After an Alhambra man’s death, his family struggled for months to get Bank of America to hand over $24,000 left in his checking account. (Associated Press)
“Losing someone can be stressful,” Bank of America’s Estate Services division says online. “Rest assured we’re here to help.”
Bob Carter Jr., a longtime BofA customer, needed the bank’s help after his father, also a BofA customer, passed away in April.
All he got, he says, is months of stonewalling.
Carter’s dad, an Alhambra resident, had about $24,000 in his checking account when he died at the age of 89. In most cases, next of kin can obtain such funds by submitting a death certificate and a few other forms.
But Carter, 65, discovered that no mater how many times he and other family members turned in the same documents, no matter how many times they called and were subjected to epic waits on hold, they just couldn’t get the bank to make good on its pledge.
“They kept saying that all the paperwork was in order and that they’d quickly release the money,” the Pasadena resident told me. “But then they’d turn around and say again that documents were incomplete or missing.”
Carter said he gradually came to believe that BofA, which reported its third-quarter profit rose by 58% to $7.7 billion, was determined to hang on to the money for as long as possible.
“We kept calling the bank every few weeks and they kept giving us the run-around,” he said. “It’s suspicious.”
It is. And let’s be clear about situations like this: There’s absolutely no excuse for a bank or any other business to not step up when contacted by a bereaved family.
These are precisely the moments when high-minded corporate declarations of caring and sensitivity are put to the test. And all too often, businesses come up short.
Carter’s problems with BofA reminded me of a column I wrote in June about a Fresno woman who died at the age of 91. A California solar company called Sunrun refused to cancel her contract and refused to remove its solar panels from the roof of the house.
The company seemed determined to make the dead woman’s family pay off her contract, even though family members had no legal obligation to do so.
It wasn’t until I contacted Sunrun that the company suddenly realized it was behaving in a miserable fashion.
Again, it should never come to this. No business should ever place self-interest ahead of showing compassion …….