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Cable Company Charges Woman To End Dead Mother's Contract

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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - It's the time in life many people don't want to think about, when the child takes on the role of parent.

"She couldn't write a check or have a credit card," said Lauri Rule about her mother.

Rule took care of her mom Dorothy Birdwell's bills, medical care and finances when her health started failing.

She had Dish set up in Birdwell's room at the Town Hall Estates Nursing Home in Arlington.

"One thing she had left, that she could enjoy having was TV," said Rule.

Sadly, six months later Birdwell passed away at 95.

"I just took a deep breath... I mean my mother, yeah, I took a deep breath," said Rule.

Rule had to grieve, plan the funeral and cancel all her mom's services. She said Dish would not let her out of the contract without paying hundreds of dollars.

"I just can't understand anybody being as cold as that," said Rule.

The Dish service went to her mom's room but Rule had set up the account, so charges to cancel the account would go to her.

Rule even offered to send the company a death certificate or any other documents they might need.

"No, that was the policy," said Rule.

Rule said the company told her there was one way she could cancel without being charged -- if she was the one who died.

"Yeah, if I died. I thought jeez, I'm not ready to die that's for sure. That's all I could think of," said Rule.

Consumer Justice reporter Cristin Severance contacted Dish, the company contacted Rule that day and refunded the nearly $400 they had charged her.

Rule is relieved the company stepped up and resolved the situation.

Dish also sent CBS11 the following statement:

"Our deepest sympathies to Mrs. Rule and her family for their loss. Regarding our policy of handling accounts of deceased customers, we will waive the account cancellation fees upon verification of the death. In this relatively rare situation, the account holder was not the deceased, but was a family member. In light of this situation, we intend to reexamine our policy. While all of dish's customer care representatives receive thorough training and have the tools necessary to promptly resolve most customer matters, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our processes."

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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