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Verizon Charged Marine's Widow an Early Termination Fee 489

Posted by samzenpus
from the literal-charges dept.
In a decision that was reversed as soon as someone with half a brain in their PR department learned about it, Verizon charged a widow a $350 early termination fee. After the death of her marine husband, Michaela Brummund decided to move back to her home town to be with her family. Verizon doesn't offer any coverage in the small town so Michaela tried to cancel her contract, only to be hit with an early termination fee. From the article: "'I called them to cancel. I told them the situation with my husband. I even said I would provide a death certificate,' Michaela said."
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Verizon Charged Marine's Widow an Early Termination Fee

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  • Simple really... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unts (754160) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:50PM (#32710854) Homepage Journal
    Why would a corporation care about a grieving widow, unless there was some sort of bad publicity to arise out of... oh dear.
  • by papasui (567265) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:52PM (#32710866) Homepage
    doesn't exempt you from all commitments. I feel bad for her that she lost her husband but a contract is an obligation. There's a reason we have life insurance policies, you know, so you can pay some bills after your spouse dies.
  • by PPalmgren (1009823) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:53PM (#32710874)

    This is why its bad to give zero authority to the peons at the bottom of your organization. In an effort to restrict decisions to higher-ups and make low-level decisions 95% predictable, you get bit in the ass with bad PR that can cost millions in damages, only because the first two or three people closest to the customer aren't allowed to make braindead obvious decisions.

    You can almost always tell a corporate culture by calling their customer support.

  • Just because you have a legally binding contract doesn't give you the right to be a dick.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:54PM (#32710886) Journal
    Talk about playing the sympathy card.

    Now, I'm sure Verizon should have been more flexible here, but not because she was a widow. Because the early termination fee is unfair in this circumstance. Do others get to be treated unfairly because they haven't had a bereavement?
  • by papasui (567265) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:55PM (#32710894) Homepage
    On the other hand just because her husband dies doesn't mean the world stops. I'm sure she received a life insurance check to cover these type of expenses.
  • by unts (754160) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:58PM (#32710910) Homepage Journal
    This is true, but Verizon could operate with a certain sense of... decorum. Plus, I doubt they lose that much money in early termination due to deceased individuals.
  • Yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Weaselmancer (533834) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:02PM (#32710934)

    Actually it does.

  • by bmo (77928) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:02PM (#32710944)

    "She should have predicted this when she signed up for Verizon"

    --
    BMO

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:04PM (#32710960)
    So, in the U.S. military members (and their families apparently) are actually exempted from contract law? Intriguing....
  • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:05PM (#32710970)
    Cost of lost business to Verizon due to bad publicity > Profit to be made from ETF
  • I'm with Verizon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:08PM (#32710996)
    The issue isn't that the guy died and the widow wanted to cancel the contract. If that were so, I'd totally be with her.

    It's that she decided to up and move and canceled the contract because where she decided to move didn't have service. That, is her fault only.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:09PM (#32711010) Homepage Journal

    Legally, you are right. But what is 300 bucks to a multi-billion dollar company? They can afford to have a bit of a heart.

  • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:10PM (#32711020)
    "Widow moves out of service area, gets early termination fee on canceled contract."

    Would be a more appropriate, albeit less sensational headline.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:13PM (#32711042)

    Yes, lots of people die every day for lots of reasons, some people jerk off with a belt around their neck and go too far. Other people try to have sex with a barnyard animal and get kicked in the head. Yet others get into a car wreck because they are sexting an underage boy and die in a fire.

    But *this* woman's husband died serving our country, while getting paid less than a garbage man in most large cities.Whether you agree with the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, our military has a long and honorable history of protecting us (and much of the rest of the world), and when a soldier dies in combat, a certain reverence (or at least decorum) is in order. What Verizon did was just tacky, and I am glad they reversed course.

  • by copponex (13876) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:14PM (#32711048) Homepage

    Yeah man, this is America. Pay up.

    No, no, I don't care if your husband just died defending my freedom, and the loss of his income changed your lifestyle. Hell, I don't care if you're homeless and struggling to make ends meet. I don't give a shit if the taxes you or your parents paid in 10 years ago helped fund the infrastructure that enabled me to make this money in the first place.

    This is America. I am a corporation with infinite rights. You're just a speck on my quarterly report.

    Pay up.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:17PM (#32711062) Journal

    So he died. Get over it.

    Congratulations! That's about the most insensitive thing you could say to a grieving widow. From TFA:

    Michaela's father, a veteran himself, is outraged. "It's not about the money. I don't care about the money. It's the principle. The man was overseas fighting for our country and lost his life doing so," said Kevin Gause. "It's heartless what Verizon is doing."

  • by rotide (1015173) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:18PM (#32711084)

    Ehh, I can see both sides.

    On the one hand, hey, that was the contract.

    On the other, your husband just died. You have to deal with the arrangements, family, cancelling everything else he had, all on top of grieving. That's when Verizon basically says, I don't care about your loss, we want the ETF and here is your bill.

    That being said, I believe in contracts. If you didn't want the contract, don't sign it. Then again, from a business perspective, I'd probably just ask for a fax of a death certificate and immediately close the account with no penalties. In the end, the population on earth is growing, there are more people buying plans (as a whole on earth) than there are dying (I would assume anyways, makes sense). They will get a contract to replace the death soon enough.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:22PM (#32711108)

    Early termination fees are simply part of the way service providers effectively finance equipment purchases at above market prices and at exorbitant rates of interest, while hiding that fact from the user as much as possible.

    Someone made an observation last week that I thought was especially telling (wish I could credit the source). I'm basically paraphrasing here ..

    I get through the 2 year contract which pays for the phone. So how come my rates don't go down in the third year if I keep the same phone?

  • by danny_lehman (1691870) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:22PM (#32711112)

    Congratulations, You have successfully completed de facto school of business.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:28PM (#32711158)

    You're being overly sensitive - that 'non-denominationally pious' turn of phrase has been part of the politically correct vocabulary of every public official, PR and HR hack for the last few generations.
    I'm sure it's a copy & paste from other previous public statements - I'd be surprised if it wasn't from some document template they've been using anytime anyone dies and they need to express condolences.

  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:28PM (#32711166) Journal

    Can I get a smart phone (iPhone or an Android phone) that's prepaid in the US? I don't think that's currently possible. There's a lot about our cellphone industry that needs to change, from text message rates and the absurd markup on wireless data plans, to predatory contracts and schemes to hide their price gouging on handsets. Unfortunately, they have the money, which means we'll never get sane regulation of this industry which has proven that it is incapable of acting fairly and honestly. Just another example of a market outcome that benefits a few people at the top of a huge corporation, while leaving the rest of us with no viable option for something that is effectively a requirement to get by these days.

  • by Lundse (1036754) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:32PM (#32711196)

    It's called compassion.

    Since Corporations are now considered 'persons' under the law, perhaps we should expect them to show certain levels of humanity that most of us would display.

    /asking too much, I know

    Communist!

    Or at least socialist.

    Anti-capitalist for sure...

    I mean, expecting anything else than 100% self-interest is just stupid, or you're suggesting we (gasp) hinder free enterprise!

    (If the sacrasm was too high, here's the breakdown: I sincerely believe the parents sentiments are diametrically opposed to, and cannot exist alongside, an absolutely free enterprise-model of society, in the veins of the American ideal as it is often touted. I also believe parent is right).

  • by copponex (13876) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:34PM (#32711214) Homepage

    First of all, she shouldn't need a fucking dime. Why are we paying $300,000 for a Blackwater mercenary and paying every real soldier a tenth of that? Why aren't we providing end of life payouts to widowed military wives? If we can't do that for people who have literally died for the country, what chance does anyone have? This is like when McCain fought education benefits for veterans. It's appalling, regardless of what I think about the true purpose of the war.

    We have literally got to the point in this country where even the immediate families of dead soldiers are treated like shit if they haven't got money. Visa and Verizon are raking in record profits, and the could afford to forgive debts to dead soldiers if they wanted to. But it's far more important to bonus their board of directors for continuing to shit on the population at large.

  • Clarification (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:36PM (#32711228)
    ALL cell phone companies are assholes.

    There's a reason why their customer satisfaction has gotten lower than even the kings of shit customer service - the airlines.

  • by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:38PM (#32711256) Journal

    Wow...

    There are two issues here. First, very few customers actually move out of a service area today

    So.. because the policy is now costing them less, they need get rid of it?

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:44PM (#32711292) Homepage

    Those with no decision power CAN escalate it up the food chain to someone that does.

    Sure they can. And after they've done that a few times, they can be invited to seek out exciting new opportunities as a Hygiene Technician (Fryer Specialist) at Burger King.

  • by glwtta (532858) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:56PM (#32711406) Homepage
    So, should everyone whose spouse dies be let out of such contract, or only the spouses of Marines?

    Maybe only those who died serving the public - firefighters, police, military, etc? What about private "military contractors"? They kinda do the same thing (you know, defend Freedom, Justice, and the American Way), just for more money.

    Maybe only those who were married to someone who's nice?

    I'm fine with it either way, really, I just need to know what the rules are.
  • by Le Marteau (206396) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @05:56PM (#32711408) Journal

    And Verizon should be shamed for this asinine handling of the situation. Not only was he actively serving and quite busy... but he fucking died for Christ's sake. Assholes

    Oh for fucks sake, chill. It was some low paid drone in a call center who made the original decision. Not exactly an executive decision.

    But when the executive decision came down, Verizon ended up making it right, which is how things are supposed to work, right? And they are "assholes" for that?

  • by GaryOlson (737642) <slashdot@ga[ ]lson.org ['ryo' in gap]> on Sunday June 27, 2010 @06:08PM (#32711500) Journal
    The executive decision did not come down until a prominent news agency made an inquiry. Otherwise, I quite expect no executive would have ever taken an interest to make a decision.
  • by religious freak (1005821) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @06:09PM (#32711510)
    In a word: yes

    If "low paid drones" don't feel empowered enough to use their head on a very obvious issue, that's a management problem. And the blame for that is correctly placed at the top of the organizational pyramid. I stand by my remarks
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 27, 2010 @06:30PM (#32711652)

    Exactly! If Verizon lets her off the hook, people will be killing their relatives all over just to avoid early termination fees!

  • by mike260 (224212) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @06:48PM (#32711764)

    Don't see how parent post is a troll. Fact is, she got $100,000 from the US government for *exactly this reason* - so that she doesn't have to worry about money hassles on top of the grief and upheaval.

    If she's angry and wants to lash out at Verizon for daring to send her a bill then that's perfectly understandable, but the parent's point stands: War-widows, although deserving of sympathy and respect, are not above having to pay their bills.

  • by SETIGuy (33768) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @06:51PM (#32711782) Homepage

    First of all, she shouldn't need a fucking dime. Why are we paying $300,000 for a Blackwater mercenary and paying every real soldier a tenth of that? Why aren't we providing end of life payouts to widowed military wives? If we can't do that for people who have literally died for the country, what chance does anyone have? This is like when McCain fought education benefits for veterans. It's appalling, regardless of what I think about the true purpose of the war.

    Yes, but why should we expect Verizon to be responsible for providing benefits to veterans if we can't get our own fucking government to do the right thing? You think that Verizon should somehow grow the conscience that the Senate doesn't have?

  • by mike260 (224212) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @06:53PM (#32711796)

    The thing about compassion is that it's given freely, not demanded as a right nor extorted under threat of bad publicity.

  • by genican1 (1150855) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @07:01PM (#32711858)
    I think the issue here is the fact that she's having to pay the fee even though she's now living in an area with no service. This has nothing to do with the fact that she is a widow, this is just asshattery on VZW's part. I know certain other carriers allow you to cancel under similar circumstances without paying the ETF (AT&T).
  • by jimmydevice (699057) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @07:02PM (#32711866)
    She probably lived in base housing. When he died she was required to move.
  • by sjames (1099) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @07:09PM (#32711900) Homepage

    Yes, verizon should be more reasonable in general, especially when the contract is being cancelled because they provide no coverage where it's needed.

    The fact that they would be such bastards even to the widow of a veteran just demonstrates the extent of their inhumanity.

  • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @07:22PM (#32711968)

    But how can you personify and hyperbolize the actions of corporations when you look at it so realistically? That doesn't make for a good news story.

  • I had my sister on my T-Mobile account and she had purchased a new Android phone through the T-Mobile store. She died last year and it took me a few months to get around to calling T-Mobile to terminate the contract on her phone.

    The T-Mobile customer service representative was very understanding and sympathetic and waived any disconnect penalties or outstanding balance on the phone purchase. She had even offered to see if she could backdate the service termination a few months. I told her that was not necessary as it was my own reticence to close the account (you know, the finality of death and wrapping up the details of someone's life).

    Over the years little experiences like that with T-Mobile have made me a very loyal customer. It seems that someone still remembers how to treat their customers.

  • by ionymous (1216224) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @08:20PM (#32712282)
    I honestly have no problem with Verizon charging the termination fee in this situation. She canceled and that's all that matters. Whenever a spouse dies there's extra expenses, and this is just one of them. Life sucks. Death sucks even more.
  • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Sunday June 27, 2010 @09:09PM (#32712508) Homepage Journal

    That's a major failure in the way the company is structured then.

    If you don't have a system that allows people with insight and power to make decisions that affect your customers without the latter going to the media and crying foul, you're doing it wrong.

  • by besalope (1186101) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @09:23PM (#32712566)

    "It was some low paid drone in a call center who made the original decision."

    You're absolutely right. But what is happening to us as a species when these drones are so concerned with "following the rules" that they can't show some human compassion? I am really sick and tired of drones who can't/won't help, even on a basic, simple request, because the rulebook says 'no'.

    Having worked customer (dis)service, it generally comes down to:

    • A) Follow Rule Book and say "No." -- Keep job, even if low paying, in an economy that is still utterly tanked.
    • B) Fuck the Rule Book. -- Help some random stranger you really don't care about, who really doesn't care about you or the crap you put up with on a daily basis, which in turn places your job and livelihood at risk.

    I'm sorry, but given the options most customer service representatives can choose from, they will undoubtedly go with the "cover your ass" approach to insulate themselves being detrimentally effected by poor decision-making. Was it right to charge an ETF to a grieving widow? No. But in business contracts are king. You signed it, deal with it.

  • Re:Yeah... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MurphyZero (717692) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @10:18PM (#32712786)
    And the person has the right to burn down Verizon property worth millions following their dickish actions. Sure they'll have the right to remain silent afterwards, and the right to an attorney and all those other rights. And in the unlikely event they get a good enough attorney they'll have to walk around free. As you see, the right to be an asshole often leads to negative actions. Unfortunately, not often enough nor negative enough in the case of businesses. Oil companies come to mind right now. Cell phone carriers are close behind. Those two are by no means an exhaustive list.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 27, 2010 @10:29PM (#32712838)

    Except we're not talking about an officer, just an enlisted man. So his clothes and food are also paid for, tax free. And he and his family can shop at the PX, tax free. And he gets free healthcare, something garbage men don't. The AVERAGE salary for a garbage man with less than 4 years of service in the US is between 30-60k/yr. And he's smelling of garbage every day. And he doesn't get to retire after 20 years. And he can't apply for a full disability, giving him even more pay annually, years after leaving his job.

    But this is about the wife. She signed a contract with Verizon, knowing it had poor coverage in her home town, and signed that she would pay for the free phone if she didn't keep the contract for the full 2 years of the contract. If the garbage man's husband died while collecting garbage, and she moved to her home town, and cancelled her verizon contract, she'd have to pay for the remaining cost of her phone. Why should one widow, who gets less financial benefits, have to pay more than another widow who gets more money?

  • by boxwood (1742976) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @10:33PM (#32712852)

    I doubt the "drone" would even have the ability to waive the fee. I am certain they don't give that authority to anyone taking calls, and I seriously doubt even their managers have that authority themselves.

    So unless the "drone" was willing to pay the $350 out of his/her own pocket it just wouldn't happen.

    Unfortunately, to the modern day corporation, customer support is a problem to be disposed of as cheaply as possible. That means encouraging the people working the phones to get the customer to go way as quickly and cheaply as possible. If they allow people at the call center (almost always outsourced) to give refunds and waive fees, increases costs. Much more profitable to have the call center give people the run around until they give up. And tell the call center that is someone from the media calls to direct those to a people who do have extra authority.

    Here's a tip: if you want to get awesome support for so piece of technology, when you call, say "I'm writing a review for ." They'll bend over backwards for you. If you aren't in the media no corporation will give a shit about your problem. Your problem isn't their problem. Their problem is to get rid of you.

  • by victorhooi (830021) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @10:37PM (#32712880)

    heya,

    And you sir, must be an Anonynous Coward...oh wait...you are...

    Look, you may or may not have had respect for the last Administration. But this guy decided to leave his family, go over there, and serve his country. He was fighting the Taliban, the same folks who harboured Osama, who err, let's see, bombed the World Trade Centre? I'm Australian, but last time I checked, that incident killed quite a few of you folk.

    Look, I know it's hip and trendy for us to sit here comfortably in our offices, and our homes, with air-conditioning, decent food, and nice suits, whilst people on the other side of the world are risking their lives, but seriously mate, get some class...

    I think the coward label is most apt here.

    Also, corporate apologist? What the heck has that got to do with anything? *sigh* You American left-wing nutjobs really amuse me. You try to see a conspiracy in everything. Is Verizon in cohorts with the Taliban? Or are they in cohorts with Haliburton? Or I don't know, is somebody in cohorts with someobdy else? And where did the Republican tag come from?

    And military bootlicker, please...He was just a kid who went over there to defend his country? It's all very well and good to talk down the military while you're sitting comfortably, in your anonymity there, but I'd like you to go up to a war-widom and say that to her face. She'd probably break you into little pieces and make you weep like a little boy....now that'd be a sight..

    Cheers,
    Victor

  • by Sanhedran (1803634) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @10:48PM (#32712924)
    Er, no; being critical of the war(s) while simultaneously being respectful for those who serve in the military and are ordered to war by our elected officials is a perfectly tenable position. It helps to avoid being lumped in with the kind of viewpoint that, say, most Vietnam War protestors held. Nice to see that non-black-and-white opinions seem to be "PC bullshit," though. Of course, this completely ignores the fact that there's nothing inherently "honorable" about anything whatsoever in the universe, since something has to be attributed some amount of respectfulness by society in general for it to be such. Since most societies in the world give such status to their soldiers and their duties, it has been made honorable. So, it *is* honorable, but not a natural law, just like nearly everything in society. I wonder how you interpret most of your interactions with the world at large? I think there would be a lot of contradiction in your viewpoints, if you were knowledgeable enough on the subject to see such contradictions.
  • by Sanhedran (1803634) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @11:04PM (#32712968)
    They don't "loose" any money except any projected difference in income between contract end and termination data, minus the cancellation fee. It's a tactic to a) make money off of people who aren't even getting any services from the company, and b) force consumers to stick with said company for no other reason than being punished otherwise. Phone carriers have seen a big return on text and data plans. I'd like to see what data you have that says that losses due to customer death are any sort of significant concern for them, though.
  • by canajin56 (660655) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @11:10PM (#32712994)
    Verizon does, too. They reneged on all of their signed contracts in April when they announced that they would no longer honor that clause.
  • by Totenglocke (1291680) on Monday June 28, 2010 @12:25AM (#32713350)

    Why would a corporation care about a grieving widow, unless there was some sort of bad publicity to arise out of... oh dear.

    And why does the fact that her husband died mean that she shouldn't have to pay for her cellphone bill? I'd understand if it was HIS phone that she was deactivating (they aren't allowed to charge an ETF for cancelling the service of someone who's dead), but it was HER phone she was cancelling because she chose to move to a place where she wouldn't get service.

    Her husband dying is completely irrelevant to the issue with Verizon charging her an ETF as was stated in her contract. The issue here is a woman decided of her own volition to move to a place where she wouldn't get service with Verizon and as such, she canceled her contract early. Instead of paying the ETF as she should, she uses a sob story about how her husband died (which had no impact on the phone bill, since we're only talking about canceling HER phone) and as such, she shouldn't be expected to pay her bills and fulfill her legal obligations.

    I accidentally broke my phone and decided to change carriers when I got a new one - I paid the ETF without complaint. Paying an ETF on a broken phone is much more ridiculous than paying an ETF because you decide to move where you know you won't get service.

    I know, I'll get modded down because people want to say "But her husband died!" - yes, he did, and that sucks for her big time. I'd hate to have something like that happen to me. However, it doesn't change the fact that she still has to pay her bills and uphold her end of the contract.

  • So ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daveime (1253762) on Monday June 28, 2010 @12:26AM (#32713354)

    She lost her husband, who was a marine, and probably served his country in some respect during one of their pointless overseas "conquests" (if you can call soldiers dying and spending trillions of dollars for 10 years without achieving fuck all a "conquest"). Yes, very sad.

    But just because her husband died does not magically make her debts and responsibilities go away.

    How can you blame the service provider for sending a demand letter at a possibly "stressful" time for her ? What should they do during the billing cycle ? Hold every damn bill until they've verified no immediate relative has recently died ?

  • Re:Yeah... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by elsJake (1129889) on Monday June 28, 2010 @12:27AM (#32713366)
    "But _her_ Verizon cell phone does not have service in the small town. "

    It's not the deceased's phone , it's hers. This is the reason they're charging it , and the reason for them not caring about a death certificate , it's not the dead man's account.

    As far as i can read proper English the article said:

    Soldier dies. Widow moves. Widow has contract ,Widow decides to cancel contract.

    I'm sorry to say but the whole article seems to have been written to stirr up some bad shit when the soldier didn't have anything to do with any contracts / Verizon. Sure it wouldn't have hurt them to show a little compassion but they weren't absurd as they are not charging the soldier but the window who is a party in the contract.
    It could've been his brother , mother or any other relative that moved , should Verizon also cancel their early termination fee ? What about his cousin ? How does a corporation draw the line between making a profit and acting humane ?
  • by kaka.mala.vachva (1164605) on Monday June 28, 2010 @12:38AM (#32713432)
    I agree with the feeling behind your post, but please take this back: (and much of the rest of the world), The United States has caused more trouble for other countries that they have tried to "liberate" than anyone else in this post world war 2 age. All of us would be happier if you didn't try to be the saviour of the world, upholding freedom and democracy everywhere. And considering that we are talking about the most powerful nation in the world, we would also sleep safer without your help.
  • by Totenglocke (1291680) on Monday June 28, 2010 @12:42AM (#32713460)
    So, you think that because her husband died, she should be allowed to skip out on paying her bills? Hey, cancel her credit cards, her mortgage, student loans, car loan - all of her debt is vanished because her husband died! That's not how it works, nor should it. A bill specifically relating to service for him (such as his personal cell phone) should be (and legally is) voided because he's dead and not using the service anymore. However, since the bill she wanted (and got) waived had nothing to do with him, she should be required to pay it.
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday June 28, 2010 @01:11AM (#32713608) Journal

    So how long after a spouse dies is the surviving spouse exempt from service fees for their own services?

    I realize that's a rhetorical question, but let's see...

    "The remote detonated IED, one of those went off, and he took full force," explained Michaela surrounded by pictures of her husband and flowers, still fresh, from his recent funeral. "He died on the chopper on the way to the field hospital."

    I'm going to say, longer than that.

    I suppose it's technically possible that this is being spun, since she's not specifically talking about the termination fee here, and it doesn't say how long ago he died. Then again...

    The reason that she is canceling is NOT because her husband died. It is because she is moving. That part is a choice.

    She is moving because her husband died. Sure, she could choose to stay, but it's not unreasonable.

    But all of this is beside the point. I'm not saying that Verizon should have to do anything...

    I know that when a death is involved, most companies are going to make exceptions to rules.

    I realize it would be an exception. I might even concede that this particular case isn't necessarily clear. (For example: Whose fault is it that she went with a plan and a provider that charges $350 early-termination fees?)

    But I was replying to an AC who said this:

    So he died. Get over it.

    That is not an OK thing to say. Not now, not in ten years. If it's tangential, it's tangential, but you do not tell a grieving widow to "get over it."

    Or, to be more precise: It is allowed (freedom of speech), but incredibly insensitive.

  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday June 28, 2010 @02:29AM (#32713860) Homepage

    Doesn't really matter HOW you die, it's just grim against the family/friends of that family to impose fees like that.

  • by anarche (1525323) on Monday June 28, 2010 @02:53AM (#32713956)

    Explain to me what exactly the war has to do with defending our country?

    The US has only fought one war in the last century that involved defending our country, and that was fighting against the Japanese during WWII because they attacked Pearl Harbor first. The rest of them were pointless wars for politicians personal agendas and the safety of the US and it's citizens was never threatened.

    Basic theory of national defence: fight your wars on someone else's soil. Otherwise you'll be fighting them on your soil.

    Oh, and your figures are severely skewed because you forgot to take into account the fact that when he's deployed the military covers all of his expenses, so that money is pure profit.

    Really? The Army pays for his mortgage while he's away?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:03AM (#32714844)

    I worked for Apple a while back in a call center. Customer service and stuff, answering questions about where people's iPod orders were, sorting out returns. Policy at the time was that any iPod with a personalised engraving on the back was non-returnable, NO EXCEPTIONS.

    So I get a call from a man who wanted to return an iPod he had bought and personalised for his son as a birthday present. So I explained the policy, and asked why he wanted to return it as per S.O.P., and as it turns out - his son was dead. He had died the week before his birthday in a car accident.

    I asked no more questions, cleared the return right then and there, and told him a courier would be by in the morning with a box to collect it. And his card would be refunded as soon as it reached the depot. My team leader didn't question my actions even for a second.

    Bottom line here, yeah, he could have been lying. But one wrongly returned iPod vs the publicity fallout if I said no? Being an insensitive policy-following robot vs having some compassion? The whole point of having live humans on the front line is for customer relations, just for situations like this, and when I was at Apple they at least had a fucking clue about how to do it right - we had a lot of training and we were expected to make judgement calls on balancing the interests of the customer and the company.

    This shit from Verizon? Bad. Customer. Service. And it's coming back to bite them in the ass - they're the phone company that slapped a grieving soldier's widow with a $350 fee because she wanted to move back home to be with her family. The damage control alone is going to cost a lot more than $350, and they could have avoided it all if their front line CSRs had the power and the judgement to waive the ETF if the situation merits it. Either someone made a bad call, or they just can't do it at all - and do you really want to deal with a company that doesn't trust its customer point-of-contact employees with the most basic ability to solve customer problems?

  • by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:54AM (#32715016)

    And Verizon should be shamed for this asinine handling of the situation. Not only was he actively serving and quite busy... but he fucking died for Christ's sake. Assholes

    Devil's advocate time.

    Michaela Brummund canceled Michaela Brummund's cell phone contract with Verizon because Michaela Brummund decided to move somewhere Verizon didn't service.

    So why is it unreasonable to assess an ETF? Oh. Because of why she decided to move. Her husband is dead.

    So if someone's spouse dies and they decide to up and move, contractual obligation cease? Oh. It's because of why her husband was dead.

    So if my wife dies of cancer and I decide to become a hermit and live in a cave, I should pay an ETF but if she dies employed by the military I shouldn't? What if she's a school-bus driver and dies in an accident after decades of serving children? Because one death is inherently more important than another. No. I'm sorry, it's not.

    I'm glad that Verizon cut her a break. That's great. But there's nothing inherently right in doing so. It's just a PR gesture.

  • by Vectormatic (1759674) on Monday June 28, 2010 @08:21AM (#32715158)

    Gah, i just pissed away my mod-points this morning, otherwise you would have earned a +1 insightfull from me.

    Contrary to what many americans seem to believe, nations like iraq, north korea and north vietnam were/are no serious threat (they cant even put the M in MAD if they chose to go to war with the US), and what little realistic threat they pose, is mostly due to the fact that the US cant keep out of other peoples business. If you pull enough strings that dont belong to you, you are bound to end up pissing people off...

    Now i'm european, so i should be thankfull for liberating us from the germans in '45, but doing one thing right doesnt give you a free pass to go around and play shadow-puppet games around the world..

  • by spamking (967666) on Monday June 28, 2010 @08:42AM (#32715280)

    The world trade center incident didn't kill quite a few, it killed a small drop in the bucket of our folks. Many many more Afghanis and Iraqis have died since the pointless wars started than we have lost. Personally, I don't give a shit about the whole "US" vs "Them" thing, dead is dead, and we have rivers of blood on our hands now thanks to assholes like this guy who can't say no to a paycheck and an order.

    So you're ok with a couple of thousand people dying from an attack every so often? You sir are a prick. You wouldn't even have the right to spank it to pr0n all day if "assholes like this guy" didn't die protecting freedoms for worthless punks like you.

    There is no honor in being a military man, and its time we stop pretending that there is. The only honor in fighting is when casting off an occupying force. Otherwise, you are just a wanna be conqueror's bitch.

    -Steve

    What would you know about honor?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @09:46AM (#32715798)

    you're doing it wrong

    And making a ton of money.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday June 28, 2010 @10:22AM (#32716226)
    Sanjay in Calcutta either follows the script or he gets fired. They didn't hire him to think.
  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday June 28, 2010 @12:15PM (#32717610) Journal

    I would also argue that a garbage man does more to serve 'our country' than participate in a war of aggression.

    Soldiers are putting their lives on the line. Garbage men do not.

    I could understand comparing soldiers to firemen or policemen (though even then it would be interesting to look at the stats for how risky each is... somehow, I suspect firemen are most likely to get hurt).

  • droid vs droid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by epine (68316) on Monday June 28, 2010 @01:12PM (#32718478)

    Oh for fucks sake, chill. It was some low paid drone in a call center who made the original decision. Not exactly an executive decision.

    You can bet your life it was an executive decision to staff the call center with low-paid droids incapable of acting on moral discretion. This is the business model they choose to create, where 99% of their interaction with the public is through low-paid droids incapable of moral discretion.

    On this model, getting publicly burned in effigy once every six months is a normal cost of business. The phone companies have taken it upon themselves to function as the bulwark of enculturated infantilism (few cost-up-front purchase options). They deserve what they get.

    On the other side of the fence, America's enlisted men have roughly the same level of moral discretion when it comes to participating in the wrong war as Verizon's call center droids have in accepting a justifiable termination request.

Life. Don't talk to me about life. - Marvin the Paranoid Anroid

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