Did you know that..?
You have the right to comparison shop by phone? By law, funeral directors must give you specific answers to specific questions regarding types of services available and pricing. If you inquire in person at a funeral home about arrangements, the funeral director must provide you with a preprinted “General Price List”; a complete itemization of all services offered and the corresponding prices. Failure of the funeral establishment to do so exposes them to fines of $10,000 per incident by the FTC.
Embalming is not required by law but may be requested for specific circumstances; death by infectious disease, a prolonged period of time between death and burial, or most commonly, a public viewing or wake.
If a funeral director is making a cash advance for such items as flowers, obituary notices, grave opening and closing fees, clergy honoraria, pallbearers, etc., it must be disclosed if any money is being made on the transaction. It is advised to ask for cash receipts!
A casket is not required for a direct cremation. An inexpensive alternative container is all that is required. The funeral director must provide an itemized accounting, known as the statement of goods and services, showing the total cost of the funeral merchandise and/or services selected.
Funeral providers are strictly prohibited from making any claims that a product or service will indefinitely preserve the remains.
Many funeral homes are owned by large publicly traded corporations. Market research indicates that a corporately owned funeral home tends to be significantly higher in cost to you. Ask your funeral director if the funeral home is independently owned and operated or is it part of a chain. Most corporate chains mislead customers by disguising ownership by continuing to use the local business name many years after they have purchased the property.
More and more funeral directors no longer do their own embalming or initial pickup of the remains. Ask the funeral director if he is providing these services or is it contracted to an outside source.
Shop The Basic Service Fee
When you select a funeral home to handle the service portion of the funeral, there is one itemization that is non-declinable: THE BASIC SERVICE FEE OF THE FUNERAL DIRECTOR AND STAFF. The BASIC SERVICE FEE amounts to somewhat of a cover charge for doing business with the funeral home and does not include any of the other services provided such as transfer of the remains, refrigeration, embalming, use of the facilities – just to name a few of the costs.
The BASIC SERVICE FEE is a discretionary charge that ranges from the hundreds to thousands of dollars! THE HIGHER THE BASIC SERVICE FEE, THE HIGHER THE OVERALL EXPENSES MAY BE… THE LOWER THE BASIC SERVICE FEE, THE MORE ROOM THE CONSUMER HAS TO NEGOTIATE.
Because casket stores have had such a dramatic impact on the funeral industry, funeral homes are doing everything possible to discredit casket stores and casket resellers while attempting to eliminate options for the consumer. However, the funeral industry is regulated. Therefore, funeral homes cannot directly eliminate the consumer’s rights to comparison shop.
Some of the most frequently heard allegations made by funeral homes against caskets purchased from other companies are:
“You won’t get the casket you selected”
“The casket will fall apart”
“They’re not as good a quality and therefore we can’t recommend them”
“They will never deliver them on time or where they are supposed to”
“Their caskets are damaged”
“It’s not really a casket”
“They don’t have any warranties”
“They are below funeral home standards”
These untrue allegations are used as propaganda by funeral homes to convince the consumer to purchase their products at inflated prices, just like old times. The countless number of families that have been served in the short time that casket stores have been available, along with the rapid expansion of hundreds of stores to many states, should attest to the need and consumer acceptance of casket stores.
Some mortuaries are adjusting their prices to meet the prices of casket stores. However, this only occurs when the consumer has shopped and a mortuary feels they can save a sale by lowering the purchase price of the casket. Although this accomplishes our goal of providing a reasonably priced product to that specific consumer, the long-term effect results in consumers continuing to pay inflated prices overall. This philosophy is what many funeral homes have as long standing business practice -“ We will cheat you unless you catch us. If you catch us, then we will give you a discount.” Why would anybody want to buy from that business?
The only reason funeral homes are now willing to match prices is an attempt to force casket stores out of business. If successful, the charitable attitudes of the funeral homes will no longer be in such overwhelming abundance. Prices will soar uncontrollably as past experience has shown. Besides, what does it say about funeral homes if they are only willing to lower prices when faced with losing the bulk of their income, the sale of a casket?
And WHY does the mortuary give the price-oriented shoppers a second, lower price. While the average consumer only gets offered the higher price? It is also the concern of casket stores that if the mortuaries succeed in putting them out of business they will have accomplished two dangerous things:
FIRST: The mortuaries will have eliminated all of their competition.
SECOND: They will have successfully warned anyone attempting to balance the industry they will not succeed against the “BIG BOYS” in the mortuary business.
Casket retailers are proud that they have had such a positive impact on the funeral industry. They were formed to give the consumer options in order to bring much needed balance to a one-sided industry. Keep in mind that choosing to purchase a discounted casket from a mortuary today, will guarantee that the choice you made today, will eliminate the choice of tomorrow. Mortuaries are still over-pricing their services for every little detail they do in the name of caring. Such as charging a service fee for allowing use of their parking lot or even the restroom facilities during the funeral service. How many restaurants are able to charge customers for those conveniences?
As Americans, we have always been free to make our own decisions. As a unique part of this industry, it is not our intention to discredit the valuable service provided by the mortuary and it’s staff. The vast majority of funeral directors are good, honest people. It is their business philosophy that is bad. We are simply available to provide options to the consumer through healthy competition. Our philosophy is “Let the Free market decide.”
The Funeral Industry would tell people ANYTHING to keep them from comparing prices or coming to his store to see for themselves. Many Funeral homes prey on the family’s inability to think clearly in their time of grief.
Some Funeral Homes have started sham pricing techniques, with packaged prices so that you will think you must buy the casket with the service.
This is highly illegal, according to the FTC rules. Some Funeral homes play every dirty trick in the book on families. And they get away with it, because the family is standing there with tears in their eyes, really not thinking clearly at all, while the Funeral Director is thinking “Bottom line” and trying to find out how much insurance they have or what kind of car are they driving.
As an informed consumer:
Shop Around before hand. Know your options! Approach it as you would any major purchase. You wouldn’t buy the first used car you saw, or the first computer or TV, and those are a whole lot cheaper than funeral services.
Before discussing ANYTHING with the funeral home, go in and get their price list for services and caskets. If they won’t give you both, don’t go back! No matter what their excuse.
Sit down at home and figure out what you want and can afford without having the Funeral Director guiding you or telling you what you can or can not do. Federal Law says you can do almost anything you want in regard to the service, and you can purchase caskets and other funeral goods anywhere you want.
Never mention if you have insurance or not. You don’t need to show them the policy. Your bank will loan you the money against the policy and this will save you thousands. A trick question is, “How many copies of the Death Certificate do you need?” If you say more than one, they assume you have more insurance, and sometimes the price goes up or you are ask about flowers or markers, and all of it can be put on the funeral bill.
When they try to get you to make a quick decision on the casket or services, tell them you have to discuss it with other family members not present. If they are a reputable home there should be no problem. If there is a problem, LOOK OUT! Shop around.
When you look at caskets, the words “Protected” or “Sealer” will come up. Nothing is a “permanent” seal. That term is deceptive and a fraud perpetrated by casket manufactures. A seal may help keep the elements out for a short time, but nothing is permanent. Don’t fall for that story. One of the largest casket companies in the world has numerous lawsuits about the poor quality of their caskets. When you read the extra fine print their “Lifetime” warranty is only good for a couple of years.
Don’t buy your headstone for at least 4 months; the ground needs time to settle. Do it too fast and you’ll have to pay extra to have it re-set later. And, you can buy your headstone anywhere you want to as well. Shop around! You can save about half.
If one Funeral Home picks up the body and you decide to move to another one because the price is too high, you can. They can’t stop you or hold the body for ransom. That’s against the law, the same as kidnapping. They may try but it’s your money. If you sign a contract, you have 72 hours to cancel it; after all, you are under duress.
Be wary of so-called “cremation societies’. Most of these are fronts for large Corporate Funeral Homes. They may woo you in with a low price so you think it is a discount and then stick it to the family after you’re gone with “extras” such as chapel service, casket and embalming. That $700 cremation quickly turns into a $7000 funeral.
They want to get as many family members as they can at the sales conference because every family member will want to add something to the service and this helps run the costs up. Remember, this is a “Sales” conference; you are being sold a bill of goods.
Beware of the after service “Grief Counseling”. This is a good time to sell you a big Pre-need policy and to get all your relatives signed up as well. If you think you need “Grief Counseling” get some from a professional. (Your local hospital will be glad to help)
Pre-Need is NOT what you think. When the family shows up at the funeral home after you’re gone, they’re in for a shock on what it doesn’t cover. Read the fine print. And chances are that fine casket you picked out won’t be there either. Put your money in a trust account at the bank. It will be there when needed. The courts are full of lawsuits from families suing over Pre-need. Look on the Internet. The truth is out there.
Central Florida Casket Store is part of a growing trend across America to comparison shop. We offer consumers the opportunity to make an important decision-making process as easy as possible by offering a selection of beautifully crafted caskets, monuments, markers, urns and flowers for every need and financial situation.
Remember “Pay your respects, not your life savings.”