When my dad died earlier this year my mum had to transfer everything into her name, close accounts and set up new insurance policies. She had to do almost everything over the phone or online.
My mum is 73, she has a hearing problem, she struggles on the phone and only has access to the internet on her mobile phone and in all honesty, as much as she's savvy with face book and skype, setting up accounts such as online banking and using emails is a bit of a challenge.
Everything required an initial phone call.
Press button 1 for
Say your reason for the call after the tone
Did you say xxxxxx?
Each time I had to say I was calling to report my father was deceased was bloody difficult, I'd then have to explain that my mum struggled to hear over the phone and was told I could do everything online. But 9/10 times there were other questions to be asked such as how do we transfer Dad's car to mums name when he was unable to sign the form. Arrrhhh we write deceased in the box and mum signs as normal. Enclose the death certificate or read the number over the line. Mum has to confirm her name, address and date of birth and that she is happy for me to deal with the issue on her behalf, but that permission is only valid for the duration of the call. Paperwork received in post addressed to my dad, thanking him for informing them of his death. Give me strength, more calls, more permission needed to be given.
We finally resolved this issue by buying mum some new phones, she was then able to make the calls herself.
Some companies would deal with me directly, some tried their best to make me go online, the banks were the easiest to deal with, we popped in, they made an appointment and told mum what she needed to bring and dealt with everything in a side room, giving us privacy, access to a phone and support and guidance.
It took 8 weeks after my dad died to get everything sorted, the pensions are now being paid into a bank account, the new direct debit payments have been set up, Dad's car sold and insurance cancelled at no additional charge (which was an added bonus) his name has been removed from all the utility bills etc, the house was on the market, the garage and attic emptied and most of his stuff has been sold.
We've managed it all without using the internet to get things done. Obviously I've been googling the arse off everything before we've done anything, making sure we've covered all basis, but mum needed to be able to hear/see what I was doing so she could deal with things in the future herself and not have to keep on relying me to do things for her.
We hit a barrier last week when I had to return to Dubai and an influx of paperwork arrived for Mum to fill in, in regards to selling her house and the purchase of her new flat. We did have to eventually rely on the internet. There was no other way of doing it. I'd scanned all mums documents before I left and the solicitors were able to send everything to me electronically to save Mum having to photograph every letter and send it to me via facebook, but we hit a high hurdle, when it came to me relaying the information back to the UK on what to fill in as mum's phone wouldn't play ball and she was struggling to read the print on the small screen. It also didn't help by the fact the company who built the property she was purchasing were phoning her up saying they'd been in touch with her solicitor, could you hurry up with the forms and then endless letters from the purchaser solicitors asking questions about building and planning permission for her current property that she'd purchased with my dad in 2001.
I completed forms, took a photo and sent it back to her, I made endless and very expensive phone calls back to the UK, there was confusion, missing forms, information my mum was unable to find, but in the end we got there and all the paperwork was sent off over the weekend. Any further paperwork will be sent back and forth via the teen who will then print it out for my mum to copy, to save her the stress.
When Mum moves she will have access to the internet, she has a new laptop which currently has only her photos on it and she will hold out as long as possible from having to go online to get things done. There's a whole generation of people out there who don't want to use the internet and companies need to take this into consideration and stop assuming it will make everyones life easier, it doesn't. Half the time to a lot of people it just causes more stress.
I really do dread to think what happens to people who don't have family around to support them during difficult times. They say the 5 most stressful things in life to deal with are Death, Divorce, Moving, Major Illness and Job Loss. They take over your life and require endless filling in of paperwork and tight deadlines in which to complete, all of which is overwhelming on top of the situation you are facing.
Do you find you have to do everything online these days? Do you prefer it or would you rather go back to receiving paperwork and being able to pop into the office to speak to someone face to face rather than getting put on hold to call centres?