Her husband died, so why did his AAA refund check bounce?

Karen Melander-Magoon is troubled that someone put a stop payment on two AAA refund checks that she deposited soon 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 AAA refund 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 the trustee for my husband’s affairs and the legitimate recipient of such payments.

I would like AAA to reimburse me for the membership payments made by my before 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.

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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.

An AAA refund — or not

And then when you thought you had straightened it out and received your AAA 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.

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A AAA refund resolution

Within hours, the mystery of your AAA refund 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 AAA 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 AAA 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 the executive director of Elliott.org. She is a consumer advocate, SEO-lady, writer and licensed clinical social worker who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. Contact her at Michelle Friedman Read more of Michelle's articles here.

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