Avoiding Unfair Practices in Funeral Homes

By: Ashely Newton
Monday, August 5, 2019

No one likes to feel pressured. No one likes to feel taken advantage of. At the best of times, pushy salespeople can be annoying and put a damper on your day. During the worst of times, though, times like when a loved one has died, being pushed into buying something you don’t feel like you need can be emotionally excruciating. This reality is compounded by the fact that most people don’t know very much about planning a funeral, and that lack of knowledge exacerbates the uncertainty you might feel. Fortunately, many funeral directors are aware of this and actively try to avoid pressure tactics; there’s even a Funeral Director Code of Ethics that puts honesty, transparency, and trust first.  Unfortunately, there are some funeral homes who might engage in unfair or unscrupulous tactics; this article should help you guard against feeling exploited.

 

The Government of Manitoba has a law known as the Grieving Families Protection Act. One of the stipulations of this law deals specifically with unfair practices; it states, among other things, that no one should exert undue pressure or influence on someone to get them to purchase a funeral plan, and that no one should sell funeral plans if they are in the belief that the individual being sold the plan could not reasonably be expected to pay for it. These are consumer protections, and they can be useful if you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of, but they aren’t as useful at the moment. Fortunately, there are ways to inoculate yourself against the feeling of exploitation.

 

The first is knowledge. Funeral homes will often employ a variety of retail techniques in order to persuade you to buy the more expensive options; one such technique is to display the more expensive caskets visibly. Ask to see a catalogue of options, or ask about their lowest price options, so you can get an idea of what the price range for a casket at the home actually is. Once you’ve discussed your options, get an itemized list of everything you might purchase, and their individual costs. Watch here for hidden or unexpected fees, and look at the list to evaluate if there’s anything you don’t need, or that your loved one wouldn’t have wanted.

 

The second step to an honest transaction is comparison shopping. I know that this is problematic for some people; you need to choose a funeral home rather quickly, and emotions are often running high. That said, if you find the time and energy to go from place to place and compare, you’ll find yourself much more well informed. You can bring estimates from each funeral home to other funeral homes. That will give you another set of expert eyes to see if there are any strange costs or unnecessary add-ons.

 

The third thing you can do to avoid unnecessary, burdensome, emotional funeral planning? Preplan your funeral. This will spare your loved ones the stress of doing it themselves and gives you plenty of time to learn about the funeral homes in your area, as well as the time to do price comparison shopping. This has an obvious advantage for your immediate family, but it can serve you well in the future, too; when preplanning your funeral carefully and diligently, you’ll become more informed. Then, if you ever need to plan someone else’s funeral, you’ll already have a good idea of what the costs associated with funeral planning are.

 

When your funeral is preplanned, be sure to tell your family about it; provide them with the exact details of your preplanned funeral. That way, if a funeral home tries to sell add-ons, your family will be well equipped to refuse them.


Here at Alterna Cremation, we offer affordable cremation services. We are transparent with our pricing; our Direct Cremation is $1395 + GST. This is the most basic package available, and simply includes all the steps necessary for cremation, as well as a basic cremation container, registration of the death, and up to six Funeral Director Statements of Death. You can add on a variety of services and items, including an urn, a memorial service, flowers, a scattering service, and more; talk to us about the pricing for anything, and we’ll break it down for you piece by piece.

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