Vancouver real estate agents criticized for sympathy card

A 73-year-old man whose wife died less than three weeks earlier was crushed to get a pitch for his business attached to a sympathy card from two Metro Vancouver real estate agents, his outraged daughter says.

“It absolutely devastated him,” Launi Smith Bowie said. “It’s absolutely disgusting and misguided in the worst way.”

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The card her father received read: “May loving memories be your constant comfort and fill your heart with peace.”

A hand-written note added: “Dear Mr. Smith. So sorry to hear of your wife’s passing. Please let us know if we can help in any way with your Real Estate needs when the time is right.”

Business cards from two realtors with HomeLife Benchmark Realty in White Rock, belonging to Linda Shaver and Leanne deSouza, were included.

Bowie feels that at best, the two real estate agents displayed extremely poor judgment. “On what planet does someone think this is ethical or even remotely acceptable?” Bowie said. “They probably think it was just an innocuous marketing plan, but it’s not.

“They didn’t know my mom. They don’t know my dad. It shows a total lack of compassion. It was a punch in the gut to my dad when he’s already feeling so wasted.

“I don’t know who they think they are that they can invade his space the way they did.”

The two real estate agents said they made a mistake. They had met the father during a routine door-knocking outing, deSouza said, and had discussed the value of his house.

The pair felt it was worth a lot more than he thought it was.

That’s when he mentioned his wife had just died, according to the real estate agents. “We both said we were so sorry for the loss,” said Shaver.

They included the sympathy card as part of their routine follow-up, she said. “What I learned is I’ll never put another business card in a sympathy card. We regret that we’ve caused further pain for the family.”

Bowie’s 72-year-old mother was attending her son’s birthday party on July 17 when, unseen by others, she fell. She was unresponsive when family members discovered her. It turned out she had broken her neck. A decision was later made to take her off life support.

Bowie’s father had brought his unopened mail with him to the family’s cabin in the Interior and was watching the Olympics while he opened it on Saturday, 20 days after his wife’s sudden death. That’s when he came across the agents’ card.

A friend of the family found him holding the card, shoulders stooped and staring vacantly, Bowie said.

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