Despite being born before television was even invented, a 102-year-old woman who recently died was charged an ‘early termination fee’ by her satellite TV company.
Isabel Albright, from San Lorenzo, California, died last December at the age of 102. However, shortly after her passing, her family received a bill from DirecTV for an early termination fee as, apparently, being older than television itself counts for nothing when it comes to paying your bills. Even after you’ve died.
The surprise bill came as Albright’s family were preparing her house for sale, tying up loose ends and clearing boxes of memorabilia, some of which was more than a century old.
You can see more of Albright’s story here:
Her son-in-law, John Manrique, told ABC7:
Everything was fine until we went to disconnect and that’s when all the surprises happened.
Albright had reportedly used DirecTV’s services for years, but after her death the company still decided to charge her $160 for an ‘early termination fee’. The family, naturally, were rather shocked.
As Manrique said:
They told us… we’re going to charge you $160 for an early termination fee.
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?
Eventually getting to the bottom of the mysterious bill, Albright’s family realised they were being charged for an extra DirecTV box, which had been installed when a caregiver had moved in as well as for when Isabel’s daughter often stayed at the house.
Nobody told us that. 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, a two-year contract.
Manrique and his family kept asking the company for proof they’d signed a two-year contract, saying:
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. Every time you hiccup they start you on a new two-year agreement basically. It’ll run the rest of your life if you accept some other feature or other. They got you.
Manrique reached out to ABC7‘s 7 On Your Side programme, who got in touch with DirecTV’s parent company AT&T. They eventually agreed to waive the early termination fee, saying: ‘We have apologized to the family and resolved this.’
So make sure you read the small print folks, because even after you’ve lived a long life and died at the grand age of 102, you’ll still be paying bills.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.