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Canceling Subscriptions of a Deceased: ‘Confrontational and Stressful’

The number of subscriptions we have has increased. In 2018 we had 11 per household, last year there were 14. It contributes to the ‘rollercoaster of things that you have to arrange’ when a loved one dies, Wendy Langenhuizen-Turksma knows. Her husband died at the age of 41. “After the funeral I thought: well, now rest. But that was not the case.”

Her husband also had a lot of subscriptions. “At one point, the underpants fell through the letterbox,” she tells EditieNL. “He also had a subscription to that.”

Another one that had to be cancelled. Very confrontational, Wendy thought. “Cancelling everything felt like I was removing my husband. You know it has to be done, but I found it very difficult,” she says. “It takes so much time that you just don’t want to and can’t be involved. I would rather have spent that time and energy on mourning.”

Stress

Peter Kramer, who lost his wife in 2013, also had to work his way through the subscriptions that had to be canceled. “It really took me months – or maybe even longer – to implement a name change at our telecom provider.”

Her mobile subscription has not even been canceled yet. “They then converted it to a cheaper subscription,” explains Peter. He thinks it’s weird. “Someone has died, but you still have to pay for her mobile subscription while that person can’t use it.”

All the hassle led to more stress than Peter had anticipated. “You are in the middle of your grieving process and your head is not set on being sent from pillar to post,” he says. In addition, the letters with his wife’s name on them were painful to receive. “It feels like they’re pulling the plaster off an open wound every time.”

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Shutdown business

To take stress away from people like Wendy and Peter, there is a company: Closure. This can be enabled to terminate all accounts, subscriptions, and contracts of a deceased person. Closure has been around for almost five years now. “It all started with a friend of mine,” says co-founder Graciëlla van Vliet. “She received a message via Facebook to congratulate her grandmother, but she had already passed away. That is very painful.”

In the beginning, Closure handled one death notification per week. Now there are a few hundred, or sometimes a thousand, a day. “If we receive a report, we immediately pass it on to the relevant organizations and subscriptions are stopped.” That doesn’t always happen right away. “Confirmation may take a little longer, but once we pass it on, at least you don’t have to pay for it anymore.”

Collaborations

The company does all shutdowns for free. To make this run more smoothly, there are partnerships with companies such as Unicef, OV-chipkaart and T-Mobile. But relatives are also helped with all other accounts, contracts and subscriptions.

Closure does this to save them extra grief and stress. “It takes a lot of time and energy,” says van Vliet. It is also not always easy to stop everything. “The next of kin don’t always have all the passwords. That makes it more difficult, resulting in roaming accounts.”

Attention

Peter knows better than anyone that not only subscriptions and contracts, but also accounts on social media cause obstacles. He would have liked help with it. “When I deleted my wife’s Facebook account, our conversation was gone. It was the same on WhatsApp,” he says. “I found that very painful, because our last conversations were very dear to me.” He hopes that more attention will be paid to this problem from the funeral industry.

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That attention seems to be there. We are currently looking at how relatives can be assisted with terminating subscriptions, accounts and contracts, says Marc van Esch of Zuylen Uitvaartzorging. “I can imagine that there will be an increasing demand for it, because an entire generation is growing up digitally.”

Van Esch continues: “A generation with countless subscriptions and passwords. If you as relatives do not know about this, it is useful if a company is familiar with it.”

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