Issue No. 12
©1999/Darryl J. Roberts
(Reprinted with the permission of Woman's World)
"The funeral home ripped us off!"
Q. Two weeks ago my uncle passed away.I went to the mortuary with my
aunt to make arrangements, and we requested a basic,simple service and
casket.The funeral director told us the lowest-priced casket was $ 5,500
and the best deal he could give us would total $ 11,000 for the entire
funeral. We were in no condition to haggle and felt we could trust him
since heād been in the business for 30 years. But when I mentioned the
cost to a close family friend, he said weād been ripped off. It seemās
another funeral parlor across town charges half what we paid! Is it too
late to do anything about this?
A. Getting money back when someone takes advantage of your grief
Since grieving family members rarely comparison shop, itās not uncommon
for unscrupulous funeral homes to jack up prices, with some over
charging up to 700%, according to industry expert William Noto. In fact,
price-gouging happens so often that the Federal Trade Commission now
requires funeral directors to provide customers with a price list so
they can question costs. And laws are in place to protect families even
after their loved one is laid to rest- so it's not to late to get a fair
- Step 1: Find out how much you deserve to get back.
Visit other local funeral homes and ask what they charge for the same
kind of funeral you paid for-and for a price list of those services. Or
check out www.funeralprices.com
to learn about funeral prices in your
own zip code. Once you have proof that the price you paid was
significantly higher than what an average funeral home in your area
charges, you can...
- Step 2: request a partial refund.
Call the director of the funeral home you used and tell him you fell you
were overcharged, citing the price information you gathered. Then send a
letter-via registered mail-restating what you discussed and including
copies of any price lists you obtained. Ask for a reply within 10 days.
if the funeral director wont budge...
- Step 3: Let the government help.
Call your state consumer protection office; the number is in the phone
books blue pages. If the office has received a number of complaints
about the funeral home, it can investigate enforce the law against
price-gouging and get you a refund. Mail a copy of any correspondence to
the funeral director and include a note saying that your prepared to
bring your complaint to the attention of local TV stations and
newspapers. He should negotiate at this point,but if he doesn't...
- Step 4: Put the power of media to work.
Call the consumer columnist. Theyāll be interested in a story about an
area funeral home that's ripping of costumers,and the funeral director
will undoubtedly dread any negative publicity. Itās near certain he will
give you a refund - just to stay out of the spot light.
Darryl J. Roberts,
author of Profits of Death
An Insider Exposes the Death Care Industries