Apparently there is no such thing as "off-book" in the customer service industry...

Earlier this week I embarked on the unfortunate task of informing all of Mom's credit card companies that she would no longer be needing their services. This was, in all fairness, a much easier process than I thought it would be (and it turns out I won't need the bagillion death certificates I ordered for said purpose), but there were a few comical hiccups along the way that I just couldn't resist sharing. Sometimes you just have to laugh.

I learned that within many credit companies, there are separate departments (often referred to as the "Estate Division") that handle closing accounts for deceased card holders. This is quite possibly the best idea ever. Not only do these customer service specialists (so to speak) know their stuff when it comes to closing accounts for real (there is nothing more infuriating than finding out an account you requested closed five years ago is still wrecking havoc on your credit report), but they also know how to talk to other human beings. They apologize, sincerely, for your loss and do everything they can to make the process easy, finite, and quick. (It's amazing how little patience I have for sympathy from strangers when I'm trying to take care of business. Maybe not so much amazing as sad, but whateves.)

However, the general customer service reps do not seem to know what to do when they get a question outside their purview; in other words, they pretty much shut down and turn into blubbering messes when they have to deal with something unpleasant...and not readily available in their binder of scripts. Not only was I asked why I wanted to close my account and "Did [I] know about all the benefits of being a (insert company here) card holder?" AFTER I had already informed them that my mom, the card holder, had passed away, but they also kept calling me "Mrs. Aldridge." Insult, meet injury.

I know that customer service people are a special breed and deserve all the cupcakes in the world for the verbal abuse they fall victim to on a daily basis, but sometimes (and I think that applies to us all, really) you just have to throw out the script, remember that you're talking to a human being, and be willing to connect.

I mean, it's not like you're face-to-face. Now THAT is cause for a full-blown come-apart.


  1. I'm sure that's so difficult to have to do.

    I'm glad there is some humanity to credit card companies. You'd never expect that with what you usually hear about them.

    But for the others, I'm sure they're just SO trained to keep a customer, that they really barely listen to what you're saying.

    Glad to see you posting. :)

  2. That's such a good idea having a special department. I wonder when that started.

  3. That's a difficult task, indeed. Cupcakes to YOU for maintaining your signature class and wit through all of it. Glad you're blogging again. xoxo

  4. I wish verizon would have had a special department when my cousin and my uncle died. Not only would they not let my aunt out of the contract, but they wouldn't tell her my cousin's voicemail password so she could at least use the phone. Incredibly rude, in my opinion...

  5. @Susan, Oh, Verizon reps are a special kind of stupid. There's no hope for them, I'm afraid.

  6. I worked in the realm of customer service one summer and it was the hardest job that I think I will ever be forced to undertake. There is def. a script to follow and a way that you MUST go about procedures.. Plenty of times I threw myself off the rhetoric to be real with the people but I know the company would have had a fit if they actually knew.

    Great post!


    Hannah Katy

  7. You are far too nice (I think) to say that they deserve cupcakes. In such situations you are right, they need to throw out their script and help you out because after all we are the customers and they are the ones providing a service which we are paying for. How easily that's forgotten is beyond me.

    I hope everything worked out for you and glad to see you posting again.

  8. When my dad passed away my university required me to take his death certificate to each professor in order to be able to drop my classes without getting a failing grade. My poor professors were so uncomfortable and sweet. None of us could believe that I had to do this. It seems to me I should have been able to show the certificate my department head or head of admissions and have that be that. And to think, I actually went back the following semester to finish my degree at that university. Ha!

    I'm sorry for rambling on your comment section. I just wanted you to know that I totally feel for you. And I couldn't agree with you more, sometimes you just have to laugh!

  9. "But sometimes you just have to throw out the script, remember that you're talking to a human being, and be willing to connect"

    So true. Every customer service person should read this post!