Because James died without a will, his estate had to go through probate. As part of this process, a notice to creditors was published in the local paper, giving creditors until X-date to file a claim for any amounts due to them. If they didn't file a claim, they could no longer attempt to collect the money. As we were not yet married and Washington is not a common law state, they can't come after me for the balance either. I was only liable for anything with both our names on it.
James and I both had cards from the same credit card company. When he died, he had a balance on his of about $420.00. This was not a card my name was attached to, so I didn't pay it. They didn't file a claim meaning they have to write off the balance.
Friday the phone rang and I saw it was the credit card company. I didn't answer it. My first thought was that they had decided now that some time has passed, they were going to try to collect James' old balance again. I ignored them again on Saturday but answered it yesterday realizing they were not going to give up. I decided if they were calling about his card, I would just give them the lawyer's name and number and let him deal with it.
They were calling about my card. I have had my card for years. Many, many years. I have never been late, which the Credit Card Man thanked me for as part of his opening statement. And I always pay more than the minimum balance, which it turns out is why they were calling-sort of. I always pay the credit card last and last month misplaced the water bill, which I needed to pay first so I could calculate out how many days until payday and how much I could pay the credit card and still leave myself enough of a cushion (Starbucks ain't cheap!). It was getting close to the due date for the credit card bill, so I looked to see what the minimum balance due was. It was $48.96. So, I sent them $50 so I would at least get something to them on time with the intention that I would send them more this week when I sit down to pay bills again.
Credit Card Man thanked me for having been a good paying customer in the past and t0ld me they were concerned because I always pay more than the minimum and this month, I had not done that. They wanted to make sure nothing had happened to make it so I could no longer pay my bill.
"Nope," I said, wanting to get back to my book. He then asked if I needed to be passed over to a credit counselor.
"Nope. I'm good."
He kept persisting. Obviously, there had to be some reason why I had just barely paid the minimum payment. I just kept saying there wasn't, and then I glanced at the mantle. With James smiling back at me, the next time he asked if I was sure nothing had happened to make it so I couldn't pay my card, I shrugged and said my husband died. I left out the part that it was 18 months ago. I don't play the widow card very often; there is seldom a need for it.
That sure changed the tune of the conversation! He was very sympathetic and prompt in offering condolences on behalf of the company. Of course, he then wanted to know if I was going to be able to at least pay the amount I have due on 9/1 and how much I was going to pay. I told him I was waiting to get my paycheck but assured him I would send in a payment at the end of this week and it would be at least the amount due on 9/1. After offering condolences again, he finally let me get back to my book.
Seriously. Don't these people have anything better to do than harass people who actually pay their bill in a timely fashion? Like say, harass the people who don't?