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She Died at 102. Then Came the $160 'Termination Fee'

DirecTV said the service had been canceled early
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2019 6:45 PM CDT
Updated Oct 3, 2019 1:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – The family of a California woman learned the hard way that death won't stop DirecTV from billing you, ABC7 reports. Isabel Albright of San Lorenzo died last December at 102—a remarkable longevity that included two world wars and 18 presidents—but it wasn't enough to terminate a satellite TV contract in her home without penalty. "Everything was fine until we went to disconnect and that's when all the surprises happened,'' says son-in-law John Manrique. The family was fixing the house for sale when DirecTV said it was still charging a $160 early termination fee. "She's gone," says Manrique. "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?"

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Turns out a caregiver had moved in near the end of Albright's life, prompting the family to install a DirecTV box in the name of Albright's daughter. But that triggered a fresh two-year contract, although the company seemed to have no evidence of that. "Every time you hiccup, they start you on a new two-year agreement, basically," says Manrique. But after ABC7 contacted DirecTV, its parent company, AT&T, said it apologized to the family and waived the fee. The issue has arisen before and caused "some governments" to stop companies from charging cancellation fees after death, MSN reports. New York state enacted such legislation in 2018 and now fines companies $1,000 for imposing such charges. (One angry Comcast customer addressed a letter to ... well, we'll let you read it.)

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