Dead Men Read No Mail

March 12th, 2011

A sad saga of our life and times.

My father died on Jan 02, 1995. He left no forwarding
address.

Therefore, it fell to me to collect his mail. I didn't expect much, really, since my sisters and I had been careful to notify his bank, insurance agent, and a host of other businesses that one of their customers was no more.

You would think a death notice would cut down on the amount of correspondence from those firms. Quite the contrary. Instead -- for months, mind you -- my deceased father continued to receive mail from companies that had been told of his passing but pressed on, determined to contact him anyway.

The first to hope for a reply from beyond the grave was my father's bank.

Dear Mr. Hanson,
Our records indicate payment is due for overdraft protection
on your checking account. Efforts to contact you have proven
unsuccessful. Therefore, we are automatically withdrawing
your monthly $28.00 service charge from your account. Please
adjust your records accordingly.

Sincerely,
The Phoenix Branch

Dear Phoenix Branch,

This is to notify you once again that Mr. Hanson died Jan
02, 1995. It is therefore unlikely he will be overdrawing
his account. Please close his account, and adjust your books
accordingly.

Sincerely,
Scott Hanson

Later that same week, I receive this note from Dad's insurance company. Again, this is a firm that had been told in no uncertain terms of his death.

Dear Mr. Hanson,
It's time to renew your auto insurance policy! To continue
your coverage, you must send $54.17 to this office
immediately. Failure to do so will result in the
cancellation of your policy and interruption of your
coverage.

Sincerely,
Your Insurance Agent

Dear Insurance Agent,

This is to remind you that Mr. Hanson has been dead since
January. As such, the odds he'll be involved in a collision
are quite minimal. Please cancel the policy and adjust your
books accordingly.

Sincerely,
Scott Hanson.

The next day, I went to my mailbox to find this:

Dear Mr. Hanson,

Let me introduce myself. I am a psychic reader, and it is
very important that you contact me immediately. I sense that
you are about to enter a time of unprecedented financial
prosperity. Please call the enclosed 900 number immediately,
so I can tell you how best to take full advantage of the
opportunities that are coming your way.

Sincerely,
Your Psychic Reader

Dear Psychic Reader,

My father regrets he will be unable to call your 900 number.
As a psychic reader, I'm sure you already know my father is
dead, and had been for more than three weeks when you mailed
your letter to him. I sense my father would be more than
happy to take you up on your offer of a psychic reading,
should you care to meet with him personally.

Sincerely,
Scott Hanson

P.S. Should you be in contact with my father in the future,
please ask him if he'd like to renew his car insurance.

A few months of calm passed, and then these arrived:

Dear Mr. Hanson,

Our records indicate a balance of $112 has accrued for
overdraft protection on your checking account. Efforts to
contact you have proven unsuccessful. Please pay the minimum
amount due, or contact this office to make other
arrangements. We appreciate your business and look forward
to serving all of your future borrowing needs.

Sincerely,
Your Bank's San Diego District Office

Dear San Diego District Office,

I am writing to you for the third time now to tell you my
father died in January. Since then, the number of checks
he's written has dropped dramatically. Being dead, he has no
plans to use his overdraft protection or pay even the
minimum amount due for a service he no longer needs. As for
future borrowing needs, well, don't hold your breath.

Sincerely,
Scott Hanson

Dear Mr. Hanson,

Records show you owe a balance of $54.17 to your insurance
agent. Efforts to contact you have proven unsuccessful.
Therefore, the matter has been turned over to us for
collection. Please remit the amount of $54.17 to our office
or we will be forced to take legal action to collect the
debt.

Sincerely,
Your Insurance Agent's Collection Agency

Dear Collection Agency,

I told your client. Now I'm telling you. Dad's dead. He
doesn't need insurance. He's dead. Dead, dead, dead. I doubt
even your lawyers can change that. Please adjust your books
accordingly.

Sincerely,
Scott Hanson

A few more months, and:

Dear Mr. Hanson,

Our records show an unpaid balance of $224 has accrued for
overdraft protection on your checking account. Our efforts
to contact you have proven unsuccessful. Please remit the
amount in full to this office, or the matter will be turned
over to a collection agency. Such action will adversely
affect your credit history.

Sincerely,
Your Bank's Los Angeles Regional Office

Dear Los Angeles Regional Office,

I am writing for the fourth time to the fourth person at the
fourth address to tell your bank that my father passed away
in January. Since that time, I've watched with a mixture of
amazement and amusement as your bank continues to transact
business with him. Now, you are even threatening his credit
history. It should come as no surprise that you have
received little response from my deceased father. It should
also be small news that his credit history is of minor
importance to him now. For the fourth and final time, please
adjust your books accordingly.

Sincerely,
Scott Hanson

Dear Mr. Hanson,

This is your final notice of payment due to your insurance
agent. If our firm does not receive payment of $54.17, we
will commence legal action on the matter. Please contact us
at once.

Sincerely,
Your Insurance Agent's Collection Agency

Dear Insurance Agent's Collection Agency,

You may contact my father via the enclosed 900 number.

Sincerely,
Scott Hanson

It has now been a couple of months since I've heard from these firms. Either the people writing these letters finally believe my father is dead, or they themselves have died and are now receiving similar correspondence.

Actually, there has been a lesson in these letters. Any one of them would be cause for great worry, if sent to a living person. The dead are immune from corporate bullying. There's nothing like dying to put business correspondence in its proper perspective.

Perhaps that's the best reason not to fear death. There's no post office there.

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