Coronavirus News: 7 On Your Side helps LI woman get refund for cancelled funeral service

LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- Tragedy strikes in more ways than one for a Long Island woman dealt a devastating blow from COVID-19.

First her husband contracted COVID-19. Then the virus put her in the hospital.

But the ultimate tragedy, while battling the coronavirus, was when her husband passed.

After she recovered physically, she had to deal with one more frustration, getting overcharged thousands on her husband's funeral bill.

"I'm floored every time I realize he's not here," Susan Thomas said.

Thomas's husband Butch, was the love of her life for nearly 40 years.

"He was a cross between Ralph Kramden and the Fonz," Thomas said. "He's a man's man."

Butch Thomas was a retired FDNY firefighter and a father of three.

The spry 66-year-old was even working two jobs when he came down with COVID-19.

"When he went to get tested he collapsed," Thomas said.

Days later, she also headed to the hospital after testing positive. But while she was winning her battle, her husband lost his.

"I couldn't be with him," Thomas said. "Couldn't have a wake, any visitation ... couldn't see him or be with him in the hospital."

Thomas' kids made funeral arrangements.

They paid thousands of dollars hoping to hold a wake when the quarantine was over. But a month later, Thomas canceled the service.

"I just thought it would be bad for all of us, too painful," she said.

The funeral home agreed to give her a partial refund. But even though there was no service, they kept $2,275 as a basic service fee for the funeral director and staff.

"That's just not fair. This is just not right. I'm gonna call 7 On Your Side. So here I am," Thomas said.

So we went to work for this grieving widow, calling and emailing the funeral home.

Just a day later, Thomas received a call from the funeral director.

"I can't tell you how wonderful I felt when I got that call," Thomas said.

She was issued a full refund, nearly $2,300.

"It actually meant the world to me that you actually listened," Thomas said.

She says her husband would be very proud.

Thomas said the funeral director apologized, saying since the wake was canceled, she should've been refunded the basic services fee from the start.

The Federal Trade Commission that regulates the industry says a funeral home should provide an itemized list of charges.

They advise having you, or a family member go over each charge line by line so you understand them.

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