The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Some of last week’s stories

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

“Do you swear on a stack of bibles that this dongle will definitely receive a strong, clear, unwavering signal on the Isle of Portland?” You wait for that look that young persons give us folk of uncertain age and temper, a blend of impatience, indulgence and pity. Then he says “Yes, oh yes, definitely” and nods very affirmatively and takes my money. And it’s all nonsense, of course. The Isle of Portland is no place for Vodafone.

So I’ve not managed to collect a great many stories in the last week. Here’s what I garnered:

Drive-thru funeral home popular for gang funerals. The corpse is behind bullet-proof glass


Damned Co-op, damned Tories and the damnable sale of Bretby Crematorium


Corpse flower blooms in Basel. Hat tip to Norfolk Boi


Upcoming courses by Archa Robinson “For anyone facing death in the next 90 years.”


BBC films man dying. Storm expected.


Wrong grave dug. Co-op blames the cemetery, the cemetery blames the Co-op.


Very sorry to see that Grete Waitz, the great Norwegian marathon runner, has died


18 year-old opens funeral home in Staffs. Her other job? Bodyguard. Honest!


So wife burning still goes on in some parts of India, it seems


Very interesting-looking blog here written by a bright and thoughtful FD


Funeral home embraces opportunity to stop people dying. Self-restraint of trade?


Blimey, Midlands Co-op charges £605 for a cardboard coffin! But what do you reckon to the balance of this piece?

13 comments on “Some of last week’s stories

  1. Saturday 30th April 2011 at 11:00 am

    Thank you Maggie for your honesty. I’m sure you will agree, our willingness to show our mark up shows the seismic shift that has happened in this industry. Only a few years ago, most FD’s wouldn’t even explain any of their charges, or break it down from one figure, let alone publish their mark up. I have pointed out to Rosie her error.

  2. Friday 29th April 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Rupert, if you go on to my website you will see the pricing for all my coffins and professional fee. But to answer your specific question, my mark-up on a white cardboard coffin with rope handles (after delivery etc) is approx £78.00 – and on a std veneer coffin (after all the add-ons) is approx £98.00.
    Regards, Mags x

  3. Thursday 28th April 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Maggie, as a trustee of The Natural Death Centre I would agree that Rosie has got this a bit wrong. She does appear to be quoting a rrp for a Greenfield Creation cardboard coffin, possibly the last supplier of cardboard coffins in the country and undoubtedly the best, cheaper than they sell them to us. However, it is true that many funeral directors talk customers out of cardboard coffins with all that rubbish about going soggy in the rain, looking cheap, falling apart etc because they don’t make enough on them. I don’t think there is anything to be ashamed about putting a mark up on a coffin, it’s how retail works, it’s putting a little bit on top of everything, notice in the paper, flowers, even gravediggers fees, all tricks that are sadly quite common that stinks in my opinion. I have heard of a nearby FD who adds on 200 quid to the grave digging fees. Not illegal, certainly immoral. We add more onto some of our coffins than others. We try to offer something for everyone’s budget. To our cardboards we add just under a hundred. So what do you get your basic coffins for, and what do you add on? Go on, I dare you…

  4. Wednesday 27th April 2011 at 10:34 pm

    This is easily the most brilliant description of an undertaker’s charges I have ever seen. Or anybody else. You’ve nutshelled it.

    Plundertakers. Ha!

    Thank you, Jonathan. You are the mercurial genius who brings people to this blog.

  5. Jonathan

    Wednesday 27th April 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Chareles, I’m a funeral director, what other than a vulture’s quill would be suitable?

    Andrew, my son came up with a term today that far better suits the outfit in quesiton: “PLUNDERTAKERS”. But, to be fair to them, the 3% or so of bereaved people who bother to make comparisons between FD’s costs must get hopelessly confused. The reason for the big mark-up on coffins, it seems to me, is that all the others are doing it too, so as to keep their less hidden costs down to that of the competition -the ‘professional fee’, mostly. Can you imagine FDs advertizing in their windows: “You might pay more for arrangements but you pay less for the coffin, except that it’ll probably be a different one from theirs because we’ve got different suppliers and anyhow we charge less for collection of the body even if you have to fork out a bit more for our fancy hearse but then again we don’t charge for keeping the body like they do but on the other hand what you’ll pay them for that depends on how soon the funeral will be but don’t worry because our retired vicar costs less than their favourite humanist and we pay our bearers a pittance to keep price down for your benefit even if the poor old men barely get the cost of a pint out of wheeling your loved one into the crem and our embalmer charges less than most and my mother’s in an expensive old people’s home so I’ve got to make a profit somehow so stop being greedy and pay up….

    Simpler just to rip you off on the coffin to keep other charges down and keep quiet, no? However, this doesn’t explain why Plundertakers are more expensive overall, I agree.

  6. Wednesday 27th April 2011 at 7:51 pm

    All I could see, Jonathan, was the absurd double entendre.And I reflected that geeks don’t do funny, so I kept it to myself. You are right, of course. But now that I have reached a peri-vulnerable age I do trusting bigtime. I bought a nice driveway the other day from a man who had some leftover tarmac – and only later did it occur to me that I don’t have a driveway.

    Do you use a swan’s quill or a crow’s quill?

  7. Jonathan

    Wednesday 27th April 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Dear Charles, you called me a dinosaour the other day because I dislike this so-called information technology. Well! If a spotty teenager tells you you need something called a ‘dongle’, and you believe him and give him your dosh, you’ve only yourself to blame!!

    I’d go on, but it’s hard to write any more on this computer screen with my quill pen.

  8. Wednesday 27th April 2011 at 10:45 am

    I was waiting for someone to say that, Maggie!

  9. Wednesday 27th April 2011 at 10:40 am

    I wish I could find the coffin supplier that the Natural Death Centre use – after adding the lining, handles, delivery and VAT to the basic coffins from my supplier, the total is far more than £30!

  10. andrew plume

    Tuesday 26th April 2011 at 6:23 pm

    “….18 year-old opens funeral home in Staffs…”

    no website yet but they’re on facebook………

  11. andrew plume

    Tuesday 26th April 2011 at 6:16 pm

    “….Blimey, Midlands Co-op charges £605 for a cardboard coffin…”

    well I felt that I should apologise for blogging again regarding Co-op funerals and products but the charge here for a cardboard coff is nothing other than outrageous – a swift trip to has produced a nice cosy write up/marketing spiel – but of course there are no costs shown nor anywhere else on this site – c’mon f’care and all of the local co-ops – time for honesty and transparency (like the independents) and before I go, MCS kick off their funeral web pages, with “…The Co-operative good for everyone..”

  12. andrew plume

    Tuesday 26th April 2011 at 6:00 pm

    …18 year-old opens funeral home in Staffs…”

    and why not too – let’s hope she does really well – the young have been seen over the past year or so, not just a desire to enter the profession but also to open new businesses too – let’s hope that Midlands Co-op doesn’t decide to open up there too………………

  13. andrew plume

    Tuesday 26th April 2011 at 5:53 pm

    “…..Wrong grave dug. Co-op blames the cemetery, the cemetery blames the Co-op…”

    oh no, not f’care yet again – and to quote from their spokesperson – “….We pride ourselves on our exceptionally high professional standards so are also disappointed that this error caused upset and disruption to our clients at this distressing time….”

    I think that it’s way past time for this organisation to drop the term ‘care’ – ‘co-operative funerals’ would be far more appropriate

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