5 On Your Side

Garner man struggles to cancel deceased mother's phone service

Posted September 17, 2008 5:25 p.m. EDT
Updated September 18, 2008 4:21 p.m. EDT

— Most people keep personal identification numbers, passwords and log-ins secret. That caused a big problem for a Garner man after his mother died in July.

Gene Turner said the cancellations of his mother’s accounts went smoothly until he got to AT&T.

“When I got on the line with AT&T, I was told I was an authorized user on the account and they asked me what my secret password was,” Turner said.

Turner’s mother never shared the password with him, so he did not know it.

“So she said ‘Well, I'm sorry Mr. Turner. If you don't know the private password, I cannot discuss this account further with you,’” Turner said.

When Turner called back, he said a representative told him to fax over the death certificate and other information. He faxed the documents to the company and got confirmation it went through.

A week later when the phone wasn’t disconnected Turner called AT&T again.

“Again (I) went through the now familiar runaround regarding the secret password and the fact I'm an authorized user, and I said ‘I've done what you have asked. I faxed everything to you. What's going on?’ She said, ‘Mr. Turner, we don't show any record of ever receiving any fax from you,’” Turner said.

After asking for a manager, Turner said he was told one would call him back within a day. Turner said no one called him, but he did get another phone bill.

“It's so outrageous that I'm just really, completely disgusted,” Turner said.

So he called 5 on Your Side. After 5 on Your Side called AT&T, the account was canceled the same day. AT&T spokesman Herb Crenshaw said it appears Turner's faxed information was never noted on the account.

Turner said he just couldn’t believe the situation got to that point.

“With all the customers AT&T has, they’ve had to have handled this sort of situation. It’s mind boggling. You would think it would be a routine,” Turner said.

Crenshaw canceled the service as of the date Turner's mother passed away. There was a credit on the account, so AT&T also refunded nearly $170 to Turner.