Sister struggles to get reimbursed for late brother’s cable payment
BY STEPHANIE ZIMMERMANN firstname.lastname@example.org August 19, 2012 10:52AM
THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU
Updated: September 21, 2012 6:18AM
Dear Fixer: My brother passed away in March. A week later, I paid his final cable bill to Comcast, for $131.72. I wrote a check from my account.
At the time, I did not realize that his cable service was billed in advance, so essentially I was paying for something that would never be used.
I canceled his service and was told I had to return his equipment, which I did. I have a receipt for that. They told me that after they deducted his balance, I would get a refund of $78.86.
They did send me a check for $78.86, but it is in my brother’s name, and my bank will not accept it.
I spoke to a couple of Comcast reps who said they can only issue the check in my brother’s name. He didn’t pay the bill — I did. I gave them a copy of his death certificate, but haven’t heard anything more.
Joeann Hanna, Burr Ridge
Dear Joeann: Our sincere condolences on the loss of your brother, Albert.
And what a good sister you are, wanting to tie up loose ends like this.
We took this to Comcast spokeswoman Angelynne Amores, who agreed that there must be some way to get your money to you. She got in touch with you to apologize, then she ran interference with the billing folks to make sure a new check will be issued in your name.
Dear Fixer: We paid a medical lab bill promptly in March, yet we keep getting bills in the mail. Twice, we provided the billing service with a bank copy of the canceled check, which proves we paid them.
Now it’s gone to a collection agency and I am worried that our good credit will be affected by this $33.18 mistake.
Steve Cepa, Libertyville
Dear Steve: Your first mistake was thinking, Gee, this is such a ridiculously simple thing, it’ll be a cinch to resolve.
We see that all too often.
In this case, it turns out that the lab that did the work, Consolidated Pathology, was just as bummed as you were to hear about this unwarranted bill.
After The Fixer brought this to their attention, their president, Dr. Thomas Mientus, responded right away. (He’s said he’s a Fixer reader and never dreamed he’d end up in the column.) Dr. Mientus said the screw-up occurred with their outside billing service and he never knew you were being hounded. He also said he’s in the midst of parting ways with the billing service because of such problems.
He also contacted the collections agency that the billing service uses and directed them to remove this claim immediately. That’s been done, and we were told that none of this will appear on you or your wife’s credit report.
“I am sorry for this patient’s troubles and only wish the issue could have come to us sooner,” the doctor said.
Speaking of credit reports
Hey, everyone — mistakes happen, so it’s a good idea to have a peek at your credit report now and then. Federal law entitles consumers to one free report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus every 12 months. Go to the official site, annualcreditreport.com, and follow the prompts for the free reports. You will not have to buy anything and you don’t have provide a credit card number, unlike on some sound-alike websites.
He’s my relative, but . . .
The Fixer hears a lot of stories about relatives who want help with co-signing a loan, or people who share bank accounts or safe deposit boxes with others.
Is this wise? Well, it depends why you’re doing it. If you’re just feeling sorry for your sketchy cousin who can’t get a car loan, you might want to stop and reconsider.
The FDIC has some good info for anyone in this fix. For example, did you know that adding relatives to a joint savings account could affect how much you can recoup in FDIC insurance if there’s a catastrophe with the bank?
And if you share a credit card account or have co-signed a loan, you could be on the hook for everything — including late fees and collection costs — if your relative takes off.
For more, check out FDIC.gov.