Maria Raybould, a 56 year old widow from Cardiff, was driven to take desperate measures after her husband Alan's death. After endless attempts to cancel his mobile phone contract, she ended up taking his ashes into a shop in an effort to prove he was dead.
Raybould told the Daily Mail that her husband had died in August at the age of 57, after a long battle with cancer. While dealing with his estate she gave his death certificate to T-Mobile, and informed them that she wanted to cancel the contract because her husband had passed away,
However, the Daily Telegraph said they ignored her, and continued sending letters demanding she pay £129. She visited the shop three times to explain her predicament: she took his death certificate along and even his ashes, but she continued to receive letters demanding money and threatening court action.
A spokesperson from the company apologised, and told Wales Online that there had been a delay in the process that automatically cancels the balance in this situation. They confirmed that the account had been closed and the balance cleared.
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Companies all have policies to ensure that when someone contacts them to inform them of a death in the family, they treat them with respect and carry out their wishes with the minimum of distress. However, clearly there are far too many times when things do not go to plan - and relatives are caused incredible stress as a result of the process.
In October last year we reported on the County Durham man who was paid £250 compensation by TV Licensing, as an apology for the stress they caused him after his mother's death. Despite the fact he informed the organisation of his mother's death, he received numerous threatening letters from the firm. In the end he informed the organisation he would be suing for compensation, and received £250 as an apology.
In April last year Virgin Media sent a bill to a recently deceased man, fining him for a direct debit that had been refused. They ignored the fact that even on the bill itself there was a note explaining that the direct debit didn't go through because the account-holder had died. Virgin apologised, dropped the charge, and made a donation to charity.
And in the same month a woman from Davenport decided that the only way to prove that her father had died was to take the ashes into the bank branch. She had told them several times that her father had died, and yet the £6 charge on his account after his death had mushroomed to £625.
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