PayPal Erroneously Sends Notice That Woman’s Death Violated Policy

The company has since admitted that the correspondence was inappropriate and apologized to the deceased woman’s widower who brought the issue to light.

A deceased woman’s widower received an incredibly insensitive letter from PayPal following his wife’s death.

According to BBC News, the woman had died from cancer, and the firm's letter stated that her death breached its rules and that the company may take legal action as a result.

The company has since admitted that the correspondence was inappropriate and apologized to the woman’s husband. It has also opened an investigation into how and why the letter was distributed.

Howard Durdle brought the issue to the attention of the BBC in an effort to spread awareness to corporate companies that their automated systems can be flawed.

His late wife, Lindsay Durdle, passed away in May at 37 years old. She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer, which eventually spread to her lungs and brain.

Howard Durdle notified PayPal of her death and provided copies of her death certificate, her will, and his identification, per the company’s request.

Some weeks later, the disturbing letter came to his home, addressed in his wife’s name with the headline: “Important: You should read this notice carefully.”

The notice went on to say that she owed about £3,200, or approximately $4,227, to the online payments service, adding that, “You are in breach of condition 15.4(c) of your agreement with PayPal Credit as we have received notice that you are deceased... this breach is not capable of remedy."

Paypal has told Howard Durdle that it is treating this matter as “a priority” and has written off the debt while the investigation is underway.

"We apologize to Mr. Durdle for the distress this letter has caused," a spokesman added. "We are urgently looking into this matter, and are in direct contact with Mr. Durdle to support him."

According to Howard Durdle, a PayPal staff member told him there were three possible reasons for why the correspondence was sent. The potential explanations included a bug, a bad letter template, or human error.

"I'm in a reasonable place at the moment, I've got quite a level head on my shoulders and am quite capable of dealing with paperwork like this," Howard Durdle said.

He continued: "But I'm a member of the charity Widowed and Young, and I've seen first-hand in there how a letter like this or something like it can completely derail somebody. If I'm going to make any fuss about this at all, it's to make sure that PayPal — or any other organization that might do this kind of insensitive thing — recognizes the damage they can cause the recently bereaved."

To say that this was egregious would be an understatement. However, PayPal's response indicates that the company is genuinely apologetic for the error and is taking strides to fix their system. But there's no telling how many grieving families have received similar letters, forcing them to relive their heartbreak all over again and simultaneously stress over an unpaid debt.  

View Comments

Recommended For You