The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Funeralcare screwupdate

Thursday, 29 January 2009

I’ve blogged about Co-op Funeralcare screwups in the past. I have been critical and it has unsettled people. We all screw up sometimes; to err is human. Be a little kinder, people have said (cos remember, you screw up sometimes, too, yes?)


Of course. And I hope I come out with my hands up. But that’s not the point.


Funeralcare, by having derecognised the GMB trade union, is arguably in breach of its foundational principles. Can it therefore claim to be an ethical organisation, of and for the people? I think not. Have I given Funeralcare an opportunity to refute these allegations and wash its clean linen in public? Yes. Frequently.


Silence.


People write and ring and tell me of their awful experiences of Co-op funeral homes. Where there’s a potential law suit to bring I refer them to Teresa Evans. She’s handling a case at the moment.


And, of course, I keep an eye out for the sort of bungling incompetence which looks as it proceeds from systemic poor practice. Here are two examples, both from the Wirral.


In 2006 a widower, Alfred Hutton, went to visit his wife in a Funeralcare funeral home. He found the wrong body in the coffin, dressed in his wife’s clothes. The staff tried to convince him he was mistaken. He knew well enough: the body in the coffin had a full head of hair; his wife had lost hers to chemotherapy. The funeral home only conceded that Mr Hutton was right when the rest of his family came in and agreed with him. Funeralcare then tried to blame the hospital for mixed-up wristbands but the truth came out. Funeralcare waived the bill and claim the matter was settled “amicably”. What an extraordinary adverb. Here’s how Mr Hutton sees it: “Mistakes of this scale are totally unacceptable and cause unbearable stress and anger to families for years after.


The second example happened on 12 December 2008. Funeralcare staff buried the wrong body. The vicar was sure it was the wrong body, the name on the coffin lid was wrong, but the funeral director said the man had two names. Later that day Funeralcare realised the vicar was right. They summoned extra staff, rushed the right body in its coffin to the burial ground and, having illegally exhumed the wrong one, plonked it in the grave without a funeral ceremony of any kind. The rescued (or wrong) body was given a second funeral a few days later and cremated. The scandal came to light when a Funeralcare staff member’s conscience got the better of him and he confessed to the vicar, who later performed a funeral ceremony for the buried body. Again, Funeralcare settled the matter “amicably” (where on earth do they get that word from?).


If Funeralcare, and the Co-ops generally (there may be exceptions) were proud of what they do and the way they do it they’d proclaim their ownership of every undertaking business they buy out (often with stupid money). They don’t. They hide their name behind that of the original owner. It deceives people.


What does that tell you?


Read the full stories in the Wirral Globe here and here.


Search this blog archive for other F-care screwups.

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