A series of recent encounters while trying to close accounts for my father, have me concerned for our world. It started with the power company and went something like this...
"Hello, I am calling to turn of the power at my father's house, it was sold today?"
Power company rep: "Are you Mr. Johnston?"
"No, he passed away. I am the executor of the estate."
"You are not authorized on the account and the Privacy Act states I cannot talk to you."
"But I have a letter of testamentary, his death certificate, and his checking account if you need proof."
"I am sorry, I cannot talk to you about this account without Mr. Johnston's approval."
"He's dead. I have been paying your bills. How can I turn off his power?"
"There is nothing I can do until the next homeowners call to start an account. It will trigger a Death Closure Ticket and the account will be closed. I must end this call with you right now as I am not authorized to discuss the account with you."
The lack of customer service continued with the hospital...
"Hello, I am calling about the late notice on my father's hospital bill and strong language about being sent to collections. I had to go through legal paperwork to set up an estate checking account to pay his bills. It took several months and now I can pay it. I would appreciate not being sent to collections."
Hospital rep: "We didn't know Mr. Johnston had died. There is no record of that on my screen."
"He died in your hospital."
"It was your responsibility to inform us. The computer automatically sends the bills to Mr. Johnston, I have no control over that."
"I thought because he died in Room 484 and this bill includes charges for final procedures on the body, the hospital might have an clue."
"No, you should have called us to inform us of his death and tell us who would be responsible for paying the bill. If that is you, I will need your credit history now."
These actual conversations are just two of the eleven, I have had in the past several months.
They serve as an awakening and a reminder to me. Even among all of the rules and regulations of life in 2013, let's remember that we are all human. Let's help each other along the way and not be so strident in enforcing the "rules." Let's not forget that a little understanding goes a long way.
It is alright that the person in front of me in the checkout line has 15 items instead of 12, they are probably fighting a battle I will never know about.