Woman charged fees from cell company after husband's death

News 6 gets money back for woman charged fees from phone company after husband's death

THE VILLAGES, Fla. – When a loved one dies, the last thing you want to have to deal with is a cellphone bill.

[WEB EXTRA: Cellphone company policies for deceased family members ]

"You're at your lowest moment, probably, in your life and you really need support, not harassment," said Elsie Grant.

Grant had just lost her husband of nearly 55 years. A few days later she called Sprint to cancel her husband's cellphone service, which still had a year left under contract with the carrier.

"I was told then that I was breaking a contract and it was going to cost me $1,000," said Grant. "I said, 'First of all, you're penalizing me because my husband passed away.'"

Both her and her husband's cellphone are under Grant's name, but canceling her husband's line would mean getting hit with that big fee. So she went to two local Sprint offices as well as their corporate office in Ocala to try and resolve this.

"I'd been on the phone probably a couple hours," said Grant. "I probably talked to 10 or 12 people over the process and they told me if this wasn't paid, they were going to turn my service off."

Then, Grant received a bill from Sprint for over $600, along with a letter threatening to cancel her service if she did not pay immediately.

"I felt it was very cruel the way I was being treated and I told them that," said Grant. "I said, 'You know, right now, I need compassion instead of this harassment."

She also received text messages requesting payment, but this time Sprint wanted $481.60.

"Nobody is being consistent about the amounts or when they need to be paid. I kept getting a different story," said Grant.

"You went ahead and paid that $481.60?" asked News 6 Investigator Eryka Washington.

"I paid that," said Grant. "Yes, I did, because I was told that my husband's estate could not be closed until that was paid. I'm saying, "I don't think this is fair, you're still penalizing me because my husband died.'"

"Did you feel like you were being taken advantage of?" asked Washington.

"Yes, I did, because I did not break this contract on purpose," said Grant.

Grant's friend contacted News 6 for help and Washington contacted Sprint to find what out their policy was.

It states:
"Once we verify that the request is valid, we'd waive the subscriber's early termination fee and remaining installments as needed."

Sprint then agreed to give Grant a full refund of $481.60.

"I called my credit card company and it had all been taken off," said Grant. "I just feel like I've been on a roller coaster trying to get this thing settled."

Grant said she is glad her friend made the call to News 6.

"Yes, I was, I really felt I was getting nowhere," said Grant. "I felt like somebody cared and somebody is going to check on this and I appreciated that."

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