Sunday, April 9, 2017

#SOL17: Officious People

Missing (M.A. Reilly, art journal 2016)


Ma'am, we can't change that account. Call us back after he's dead.


This was the last comment made by an EZ Pass NJ customer service representative when I phoned EZ Pass NJ in early March, 2016. I made the call while standing in my kitchen, looking at my husband who was sleeping in a hospital bed in the adjacent room. He would die within the week.  I was phoning EZ Pass because Rob's debit card number had been stolen while he was a patient at Kessler Rehab and then used to purchase $800 worth of music equipment from a shop in Tennessee. I had canceled all of his cards and realized I needed to update payment information.

This was relatively easy with the exception of EZ PASS.

I had asked the rep to change the account from Rob's name to mine.  I learned that because Rob was still living, the account could not be changed without his approval. I explained that Rob was dying and unable to communicate as he was comatose.  That's when she said quite chipper, Ma'am, we can't change that account. Call us back after he's dead. 

To say I was shocked would not be hyperbolic. Apparently matters of life and death are not sensitive concerns for some at this NJ office. I needed a death certificate to make an account change, although I was able to change the payment method. Frankly after the abrupt way the representative had spoken to me, I forgot about EZ Pass all together. I had a lot to contend with those days.


A few weeks ago I thought I lost the debit card I use for business expenses.  I have been unusually forgetful this year which I am not surprised by. So, I went on line and cancelled the card only to find it five minutes later in my pocket.  When I got the replacement card, I made the changes to accounts where I had used the previous card very easily.  Then earlier this week, I was traveling through a toll booth on the Garden State Parkway when I got a message to phone EZ Pass and I realized I had not updated the payment method. I tried to take care of that earlier in the week.

Because the EZ Pass account is still in Rob's name and correspondence goes to an email no longer in service, I don't have access to the account number and the representative would not tell me the account number even after I was able to verify the secret pin number, address, etc. Oddly, after that long exchange she asked me to verify who she was speaking with. I told her my name again and she said she could only tell Robert Cohen that information.  I explained again that my husband had died 13 months ago.

You need to send a copy of the death certificate and a letter indicating why you are requesting the account to be changed.  You must include the account number in the letter. 
I'm sorry, but I don't know the account number. I don't receive any information from you as I could not change the account email address last year, just the payment. The email is no longer in use as Rob has died.
Yes, but you must include the account number in the letter in order for us to change the account. 
So, how can I reference the account number in the letter? Are you sure you can't tell me the number? 
No, I can only tell Mr. Cohen. 
After learning that little could be done, I finally thought to ask,  Is there another way I can learn what the account number is? 
Yes, I can send that information to Mr. Cohen in the mail. 
Ok, please do that.

This afternoon an envelope arrived addressed to Mr. Robert Cohen. I suspect Rob is somewhere laughing. Officious people can be tiresome and draining and frankly absurd. For now, the account remains in Rob's name, but I have all the info now.


  1. I wish things weren't so complicated after a passing. It is hard enough to get through the regular routine without having to deal with the details after with a brain that is mush. Fortunately, I started a Bullet Journal again and am a constant list maker. Most people have been very compassionate through the details....I am grateful. Before Jerry died, the hospital had Social Workers to help with paperwork. They were non existent once he passed. It is crazy. I was left and had no clue as to what needed to be done. It was like fumbling around in an unfamiliar dark space. At least we both made it through that phase. Sending you peace and love.

    1. I want you to know that I can look back at this now and find some humor in it. I was to weary at the time to even be appalled. Now I know Rob who laughed so easily would be laughing.


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