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Funeral homes hit the grieving with inflated prices

When you’re dealing with loss or grief, the difficult task of organising a funeral is compounded when funeral homes use tactics that stifle competition and inflate prices. This includes failing to list prices (instead, relying on verbal quotes that have been shown to vary significantly) and bundling services.

Read more about the issues uncovered in a recent report from the University of Sydney Business School:

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Another article regarding complaints of overcharging and poor service in the funeral industry.

I was under the impression that White Lady Funerals was a very personalised and dignified service for women.

I guess that just demonstrates the power of advertising.

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Like any service industry, it pays to shop around. Even if one still wants to use a more expensive service, having prices of other providers would allow one to negotiate a better deaL with their preferred supplier.

It is too late to engage a service and later on check whether the price was reasonable.

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How many families, especially those with sudden loses, are of the mind to shop around and negotiate? The funeral industry seems a special case where the customers are guaranteed to be queuing as well as at one of their most vulnerable times.

It would make sense for funeral providers to have a standard form showing their fees akin to the utility standing offer or private health insurance pages. Although they could game them that would give the grieving customer some easy-to-get comparisons and possibly focus on questions.

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Absolutely, needs to change. The industry has several large enterprises trading through multiple subsidiary brands. This gives the impression of competition where there is possibly none? For any one looking for advice from their local ministry, it is also relevant that the funeral service provider often facilitates the attendance of your chosen spiritual representative. (If that is required?)

For some, departure deserves or demands a high level of celebration. Irrespective the burden goes to the estate. For many where partners remain, there is precious little in finances to assist. Funeral service providers are profit making enterprises.

Since Medicare covers birth, perhaps there should be a standard fee for the end, covered by Medicare with the maximum standard fee and service delivery requirements also prescribed? Flowers optional.

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New laws in NSW aim to improve funeral price transparency:

  • Funeral homes will need to display price lists in-store and on their website
  • They must also display the cost of their least expensive package
  • Funeral directors will have to provide a cost-itemised quote to a customer before entering an agreement to carry out their funeral service
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Another article regarding some of the bottom-feeding grubs in the funeral industry.

Absolutely disgraceful.
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An article regarding funerals with some input from Choice.

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Worth the read having organised two in recent years.

It can depend on where you live, and the dear departed rests temporarily. Rural and regional Australians have very limited options. Even larger regional centres such as Emerald and Longreach in Qld can only support one provider. Cremations may add another cost for transport for a return trip.

Plenty of good advice on the Choice website too.

DIY? Apparently possible, legal I’s & T’s dotted and crossed.

Choice says

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I had need of organising a funeral a few years ago and discovered there is quite a bit of badge engineering involved. Some of the big players have more than one brand name.

Depending on which phone number you call you will get a different brand. You talk to the same staff who operate out of the same premises but they offer you a superficially different product for quite a different price. I only had one farewell to organise so I couldn’t order both and check if you got more or better service for the higher price. The cheapo product I took was just fine, I suspect that I could have paid a whole lot more for basically the same thing, whether it was with the same vendor or another.

A bit like weddings in a way, the price just goes up and up, with a wedding you tell them it’s a birthday party but not with a funeral. There was a lot of not so subtle attempts at upselling. Why would you pay thousands more for a coffin that is (supposedly) going to end up in the furnace?

On another occasion I went to a family funeral at one of the big city crematoriums organised by a cousin. There were multiple chapels radiating out from the chimney. It was a non denominational Christian service (my mob couldn’t agree on anything) and we were greeted at the door by this bloke in a white frock and a big smile, he pumped every hand solicitously. He had never met the departed in life nor any of the living beforehand.

The eulogy was as generic as the astrological predictions in New Idea. When he pressed one button the music went up or down, another and the lights went up or down and just before the end he hit the Enter key and the little curtains opened and the coffin rolled away into the back. I think the poor man really was trying to give some comfort but he had no chance. It was so industrial.

You see he had a speech impediment. I can’t say this any other way, and I hope nobody is offended, but this is the absolute truth. He soldiered on and did his best and covered quite few slips with his big warm smile but there was one phrase he had to employ repeatedly that triggered his disability each time
“JJJJJJJesus Christ”.

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After having changed funeral directors while arranging my brother’s funeral recently, I couldn’t help think of all the things that went wrong and how different things could have been if I had had more knowledge of the inner workings of the funeral industry. So I decided to come up with a list of things I should have known, and what I should have done with that knowledge. Before I knew it I was writing my own Guide to Arranging a Funeral!

It’s a bit large to post here, so I will send it to Choice to see what they think.

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Help us fix a flawed funeral industry and protect grieving families:

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Following the article by choice saying that Funeral operators run by invocare were now displaying their prices on their webpage I contacted Tuckers Funerals in Geelong. The prices were not displayed on their page.
I rang and asked why… as this is how I would prefer to do my research for a funeral that will be required in the near future.
Tuckers Geelong said that they had a “Glitch” in their system and could they contact me via email to address my questions.

Clearly not displaying their prices and I have followed up with their web page since and their “Glitch” has not been rectified

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