By Scott Hanson; excerpted from the Orlando Sentinel Star newspaper.

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 you 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 you 900
    number. As a psychic reader, I'm sure you already know
    my father is dead, and had been for more that 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.

(Scott Hanson is a news reporter and anchor with WESH-Channel 2 in
Orlando.)
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