So, as POA (Power of Attorney) for both parents, I was responsible for paying their bills. Bill payment had always been my father’s job and as kids, we all high-tailed it when the heavy green strongbox was set down on the kitchen table (next to an ashtray and pack of Marlboroughs). Our father seldom swore, but you could count on it that one evening a month.
Mom typically high-tailed with us, since in her wallet were credit cards for G. Fox, B.T.’s, Sage Allen. She too, wanted to be as far from the bill-paying as possible. Oddly, after his stroke when my dad could no longer do this job, Mom became interested in the finances. She would call me each month to make sure I was taking care of the bills, since she did not want to be arrested for non-payment.
Mom – If my ass winds up in jail, yours is right next to it. I’ll tell them you did it.
For the last several years, Mom loved to shop at Kohl’s and had their credit card (which we paid off each month … on time and in full). Just before she died, there was an outstanding balance of $93.12. The full amount was set up online to pay on time. Without going into all the details, the payment did not happen. Her next Kohl’s statement added interest and a penalty.
I spoke to a representative from Kohl’s and explained the situation.
Rep – I can’t talk to you about the account. I can only speak to Maria.
Me – I just explained, my mother died.
Rep – Yes, but this is her account. I can only speak to her.
Me – Let me know how that works out for you.
Rep – Can I put you on hold?
Me – No, you can’t! I’ll send you a check for the original $93.12. Then just close out the account.
Rep – The only person who can close the account is Maria Thomas.
Me – Are you listening to me???
Rep – My manager says we need a copy of your POA paperwork and a copy of your mother’s death certificate.
Me – WTF? You are a department store. I am not sending you legal documents.
In the end though, I sent them copies of the documents and a check for $93.12, along with a terse letter about what they lack in customer service … just to stop the barrage of phone calls I was receiving each day (for Maria Thomas).
This was awhile back and last week the phone calls started up again. Saturday, I finally picked up and was promptly put on hold. Then …
Rep – How may I help you?
Me – You called me.
Rep – Is this Maria Thomas?
Me – Nope. It is her daughter … (and I then went through the whole story again, including the fact they cashed the check I sent).
Rep – I am sorry to hear about your mother. I’m going to put you on hold …
Me – No, you are not! You are going to close her account and stop calling me.
Rep – I need to research this matter.
Me – Not while I’m on hold you don’t!
Rep – Okay, let me just verify a couple things. What are the last 4 digits of Maria’s social security number?
I gave this to her.
Rep – Maria’s middle initial?
I gave this to her.
Rep – Maria’s address?
I sat there, stunned! Had she been listening? Outside the window, the day was blue and fat with springtime. I wanted off the phone and done with Kohl’s.
Rep – What is Maria’s address?
Me (big pause) – Heaven?
Rep – Is that with an ‘H’?
And we both cracked up!