Three weeks after a British man told PayPal that his wife had died at 37 and that her credit account should be closed, he opened a letter from the company: Her death, it seemed, was in violation of the company’s contract rules.
“You are in breach of condition 15.4(c) of your agreement with PayPal Credit as we have received notice that you are deceased,” said the July 10 letter to the woman, Lindsay Durdle, who had died of breast cancer on May 31.
Her husband of nearly 10 years, Howard Durdle, 40, of Bucklebury, read the company’s list of potential consequences: shutting down her account, requiring repayment of more than $4,000 in debt, and even legal action.
In Britain, spouses are not automatically responsible for their deceased partners’ debts. Such debts must be paid through the estate of the person who died, including money or possessions. Mr. Durdle said his wife’s estate could not cover her debt.
“With grief, there are ups and downs,” he said. “There are days when you are very fragile, and there are days when you are feeling stronger. We are lucky that this week I was feeling quite strong.”
PayPal said in a statement on Wednesday that it apologized “for the understandable distress this letter caused” and that it had “quickly performed a thorough investigation.”
“As soon as our teams became aware of this mistake, we contacted Mr. Durdle directly to offer our support, cleared the outstanding debt and closed down his wife’s account as he requested,” the company said. “We have also urgently reviewed the company’s internal processes and have made changes to ensure that an insensitive error of this nature never happens again.”
A PayPal spokesman declined to specify how such a letter was sent in the first…
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