AAA refunded my dead husband’s membership. Then it stopped payment on the check.

Karen Melander-Magoon is troubled that AAA put a stop payment on two refund checks that were sent to her after her husband died. She can’t find any documentation about these transactions, but she hopes we can help. Can we?

Question: Since my husband’s death in March 2016, I have been trying to resolve this issue. Apparently, my husband paid for his AAA Plus membership just prior to his death and then AAA automatically paid his membership again after his death. I requested refunds of both, since I do not need that insurance.

Two checks were sent to me, I don’t remember the exact amount. I brought them to Wells Fargo to deposit. Later the bank called to tell me that AAA would not authorize the checks. I still don’t know if that is because they were in my husband’s name or because AAA realized there were two checks and blocked both of them.

My bank unsuccessfully tried to resolve the issue. I am trustee for my husband’s affairs and the legitimate recipient of such payments.

I would like to be reimbursed for the membership payments made by my husband prior to his passing and the additional automatic payment made to renew his membership when it wasn’t even due to be renewed. AAA promised to refund these payments. If this is so little information, you don’t want to proceed, I will understand. I know you can only do so much. — Karen Melander-Magoon, San Francisco, Calif.

Answer: Of course, I wanted to help you. But when I read over your request, I must admit that I wasn’t sure how to proceed. In order to determine if we can advocate a case, the first thing we ask for is a paper trail.

Related story:   Is Facebook about to shut down my account?

A paper trail is your proof that you have already tried to correct your problem on your own. It includes all of the correspondence that you have had with the company in question.

This paper trail helps us to understand your problem and guides us into our plan of action for your case.

But you didn’t have a paper trail. And you weren’t clear about many details. Typically, we do not take a case if a consumer can’t provide any documentation of their plight.

You explained to me that during the past year you had been grieving and trying to organize things, but it had been difficult for you.

Of course, this was completely understandable. The loss of a spouse is one of the most traumatic life events. The fact that you believed that AAA had charged your husband almost $400 for a membership that you did not want or use was just an added irritant.

And then when you thought you had straightened it out and received your refund checks, you were hit with another confusing turn of events. You told me that the bank informed you that the checks could not be deposited.

Unfortunately, you had no documentation for any of this.

But since there are exceptions to every rule, especially in our advocacy department, I decided to take your case.

What you did have was your husband’s AAA membership number. I thought that should be just enough information to get some answers to your dilemma.

I reached out to AAA on your behalf and relayed your story. Our executive contact responded immediately with condolences for the loss of your husband and a promise to investigate this situation.

Related story:   Hey Chase, where are those 20,000 points you promised?

Within hours, your problem was resolved.

It is unclear why you had been told by your bank that your deposited check was rejected. AAA was able to provide a copy of the cashed refund check.

The company was also able to confirm that your husband had not been charged for a second year of membership. You may have received a notice of renewal, but no fees were automatically deducted from any of your accounts.

AAA does not have any record of two checks being sent to you — only for the refund check that you cashed.

You are satisfied with this explanation.

We assist consumers in all sorts of ways — sometimes just clarifying a confusing situation. I am happy to have been able to help you end your 15-month search for answers to this problem. And I hope the coming year is filled with brighter days.

Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, consumer advocate, writer and photographer who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. She is Advocacy & Editorial Director at

  • ctporter

    Good story, happy to see you were able to help with this case. Nicely done,

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Good to read that you were able to get the facts from AAA that nothing ‘bad’ (i.e. stop payment; charging of a membership fee; etc.) occurred and explained the facts to the OP.

    This article points out the need for individuals to get their affairs organized (i.e. listing of insurance policies; bank accounts; retirement accounts; memberships; subscriptions; etc) so that it doesn’t put an extra burden on their spouse, children, relatives, friends, etc.

  • PsyGuy

    I really liked how AAA had done the right thing all along. I am confused about why there are two checks at all, and why the LW didn’t know or see the deposits reflected in a statement, which I can easily accept as being the result of dealing with the grief.

  • Mel65

    I’m glad this worked out for her. I would point out, however that maybe it’s a good idea not to make a spouse or immediate family member the trustee or executor of an estate for just this sort of circumstance where in motion can cloud judgment or memory or just trying to wrap your arms around a lot of paperwork and circumstance. Even if they are the beneficiaries of the estate, it may be better to have somebody who is maybe a step removed emotionally be the person to handle these sorts of things.

  • The Original Joe S

    and SCAN all documents, including the TWO checks she got!

    “We have NO RECORD of the AAA manager’s pulling wings off of flies, and tying tincans to the cat’s tail.” BUT a photo would do wonders! Just because they say they have no record doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist; they simply are withholding information. You get my drift……

  • The Original Joe S

    I was the executor of my father’s will. A certain dirtbag bank resisted sending the money he had there to our credit union. Lying bimbette said “we’ll send it” and didn’t. When I chased her down, she said

    “Oh, you have to send a notarized letter.”

    “Why didn’t you tell me that last week?”

    “I did.”

    “Here’s the recording of the conversation. Take a listen. That IS YOUR voice, right? No mention of notarized. I’ve sent it to you today, certified. Send the money, or I complain to the banking regulators and keep at it to be a pain in your backside.”

    [ I can do that because of the same reason a dog scratches behind his ears: Because I CAN! I’m retarded…. errrrr….. reTIRED, and have the time to be a troublemaker! ]:

  • jim6555

    Perhaps this is the time to move her bank accounts out of Wells Fargo. They are the ones who told her that the checks were no good even though the money was in her account. I had something similar happen to me many years ago when I had a business account with them. I

    n my first sentence, I used the plural “accounts”. That is because it is possible that Wells Fargo opened one or more additional accounts in the name of the LW or her husband without their knowledge or permission.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    This is a good point. I wonder how many people have an unknown account due to fraud by Well’s-Fargo.

Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.