The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Is it fair to portray our funeral industry in this way?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


 

Producer-director Ben Anderson (the first undercover undertaker, back in the day) says this:

“That Funeral Director on your local High Street that looks like a trustworthy and caring family run business probably isn’t…this is an unregulated world in desperate need of reform.”

Fair comment?

You can read the ITV news account of the programme here

All responses welcome — we practise no censorship here. Please do not make a statement that might be libellous; the GFG will be sued for publishing it. 

 

65 comments on “Is it fair to portray our funeral industry in this way?

  1. Sunday 30th September 2012 at 10:42 am

    My concernd are for the people that have died and how they are being looked after and the families. I know some people would say its just a body but it is not because that is somones Mum, Aunt, Sister whoever and they need to be treated with respect and dignity. I think some people in the funeral service need to change their attituides towards deceased people and actually start seeing them as people and treating the families with respect as well.

  2. Melissa Stewart

    Friday 28th September 2012 at 10:43 pm

    I love reading this blog. The trouble is that the contributors here are, generally speaking, educated people with a pretty good knowledge of what goes on in the funeral industry. I really hope that the two programs on telly last week will reach every one else because otherwise what difference can we possibly make.

    Oh dear that was a big negative wasn’t it. Apologies, but I do mind very much!

    • andrew plume

      Friday 28th September 2012 at 10:47 pm

      Hello Melissa

      All new contributors are more than welcome on here

      and as you have rightly said a difference has to be made

      regards

      andrew

      • Melissa Stewart

        Friday 28th September 2012 at 11:00 pm

        I am not new here and probably should have said so before I submitted my post for which, apologies Andrew. I work at a natural burial business where we all do everything so I know more than you might think. My bad as they say in America. And oh dear that makes me one of the people I mentioned in my last post.

        Never mind eh. Keep at it everyone!

        • andrew plume

          Saturday 29th September 2012 at 7:17 am

          thanks Melissa

          regards

          andrew

  3. Friday 28th September 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Another grim watch. 2 things struck me:

    – I don’t buy it when FPL or the Co-op say these are isolated incidents not representative of the wider organisation. These are probably not representative of the much of the business, where also there is probably much better practice. But these type of issues are too deeply embedded in the culture of the organisations to be explained in this way. There is too much bad practice by too many people. The problems are systemic, and any attempt to eradicate them that does not recognise this will fail.

    – It feels completely inappropriate to hear a chief exec distance himself from this behaviour in the way Phillip Greenfield did, and George Tinning before him. These men must see that they are responsible for this, and directly so. In fact, by introducing or failing to introduce business practices that led to these failings they are actively complicit. They should resign.

    • andrew plume

      Friday 28th September 2012 at 3:52 pm

      Jon

      I cannot see Mr P Greenfield resigning, since I assume that he (and/or his family) are the 40% investors but George Tinning should have gone straightaway

      andrew

  4. andrew plume

    Friday 28th September 2012 at 9:50 am

    senior management at ‘these Corporates’ seem to be blindingly incapable of looking beyond a balance sheet/a ‘P&L statement’ after all, it’s the profits only chaps, that matters and there’s also a complete lack of commercial commonsense

    it’s pretty obvious that ITV were (thankfully) tipped off as to the workings at the FPL Tooting hub and if the staff at these kind of hubs are of the ‘nature’ featured in that documentary, then dissatisfaction and lack of attention to detail, can easily come through. What experience Mr Greenfield has of the industry is unknown but clearly he has been way above it in terms of getting to grips with his local workforce. Compared to Funeralcare, FPL is very small and so ‘unexpected visits’ should have been factored in………………………..

    FPL have totally missed the point. Shoddiness at the preparation stage leads to bad publicity and serious potential damage to their business. They didn’t have enough cold storage space and if the local/area Management had any idea of what they were dealing with, should have stood up and demanded more. This is pretty well what I said yesterday, put non-industry experienced F/D’s into these jobs and this is what happens. Industry professionals on this blog will be au fait, with this type of product:-

    http://www.ferno.co.uk/product/fbf-flexible-body-fridges

    pricing and leasing details could not be found on their site. It appears to be readily available and easy to set up, there Mr Greenfield is exactly what you needed at your Tooting hub

    and so to the apparent ‘financials’ and the damage to ones business. Axe the local managers (and their cars), replace them with decent F/D’s and some extra storage, equals hopefully less cost and nil possibility of a decomposing smell being prevalent at a funeral (and highlighted in the programme). One very bad funeral such as that can destroy a business, making the lack of investment laughable in comparison to the loss of business

    massive profits leads to short sightedness, Corporates are totally unsuitable to the industry

    andrew

  5. Thursday 27th September 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Here’s the link to green fuse’s funeral director training. Check out the whole excellent website while you’re there:

    http://www.greenfuse.co.uk/funeraltraining.htm

  6. Thursday 27th September 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I think we need to look at this more constructively. The funeral trade is poorly paid for the workers but very lucrative for the owners once you get above a certain level of funerals. Outside investors put even more pressure on managers to squeeze the profits as that is the only thing the investors are interested in and have no idea what daily work is like. People fear for their jobs. Those people undertaking too many funerals every week inevitably become hardened to their work, depersonalise it and protect themselves against the fact of facing your mortality each day, which is uncomfortable. The problem is systemic and affected by the company culture. If you are not meeting the families and learning about the person who was in the body, your compassion isn’t being aroused by anything. I have worked in culture change, notably in the pharma industry, and I have seen how quickly people leave their individual values at the door and take on the corporate ones.
    I believe that funeral directing is best suited to small companies because it keeps the work with families close to those making management decisions. At our small funeral directing company we each do everything. But in larger companies the management needs to work very hard to foster a caring, compassionate and ethical culture and to have a zero tolerance policy not only on the kind of behaviour the programmes have highlighted but also on the kind of pressure that encourages that behaviour. Managers need to walk the floor, get involved in the work and lead by example. They need training to develop their own skills and attitudes and pass those onto others. Funeral directing is a very complex and emotionally taxing job, requiring tender skills and an open heart. We are there to help families to create a funeral experience in which they can be involved and which has meaning for them, to provide information and support with creativity and improvisation.
    We have created our green fuse Modern Funeral Directing training as a counter culture to the NAFD prescriptive style of training and education. Attitudes are as important as knowledge and skills. Funeral directors in charge of busy funeral homes and branches should consider this type of training and the importance of creating the right culture in their companies. It is one way we can change things and avoid a repeat of the kind of behaviour we have seen. The operatives are the tip of the iceberg. The underlying problem is much deeper and must be tackled.

    • Thursday 27th September 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Simon,

      I agree 100% with what you say.

      Nick

  7. andrew plume

    Thursday 27th September 2012 at 9:40 am

    …………..apart from last night’s doc, re-confirming that the Dignity level of pricing is way way excessive, they came out of it fairly ok – it was good to see that the filming in their Funeral Home was I believe in the basement of 83 Westbourne Grove and not at a faceless industrial estate in the middle of nowhere (not to say that Dignity do not have them (which they do))

    andrew

    • Ken Davis

      Friday 28th September 2012 at 8:01 am

      Mr Plume,
      Call me an old cynic but for someone who claims to be outside of the industry, you are remarkably well informed.
      Do you know that there is a basement at number 83 Westbourne Grove or have you been told by someone who works there?
      I have never been to that address but would have no idea whether there was a basement or not. How very odd !

      • andrew plume

        Friday 28th September 2012 at 8:16 am

        Ken

        thankyou

        I have ‘an elephant memory’. In 1987 I arranged a funeral at said 83 Westbourne Grove and found the interior very nicely furnished, subsequently a Dottridge (who descended from Dottridge Bros Ltd (who as you will know were acquired by Kenyon Securities Ltd (as they then were)), mentioned to me that there were full scale funeral home facilities downstairs)

        regards

        andrew

        • Ken Davis

          Friday 28th September 2012 at 11:44 pm

          Gosh Andrew, what a great memory you must have.

          I called a few friends from the old Kenyon International Emergency Services days today and I am very very happy to tell you that your assertion of the existance of “Full scale funeral home facilities downstairs” could not have come from anyone who knows, or knew the Westbourne Grove branch of the Kenyon business. If you are a little confused, then contact a man called Brian Parsons, who has written a book about Kenyons. He will tell you the truth, as he told me today.

          Mr Plume, I believe you are a fraud, you have shot your credibility through your silly assertions. If you had any b##ls, then you would reveal your true identity.

          What say you Charles ??

          • Charles

            Saturday 29th September 2012 at 7:49 am

            Ken, the estimable Mr Plume is exactly who he says he is. I know; I’ve lunched with him. His opinions are sincerely held. He is not a mischief-maker but, on the contrary, a thoroughly decent fellow.

          • andrew plume

            Saturday 29th September 2012 at 10:17 pm

            Charles

            thankyou, it’s much appreciated

            Ken

            what exactly is your intention here with this meaningless comment? I’ve been out today but am pretty staggered at whatever your point is here and what you are trying to achieve? Note, I haven’t made a ‘blast’ at Dignity nor at you, so I find what you have said to be pointless, unnecessary and more than a touch too personal for my liking…………….

            I will blog with a full statement tomorrow

            regards

            andrew

          • andrew plume

            Sunday 30th September 2012 at 10:19 am

            Hello Ken

            Brian Parsons is a much respected commentator and historian in the UK Funeral Industry. If Brian has said that my statement is wrong, then that’s totally correct. I was only adding what had been said to me. This was merely ‘an add on’ to the ongoing discussion on here, nothing more, nothing less and certainly nothing that you needed to become wound up about

            And, I have definitely not made, what you describe as “silly assertions”

            As I (have) said, I wasn’t taking a pop at Dignity. You have shown yourself (on here) to be a dedicated and vastly experienced member of the Industry, it clearly doesn’t do yourself any good in sullying yourself in this way. Please can we move on?

            yours

            andrew

            PS, you can address me by my christian name, no need for formalities

          • James

            Sunday 30th September 2012 at 5:36 pm

            Ken,

            Not sure what you are stating here Ken, but there were facilities downstairs at Westbourne Grove, certainly there was a casket showroom amongst other rooms. Whether you could call it a ‘full scale funeral home’ I guess depends on your definition.

            Regards
            James

        • Simon Irons

          Monday 1st October 2012 at 7:50 pm

          Westbourne Grove for what it’s worth has Chapels and offices downstairs as well as a Casket Display room. All refrigeration mortuary, workshop and vehicle facilities are provide from premises in North Kensington.

          In the 1970’s it did have everything on site and 14 Chapels spread over three floors.

          • andrew plume

            Tuesday 2nd October 2012 at 7:24 am

            James/Simon, thanks

            of course it used to be the office of the former ‘Kenyon Air Transportation’ too, from memory

            regards

            andrew

  8. andrew plume

    Thursday 27th September 2012 at 9:22 am

    and……………………..

    if I was Mr PG and those at August Equity, I would be on the phone pretty smartish to Dignity to see if they can take the ‘Gillman’s brand’ off of their hands, more like, off of their books and to reduce damage limitation. That would no doubt mean that FPL would have ‘to take a bath on their original investment’ but it may be better for them in the long run…………………………….

    andrew

  9. Thursday 27th September 2012 at 9:10 am

    Totally unacceptable behaviour illustrated. The sooner that certain of the people involved are no longer connected to the funeral trade, the better for everyone.

    I think that this programme shows the real risks of family firms that grow too large, and ultimately lose their identity. Their next step into the corporate group setting usually seals their fate.

    A very sad day personally for Roger Gillman, who I know to be a man of the highest integrity.

    Some services and trades do not translate well into “big business”. They are, on the whole, perhaps more successful remaining as a somewhat smaller concern.

    Nick

    • andrew plume

      Thursday 27th September 2012 at 9:19 am

      exactly Nick

      terrible times for Roger G

      and as I’ve already suggested this am, certain industry’s are totally unsuitable for ‘Venture Capital funds’. These are, I understand often referred to as, err…………..’Vulture Capital’ investors

      regards

      andrew

      • Dave Lucas

        Thursday 27th September 2012 at 11:19 am

        Don’t be too gently on Roger.
        There may well be pressures on staff since the sale of the business, but that in no way excuses the behaviour of the staff. I don’t know an embalmer who would not dress a deceased because they were busy…….
        The racist in that us invests have been there for years, they have not suddenly changed since the takeover.

        • Deborah

          Tuesday 6th November 2012 at 9:43 pm

          my own persona experience of roger is one of the utmost respect – I first met him when I asked my local church to recommend a caring FD – when I arranged my Mother’s funeral, he was always attentive and did not wish me to spend more money than necessary but to do exactly what I wanted – he even arranged for my daughter returning home from boarding school to see her grandmother laid at rest at 2300hrs one night – we were allowed to dress my mother personally and had an assistant who showed us how to do this – through this and my own connections to ghana, have worked with Roger on his charity and his compassion and help given surpasses the norm – if he still owned the business, you can be sure that such practices would not be allowed

  10. andrew plume

    Thursday 27th September 2012 at 8:51 am

    Mr P Greenfield may have said that £200K is being invested in the pretty well past it industrual space shown but £200K doesn’t get you a lot, it may take far more of an investment, for something more upmarket

    I assume that PG owns 40% of the business, August Equity holding the remainder, nothing wrong with that, of course

    Sadly, I feel that ‘The Private Equity Route’ isn’t appropriate for the funeral business, per se

    I also feel that the only decent way of managing parts of business, such as Gillman’s is to axe the unnecessary ‘area management’ (and their expensive cars) and to employ a couple of truly caring professional F/D’s (who can also embalm). Financially, there shouldn’t be a hit, but the perceived necessary levels of Corporate management (particularly when few have little idea of the business) are surely not the way to go……

    Nothing here that Charles needs to remove etc, just commonsense business thinking to me

    andrew

  11. Thursday 27th September 2012 at 1:43 am

    Angie in response to what you have said I was also in tears I could not believe what was happening in that funeral home. The poor family that had paid all that money etc and the poor widow could smell her husband. The staff want sacking and get rid of the Manager as well they have not got a clue.

    • andrew plume

      Thursday 27th September 2012 at 8:31 am

      Mark

      As a non-industry individual (and I have blogged this week on my interest), I am with you entirely, little shocks me but all shown at the Tooting hub was truly deplorable and even though it wasn’t named, there seemed to be an extension of this at their Slough hub (E Sargent & Son), as well – another formerly much respected firm

      andrew

  12. Thursday 27th September 2012 at 1:32 am

    These companies and people need to wake up these are people we are looking after not bodies or anything like that totally disgusting. The Manager who gave the interview what just full of what he thought was clever answers.

  13. Thursday 27th September 2012 at 1:27 am

    Words Totally Fail Me. I would have the lot of them sacked and that includes the so called management .

  14. C walker

    Thursday 27th September 2012 at 12:19 am

    I said after the dispatches programme that they had reported on the wrong area of our profession. Utterly shocking viewing and about time the real villans in this profession were outed. Coop were investigated and a sensationalised, journalistic and empty tv show was aired. This documentary showed how good coop really are and how bad the others are.

    • andrew plume

      Thursday 27th September 2012 at 9:14 am

      thankyou

      two very different undercover documentaries and the percentage (of time) that each Producer dedicated to (a) mortuary’s; and (b) selling

      …………clearly Funeralcare’s operations are way ahead of that shown for FPL but there was very little time dedicated to the Tooting sales practice, whereas the F’care doc highlighted this more considerably

      andrew

  15. Jonathan

    Thursday 27th September 2012 at 12:09 am

    I’d say “That Funeral Director on your local High Street that looks like a trustworthy and caring family run business probably isn’t…” is libellous enough in itself, without our adding to it.

  16. DMarsh

    Thursday 27th September 2012 at 12:03 am

    As an employee of FPL, I am utterly shocked after watching the actions of staff at Gillmans. We certainly don’t operate anything like that where I work. I will say though that it is becoming increasingly difficult with the pressures that senior management try to push on us. The footage regarding figures on the bottom line, staff shortages and a general unwillingness to invest definitely rung true. It is only through standing up for our beliefs that we are able to treat our families with the care and respect that they deserve. An awful day for genuine employees of FPL in the branches up and down the country who care about what they do.

    • andrew plume

      Thursday 27th September 2012 at 8:33 am

      Mr Marsh

      In my opinion, ‘Venture Capital’ (and call it what one likes) businesses/investment are entirely inappropriate for the funeral industry

      andrew

  17. Wednesday 26th September 2012 at 11:49 pm

    The dignity side of it was interesting yes there was one coffin handle loose but to put the cat firmly amongst the pigeons every local newspaper and even the daily telegraph and the times gives us a funeral directors price and a family price I am not defending the big d but they were right in saying that it happens for all funeral companies. (Though nice to see they have finally moved away from the bad old days of coffin commission with sci )
    As for the Gillmans part of the programme I was horrified.
    The one question I have for the staff, the man at the top and the greedy shareholders is – how do you all sleep at night
    Rant over !

    • Rupert Callender

      Thursday 27th September 2012 at 7:21 am

      Tracey, all newspapers do indeed give two prices, but that doesn’t mean you have to take the higher one. We don’t.

      • Thursday 27th September 2012 at 10:42 am

        And our local newspaper (admitedly the only one in the area) does not give two prices. I know this to be generally true given that I have inside knowledge of two funeral companies…so I know its not just us 🙂
        We also do not take a commission on flowers or memorials (much to the amazement of the new local florist who couldn’t believe his ears and who has since been round for a chat…he was very impressed with our orchids!)

  18. Wednesday 26th September 2012 at 11:45 pm

    I’m speechless and a bit depressed that we will all be painted with the same brush.

    It has been so refreshing to watch “Dead Good Job” and see people who so obviously care about the work that they do and the people they serve, I hope this is the real face of the funeral business and not the vision that “Exposure” has brought to us.

    • andrew plume

      Thursday 27th September 2012 at 8:38 am

      exactly David

      two completely different takes on the business

      the BBC series featured nothing other than a collection of caring individuals, granted there was a difference, they all knew that the beeb would be there but I do not think that they would all have behaved differently

      I thought that the switch from Nigel L-R to Carl M on coffins/caskets was brilliant, £20K down to next to nothing. That’s not to suggest that Nigel’s firm are expenive, on the contrary, their pricing and comparisons are all to see on their website

      andrew

  19. Dave Lucas

    Wednesday 26th September 2012 at 11:45 pm

    That was very bad…….
    Some indivuuals should be very very ashamed of themselves

  20. Angie McLachlan

    Wednesday 26th September 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Hideous – awful – vile – a shame – needs to be stopped. I am hoping that all those staff members will be sacked…
    Poor management…. doesn’t even begin to describe it. The actions of the embalmer left me in tears…

    • Irene Kemsley

      Friday 28th September 2012 at 2:12 pm

      I have never seen anything as shocking as the programme about funerals, ITV London (Exposure) Horrible,, all the people that worked for Gillman & Sons and said terrible things and did terrible things,should be sacked It looked and sounded like a german concentration camp also, I could not beleive the price they charged, and what the coffin costs, I thought Dignity are surposed to be a good funeral company,with all the money they make, NO Wonder they are on the Stock Marke!!!!!t The goverment need to step in and do something about this shocking exposure!!!!!!!!!

      • andrew plume

        Friday 28th September 2012 at 2:45 pm

        well, Irene……………….

        Dignity funerals (as is the case with the Coop) have been some of the most expensive for many years and that’s just a pretty basic funeral and without pushing the boat out for large white caskets or so

        I’m not sure if ‘the Government’ will be doing anything following this and another recent documentary, the first port of call is the NAFD, the National Association of Funeral Directors but to date they have been very slow in getting involved

        regards

        andrew

  21. Wednesday 26th September 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Exactly why families should come to small independent funeral directors, like ours, and many others, where care, dignity and respect of both the family and the deceased are our highest priority.

    Shame it has been on so late, as I guess not too many people will have stayed up to watch it.

    • andrew plume

      Thursday 27th September 2012 at 8:41 am

      Janice

      exactly

      if I may say, what now could well be beneficial for ‘The Indy’s on the High Street’ is, if a family is up for it and when they are thinking of using said firm to allow them, then, unfettered access to their ‘back office’ just to put their minds at rest

      andrew

  22. Wednesday 26th September 2012 at 11:07 pm

    After watching the first 20 minutes I have to say – words fail me

  23. Wednesday 26th September 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Dave, is that an allegation? Nope, you need to look elsewhere. Sorry!

    • Dave Lucas

      Wednesday 26th September 2012 at 11:48 pm

      Not an allegation, more a question, given both you and NDC have been thanked for your contribution yet were not called upon for comment…… Or at least not included on the programme. My mistake ?

      But to be honest that behaviour needed to be stopped.

      • Rupert Callender

        Thursday 27th September 2012 at 7:18 am

        Nice of you to finally come round to saying that this behaviour needs to be stopped Dave, though it does appear a bit of an afterthought.
        As a representative of the NDC, I can say that our manager Rosie is at the sharp end of it all, fielding complaints from families about bad practice the length and breadth of the country, but it was not the NDC that tipped off the production company. Our involvement came late on in the process, and was to be about presenting an alternative upside to all of this in the form of the handbook and our recommended funeral directors, but it never came to much. I’m sure Rosie will comment later on today. Disgusting and inevitable.

      • andrew plume

        Thursday 27th September 2012 at 9:10 am

        Dear Mr A N Other (‘Dave Lucas’)

        Both ‘The GFG’ and ‘The NDC’ are doing some serious invaluable work – who else can the public per se turn to for impartial guidance and support following a bereavement……………………?

        It’s pretty well irrelevant who tipped ITV off about the Tooting hub, one could say that it was ‘in the public interest’ etc

        Anyhow a ‘web link’ at the end of the ITV page is far from being confirmation that either contributed to any research, simply two links that people may find of interest etc etc – it’s standard practice with online stuff these days, look at the BBC news site, there are plenty of ‘allied links’ to news stories posted and they are just that, namely ‘allied links’

        andrew

  24. Dave Lucas

    Wednesday 26th September 2012 at 10:33 pm

    And you get a credit for it Charles…… Mmmm so who was it that pointed them in the direction of Gillmans !

    http://www.itv.com/news/2012-09-26/itv-investigation-uncovers-disrespect-exploitation-and-racism-in-funeral-business/

    • John Pidgeon

      Friday 28th September 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Whoever suggested looking into Gillmans has done us (FD’S) ALL a great service.
      Such uncaring staff with such disdain for their bereaved families and deceased persons needed exposing. The sad thing about it being that WE WILL ALL BE TARRED WITH THE SAME BRUSH.
      The NAFD needs to suspend this firm from membership and following the natural process of justice KICK THEM OUT and not readmit them.
      I have always been proud of what my staff and I do for the bereaved, it is always satisfying to help them at their time of need, but this programme made me despair of my calling. Today, a recently bereaved client who saw this programme asked were we associated with that shower of s…? I am sure the first of many such comments. No matter what we do, we will ALL suffer for these sick undignified uncaring COWBOYS.

      • andrew plume

        Friday 28th September 2012 at 2:49 pm

        John

        Agreed, firms ‘will suffer’ following the fallout from this programme, the clear option being for a growth in ‘diy funerals’ but few have the stomach for that, I’m afraid

        I’m guessing that your firm is that in Cardiff which bears your name, good to see from your website that you are one of a number of firms, being transparent and upfront with your pricing

        andrew

      • Friday 28th September 2012 at 2:56 pm

        Hello John

        I was hoping that Ben Anderson from ITV would blog about the theory of tip offs. He hasn’t as far as I am aware, so I thought I would say again what I know about this.

        The undercover reporters simply applied for every and any job going. So in effect the ‘hit’ on Gillmans was random. As far as I am aware they did not place anyone within a company where there was not aired footage = 100% problem. I know that they tried to get into the Co-op but they had wind of the programme and were being super cautious; only taking on industry experienced staff.

        I have said before and will do so again I believe abuse and pressure selling is systemic. These are not isolated incidences I come across it every day and this doesn’t even touch on the families who do walk and then phone me, disgusted, in search of a decent and trustworthy firm.

        • John Pidgeon

          Monday 1st October 2012 at 4:13 pm

          Hi Sue

          I do not accept that all funeral directors are the same as those portrayed within this TV show. The problem for any employer is to ensure that whoever they employ is suitable for the job that they are seeking, we do not usually want someone else’s outcasts, we prefer to train staff in the ways of the profession without any preconceived ideas, so that they do things professionally. Many of our staff have gone from being Driver bearers with us to management for the multiples, some even opening their own business and doing things the right way. We are proud of that and the way our staff treat the bereaved and their loved ones.
          That having been said, there is never any assurance as to what lies beneath the surface of an outwardly acceptable employee.
          It may well be that the National Front views expressed by one individual are not symptomatic of the entire staff structure, but sadly one rotten apple and all that. Did management know about this persons disfunctionality? If so why was he not dismissed? If they did not know, why did the staff cover for him? Did the reporter actually report to his supervisor within Gillmans the issues he was finding…IF NOT, why not? Putting it on TV did the Competent Funeral Director a service by such exposure, but also sadly tarred us all with the same brush.
          I do not accept that ALL Funeral Directors exploit the bereaved in the manner you seem to suggest. I accept that my own firm is not the least expensive in OUR area, but I believe we can justify OUR charges by way of the standards of excellence that we provide. ALL our staff are full time, ALL are trained, ALL have industry related qualifications, All are properly remunerated.
          We did in fact become the object of scrutiny by TV a while back, via a consumer programme called X Ray, at the end of the process, the presenter actually said that he came to expose a Rip Off industry, but discovered that what we do is so well presented that he felt we didn’t charge enough AND THAT WAS SAID ON AIR.
          I could go on and on, but if my version of our merits doesn’t suit your vision of reality then we will never meet in an equal and fair place. I have absolutely NO DOUBT that there are many extremely poor service providors out there, but please do not infer that we are ALL the same. And finally, just because someone provides a service that is cheaper than others, doesn’t mean they are better. We all have a choice in selecting services throughout life as we do in bereavement and I find that usually when you compare like with like, a cheap funeral is not necessarily value for money.

          • John Pidgeon

            Tuesday 2nd October 2012 at 2:32 pm

            In my previous Post in response to ROSIE, I mistakenly started with Hi SUE….
            I sincerely apologise for this, it should of course have read Rosie, I cannot account for my error, other than perhaps a bit of Old Age creeping in!!! SORRY.
            Other than this clear error, I stand by all I said within the post.

        • John Pidgeon

          Tuesday 2nd October 2012 at 2:34 pm

          Sorry Rosie, I meant to put your name in my response.

    • Ben Anderson

      Friday 28th September 2012 at 4:27 pm

      I can confirm that neither the NDC or the GFG tipped us off about any of the branches featured in the programme. I asked ITV to mention them simply because they seem to be the best places for viewers to go if they want to find the good guys in the industry (of which I know there are many) and get well informed and honest advice about what to do when someone dies.

      Over 40% of FDs in the UK are owned by just four companies and those four also have big advertising budgets and links to most of the big pre-paid plans, so I think my “probably isn’t…” comment was fair. All I hope is that customers will do a little more research before choosing an FD and greatly increase their chances of getting a great service at a reasonable price. I visited a few businesses recommended by the GFG and NDC and was hugely impressed- they gave me the conviction that expecting impecabbly high standards at reasonable prices was not asking too much.

      • Ken Davis

        Saturday 29th September 2012 at 12:21 am

        Ah, Ben !!!!

        Nice to see you dio have some B###s !

        On behalf of the many people whom work tirelessly to assist the British Public when they are bereaved, I would like to ask you why you took the lazy way Ben ? Why did you tar eveyone with the same brush ? What do you think your seedy production will achieve ?

        Do you work for the same company who produced a “cutting edge ” exposure on Gadaffi’s funding of the IRA ? was not that the film where you edited in a clip from an X Box game and tried to pursuade viewers that this was real footage ?

        Ben. you disappoint me. I have read your book and concede that you must have courage to do some of the things you have done but Wednesday’s programme ? I can’t wait for the upcoming undercover documentary about the seedy world of television documentary makers

        It seems that you and Fran are “friends” – ( You both seem very mutually gushy on your Facebook pages )

        • Ben Anderson

          Saturday 29th September 2012 at 5:41 pm

          I certainly didn’t take the lazy approach. And as the opening lines of the film say, we were looking at 2 of the 4 companies that own over 40% of FDs. How this is tarring everyone with same brush I don’t know.

          I didn’t work on the ITV IRA film. I didn’t even see it and don’t know which company made it. Why on earth would you say such a thing? Did you have anything to do with the great train robbery?

          I’m not friends with Rosie on Facebook, so again have no idea what you’re talking about.

          And the only seediness in the film was the appalling behaviour it exposed. Something I’d have thought such a dedicated public servant would support.

          • t howard

            Tuesday 2nd October 2012 at 8:43 am

            Ben Anderson, I would personally like to thank you for doing this documentary. My mum was actually in the tooting branch of gilmans at the time of the recording. As I am sure you can all imagine it caused great distress to our family knowing this, however there were some staff who were wonderful to us all. But thank you for showing us the public what can go on within funeral homes and how we need to make more effort to find a decent company. Job well done in our eyes.

      • Simon Irons

        Saturday 29th September 2012 at 12:35 pm

        Ben
        The programme did identity some horrible behaviour and mistreatment of the deceased and disrespect to the clients and the general public.
        But on what basis do you think they are recommending good firms ( incidentally I am not saying they don’t) but to my knowledge, they make no inspections, have no code of practice or guidelines to follow and carry out no credible client research to, establish quality of any sort.

        • Ben Anderson

          Saturday 29th September 2012 at 5:47 pm

          They can tell you about their methodology better than I. I can say that I got to know a number of recommended FDs throughout the making of this film and they were inspirational. In terms of pricing, service, transparency and dedication to care, they were incredible. Meanwhile NAFD members are able to get away with appalling breaches of the code of practice without censure. That’s why I had no hesitation in suggesting viewers look to the GFG or NDC for help and advice.

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