Cruse is calling on the government to introduce a new set of agreed standards which commercial service providers would need to meet, making it easier to close down the accounts of someone who dies.
A petition calling on ministers to take swift action has been launched on Change.org with the backing of Cruse Bereavement Care.
The Bereavement Standard would establish:
1. An agreed timeframe for companies to respond to bereavement enquiries and settle outstanding customer balances.
2. A bereavement customer care email channel for each company, to directly handle such cases and avoid customers waiting on calls.
3. The standardisation of paperwork needed to close an account, with a view to accepting digital documents whenever possible.
Steven Wibberly, CEO of Cruse Bereavement Care said:
“In the aftermath of a close relative’s death, people should be able to spend time with their families grieving, rather than spending hours doing admin.
“Last year, we launched our Bereaved Customers First campaign which aims to reduce the emotional burden bereaved people face when contacting businesses regarding the death of someone. It is vital companies are compassionate and simplify their processes to ensure they are fit for purpose and are not causing their bereaved customers further distress, at an already very difficult time.
“Unfortunately the coronavirus pandemic has left thousands more people bereaved. Anything that can be done to simplify this process for bereaved people will have a huge impact.
"There is currently no approved process for closing accounts when someone dies – with some companies demanding a death certificate before closing an account, others seek different proof and paperwork. It can take up to a month, with repeated calls, to close just one account."
Settld, which has created an online account closure service after being awarded a UK Government COVID-19 grant, is calling for the government to set an agreed Standard for the bereavement case account closure, which service providers would have to meet.
Vicky Wilson, Founder of Settld, said:
“Many families, who are already grieving for lost loved ones, are being put through additional unnecessary suffering because there is currently no single, centralised service to close accounts of all types. This means that bereaved relatives are forced to ring up multiple companies, sometimes several times, to state that their husband or wife, son, daughter, or grandparent, has died. It’s a process which can take weeks to resolve.
“Settld wants people to be able to grieve for their loved ones rather than deal with stressful bereavement bureaucracy. We will help lighten the load for families grappling with grief by dealing with some of the red tape, via this free automated account closure service.”