Top tips for funeral shoppers

Charles Cowling

 

Josh Slocum, Executive Director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance in the USA, is a major hero to all who toil at the GFG-Batesville Tower. Here he is talking on the telly about funeral pricing and home funerals.

It’s interesting to note the similarities with the British funeral industry, in particular consumers’ disapproval of the marking up of coffins. We unquestioningly accept mark-ups in all other commercial transactions, so why do we find the marking up of coffins so objectionable? Does it say something about our unease with a for-profit business model of funeral directing? If so, what can we do about it?

Josh talks about the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule, the sort of document we badly need in the UK. It’s very well written. What a pity the Office of Fair Trading has never written a version for British funeral consumers — or funeral shoppers, as Josh terms them. 

Josh talks, too, about the emotional and spiritual value of a home funeral as ‘personal, family event’, an alternative to turning your loved one over to strangers. In the US, the home funeral movement is growing. In Britain it has most regrettably stalled. 

 

Find the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule here. Hat tip to the Funeral Consumers Alliance to alerting us to this interview. 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Top tips for funeral shoppers

  1. Charles Cowling
    gloria mundi

    Josh now a hero of mine too, thanks – and the interviewer is also very good. Is the GFG the nearest we have to a Funeral Consumer’s Alliance? Hooray for both organisations.


    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    Jenny Uzzell

    This is an excellent clip. I notice that according to this a US funeral director cannot refuse to use a coffin supplied by the family. This seems to directly contradict the post where monks who were manufacturing simple wooden caskets were risking emprisonment because only registered funeral homes were allowed to manufacture coffins. So…you can’t refuse to use a coffin supplied by the client but its not a big deal because no-one else is allowed to make them. Or am I missing something?

    I’m not sure the issue is with funeral directing as a profit making business…I think its more uncertainty about whether you are being ripped off, how to be certain that you are not being ripped off, and the sheer magnitude of the mark up often put onto coffins that makes people antagonistic. Again, I may be wrong.


    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    james showers

    Excellent TV coverage, and great information in the Funeral Rule. It seems that the US norm (encouraged by the undertakers, no doubt) is to have a very serious ‘casket’, to allow an open casket ‘viewing’, with its attendant ‘presentation arts’, and a lined/vaulted grave. No wonder that price and mark up has become an issue.
    I think we are a lot more restrained in all these things here; and yes, we are wary of total transparency – just like any retailer! But change is afoot, and will soon be here.


    Charles Cowling

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