For some people, the last time they will ever be scammed is an event that they won’t even know about. Unfortunately, their relatives may be too distressed to realise what has happened either, until it is too late.
The death of a loved one is always a traumatic event but the cost of a funeral can easily increase the stress levels through the roof. At such a time, many people will happily leave a funeral director to make all the arrangements and guide them into decisions, without really considering the costs or any alternatives.
Whilst most organisers of funerals are genuine and honest, I’m sure, there are, nonetheless, some who would take advantage of the grievers in order to make more money. Here are a few ways in which they might do so –
Casket Scam #1
Some funeral director’s will try to increase their profits by showing off the most expensive caskets first, hoping that the grieving relatives will just make a snap purchase. Typically, those buying a casket will purchase one of the first few that they are shown. Therefore, the director may be tempted to show the more expensive show models first. The cheaper caskets may well be painted in less appealing colours, or hidden out of the way in a basement or a less accessible area of the funeral home.
Funeral Rules state that customers should be shown a full range of caskets, including prices. If this does not happen then you should ask as there are generally a large number of caskets available at very different price points.
Casket Scam #2
An optional ‘extra’ that is often offered is a gasket for the casket. This is designed to slow water penetration, thereby delaying decomposition of the body within. In reality, however, the gasket can sometimes trap air and make the casket explode. For this reason, they are often not allowed in mausoleums.
Additionally, the gasket typically costs less than $20, yet funeral homes have been known to add a premium of up to $600 for caskets that have the gasket fitted.
Historically, caskets were only ever sold by funeral homes. In recent years, there has been an increase in independent showrooms and web sites which often sell them cheaper.
If you purchase one other than in a funeral home then you should not be charged any additional fees by the funeral home arranging the proceedings. In order to get around this, some funeral homes have used deceptive marketing tactics, such as offering huge discounts on their own caskets but then making up the shortfall on inflated funeral director’s fees.
The cemetery fees, death certificate, etc should not be overly expensive – if you see funeral director’s fees running into the thousands of dollars then this would normally indicate that all is not as it should be.
Tips for avoiding funeral scams
- Shop around and compare prices
- If you are emotional try and find someone who isn’t to aid in your choices, using their level head
- Check price lists for caskets and ask in advance about any other fees that may be payable
- Remember that you can remember the deceased without spending a fortune on their burial unless you particularly want to.