On May 31, 2018, 37-year-old UK woman Lindsey Durdle sadly passed away after a long struggle with cancer. Her death caused much grief, an emptiness that could never again be filled, and a violation of Condition 14.5(c) of her PayPal agreement.
After Lindsey's passing, her husband Howard went about the sad business of closing her accounts. Afterward, he received a letter from PayPal, to which he had sent "her death certificate, her will and his ID, as requested." PayPal's letter wasn't offering any condolences, however, but informing him that his wife was absolutely not permitted to die, as per her agreement with the digital payment service. The letter, addressed to Mrs. Durdle herself, stated that she still had an outstanding debt of 3,240.72 pounds (roughly $4,300) at the time of her death, which was a breach of her agreement with PayPal Credit -- a breach "not capable of remedy," as deaths tend to be.
Undeterred by the basic laws of nature that have existed since time immemorial, PayPal threatened to take action against Lindsey, including siccing debt collectors on her and even suing her. Howard posted the letter on social media, calling PayPal's behavior "beyond the fucking pale," which is not that far for a company seemingly prepared to go to the afterlife to reclaim a dime. PayPal reached out to him to apologize and forgive the debt, blaming the letter on a bug, human error, or just a bad template. Which is probably true, as the sentence "You are deceased" is something that has only ever been said by a dumb robot or an overly polite "Game Over" screen.
Still, it would be unwise to just ignore PayPal "accidentally" trying to get back in the black while mourners are just getting out of theirs. In Howard's feed, there are several other people claiming the company pulled the exact same thing with them. Debt collectors and banks have created an entire cottage industry out of this, typically by intimidating the bereaved into paying off the debts of their loved ones -- something they're usually not required by law to do. So until governments stop those ghoulish practices, we should all fear these "bad templates" coming to haunt us.
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