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Verizon Charged Marine's Widow an Early Termination Fee

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the literal-charges dept.

Businesses 489

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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From the hereafter (2, Funny)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710844)

Can I hear you? Good.

Clarification: (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710876)

That's the VZW rep.

Simple really... (5, Insightful)

unts (754160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710854)

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

Re:Simple really... (5, Insightful)

papasui (567265) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710894)

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.

Re:Simple really... (4, Insightful)

unts (754160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710910)

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.

Re:Simple really... (-1, Troll)

papasui (567265) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710974)

Maybe but a lot of people die each day. Some die serving the country, some are old, some get hit by cars, etc. From a policy stand point I would agree with Verizon's initial decision. That said they did waive the $350, but really this seems to me more like her milking her dead husband.

Re:Simple really... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Simple really... (2, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Simple really... (5, Interesting)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711236)

I made the unfortunate choice to be a residential property manager (in the USA). There are a number of provisions for protection of our troops for rentals. Military personnel can terminate leases when they're called up for duty, they are legally protected against being discriminated against for their military service, there are special provisions for eviction if someone is actively serving, and I believe there are also special protections on foreclosures and collections when they own their own home.

This is as it should be, in my strong opinion. Contracts are contracts, but the law supercedes contractual terms. Law exists to protect the rights of citizens, and military service personnel are certainly very worthy of this type of protection. If there is not legal protection for something like a cell phone service contract, there should be. 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

Re:Simple really... (3, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710970)

Cost of lost business to Verizon due to bad publicity > Profit to be made from ETF

Re:Simple really... (3, Insightful)

danny_lehman (1691870) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711112)

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

Re:Simple really... (4, Funny)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711174)

Well, I did read my "7 day MBA" book in a weekend ;)

Re:Simple really... (3, Informative)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711104)

I think you will find that life insurance policies rarely cover death from "war or war-like activities", which is why the State typically has to support those injured in these activities.

Re:Simple really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32711126)

That's why every service member is offered SGLI coverage.

Re:Simple really... (1)

demontechie (180612) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711270)

Seems like a maximum of 400k is a rather limited amount of life insurance if you're planning to simultaneously cover your lost income for your spouse and also plan to put your kid(s) through schools that could cost upwards of $100k/year 18 years from now (with the current rates of college tuition inflation [finaid.org] ). Are there other options that service members have in addition to SGLI?

And as soon as there's publicity... (0, Offtopic)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711040)

...they break out whatever BS they think we want to hear, in the name of good publicity.

In other words, bring out the religion:

the company responded saying, " Verizon Wireless has long supported our troops.... Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Brummund and her family."

Huh. So Verizon, as a company, now has a public opinion, not only on supporting our troops, but on the effectiveness of prayer?

Am I being overly sensitive, or is that just a bit odd?

Re:And as soon as there's publicity... (2, Funny)

Lundse (1036754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711122)

the company responded saying, " Verizon Wireless has long supported our troops.... Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Brummund and her family."

Huh. So Verizon, as a company, now has a public opinion, not only on supporting our troops, but on the effectiveness of prayer?

Am I being overly sensitive, or is that just a bit odd?

That's not odd to me at all. Companies have professed opnions about god knows what for ages. What is worrying to me is they seem to think the company has a personal relationship with god/jesus/the-holy-ghost-too? and presumably an immortal soul. If true, this might just turn me to a life of virtue; I am not spending eternity with SCO!

Re:And as soon as there's publicity... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:And as soon as there's publicity... (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711212)

"..Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Brummund and her family."

Am I being overly sensitive, or is that just a bit odd?

It's somewhere between mindless PR pandering to the masses who believe, and mindless recitation of a plain dumb meme. There has never been a scientific study which revealed any statistically significant effect of prayer. However, there has been a scientific study which demonstrated a distinct lack of statistically significant effects from prayer. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/31pray.html [nytimes.com]

Damn... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32710860)

She's kind cute... sooooo she's available then?

Re:Damn... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32710918)

Too late, as soon as I heard the husband was expired, I went over and oiled the bitch up and unclogged her drains. Turns out he daughter isn't so bad, either, so we did a little show and tell and I introduced the young lady to a "facial".

Re:Damn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32711088)

yeah, I'd run train on that ass!

Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (2, Insightful)

papasui (567265) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710866)

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.

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (3, Insightful)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710880)

Just because you have a legally binding contract doesn't give you the right to be a dick.

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (0, Flamebait)

Chih (1284150) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710900)

For clarification, the previous poster is not a legal professional.

Yeah... (3, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710934)

Actually it does.

Re:Yeah... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710984)

True, I guess, but you don't even need a contract to have the legal right to be a dick.

Re:Yeah... (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711024)

Lady English is displeased with me, I see. Very well: it does not mean you are exempt from your social obligation to be courteous to a widow.

Re:Yeah... (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711132)

I agree with you in spirit. But social niceties have no place in matters of law. For humanitarian reasons Verizon should waive the fee. However, they have no legal obligation to do so. They are within their rights to enforce the contract.

If I were to die right now my wife would still have to pay on our car, college loans, etc. Nobody waives your debts when you die. That's why they refer to your assets after you expire as your estate, so that liens can be placed against it and the creditors you leave behind can collect their due.

I agree that Verizon is taking their "early termination" clause to a ridiculous extreme. The purpose of an early termination fee is that it is a penalty which makes it difficult for you to switch carriers, and clearly the deceased has other reasons for dropping service. But still - the contract is valid and binding even after death.

This is why life insurance is vitally important.

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710980)

IME, when it's a relatively small sum of money most companies will write it off when the person who's involved has died. Life insurance is generally used for those things that are so big that it's utterly unreasonable to expect that (eg. a mortgage).

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (4, Interesting)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711134)

But the person involved in this case _didn't_ die. She's alive and well. She wants to move because her husband died. Her husband didn't have a Verizon contract, she did.

Oddly, when I moved overseas, I was able to cancel my contract with no fee because VZW didn't provide service where I was going. Had they provided service, I would have had to pay. I expected to pay though, and when the rep told me I didn't I was pleasantly surprised. Granted, I believe the $350 in her case was the subsidized cost of her phone, so VZW might be losing money here, depending on how long she had the contract/phone. My cheapie had been long since paid off, and I only had a few months remaining.

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710892)

Perhaps, but the ETF is already unfairly high and the dude died serving his country.

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (3, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710966)

Except in this case Verizon sporadically decided to change the commitment [nytimes.com] , after the contract was already in place, in other words, the ETF fee used to not be charged under such circumstances but they revised the contract through (informal) policy change:

"Effective April the 26th, 2010 Early Termination Fees are no longer waived if a consumer moves out of our digital calling area coverage map. This means for customers whom have lost jobs and must relocate, people with immigration status and are liable to leave, or anyone who may otherwise relocate, is now subject to the ETF of $175 or $350, depending on device.

Verizon's reply: "This was an old policy that needed updating, a leftover from before our network covered over 300 million out of the 305 million or so people in the U.S. "There are two issues here. First, very few customers actually move out of a service area today. Second, if a customer buys a device from us at a deep discount in return for a two-year contract, and then decides to cancel service because he or she moves outside of that coverage area (likely out of the country, given the breadth of our coverage area), then the ETF helps us recoup our losses associated with the customer's early cancellation. This policy change was made in April and applies to very few people. We also have other ways of handling exceptions such as military -- Verizon Wireless waives the ETF for deployed military personnel."

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (4, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711044)

>unilateral contract change, effectively a contract of adhesion

A customer cannot unilaterally change the contract with Verizon.

What gives Verizon the right to play Calvinball with contract law?

--
BMO

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711138)

A large legal department and the fact it would cost more money to sue them over it than it would to just pay.

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (2)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711092)

So they changed the policy once they realized few enough people would be hit by the ETF they could get away with it and not get a PR nightmare, as opposed to realizing those affected would be few enough that it wouldn't cost them much to eat the contract. I understand recouping the cost of the phone, but they could always offer to have the customer cover a portion of that cost (based on how much contract is left), or offer to waive the ETF as long as the phone is returned if the contract is relatively new.

By trying to milk every last dollar out of leaving customers it's like saying "and never come back".

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711256)

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?

Fuck you. (0, Troll)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711006)

That is all.

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (1, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711010)

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.

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (1)

visualight (468005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711022)

I think the fact that Verizon does not have coverage in her home town is the important factor -the death of her husband caused her to move, but the _move_ prompted the early termination.

Ever bought a membership at a health club? I did, just two months before my job forced me to move to another state. Trying to cancel was like asking a loan shark for forgiveness. I think exceptions for circumstances like these should be standard in long term contracts.

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32711028)

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

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (2, Insightful)

Lundse (1036754) | more than 4 years ago | (#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).

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (1)

BumpyCarrot (775949) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711068)

I totally agree with the parent, troll or not. People die all the fucking time, and I hear it's something of a hazard in this specific profession.

Re:Just because you've suffered some bad luck.. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711250)

I dunno... a little bad luck might not but BEING DEAD probably does.

Someone probably realized that some sort of consumer protection regulation might be in force here or they were in some grey area of contracts.

I doubt the fear of public outcry or a public outcry large enough to get the relevant laws changed would be sufficient motivation.

Let your wallet speak. (5, Interesting)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710868)

I purchased a Motoroal Droid when it came out last year. Shortly after mentioning my purchase, I got a number of warnings about their billing department. Concerned, and also pissed at Verizon, I decided to return it for a full refund (it was well within two days of buying.) Shorty after, I got a huge termination fee, coupled with data charges in the megabytes (I literally never even used it with any 3G service.) and activation fees, even though it was clearly stated I wasn't supposed to be charged. It took upwards of four calls before the charges were removed from my account. Needless to say, I'm glad I did it, especially after seeing more bologna like this. Maybe one day they will realize that for each angry customer like me who cancels, they lose far more than the $350 termination fee.

Re:Let your wallet speak. (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711016)

I'll trade you that bologna for some baloney.

It's always best to do your research before signing a contract.

Re:Let your wallet speak. (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711060)

I agree, it was very reckless of me. It was actually the day news hit the fans about Verizon doubling their termination fee, so the huge onslaught of negative PR hadn't hit the fans when I signed. But still, I entirely agree with you, it was a terrible judgement call on my part and I've done my best to ensure it never happens again.

Follow the leader... (5, Insightful)

PPalmgren (1009823) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Follow the leader... (2, Interesting)

jcookeman (843136) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710902)

I disagree. These absurd "policies" are pushed from the top down. It's called "maximum return for shareholders." The moment companies took this philosophy, it was all downhill sense. Big, evil corporations are only concerned with maximum return, and they drive these principles within. It's just a teeny tiny example of the erosion within US corporations and finance. It's just a simple indication of why the "global crisis" happened. Pure greed.

Re:Follow the leader... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711054)

No, the main problem was stated above. It doesn't help shareholders, it harms them. The problem is that due to government grants and the like, Verizon was pretty much given taxpayer money (Remember, Verizon basically was a spin-off of AT&T) to gain a huge amount of infrastructure and initial capital. So because of this, it is not immediately obvious that a lost customer costs them lots of money, because of this in its early years, it eventually turned into this.

And really, honestly, I don't understand why everyone is all upset about this for. This is what life insurance is supposed to cover, bills.

Re:Follow the leader... (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711038)

The reason the peons at the bottom have almost no authority is because they have so little vested interest in the company. If Verizon were to suddenly disappear, the least affected employees would be the ones in the entry level jobs and the higher ups. Everyone else gets to reboot their careers.

Re:Follow the leader... (2, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711076)

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

Re:Follow the leader... (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711292)

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.

Oh no, my green paper! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32710884)

So he died. Get over it. She tried to terminate her contract early, they're charging her a fee. She agreed to it when she signed up for the service, and she's using the death of her husband to get out of a $350 dollar fee. You'd think that after the death of a spouse, she'd realize that 350 dollars isn't the worst she could lose.

Re:Oh no, my green paper! (2, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711008)

Like Louis C.K said in his "Being Broke" monologue about the rich guys listening to it: "Well, yeah, you are financially irresponsible and you have to pay the price, I don't frankly... see why you are angry about it. The bank has the right to accrue a fee, clearly..."

Re:Oh no, my green paper! (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711026)

sorry, forgot the link [youtube.com]

Re:Oh no, my green paper! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32711012)

Phone companies aren't supposed to charge an ETF when you're going somewhere that's out of the service area.

Re:Oh no, my green paper! (3, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711062)

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."

What does being a widow have to do with anything? (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710886)

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?

Re:What does being a widow have to do with anythin (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711048)

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.

Re:What does being a widow have to do with anythin (4, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711102)

She has cost the phone company a certain amount for the phone they fronted her. This has no remaining value for them.

Does she also get away without paying her credit card bills? Perhaps she bought something for her husband. Will Visa refund that one since she no longer needs it?

Re:What does being a widow have to do with anythin (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711200)

There shouldn't be an ETF. If you finance your phone through the phone company, that should be a separate line-item on your bill, and you should only have to pay off the balance to get out of the contract.

Phone companies are dipping into the paypal level of scumminess here: they're playing the "unregulated bank" game so they can charge usury interest (and continue to charge premiums even *after* the balance is 100% paid off!)

In a better world? Yes. (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711214)

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.

Re:What does being a widow have to do with anythin (2, Interesting)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711140)

No, the OP's point was aside from the PR damage why should being a war widow get you out of a contract for free? The ability to break contracts due to "exceptional circumstances" should be enshrined in law*, and not just happen due to the court of public opinion. Because we all know if Verizon couldn't provide the service for some reason or decided the customer wasn't worth the fee they would drop them like a rock and the customer would have no legal recourse.

* Also it should be illegal to only offer "free phone on a million year contract" deals.

Re:What does being a widow have to do with anythin (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711150)

Exactly; the miscarriage here is that you get slapped with an ETF for being in a place without reception. Covering the depreciated hardware subsidy is one thing, but the idea that you can charge someone extra for the cost of acquiring a new customer is absurd.

Early termination (4, Funny)

techmuse (160085) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710888)

Death is a form of early termination. Doesn't death let you out of any contracts you are in by law?

Re:Early termination (5, Informative)

butlerm (3112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710916)

Doesn't death let you out of any contracts you are in by law?

Yes, but that doesn't mean your estate is off the hook. If you have any assets in your name when you die, those assets must be applied to any outstanding debts. That is what probate is all about. The reminder goes to your heirs.

Re:Early termination (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710922)

No, it doesn't. Your estate has to pay.

Re:Early termination (5, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710950)

Except she (the contractee) didn't die. Her husband did.

Re:Early termination (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710962)

I guess that depends on if it was the widow or the dead husband who initially entered into the contract.

Re:Early termination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32711290)

It might get you out of contracts but it does not absolve you (or more precisely, your estate) from paying your debts. If you have any outstanding debts then those get resolved before any beneficiary receives whatever is specified in the will. The only exception in most jurisdictions is for a primary residence (e.g., you die and your spouse can keep the house you were living in despite whatever debts might be outstanding).

That being said, Verizon was being pretty cheap by not letting this debt lapse.

The Verizon Ouija Board. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710908)

The Verizon Ouija Board: Because passing away shouldn't mean you lose contact with your relatives.

Verizon Wireless: More coverage than any other provider. Literally.

Too ba (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32710920)

Hmm, let's see, hubby joined a gang that promotes violence and then died as a result, and we're supposed to feel sorry for her? And legally, she's obligated to whatever debts he incurred - it's called marriage.

argument from fallacy (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32710928)

I don't understand the pathological fixation americans have with war widows and orphans. If they are married and have common property there's no reason she is exempt from the fee, even if he signed the contract. If it wasn't the case she is obligued to legally pay the money I'm sure the correct course of action would be simply to ignore it.

I don't know how it works in the US so please correct me if I'm mistaken but as far as I know she will get a widow pension for life. It's not that she can't pay $350 dollars and THAT'S precisely the point of insurance (which I'd like to believe the armed forces provide), looks more to me like she wants to profit from her war widow status.

What if the husband had died from suicide or an accident? War widow != exempt from obligations.

Re:argument from fallacy (1)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711128)

...THAT'S precisely the point of insurance (which I'd like to believe the armed forces provide)...

Unless it's changed in the 13 years I've been out, then the answer is: No, the miitary does not provide life insurance. It may be different now or if you are married.

When I was in the service, you had the opportunity to buy into a life insurance policy called Servicemembers General Life Insurance (SGLI). I can't remember if it was administered by the government or contracted out to a private insurance company, but you could get life insurance for a pretty cheap premium. After getting honorably discharged, I converted it to a Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) policy, with still pretty cheap premiums ($150,000 coverage for $200/year) and is administered by a private company (Prudential).

Entitlement complex (1)

Irick (1842362) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710940)

Seriously, legal obligations are still obligations regardless of whatever you may be experiencing. If anything this just undermines the death of her husband. Now, if they were trying to charge her for her _husband's_ early termination (no horrible, horrible pun intended) then i can see being up in a huff

Free Marketroid Answer (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710944)

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

--
BMO

Clarification (2, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

The evil of early termination fees (3, Informative)

butlerm (3112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710952)

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.

Re:The evil of early termination fees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32710990)

All one has to do to see that Cell Phone providers are makng up the massive prices in order to justify early termination fees is look at a rack of pre-pay phones.

Re:The evil of early termination fees (4, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

She doesn't have to pay... because she's magic! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32710960)

So, in the U.S. military members (and their families apparently) are actually exempted from contract law? Intriguing....

Re:She doesn't have to pay... because she's magic! (-1, Flamebait)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711064)

Of course! We don't want the terrorists to win! They are also given the ability to kill civilians, destroy towns, etc. without much oversight because we all know that if we don't THE TERRORISTS WILL WIN!!!!111!! You don't want another 9/11 to happen do you?

I do verizon wireless contract related work... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32710976)

...and if the contract holder dies, there is no early termination fee. Chances has it that after sufficient notice the bill will just be dropped.

$350 ETF means it was a 'smart phone.' I still don't get why everyone thinks the phone is free. That's an advanced chunk of technology that fits in your pocket. ETFs are there for a reason.

It seems to be more important that he's a dead marine than a dead person. I deal with this stuff all day long and people use anything to alleviate their feelings of contractual obligations. Sorry for your loss, welcome to the world of business, pay your bills.

Bad choice of words (1, Funny)

Samy Merchi (1297447) | more than 4 years ago | (#32710978)

"Early termination" fee?

Lol.

Guys! You are missing the point! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32710988)

Specifically, what is the widow's phone number? I want to, um, console her.

That's mighty noble of you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32711110)

I'm sure she could use a good laugh.

I'm with Verizon (4, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:I'm with Verizon (3, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711020)

"Widow moves out of service area, gets early termination fee on canceled contract."

Would be a more appropriate, albeit less sensational headline.

Re:I'm with Verizon (2, Informative)

carlzum (832868) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711144)

When I moved out of my DSL provider's service area (Speakeasy), I didn't have to pay the early termination fee. It wasn't my fault they were unable to provide the service.

Early Termination Fee (3, Interesting)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711066)

The Early Termination fee is two things. One, it's a way for the company to recoup their costs of you running off with a smart phone that retails for $500+. Two, it's a way for them to ensure that none of their sheep go running off to other pastures as soon as they look a little greener. They've pretty much figured out that two years is the optimal length for a contract. Long enough to where you'll have their income coming in for a while and can make plans around that, but short enough to where you'll splurge for the most expensive phone every two years (with new two year contract, of course!) because you've had two years to save up for it.

I think a reboot of the cell phone industry really needs to happen here in the United States. I can go to Walmart right now and buy a prepaid phone for $20 or so with lots of features. Or I can go buy the same one at a cell phone store that's linked ONLY to one provider and costs $100. Free with two year plan, though..

Re:Early Termination Fee (2, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711166)

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.

Re:Early Termination Fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32711232)

Can I get a smart phone (iPhone or an Android phone) that's prepaid in the US?

Actually, you can. Virgin Mobile offers a couple (BB Curve, and something else, name escapes me). Much of their functionality has been stripped with VM's custom firmware, but it's not as bas as it used to be.

#irc.tro7ltAlk.com (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32711074)

is there a list somewhere? (4, Interesting)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711120)

I feel sorry for her loss. However, I'm a bit unclear about the reasoning behind this. For which fees, financial obligations, and loans is it unpatriotic to ask for repayment?

Waiving such fees is a nice thing to do; it expresses gratitude for the sacrifices that our military makes.

However, I start feeling uncomfortable when members of the military start talking about it as if it were an entitlement or obligation.

Re:is there a list somewhere? (2, Interesting)

careysb (566113) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711208)

"Re-payment"? We're talking about future obligation here, not repayment of a loan. All contracts pertaining to future obligations should be canceled upon death, military or not.

So? (-1, Troll)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711152)

Her husbands murders kids overseas, then dies. That has NOTHING to do with the contract she signed. /Yeah, I'm fucking happy every time a soldier dies. Specially when it's a marine.

Re:So? (0, Redundant)

IMightB (533307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711244)

You're an asshole.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32711246)

A$$ hole

Phones Aren't Free (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 4 years ago | (#32711164)

ETFs are in place because you got a device cheaper than it actually costs (or sometimes even free). You agreed to pay for the device by being a customer of another service for a certain amount of time. Smart phones cost a lot of money to make. She got one for a reduced price (possibly even free) by essentially agreeing to pay it off month by month for a year or two. This is very similar to a loan or car payment. Why should Verizon take the hit?
 
That being said, they could certainly afford to take the hit in situations like this, but I don't blame them for not doing so.

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