First responses

Charles 13 Comments


And so it goes on. A thermo-nuclear half hour?


  1. Charles

    Whatever Mr Tinnings says, the pressure to save/make money must come from above – sad to see the instruction to employees for further advice – ‘contact your line manager’…. That’ll be the one with the budget/profit targets to meet then? I can just about see the sense of the ‘hub’ but surely they could be more dignified/less chaotic/less secret?

  2. Charles

    I suspect many fingers are crossed in Deansgate and around the network, willing a decent wind to blow this all way as quickly as possible.

    The Board at D*gn*ty will of course be offering prayers that it wasn’t them the producers decided to feature.

  3. Charles

    As the Managing Director of a Bereavement Service, I think it only right to respond to tonight’s Dispatches programme on Channel Four. In doing so, it would be easy to gloat about Funeralcare, and revel in their misery of having been found so badly wanting in a number of departments. However, to do so would be unhelpful, and to forget that amongst this, are a great number of families who will tonight be reliving their grief once again. There will also be families who are currently in the care of this organisation whose trust has been completely undermined, and will be having to make some very tough decisions. This is the human cost of programmes such as these.

    It is not for me to defend Funeralcare, but I have no doubt that as in every walk of life, for every bad person in the company, there are good people in equal measure. Sadly, as a result of the company’s policy of pressure selling and misleading clients, those willing to do the misleading and the mis selling, are, in some instances moving up the ladder of responsibility, and bringing pressure to bear on those below them. Here, the spiral out of control begins. And for all the remonstrations of the Managing Director, and his assurances that pressure selling and selling up were not part of the Funeralcare ethos, clearly this message is not reaching those further down the line.

    The use of “hubs” is commonplace within Funeralcare, as it is with other companies doing high volumes of funerals. However, while I would not criticise the way the deceased were kept (they were on perfectly acceptable racks and trays, commonly used in hospitals and funeral homes), I would be very critical of the chaotic nature of the hub. I do not agree with keeping that number of people in one place because to do so is a disaster waiting to happen, as has been proved, but if that number of people are going to be kept in that way, it is essential that sufficient staff are working there to make certain that the right people are in the right places. We owe this and much more to those who have died and can no longer look after themselves.
    The programme showed the distress an error can cause, and to have the wrong coffin at a crematorium is, in my view, appalling on every level, let alone the way the company responded to their mistake, by returning the correct coffin in a van. How we respond to an error is what defines us, and in this case, the company got it terribly wrong.

    Chester Pearce is very proud of its “blank canvas” approach to caring for the bereaved, with every funeral we undertake completely individual. There is no financial monitoring of staff, and no permission required from management to perform a simple funeral. We are completely guided by the needs of the family, and our policy of continuity of care ensures both the family, and the deceased are looked after in the right way.

    We are very aware of our fundamental responsibility as funeral directors, which is the care of the deceased and those they leave behind. Sadly, Funeralcare have become so big that they have lost sight of this, and have, it seems, become more focused on the need to make money. This is obvious when someone is so willing to lie to clients about aspects of the arrangements because they feel pressure from above to up sell.

    It is a great pity to me, that the whole profession will potentially be undermined by this programme. The UK has a great many funeral homes that offer a first class service to their bereaved clients. I am proud to know a considerable number of fellow professionals who I wouldn’t hesitate to entrust my own loved ones to, and in amongst the hype which will follow this programme, this shouldn’t be forgotten.

    It is now for Funeralcare to strip themselves bare, and be completely honest about their shortcomings. It is also for the NAFD in particular, whose guidelines have clearly been breached by one of its members, to act in a decisive way. Whether these things happen remain to be seen. But what saddens me most, is you can bet Dispatches won’t be there to see it.

    Chester Pearce staff are on hand to talk about anything in the programme which might have caused concern. Please call at any time if you are concerned in any way, or have questions about what was shown.

  4. Charles

    What exactly does Funeralcare do with the £52 milion it makes each year? Other than pay bosses huge banker style bonuses.

    What will the NAFD do about the shortcomings uncovered by Dispatches?

  5. Charles

    Thanks Stephen that was a really excellent and helpful comment.

    I agree completely that “it is now for Funeralcare to strip themselves bare, and be completely honest about their shortcomings.”

    But what if they don’t do that?

    I was concerned to hear the CEO deny all knowledge. I thought “there’s a man which is not going to take any responsibility”. I can see lots of poor suckers lower down the food chain taking the fall for this.

    Fortunately we, the consumers, have the power to change this. Whether we will is another question.

  6. Charles

    Follow the link on their website I think some details are there in terms of investment ……… One thing for sure is that as a mutual there are no shareholders or owners lining their pockets with share dividend or tax efficient profit dividends. I remember this blog covering last years profits and many commenting that it did not seem much give the number of funerals they conduct.

    Charles, everyone I know who tweeted got a personalised response and Funeralcare now have a fair few followers ……… Well try to copy and past some of the Pro Funeralcare Comments

  7. Charles

    Simon, I tweeted @coopfuneralcare and got no response whatever from them. In any case, Funeralcare reads this blog and has been doing so for some time. They can see for themselves. As they peruse these comments and take heart where they can, I hope they will reflect on the nature of this blog which, though it has always been critical of Funeralcare for reasons we state, we allow unfettered to access to anyone to say anything. Sometimes we offer an opinion or a judgement which receives responses which rock us back and make us reconsider. We are well up for that. We like to learn wherever we can and we like to be fair. We are also happy to host the comments of people whose views we do not find persuasive.

    We have always been up for a dialogue with Funeralcare but they simply refused to enter into one.

    I have tried to be balanced in my response to the Dispatches programme and I haven’t a lot more to add. I have been very interested to read what others have had to say.

    And that’s what it’s all about, really, isn’t it? Listening? If Funeralcare had listened to their clients they wouldn’t have ended up storing their dead in industry-approved racking. There is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of a hub so long as it is well appointed and the people who work it conduct themselves according to an etiquette agreed with clients.

    No one knows best, Simon. That’s why we have a duty to listen to each other. I wish Funeralcare would engage with its critics as we do.

    The spirit and example of the Rochdale Pioneers remain fresh and relevant. Time to get back to basics?

  8. Charles

    Good on yer, Jeanne – if there’s one thing that all this to-do clearly shows, it’s the invaluable nature of this blog, full of information, well-informed opinion, and only occasionally less well-informed or hotly partisan comment!

    Let me be mischievous – Charles, given your resolute opposition to government regulation of Funerworld, what would you say now if one of that nice Mr Cameron’s minions came along and offered you a post as Ombudsman? And if not you, who??

  9. Charles

    I’m almost starting to enjoy going back through these posts to find Simon’s additions. Anyone just finding one wouldn’t necessarily know you had put the same comment on every post. Now that is boring.

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