PayPal recently sent a letter to a recently deceased woman formally closing her PayPal credit account and demanding the outstanding balance be paid immediately, and has since issued an apology to the grieving husband, written off her tab, and promised to take steps to ensure that this does not happen to anybody else. The widower, Howard Durdle, took to Twitter to affirm PayPal’s decision and call for more companies to follow in its footsteps when it comes to handling the accounts of deceased customers by going through their loved ones. PayPal did not specify exactly what it plans to do in order to prevent such incidents in the future, but it’s quite likely that the root cause of this particular incident will be investigated and fixed as a first step.
PayPal Credit’s terms and conditions explicitly state that customers who die or fall into extreme mental illness can have their accounts closed and outstanding balances demanded. The letter received by Mr. Durdle was addressed to his wife, and warned that PayPal not only sought the full balance of her account, but was open to legal proceedings and collection agency involvement in order to settle the account in full. Furthermore, no further notice was apparently required in order to pursue any further action. Conversely, the letter ended by saying that the company understood that Mrs. Durdle may be under financial hardship at the moment, and that PayPal was “eager to help”
The saga began a bit over three weeks ago, when Howard Durdle called in to PayPal to tell them that his wife, Lindsay Durdle, had passed away. He didn’t hear anything back at the time, though it’s logical to assume that he knew he would somehow have to take care of the balance on her account, the equivalent of close to $4,000 USD at the time. The way that PayPal informed him of this was with the letter stated above, and he took to social media and reached out to mainstream media outlets. The BBC put his story in the public eye, which caught PayPal’s attention and spurred the company into handling the case in the most timely and compassionate way possible. The letter in question may have been automated or the result of human error, but either way, it’s quite feasible that something similar will happen to somebody else in dealings with another company, even if PayPal solves the issue on its end. As yet, outside of the media, the general public online, Mr. Durdle, and PayPal, there seems to be no current mainstream discourse on this sort of issue. This essentially means that if lawmakers or larger companies are going to step in, it may be a while before they do, if they choose to do so at all.
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