The Good Funeral Guide Blog

The best disinfectant part 1

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

 

There’s no beating around the bush here: funeral pricing must be more transparent.

Most funeral directors are careful, honest and, often, painfully aware of the costs that people face when someone dies.

They run businesses, but know that they are also offering a service that affects people’s well being at the deepest levels. For the best FD every death is more than a transaction, it is also an event that they become a partner in, sharing, with the people involved, some of the intensity of the occasion.

Sometimes this makes them bad businesspeople (and better human beings?). We all know of Funeral Directors who reduce or waive fees for children’s funerals for example.

But there are others who are less scrupulous, willing to pass uneccessary costs on to the customer. This is bad – obviously – for customers, but it is bad for people who work with Funeral Directors too.

We’ve heard, for example, of surcharges added to celebrant’s fees or ‘adminstrative’ charges for booking unusual services or vehicles. Understandable you may say, but in one instance the surcharge raised the cost of the service from £650 to £1,000.

The worst part is that these add ons are rarely declared to the customer. Instead the itemised bill simply states the total cost. It must be great to be able to blame someone else for your own high charges.

Here at GFG we believe sunlight is the best disinfectant and that means being open and upfront about what you are charging. Watch this space.

3 comments on “The best disinfectant part 1

  1. Tuesday 6th December 2011 at 7:25 pm

    As a funeral director I itemise every charge on my account. I discuss everything, giving families the option of removing something they feel is unnecessary or too expensive. Transparency of ownership and pricing is long overdue in this industry.

    A letter in this months Funeral Service Journal, features a letter from a FD, complaining that he’s being undercut by competitors offering a John Lewis style ‘NEVER KNOWINGLY UNDERSOLD’ price promise. I’m afraid many funeral directors seem to believe they are not running businesses. Competition is in the consumers interest, I see no reason to make the discovery of your charges difficult. If you have nothing to fear, why hide anything?

    NB My own price list will shorty be on my new website – it too is long overdue!

  2. Vale

    Tuesday 6th December 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I’ve wondered if there’s a parallel with MP’s expenses. Some of that awful dishonesty arose because they felt they should be paid more, but – given public opinion – didn’t think they could ask for it. Subterfuge was the alternative.

    Do FDs feel the same?

  3. Tuesday 6th December 2011 at 10:32 am

    The reality of the market Charles I’m afraid and the vulnerability of people going through difficult times. Surcharging exists in many industries but it’s a thorny issue in beareavement.

    Often I’ll ask families if there is anything that I’ve not answered for them and which they expected me to cover in the meeting, that I have not done so. It’s a great question that lets many of them walk into the pricing issue. “How do we deal with your fee?”. That let’s me give clarity on the price and the process which is great.

    But I come back to the point that surcharging happens everywhere – it just feels more unethical in our industry.

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