PayPal sent the letter pictured below to a Mrs. Lindsay Durdle shortly after speaking with her widower, demanding her outstanding PayPal Credit balance of £3,240.72. Mr. Durdle reached out to the media at that point, with the goal of making PayPal and other organizations aware that letters like this one can be unsettling and distressing to those who have lost a loved one, and that there are more tactful ways of collecting on debts left behind by the deceased. After that, PayPal backtracked, issuing an apology for the “insensitive” behavior, waiving the debt, and promising to take action to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future.
PayPal’s letter was a notice of default in response to her death, since she could no longer fulfill her obligations under the terms of the agreement. In the letter, PayPal said that “this breach is not capable of remedy”, and that the company would therefore require immediate payment and cut off access to her credit account, among other possible actions. While these sorts of actions are mostly standard when a borrower dies, sending a letter to the bereaved is quite a blunt and potentially painful way to inform involved parties of the proceedings. Such matters can be handled in probate, for example, or the debts can be assigned to responsible parties such as marriage partners, and letters that say essentially this same type of thing can be sent with a more personal touch. According to PayPal, the letter’s source has not been determined yet. It may have been a computer error, use of the wrong letter template for the scenario, or simple human error.
In the aftermath of this incident, widower Howard Durdle said that he was personally in a decent place mentally, but hoped to prevent other people from having to go through the same kind of ordeal. The loss of a loved one is already a time of extreme anguish, and can leave people not entirely in their right mind. Receiving stark, businesslike, and cold reminders of their lost loved one and their affairs can be a jarring, if not traumatic experience, which is why Mr. Durdle worked to bring this happening to light.
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