The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Another no-frills funeral service

Monday, 28 January 2013





There was a big splash in Saturday’s Daily Mail about a budget funeral newcomer to Funeralworld, Cremdirect. Set up in June 2012, Cremdirect has already performed 70 funerals at an all-in fixed price of £1750 and serves Manchester, Buxton and Macclesfield and environs. 

We called up the founder, Mark Roebuck, and put to him the sorts of questions anyone would want to know the answers to.

Mark, your background is the motor trade. What experience have you got of undertaking? Mark replied that he has a little, and he employs three staff with around 100 years’ experience between them.

We asked Mark about his mortuary. It’s in a unit at Compstall Mill on the outskirts of Stockport, next to a country park. There’s a good and proper refrigeration unit – no coldroom and racking. There’s even a small chapel of rest for those who change their mind and decide they want to visit – though the website makes clear that Cremdirect  does not offer ‘viewing facilities’.  He encourages families who want to visit to do so at the hospital mortuary, where Cremdirect can leave bodies until a day or so before the funeral.

Clients can make arrangements either in the office at Compstall or, as usually happens, at their homes. 

We asked Mark about his price and wondered if it might not be a bit on the high side by comparison with similar providers (eg Powell and Family Direct at £1497 and Richard Fearnley at £1397.) He puts it down to the cremation fee in his area – around £600. Another factor may be his refusal to use foil coffins. He’ll only use veneer. He doesn’t want his funerals to look cheap. He even has a Daimler hearse, so he’s clearly a bit of a funeral romantic.

Mark has been greeted warmly and supportively by the undertaking community in Manchester and has found local suppliers delighted to serve him. Or not, as the case may be.

Tomorrow, he’s on the Jeremy Vine show on R2. He sounded a bit apprehensive. This is a lot of publicity for a wee startup that’s not doing much different from a number of other firms serving the fuss-free market. Mark hasn’t courted any of this publicity; it just seems to have happened to him in the random way the media works. 

27 comments on “Another no-frills funeral service

  1. Monday 13th October 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Ii find all this very confusing, what exactly is the basic price? extras could vary.but this could be explained with a ball park (extras) price. If the customer is to be satisfied the firm should explain BEFORE taking upfront money, then extra charges would not leave an already upset client further upset and bitter at being misled or “conned” by being made to feel a fool. Or in some cases struggling with a budget deficit.
    DOES ANY “BODY” OUT THERE AGREE? Do you have any answers?

  2. Friday 21st February 2014 at 6:34 pm

    UPDATE February 2014 – The Good Funeral Guide emphatically does NOT recommend Cremdirect.

  3. Wednesday 30th January 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Comments are now closed on this post.

  4. Wednesday 30th January 2013 at 9:16 pm

    And by the way the GFG has never said that funeral directors have to offer Direct Cremation and a professional funeral director and owner of the business I can offer my clients whatever I wish.

  5. Wednesday 30th January 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Have never had anyone ask for Direct Cremation my families have always asked for a service etc and a minister and everything and It is not belitting in anyway to anyone. If someone wishes to have a direct cremation then that is their choice

  6. Wednesday 30th January 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Where were the NAFD or SAIF? Did the BBC invite them to comment I wonder?

    I didn’t hear all of the radio programme- but what I did hear certainly reflected quite badly on established mainstream funeral directors.

  7. Mr XX

    Wednesday 30th January 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I agree with Maggie – it’s belittling in tone and substance. The traditional funeral director on the Jeremy Vine show was affronted when asked how much he charged. This seemed to reflect very badly both on him and established old fashioned funeral directors generally. Why does a businessman feel he need not reveal his prices? The cheek of the public wanting to know what a funeral costs. He blew his one chance to address the nation and justify undertakers high prices. If he had explained why he thinks funerals cost so much, high staff costs, premises, vehicles, fuel, equipment etc he may even have got sympathy? Most basic cremation firms admit they have low overheads.

  8. Wednesday 30th January 2013 at 12:44 pm

    We have found that people ask for a direct cremation service for many reasons – it’s not just about wanting a cheap service. We have looked after two Northampton families who wanted a direct cremation service for religious reasons. Referring to direct creation as ‘such a thing’ is belittling to those who use it, as well as being the complete opposite of the GFG principles.

    • Wednesday 30th January 2013 at 12:52 pm

      My apologies, that should read ‘direct cremation’ – direct creation conjures up a completely different service!

  9. andrew plume

    Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 10:06 pm

    here’s the link to the interview with Jeremy Vine:-

    and scroll along to 1.42hours to pick up the interview, rather than go from the start


  10. Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I have never had such a request and do not intend to offer the service of such a thing. So glad that you can help her.

  11. Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I have never had a family even ask about anything like Direct Cremation as at Mark Elliott Funeral Service we provide a cremation service for £2375.00 all inclusive of crem fees and doctors fees the minister and all other necessary fees etc. Direct Cremation is something that I would not really advertise in my business and in the area which I am in our families don’t really look for anything like that.

    • Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 8:31 pm

      Interesting view Mark. I am currently helping a lady from Northampton to arrange a direct cremation because she could not find a funeral director in the town who would help her. And that’s the truth.

  12. Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Having just listened to the Jeremy Vine show on i-player, I cant quite work out why Mark Roebuck claims that burial requires “a lot of cars” …

    Perhaps more importantly, the independent funeral director from Chesham asks him, very fairly, “does the £1750 include crematorium, doctors, minister” and Mark Roebuck replies “yes it includes everything.” However, if you look on the cremdirect website it says “we can also supply a minister or Humanist Celebrant to hold a service, the cost for this is £120.” This strikes me as just a little bit naughty.

  13. Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I’m with Maggie on this one. Kingfisher Funerals of St Neots offers a Direct Cremation for £1452, or £1300 if the coroner is involved (those are the amounts the cheque is written for Jonathan). Its inclusions are clearly stated on our website. We do not restrict viewing, because we believe that if someone wants to come and say goodbye, we are not the people to refuse that. It really doesn’t take very long to dress someone, and they have to be placed into a coffin anyway, so what’s the big deal?

    We also offer a fixed price “Funeral in St Neots” for £1995, which includes doctors, crematorium fee and minister/celebrant OR grave, digging and minister/celebrant, plus use of our premises for the ceremony. This £1995 is the amount written on the cheque.

    All the above prices include our professional fee, a basic coffin (which is frequently called “very nice” by clients), transport of the coffin to wherever, and staff where needed.

    Like Maggie, we keep our overheads low. We don’t own our own big vehicles, we don’t need them.

    It’s not rocket science. It’s not difficult to price. It’s not difficult to advertise. It’s not eating into our profits.

    It is bringing us more and more work. It is annoying our local corporate competitors. It is getting our name better and better known in the area.

    And most importantly, it’s providing a valuable service to those who want it.

  14. Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 3:39 pm

    My nearest Dignity branch charges over £3,000 for what it calls a ‘traditional’ funeral. They include in this; collection of the deceased, hearse, one limousine, chapel visit and basic oak veneer coffin. In addition you must also pay the crematorium fee, Minister, celbrant and Doctor’s fees.

    Makes all the above look decidedly inexpensive!

    • andrew plume

      Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 5:14 pm


      they cannot ‘do’ a basic funeral imo, simply because their cost base is so high, what with all of the usual unecessary area managment and similarly non required flash cars…………..etc etc


  15. Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 10:47 am

    We have been offering a direct cremation service for some time – by stating which crematorium we use (Kettering) we are able to give an ‘all inclusive’ price of £1,400 (including doc’s fees), which is advertised on our website, in our brochures and in our window. On the same basis we offer/advertise a simple/basic cremation for £1,850 which includes doc’s fees, minister, hearse, crematorium fee, coffin, bearers and our fee. In both cases doc’s fees will be deducted if the coroner is involved. We can offer these options by keeping our overheads low – we do as much as possible ourselves, hiring in hearse and bearers when needed. In this way we are able to help DWP clients who have been turned away by other FD’s – a situation which is happening all too often.

  16. Quokkagirl

    Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 7:26 am

    I’m not on twitter but perhaps someone could forward this article and thread to the producer of the Jeremy Vine Show?

  17. Monday 28th January 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Good point – but the only non variable is our charge – which is always £950. Simply this includes; collection and storage of the deceased, completion and delivery of all necessary paperwork, a basic coffin and a closed hearse to transport the coffin to the crematorium on the day of the funeral.

    Doctor’s fees – are only payable if the Coroner has not ordered an autopsy.

    The Minister or celebrant’s charge – usually varies.

    The crematorium charge – depends on which one is chosen. Most vary by hundreds of pounds. I offer a choice – and almost always, the client who uses my service, chooses to attend the chapel on the day.

    • Jonathan

      Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 9:20 am

      I sympathise with you of course, David, and I really don’t know what I’d do in your position. You’re trying to be fair and clear to your clients. Even so, at least one would know that, high as it may seem to us, £1750 is what one’ll have to write on the cheque, whereas £950 gives one no clue about that. I

      f I were not an insider, and concerned about the cost, I’d be tempted most by the one that tells me what I actually have to pay. Death is confusing enough.

  18. Monday 28th January 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Good luck to him. Our own internet offering – simplefunerals4u (bad name I know) is still charging £950 inclusive of foil coffin.

    If the lowest cost crematorium is chosen, it’s possible to pay as little as £1200 for a funeral. Add Doctor’s fees and a Minister or celebrant, and you’ll still get close to this £1750 Manchester price – in London!

    Makes me wonder why Jeremy Vine hasn’t called yet- or why we don’t do more simple funerals? Perhaps the answer is that most people don’t look hard enough, research enough or even feel their local big group funeral director is serving them well – even at their average £2600 fee, plus disbursements of course.

    • Jonathan

      Monday 28th January 2013 at 9:50 pm

      This habit of showing £DC price-minus-‘disbursements’ makes it hard to make any comparison between providers, or to know what you will end up paying. You don’t see a coat in a shop window with a tag saying ‘only £168, no frills’, and go inside to find out that ‘frills’ means sleeves, pockets and buttons are extra.

      Tell us, David et al, what are your bottom lines, including crem fees, doctors’ 4&5 fees, coffin price, transport, and anything else the average punter may not think to take into account? I realize a celebrant or a coroner can be an unpredictable addition or saving and, yes I know, I could take the trouble and do you the politeness of looking on your website but I’ve already read £950, £1200, £1750, and my head’s spinning! Would it feasible to make it simpler to understand?

    • Monday 28th January 2013 at 10:54 pm

      One thing strikes me above all, David, and that’s how completely useless consumer journalists are. Their coverage of the funeral business is haphazard at best and, taken all in all, abysmal. A pox on all of them!

  19. Monday 28th January 2013 at 6:53 pm

    I have found from my own local research that most independent funeral directors if asked will provide a direct cremation service. In Leicester Paul Pender and Buckminster Funerals will charge £625 approximately plus disbursements for a direct cremation.

    • andrew plume

      Tuesday 29th January 2013 at 5:06 pm

      and judging by the attached Colin, Buckminster seem to offer a very reasonable low cost service:-

      and compared to the ‘big boys’ their service charge is cheaper than cheap – this is what can be done, good for them


    • Barbara De-Rathel

      Friday 21st February 2014 at 6:10 pm

      This is totally untrue. After being misled that the funeral would be £625 plus fees, my bill arrived at £2600.00. They are misleading the general public by charging for extras that other funeral directors include.

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