By Matthew Brooks
Death, taxes, and fees. Some things are unavoidable.
A remarkable California woman lived to the age of 102. Her family began to sort through the belongings left behind. While still putting together the pieces of her life, one piece came as a bit of a shock to the family.
A cancellation fee from DirecTV.
The woman, Isabel Albright, had television service for many years. Now, upon her death in December, DirecTV sent her a $160 fee for cancelling her service before the end of the contract.
Her son-in-law, John Manrique, told KGO in San Lorenzo, California, that DirecTV plainly stated that an early cancellation necessitates an early cancellation fee.
“They told us… we’re going to charge you $160 for an early termination fee,” Manrique said. “She’s gone. Nobody’s living (here). We’re selling the house. You’re going to tell us we have to keep the service at a house that’s not ours?”
It turns out that, as she neared the end of her life, a DirecTV box was added to the home for the live-in nurse.
The installation of the DirecTV box automatically started a new two-year contract. No person signed a contract agreeing to the renewed starting date for the contract. It just happened.
“Nobody told us that,” Manrique said. “And in fact we made it clear when we added the TV in the extra room that it was a temporary thing. … We’re saying my mother in law’s on hospice, we’re not gonna pay, you know, two year contract.”
DirecTV reportedly told the family that because the TV bill was in the name of Albright’s daughter, the fee must be paid.
Not even death was an exemption for the non-signed contract.
“And they had no proof other than you started this new service on this date … and that starts a new contract whether you signed it or not,” Manrique said. “Every time you hiccup they start you on a new two-year agreement basically.”
Manrique reached out to KGO who in turn contacted DirecTV. Soon after, Manrique received an apology letter from the parent company of AT&T, the parent company of DirecTV.
The letter stated that the company would waive the early cancellation fee.