his father's cellphone, KCBS reports.
But the company kept sending bills, and after the family sent in Dalziel's death certificate, T-Mobile then pursued payments from his estate. “That’s profits over people,” Eric Ratinoff, a California consumer attorney, told KCBS. “That should make every one of your viewers sick.”
After three months of haggling, T-Mobile eventually waived all fees and halted its collection efforts. And though the company has labeled Dalziel's case an "isolated incident," at least one other customer has had a similar experience with the cellphone service provider.
In that case, T-Mobile allegedly billed a dead man for several months, adding on late fees until the invoice was $98 per month for a bill that normally cost only $20.
In the company's defense, T-Mobile's official policy regarding deaths is far more compassionate than these cases would indicate:
The death of a loved one is hard enough. T-Mobile doesn’t want to make it any more difficult. If you need to cancel a line of service on behalf of a deceased person, T-Mobile will waive the [Early Termination Fee]. Simply contact Customer Care. You will be asked to provide the following: Mobile number, Account number, Billing responsible party name, Death certificate, or attorney/legal estate documents if death certificate is not yet available.