Channel 4’s Dispatches set to rumble the undertakers

Charles 90 Comments

“Dispatches lifts the lid on the funeral industry. Using undercover filming, Jackie Long investigates what really happens to our loved ones when they die.”

Monday June 25 at 8.00pm. Channel 4. 

In certain districts of Funeralworld, fear stalks the streets.

Cancel all other appointments.



  1. Charles

    mmm, I shall be installed in front of the box for what looks extremely interesting, now who remembers the C4 documentary on Dignity during the late 1990’s (or possibly earlier)………….?

    …… I’m not intending to ‘run a book’ on the likely content but let’s hope that ‘economies of scale’ (sic) and the industrial estate warehouse facilities make an appearance

    and a very fine photo of Leverton’s bearers arriving at St Bride’s, it is too


  2. Charles

    Andrew, you are brilliant. The right church, the right funeral director. You are a walking thanatopedia.

    As to the content, from what I understand you will not be disappointed.

    Very good to hear from you!

  3. Charles

    Hi Andrew, I to have a vague recollection of the said early 90’s documentary! Does anybody actually remember the title? Would really like to see it again possibly on Youtube? I had a feeling it was probably a Panorama for the BBC? Anyhow, great undercover reporting. All the best.

  4. Charles

    Exciting times Charles. Yours truly returns to BBC1 breakfast next week, part of a feature on the financial worries faced by some families and the funeral solutions they have come up with.
    Filming this week, would be funny if screened on ‘Black” Monday too. Hope our website doesn’t crash this time. 10,000 hits in a few mins is pretty hectic for the poor old NDC IT.
    Can you make it to the Natural Death Handbook 5 launch? It wouldn’t be a party without you.
    X Rosie.

  5. Charles

    May 12th1998 Undercover Britain Channel Four- Last Rites prompted an OFT investigation. (According to The Independent via Google.) OFT report 346 is apparently downloadable from for those of us young enough/busy enough/ not yet seduced enough by the industry to have missed its publication in 2001! It’s probably time for a revue as a cursory glance left me disappointed at how little seems to have filtered into practice. Eg: Full information outside premises and on all literature, as to who is the ultimate owner. Written price lists and full quotations for clients to take away and subsequently approve. Full information about choices at local crematoria about double slots and weekend options for funerals…. Remind me again…who exactly regulates FD World ?

  6. Charles

    What else has Jackie Long done? As to the content of this documentary, let’s not assume it’s only the Big Boys he/she is after… you know what dogged reporters can be like when they get a bit of someone’s leg between their teeth; they couldn’t give a monkey’s whose it is.

  7. Charles


    That’s the one and thanks, it depicted the business model of the then SCI (UK) and particularly an ‘undercover’ (new) employee who was ‘armed’ with a waist level Camera, who filmed internal meetings and some ‘mortuary work’, which didn’t go down too well (an understatement) after the documentary was screened. From memory, said SCI employees were treating bodies with less than decent respect and ummm this backfired on SCI who had to rapidly close/scale down their then busy operation in a certain Cathedral City, only to rebrand it with the Roman name of said City. Rebranded business then virtually collapsed in trading terms

    That was SCI then but (as far as I know), the current Dignity Plc are far more scrupulous

    As to regulation, well NAFD always seem to me to be very very nice people indeed, not sure if they ever wave the big stick around though, one never hears of any fines being dished out (if that was necessary etc etc)

    Here’s a link to Jackie over on C4, fwiw


  8. Charles

    Thankyou for the info Maggie, I would be indebted to you for a copy of the Ben Anderson DVD! Also may I say what a great website you have. All the best

  9. Charles

    No winners will result from this type of programme and I think Jonathan is spot of when he says that it wont be just the big boys featured. Anyone that thinks small is beautiful should watch the BBC “Britain’s Youngest Funeral Director”

    small family firm, no proper mortuary, stained floor, watching Youtube clips of the deceased in the Chapel, eating and drinking in close proximity of the deceased being embalmed…. need I go on…. as I say no winners.
    Thinking back to the SCI expose, at least one of the contributors was quite rightly made out as a bit of a Walter Mitty type and a bit of a fool with no credibility – that could be the case again….. ho hum

  10. Charles

    Having helped out a little, I am so looking forward to this being broadcast. I wonder if my NAFD or SAIF Membership is under threat?

    Ho Hum. The more time passes, the more convinced I become that the public get what they deserve. A little research, a few minutes on the telephone and they could transform their funeral experience and save substantial sums.

    Simon. You are a little harsh. A ‘proper’ mortuary does not a good funeral director make. In some circumstances, I feel eating and drinking in the proximity of the deceased normalises the process? I’d certainly prefer that for my relatives than the shed type multi level open-rack and stack style mortuary favoured by the big boys. I have a cool tiled room and refrigeration when required.

  11. Charles

    I agree Mr xx, I also found the interest paid in the deceased singer’s career, watching him on the smart phone, reassuring and respectful. It showed the difference between this family firm’s staff and the complete detachment of larger firms’ back room boys. They usually lack knowledge of who the customers are and how they lived and I would imagine some couldn’t care less. This, I believe, is behind other major problems as witnessed in the Ben Anderson film from 14 years ago! Would those in that film have used the dead lady’s hand to jokingly rub their colleague’s lower regions if they had known her or made the arrangements with the family? I think not.
    So I was pleased to see that my theory of small local firms being more likely to personally know their customers, demonstrated in the ‘youngest director film’.

    Yes it was a bit scruffy and I prefer to see refrigeration to routine embalming but compared to my experiences at some other facilities I feel it was generally very appropriate for its community.

    As for winners, I hope it is the public who win from Monday’s TV, through improved understanding of the results of their unquestioning trust and compliance. As you point out a bit of research could help so many.

  12. Charles

    Some of you guys are unbelievable………
    I have worked with the large, very large small and very small, down to my own one man band operation and have seen the good and the bad in all of them, apart form the one man band of course!

    But you will never convince me that surfing the net and using mobiles in a chapel is appropriate or that bare concrete and stained floors in an embalming room that was quite clearly not fit for purpose is appropriate, respectful or acceptable, but the what do I know.

    It’s perfectly possible to create ann appropriate facility for not vert much money,I did it myself using 2nd hand catering equipment complimented with the odd specialised item.

    And eating in the vicinity is just gross.

    Mr Xx let me have the address of your business and I will pop along with my hidden video camera for six months and watch the every move of your you and your staff, cut it, edit it, spin it, take it out of contact and place it up on YouTube for all to see……….. Yep the programme may provide entertainment but no one will learn a think about our precious profession.

  13. Charles

    Dear Dear Simon. Are you really saying you approve of open shed style warehouse mortuaries, as used by the largest operators? I don’t think any client shown these facilities would notice the floor covering.

    I too have simple equipment, stainless steel tables, tiled rooms etc. And yes, I even drink tea, eat and make calls on occasion in the vicinity of open coffins.
    I don’t think it disrespectful. It all helps normalise what we do.

    My children grew up playing in and around the deceased. One Sunday afternoon, called in to work, I caught my younger daughter aged five or so, pulling up a chair, climbing on it and stroking the hand of the lady in our chapel of rest. I knew the family would approve if they saw this touching event. I knew too that the lady would be smiling down on the scene. Sorry, small is usually better.

  14. Charles

    in the interests of transparency but of course (something that the big boys can be coy about), MrXX, you should unveil yourself


  15. Charles


    If I may suggest….. that you could both be right. Surely it depends on the local circumstances.

    What would be perfectly necessary and acceptable in central London, would be wholly out of place on, say, a small Scottish island.

    The expectations of an undertaker carrying out maybe 5 funerals a year, against 5 a day are miles apart, but both are likely to arrive at the facilities and practices appropriate to each other’s surroundings.

    Even the Law allows for such differences.
    Someone jumping up and down, shouting at the top of their voices at midnight on Blackpool promenade would be acceptable behaviour. The very same actions at midnight on Reddich High Street may well present a breach of the peace.

    I feel that if we lose the “personal touch” in what we do, irrespective of whether a funeral is a budget arrangement or from the top of the price list, then it’s time to pack-up and go home.


  16. Charles

    That, of course, should read …. “but both are likely to arrive at the facilities and practices appropriate to each’s surroundings”.

    And Andrew….. methinks that Mr XX has indeed unveiled himself already…..

  17. Charles

    The trade is buzzing! Fear and trepidation abound.

    The word is that a journalist has (again) been working undercover. As I write, I would guess the considerable legal resources usually deployed by the giants of the industry are working hard to stop the broadcast! My fingers are crossed that these efforts fail and the audience and fallout are as big as possible. A better informed public is exactly what this business requires.

  18. Charles

    Reading one or two of the comments here leaves a very nasty taste in my mouth I’m sorry to say.
    It seems some are licking their lips in anticipation of what may be revealed in the forthcoming doco and who might be involved.
    Im especially disturbed by Mr XX and his strange habits he practices in his premises (he sounds like a particular F.D we have in our area,a man of huge smugness and a massive turnover of staff) eating around deceased and letting children play (in!!) and around deceased.
    I’m sure your families would be overjoyed to hear your chapels are being used as a some respect man.
    It makes me laugh that so many “independents” have nothing but disdain for the larger competitors in the business but forget it was those very competitors who gave them the first foot up the funeral ladder in the first place and as soon as they set up on their own suddenly become “holier than thou”.
    Also it’s all well and good if you are conducting one or two funerals a week working for some cosy little village outfit and keep deceased in a tiled room with temperature control but that just isn’t practical for a larger company who does 25-30 funerals a week,come on get real!
    I’ve worked in the business for 14 years and am still amazed by the petty squabbling between larger companys and small independents.

  19. Charles

    A. N. Employee, thank you very much for writing in and giving the other side of the argument. A one-sided debate gets very dull. So thank you, too, Simon, for bringing things up short, too.

    One thing that strikes me is that the industry never carries out market research into – well, anything. There’s something to be said for putting this to those on whose behalf fd’s work and finding out what they expect. Let the people deliver an informed judgement.

  20. Charles

    As an employee of a big F.D i can safey assume that this documentery will be of no benifet to anyone. It will make the F.Ds look ‘bad’ (Not having a grief stricken face all day) when they are just doing their job, a job that the majority COULDN’T do and will cause further distress to any familys that have an upcoming funeral to attend.

    If the public wanted to know what happened behind the scenes i would gladley show them around, but knowing channel 4 it will be out for blood, and eddited so it gets it.

  21. Charles

    No-one forced the big boys to combine mortuaries and parking garages on industrial estates.

    The desire for greater profit drives this hub and spoke business model. If there is nothing wrong with it, what do you have to fear from seeing it on TV?

    Personally I hope the programme focuses on transparency of ownership. Why are the Co-op so coy? If they are really proud of their brand and service, they should make it obvious on their websites and premises that they are owners and managers.

  22. Charles
    Quentin Fuddy Duddy

    Where are these mortuaries/garages on industrial estates? They’re not something I’ve come accross before so quite curious about this. One central office serving several funeral homes isn’t the preserve of “big boys”. There’s plenty of independents that run multi site businesses and do not have mortuaries, garages, stock etc at each funeral home.
    Some typically short sighted comments already on here and thatS before the documentary. Come 8-30pm on Monday nobody working within the profession will be any better off an those that require the services of funeral professionals will certainly be no better off.

  23. Charles

    A good point Mr.Holmes, I for one would like to see the Co-operative brand on all of their privately named premises. At least (the disgusting & over priced) “Dignity” display their logo which is enough to make the public think twice…

  24. Charles

    The vast majority of FDs are caring professionals doing a difficult job, be they independant, part of a group or working for one of the ‘big two’.
    Those taking this opportunity to snipe at their professional collegues should think very carefully about what they are saying.
    One thing is certain. This ‘show’ will not be representative of the funeral profession as a whole but will paint us all in as bad a light as possible for the sake of sensationalism.

    Does anyone actually have any confirmed details about this TV show?
    Which company/companies are involved etc?

  25. Charles

    It would be lovely, wouldn’t it, to think this could be a chance for an objective and disinterested insight into an area of life normally hidden from people until they’re in no emotional state to make a sufficiently objective judgement to make good use of it at time of need.

    But no, this is TV, and one suspects that unless it makes Madame Funeral Profession appear to get her tits out for the lads it’ll assume no-one wants to watch.

  26. Charles

    Good point, Harry. Two major faults of the media: they too often fail to treat a subject in depth, and they too often sensationalise. If Dispatches has found evidence of damnable behaviour, then those responsible deserve to be outed and damned, who could argue against that? What would be a grave injustice is if the programme does not balance appallingly bad practice against extraordinarily good practice. There are funeral directors out there who conduct their businesses in a way which is sensationally good – far better than most people would ever suppose. I can think of a good many who would emerge from the ordeal of an undercover report looking stunningly good.

    We shall have to wait and see what emerges. No one seems to doubt that we shall see stuff that’ll curl our toes, and that is in its own way very revealing. We can only hope that the programme will also educate the public and show them that, if they choose carefully, they will receive service which far exceeds their expectations.

    Anything that promotes consumer scrutiny and sharpens consumer expectations can only be good. A programme which damns the entire industry and creates alarm and despondency would be a grave disservice to consumers and good funeral directors alike, as well as being unjust and unfair.

    We shall see. And you will all have an opportunity to tell the Dispatches team what you think on this blog, which even-handedly offers a platform for anyone to say anything (unless it’s libellous, of course, because we’d be held responsible for publishing it).

    So do come back and sing praises/heap disapproval after the programme has aired.

  27. Charles

    Go into any privately named funeralcare branch and you will see the co-operative logo and name over all the brochures and framed pictures there.
    Also the letterheads display the private name and state co-operative funeralcare on them.
    Enough transparency for you?

  28. Charles

    No. And I don’t think that’s true in my experience. These days the web presence is just as important.

    As we all know, once a family is through the door, it is most unlikely they will leave because they happen to spot a small ownership notice on the wall buried among the Diploma’s. The Co-op know exactly what they are doing and I assume, operate just within the law.

  29. Charles

    A.N. Employee,

    Talking about transparency and Cooperative Funeralcare, you reminded me of a visit last year to Whipps Cross Hospital in London, to remove a client.

    It appears that the Bereavement office and mortuary service at the hospital is run by the COOP.

    A somewhat unusual and possibly far-sighted arrangement by the hospital.

    The (public) bereavement office is decorated in full COOP Funeralcare colours, with staff in corporate Funeralcare uniform and badges.

    Unusual, and arguably on the cusp of being misinterpreted, but probably “just” (and only just)professionally acceptable.

    What I personally found totally unacceptable, was the Funeralcare coffin brochure that was placed on a table next to the reception seating area, in full view of all that entered the office.

    I can accept a private contractor running a hospital mortuary service.

    I can accept a funeral director opening a branch within a hospital (a bit like Costa Coffee).

    I find it difficult to accept a hospital bereavement service sending all bereaved families into a branch of a funeral directors within the hospital, that is subconsciously “selling” that family a funeral, the moment they walk into the “hospital bereavement office”.

    The only logo missing from the office was the actual COOP Funeralcare logo itself.

    Maybe it was there, but was so “transparent” I couldn’t see it!

  30. Charles

    I have no knowledge of this arrangement so cannot offer any worthy argument to the contrary,sorry.
    Now we could go on and on about why “small” have a beef with “large” organisations (or vice versa)but that would be a tiresome and pointless exercise that could run for ever.
    We are all in this business to offer the very best we can to our families be we large or small and what I don’t like to see is all this venomous rubbing of hands wishing ill on our competitors and from what Ive been reading on here it would appear that people have some rather large axes to grind and are like a dog with its favourite bone!

  31. Charles

    I don’t think I have said I agree or disagree with large or small mortuary facilities. in fact my view is that size does not matter, it’s what goes on within that counts.
    Poor standards and poor behaviours have to be removed form out profession but the behaviours of any specific individual should not be allowed to taint the whole business or group of businesses.
    Dispatches exposed specific nursin home staff abusing elderly patients but that does not mean all nursing home care staff or all those working there were guilty as well.
    You clealy have a very successful business given you operate three small funeral homes and so not have a hub facility (taken from your website lets hopenthe ASA and Trading standards dont investigate) Someone should also report your grammar on the website to the Good English Guide! If you have refrigeration, fully compliment embalming room with full air change facilities and monitoring together with garaging and vehicles at each of your premises then I have the unclaimed 64 m Euro lottery ticket in m pocket……. And of course I don’t, but then neither do you.
    To coin a phrase…. Size does not matter, it’s what you do with it that counts!

  32. Charles


    One example that springs to mind is Unit 2, Bogmoor Place, Glasgow, G51 4TQ.

    Here is a convenient url to see it on Bing Maps:

    Unit 1 (the left hand side of the building) is the Funeralcare coffin manufacturing plant. Unit 2 (the right hand side of the building) is the regional body warehouse. They have a large mortuary, embalming facilities, a large garage area, offices, etc.

    This warehouse is on an industrial estate. It also holds the deceased for a large part of the Funeralcare Glasgow region. If I was that bothered I could post more…

  33. Charles

    Simon. You’re very sensitive. Is this because you feel stung? Do you work for funeralcare?

    I’m afraid if you are going to criticize grammar, you need to write better than you do! For example, what is a ‘fully compliment embalming room’ for goodness sake?

    At my disposal, I have every facility needed to run a successful funeral business. My office is stacked full of cards from grateful families who appreciated a personal caring approach. I may add, just in case you do have the misfortune to work for a ghastly Co-op, my facilities are not in a shed on an industrial estate.

  34. Charles

    Blimey Nick I thought you were following this thread!
    I don’t believe you’ve posted anything that warrants that reference.

    “Competition has been shown to be useful
    up to a certain point and no further,
    but cooperation, which is the thing
    we must strive for today,
    begins where competition leaves off.”
    ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

  35. Charles

    Is that same Glasgow site that also house the premises of an independent funeral director……… Forgot to post that didn’t you!

    You have at your disposal ? Think that means you have these facilities a your HUB

    David, I think I can be forgiven for having fat fingers and a small keypad whenposting on an intenet blog, on a client facing website designed to enhance and promote the reputation of my business I think you can be assured that I would be a a little more careful with my grammar or even get the information correct (since when do you have to get the doctors to complete the medical certificates before the family can register the death) but then what do I know…….

    You are correct that researchers are monitoring the blog and they are getting a genuine inside to what goes on behind the scenes at Independent Funeral Directors ( thank fully not the one I currently consult for)

    No I do not work for Funeralcare currently, but I have and was proud to do so, as I have been proud to work for many independent firms over the year, currently I so the occasional consultancy work with firms large or small.

    An Employee
    I hope my comments do not come across as self righteous

  36. Charles

    Amen to your eloquent post Simon.
    And they most definitely don’t come across as self righteous.
    However I did break a smile whilst reading them 😉

  37. Charles


    TA! Just Checking….

    “Competition has been shown to be useful
    up to a certain point and no further,
    but cooperation, which is the thing
    we must strive for today,
    begins where competition leaves off.”
    ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Agree 100%


  38. Charles


    No, I don’t believe there are any independent funeral directors that work out of the Funeralcare Glasgow Regional Office. Unless you’d care to name them I believe you are wrong.

  39. Charles

    They are located in a mid sized industrial unit in the same road ….. and no I am not going to name them…… but they are there and that’s a fact.

  40. Charles

    I always keep one thing in mind and it’s not an original thought. If this was my Gran or Granddad, Mum, Dad, daughter or son, what would I want to happen?

    Many, not all clients want the deceased moved from what they know is usually a large hospital mortuary into our care as quickly as possible. These clients would certainly not want the deceased transferred to an open plan refrigeration facility on a remote industrial estate. They could of course avoid this by asking some pertinent questions when arranging at a High St office.

    If that sounds smug then I apologise. I don’t believe Dignity or Funeralcare Directors and shareholders would see anything wrong with their total domination of the UK funeral industry. What stops that actually happening? Competition from the often less well equipped little people.

  41. Charles

    Having worked for the “bigboys” or a poor relation for the past few years I am very pleased!!!! that some one has finally made a programme about them. I feel that this has been along time coming. This is purely based on personal experiance I Have not had much to do with the smaller family buisnesses but these guys are running a money making machiene all we ever hear about is figures and targets there is no one watching or controlling what happens with peoples loved ones. The guys that are dealing with and preparing the deceased have no training what so ever and are the sort of people you wouldn’t want taking out your bins let alone preparing your loved ones . I believe that this industry needs to be looked at closely and should be properly governed and the people who do the job should be properly trained and passionate about what they do .

  42. Charles

    We also received an email from the man in incharge telling us not to speak to anyone from the press after the programme goes out if contacted. and to ensure we uphold the good reputation of the company they are very worried indeed

  43. Charles

    David, competition in business is nothing new and if you see that as a problem then your very naive.
    How are you going to feel if M&S or Tesco decided to take a slice of the uk funeral market? If you don’t up your game then you will go out of business so it pays to stay sharp and one step ahead.
    Now i have heard of yourself and no doubt you do conduct a good funeral and have some glowing thankyou cards from satisfied clients but when I took a look at your website I was greeted by content that spends most of its valuable space by moaning about “the big boys” and how (in not so many words) rubbish they are.
    I would loved to have read more about your family history,where you started out etc.
    You had all that space for self promotion yet wasted it on spite and rubbishing others.
    Did David spend all his time moaning about Goliath?

  44. Charles

    Crikey – I leave the country (and all things death related) for a couple of weeks in search of some sun, and come back to an unprecedented flurry of comments on one of your posts Charles – 56 and counting – what’s going on???

    It seems to me that the mere thought of the probing lens of the Dispatches ‘Undercover Undertaker’ reaching behind the velveteen curtains of Chapels of Rest across the UK has sent the funeral providers into a flat spin, which perhaps indicates that a revisiting of Ben Anderson’s acclaimed documentary doing the same is long overdue…

    At the Natural Death Centre we applaud anything that will stir the public into asking questions of those they employ to care for their dead, and we will be watching with interest tomorrow to see how the subject is presented. There is clearly sufficient footage to make an interesting prime time programme, which indicates that perhaps not much has changed in some places – an indictment of the funeral ‘industry’ if so.

    The complete absence of regulation of funeral directing is a double edged sword – on the one hand it is this freedom that enables people to care for their dead themselves (vis the wonderful Wendy Miller)- and on the other it is the lack of requirement for any training that allows appalling things to take place behind closed mortuary doors, some of which perhaps is awaiting screening tomorrow night to the unsuspecting viewers.

    We hope that whatever the programme contains it does not provoke a knee jerk reaction of a call for regulation, licensing or further ‘professionalisation’ of something that is basic and simple and can be done by anyone for somebody they love should they so wish. Caring for the body of someone who has died is not rocket science – the problem is that as a society we have abdicated all responsibility to others who make their living from doing what we prefer not to, and the consequences are that those hands that lift, wash and dress the bodies belong to people who have no connection either with them or their families.

    In my humble opinion, whatever the programme shows tomorrow, the way forward is for us all as a society to shake off the inertia and apathy that has led to the situation of warehouses on industrial estates housing hundreds of bodies, time for us all as individuals to sit up and ask pertinent questions of the people who are being paid to care for the dead, and thus allow the great, passionate and caring funeral directors out there to flourish, and give a thumbs down to the target makers and accountants who have seen rich pickings in production line shipping of corpses to and from their hubs for too long.

    Have a feeling that there might be interesting reading here come Tuesday morning…. 🙂

  45. Charles

    Today’s (Sunday) Sun newspaper sets the tone. The boss is reported to be ‘shocked’ at the discoveries. I wonder at which point he didn’t know about the factory units or the conduct of his staff?

    I think we can safely assume the funeralcare brand is no longer a good asset.

  46. Charles

    The suggestion of need for regulation usually pops up around these type of programmes. Personally, I feel that existing powers held by local authorities are, when used, quite adequate.

    Looking to good ol’ USA… They have regulation coming out of their ears – and little good it seems to do. Some of the horror stories that hit the news headlines…

    Other means of keeping the lid ON the situation is by membership of the NAFD and/or SAIF. Usually, but not necessarily a guarantee of quality of service.

    I applied for membership of the NAFD earlier this year, and the application was rejected. As an “internet undertaker”, our application failed because we did not intend to provide an arrangement room in our premises (The clue is in the word “Internet”). So, we didn’t tick that box.

    The premises inspector praised us on the mortuary facilities, which, he intimated, far exceeded the standards he expected from an “internet operation”, and were superior to those of the majority of normal members.

    My point is, that no matter how high your standards, or empathetic your service, if you do not “tick” every pre-set box (and comply rigidly with the existing status quo), then you can’t become a member. You have to be exactly the same as everyone else.

    I was reminded of an ethnic funeral director in the south of England who had to resign membership of the NAFD simply because the speed of service required by their religion meant that it was impossible to “Tick all boxes” prior to the funeral.

    I sat down after reading the letter of rejection, and ultimately decided that membership of the NAFD would hold the business back. The extra additional paperwork would simply confuse the majority of clients for no good reason, and the professional liability insurance, which was the main purpose of joining, could stay with it’s current provider.

    So, if regulation was to rely on membership of the trade bodies, where would that leave those firms that, for all the right reasons, couldn’t or wouldn’t comply with every single bloody tick-box?

  47. Charles

    Nick, I think your story perfectly illustrates just how useless and backward the toothless trade associations reallyare.

    The NAFD desperately needs needs the fees from the big two and so cannot properly regulate them. SAIF now seems to be little more than an organisation promoting Golden Charter pre paid plans? The insult is that they then pay members a fraction of what they received from the client.

    Perhaps what is badly needed is a new trade association (groans) for genuine independent businesses not desperate to maintain the status-quo and last century thinking.

  48. Charles

    and the ‘remarks’ on the Sun’s website, to this story (to date) make grim reading for f’care and so they should

    profit, profit, profit, nothing at all else, bodies and their loved ones are simply pawns for profit


  49. Charles


    “…useless and backward the toothless trade associations really are…”

    – but isn’t there another trade org, namely ‘Funeral Standards Council’?, which doesn’t seem to have it’s own website but from memory, I have only ever seen their logo advertised on f’care shop fronts…………….? Now, why may that precisely be…?

    “….I think we can safely assume the funeralcare brand is no longer a good asset..”

    – yes, hopefully so, it’s ‘major banana skin time’ after their truly expensive advertising campaign on TV a couple of years ago (in promoting their funeral plans)

    and personally, I’ve never been comfortable with their use of the term ‘care’ – on the face of it, there’s an immediate escalation (on their part) to being seen to be the best (all marketing pr speak of course)…but………


    “…..that has led to the situation of warehouses on industrial estates housing hundreds of bodies…….and give a thumbs down to the target makers and accountants who have seen rich pickings in production line shipping of corpses to and from their hubs for too long….”

    and as just mentioned in my recent post, – and as Charles has rightly blogged in the past, it’s all ‘economies of scale’ BUT imo, never with the intention of passing those savings through to their clients, the benefits are totally for the Co-op and the totally unnecessary hordes of middle management and pr people


    “…these guys are running a money making machine all we ever hear about is figures and targets there is no one watching or controlling what happens with peoples loved ones. The guys that are dealing with and preparing the deceased have no training whatsoever…..”

    exactly, my point too


    “…………I find it difficult to accept a hospital bereavement service sending all bereaved families into a branch of a funeral directors within the hospital, that is subconsciously “selling” that family a funeral, the moment they walk into the “hospital bereavement office”

    for once f’care do not seem to be at fault

    but this is appalling on the part of or more the point:-

    Whipps cross Hospital

    ……….who would seem to have decided to cut internal costs by farming out this facility to f’care. Let’s (all) hope that Barts Health Trust will seriously review this business arrangement, which even before tomorrow’s programme, is to me completely unacceptable

    ……..and again from what Nick said (above), this very much gives the impression that the Health Trust are promoting the use of f’care and of course from that potential standpoint and as far as f’care are concerned, we have a seamless transition (for you, ‘prospective dear client’) i.e. you drop in to view your loved one, collect their effects and why bother to delay, ‘dear bereaved’ and to have any unnecessary further bother, just stop awhile at our adjoining facility and we’ll arrange the funeral all at the same time, yes it’s absolutely no trouble…………..very tasteless indeed, no choice and almost certainly an OFT issue as well


    “….I for one would like to see the Co-operative brand on all of their privately named premises..”

    ah yes indeed Richard. Last September, I spent a little time looking at the shop window of one:

    Adela Funeral Homes of 45 South Street, Eastbourne, BN21 4UT (who are (of course) part of f’care)

    For one, it is not ‘Homes’, it is ‘Home’ and there was nothing at all on display from the outside to indicate ownership, nor was it festooned (sic) in f’care colours. However, above the door was a reference to the Manchester Miller Street address of f’care but not their name. What to me is also unacceptable about the f’care Eastbourne operation is this – i.e. at 51 South Street, with two small shops between these two businesses. Talk about ‘saturation policy’…..Now, I envisage this possible scenario, a potential client (seeking a funeral director) is walking up the Street in the direction of No51, comes across the f’care branch and rightly isn’t keen, I’ll move on….then he/she comes across No45 – oh this must be better, we’ll go in here…but of course it’s one and the same, same shared facilities, same prices – again very much a likely OFT issue, imo. fwiw, the Adela branch was there well before No51 opened

    and finally:

    after all of this, shouldn’t the nation’s largest funeral provider, at last, publish their price list online, after all, they’re making way enough profits to be able to afford this minor expense (or is it an ‘inconvenience’) but is the organisation far more interested in creating yet more new marketing wheezes plus shades of potentially sharp practice such as at Whipps Cross? What I see here, is nothing other than a desire to create a juggernaut so large that market share becomes paramount and the poor punter picks up the increasingly inflated bill, not least that their bereaved ends up being ‘stored’ in a ghastly warehouse unit


    1. Charles

      Hello Andrew. This comment I know is very late, but do you know if there are 2 co-op Funeral Business’s, I have just had to arrange a funeral and used the local independent business and to my horror found out they were owned by co-op. So I had a meeting with 2 gentlemen and told them I would never have paid a single penny to them. Straight away I was told they were a different co-op! and were nothing to do with the Dispatches prog. They are Midcounties co-op. So I have done a little research and I think they are 1 of the same. Could you let me know if you know anything about this.

  50. Charles

    ……..and following the post re Whipps Cross Hospital, it (now) seems from the attached that f’care provide similar services for other NHS Trusts (or at least have tendered for these):-

    (which followed a complaint by Mr John Watson)

    am I/are we to assume that if said ‘tenders’ were approved, have f’care set up similar ‘funeral arranging practices’ in those Hospitals as well?


  51. Charles

    Oh brilliant, now the usual suspects are currying favour with The Daily Mail and The Sun tabloids and their “views” on Monday’s Dispatches.
    Because both those gutter rags are known for their moralistic stance and non-sensationalist headlines aren’t they? You lot are priceless!!
    Take a little time to view the reader comments underneath the attention grabbing headlines and read a few comment from “real” people.
    I’m particularly shocked by the sub-picture the Sun used for this story of a multi rack system in a mortuary because you’ll never see those in any hospital or any funeral directors in the uk or anywhere around the world will you?
    Stripped naked and stacked like tv sets……what an outrageous comparison!

  52. Charles

    and personally, I’ve never been comfortable with their use of the term ‘care’ – on the face of it, there’s an immediate escalation (on their part) to being seen to be the best (all marketing pr speak of course)…but………

    Andrew,come on man!
    In 2011 Proctor and Gamble spent just shy of $2.95 billion on advertising,and why? Think about it.
    The whole point of advertising is to convince the public that you are the best and they should use/buy your product,of course it’s marketing speak…advertising is marketing…geez!

  53. Charles

    thanks AN Employee

    not, imo, the correct comparison but I take your point, thankyou

    with any P&G product, it’s not crucial if ‘one get’s it wrong’ – plenty of scope to try others – that’s not the case when arranging a funeral, it’s a one off and there’s no opportunity to experiment with another product



  54. Charles


    Tonight’s programme may contain a number of unforgivable insights into bad practise, but I’ll guess that the majority of the programme will highlight the purely “industrial” scale how some FD’s operate.

    Perhaps the wood is too close to the trees, and those in charge have failed to stop for a moment, and consider what the average man or woman in the street would regard as acceptable.

    With the exception of allowing NoK to witness an autopsy or the embalming process, I personally feel that every other process or room in a funeral establishment should be open for view, should a client so wish.

    The perception by the NoK should be that we have nothing to hide – and this should indeed be the truth.

    The cost difference between an open-racked coldroom, and your more accepted (but basically the same) chill unit with doors, may now cost dear in the long run.

    Lets hope that everyone can learn from this, make the necessary changes, consider peoples’ feelings just that little bit more, and move forward.


  55. Charles

    The story seams to only look at this subject from one side, and that was as negative as possible.It also focussed on one area but made it sound like this was throughout all the Coop’s.

    My Daughter started over 6 months ago and it has devastated her,making her feel really bad, when she puts everything into been as compassionate as possible. Many people have commented on her professionalism and thanked her for her arranging skills.

    You did not mention on the dispatches program at any time that this is only related to the parlors you looked into and from an outsider this was a extremely biassed view. Which would damage a far wider area than the one shown.

    I feel that is disgusting and really the person who presented it should have made it clear that you only looked into that area..

    This was only a snapshot of bad practice, you want to be ashamed for not also saying there are some good businesses that will not operate in that way.

  56. Charles

    not disclossed, we often make the case here that there are some wonderfully good funeral directors out there. In fact, most of our time is spent seeking out and celebrating best practice.

    We also recognise that there are many excellent and caring employees of Funeralcare.

    The upshot ought to be that the best will now start prospering as funeral shoppers choose more carefully.

  57. Charles

    How disgusting this is for the love of a person who has passsed away one would expect dignity and respect I have to say this reminds me of a scene from a war film however, to reasure the public I urge you to go to your local independent who will care for a loved one with respect and dignity the time has come to drop the the national companies they made 52 million out of the people bereaved and the independent can be up to £1000 cheaper than they are and give 100% better level of care
    The MD knows what goes on and if he doesnt then he should step down one bunch of crooks

  58. Charles

    @not disclossed
    Please tell your daughter to go into work tomorrow with her head held high and build on the foundations she has already laid in being a valued member and employee of Co-operative Funeralcare.
    The programme showed some bad working practices of one or two individuals and rest assured this will be dealt with immediately.

  59. Charles

    Tell your daughter to get a job with the independents as co-op may be exposed n one area but believe me it goes on in many areas I wouldnt leave a donkey deceased in their care
    they charge over £1000 more than others and they treat deceased worst than we would treat a dead animal
    A bunch of crooks

  60. Charles

    Sounded to me that it was the undercover reporter that suggested taking the lid off the coffin and the bearer saying we should not be doing this, very unfair

  61. Charles

    I am glad the co-op have been shown up for what they are !!!!!
    I think George Tinning is a very poor actor and knows full well what these people are up to, its all about the money !!!!!

  62. Charles

    Sue,would you like to provide proof of these outrageous claims?
    Or did the programme not provide the content you and so many others were hoping for?
    Also a strange choice of phrase “donkey deceased” would never spring to my mind but I’m sure it made sense to you.

  63. Charles

    Have to say that the programme was nowhere near as cutting as I had expected.

    It was, given the evidence, almost fair.

    It looked as if Mr Tinning was expecting far worse, judging by his YouTube presentation offered prior to the programme being aired. I actually found myself feeling sorry for him.

    I felt that the programme illustrated just how easy it is to lose control of an operation that has perhaps both grown a little too large, and does not have staff of sufficient, real experience, at all levels of the operation to back-up the advertising hype.

    Add the odd loose cannon, in the shape of an area manager worried about targets, and there you have it.

    Sometimes the truth hurts.

  64. Charles

    Hey big boy I dont need to provide evidence I have seen far worst than what the viewers have seen this evening and the evidence is not for you that is for the public when we are ready to release the evidence in several areas put that in your pipe and smoke it

  65. Charles

    Sue, you really are narrow minded… As stated, there are always a “few bad apples” in all practices, even within the precious independants. I felt both angry and sad that these morons were allowed near the public and also screened on national T.V, and obviously will be out of the door hopefully with a size 9 footprint on there butts. At the end of the day it was 25mins of propaganda and shock tactics for ratings… Back to my pipe…

  66. Charles

    Firstly Sue thankyou for the big boy comment as it made my day!
    Secondly you said “when WE are ready to release the evidence” do I take it that you work for a secret organisation with damning footage that will blow the funeral business wide open?
    I don’t know about my pipe but whatever you put in yours don’t get caught with it as it illegal!!

  67. Charles

    Dear Mr Employee

    Good to see you back and as Charles has previously said, a balanced argument is very necessary on here

    Unfortunately for the organisation, it was a damning indictment of (1) the unwillingness to supply the ‘basic funeral service” (2) general opposition to give the client exactly what they need; (3) a quest to sell clients more than they ever thought that they wanted; and (4)if you wish to see the deceased, then you will have to fit into our schedule etc etc

    I could go on, I really could but I have over the past few days, probably said quite enough



  68. Charles


    I very much hope that f’care tighten up their admin inside their ‘hubs’ so that they are aware of exactly who they have there – ‘wipe boards’ are clearly not the way to control that side of the organisation, surely they can afford to have someone there who can properly operate a pc? Sadly what the programme featured was the likelihood of bodies being mixed up, it was all too frentic


  69. Charles

    Andrew what you saw last night is NOT typical of funeralcare practice I can assure you.Also a wipe board system is perfectly adequate when used properly and managed well(as used in a majority of funeral homes both independent and larger).
    I think what we have here is a few select individuals on this blog that are annoyed at the fact the programme didn’t contain quite what they expected. And as you well know the potential mix up of deceased is by no means exclusive to the co-operative.

  70. Charles

    I confess I was disappointed with the programme. Mostly because I had thought it would be a little less sensationalist and draw attention to the transparency issue that I believe seriously misleads clients.

    However, it was a start and certainly highlighted funerals being big business for the larger operators – literally on an industrial scale as well as industrial estates.

    Who benefits? I would hope consumers – who might take a little time to ask questions of their funeral director. Sadly to be realistic we must remember this expose was only on Channel 4 and a few tabloids. The majority of funeral buyers will not even see it. Funeralcare can carry on, (big) business as usual.

    Although, I should beware the return of the journalists in six months George!

  71. Charles

    Dear Charles
    I am aware that in a previous post I bid you all farewell and came back to reply but now I feel I’ve said everything I needed to say.
    Many posts here have thrown accusations at funeralcare for which there is no proof and were never featured in the programme.
    For every large successful organisation that exists it will have its haters for whatever reason.
    I feel dispatches didn’t provide what many here wanted and therefore has created even more ill feeling amongst a few of the regulars.
    Maybe some should be wary about throwing stones and be sure their own house won’t come crashing down around them.


  72. Charles

    Shocking isn’t the word!!
    Surely Charles and the good funeral guide wouldn’t sanction such cowboys.
    Also sporting the Natural Death Society logo on their website.
    To say I’m saddened by their actions is an understatement,please say you don’t condone this guys.

  73. Charles

    Do not send loved ones to co op funerals iam ex undertaker and co op are awful . Profits before peopleAlso hubs are a disgrace O

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