Follow-up letter to George Tinning, Managing Director, Co-operative Funeralcare

Charles 19 Comments

Dear Mr Tinning,

It’s almost a fortnight since I wrote to you on 27 June. You haven’t replied. I’m disappointed, of course. I’m not wholly surprised, though. You’ve had a lot on your plate in the aftermath of Undercover Undertaker — and now you’ve got an Early Day Motion in Parliament to contend with. The reputation of Funeralcare is in tatters. What a distressing thing to happen in the middle of the United Nations International Year of the Co-operatives. 

Well, it was all bound to come out some time. I hope you see that, now. 

I am determined to look on the bright side. I like to believe that you are preoccupied with a full review of the way you operate so that you can relaunch Funeralcare with the core values of co-operation reinstalled, together with a renewed sense of mission both to the bereaved and to those who serve them. It must be reassuring to you to know that you employ some really good, caring people. They deserve better of their management. 

So I simply want to repeat my offer: when you have faith-restoring messages that you need to get out to the public, please let us know so that we can do our bit to publicise them. The raison d’être of the Good Funeral Guide is, let me remind you, to direct funeral shoppers to the best people in funeral service. Our core purpose is to sing praises, not to shower blame. 

It’s not just the audience of the Good Funeral Guide I want you to reach out to. Before you write to me, please would you write to Sharon McCoy in Runcorn. She has written to you, too, and she, likewise, has not had a reply. She endured a thoroughly unsatisfactory funeral arranged by Co-operative Funeralcare. Of its many unsatisfactory elements, the most distressing was the loss of her mother’s jewellery when it was transferred to another branch. She needs a better and more plausible explanation than the one she has been given, Mr Tinning. Above all, she deserves an apology. When you address this matter, you might look into your complaints procedure, too. When Sharon rang your Client Relations department she was to all intents and purposes stonewalled. 

I very much look forward to hearing from you.

With all best wishes,









  1. Charles

    I have only been on the periphery for13 years and, of course, the issues in dispatches come as no surprise to me or anyone I know.

    Isolated incidences, my foot.

    This week I received a feed-back form from a lady who used an association of natural burial grounds site. The cemetery got full marks, however, when questioned about the funeral directing she was not at all happy

    ” Mum had been very clear that there should be no flowers, the funeral director told us that would make it look like a pauper’s funeral”.

    How caring and compliant with the choice thing, that they bang on about!

    If Mr Tinning would care to hear which Surrey branch this was, I would be very pleased to enlighten him. I have a stack of other feedback forms that might help him quantify the problem. So come on over to the NDC nuclear bunker sometime Mr T, I will show you my paperwork, would you like to stay?

  2. Charles

    Thank you Charles for your honest open approach, perhaps Sharon McCoy and Rosie might like to look at the link I have posted for our website, the purpose is to bring about regulation of all funeral directors, including some of the front line Co-op staff who do a great job and have nothing to hide – but also to bring those who feel they do not need to answer to their actions and make them actually accountable through a independent accreditation scheme
    Kind Regards

  3. Charles

    It’s a comforting thing to say, that front-line coop staff are doing a great job, because we know of some managers who are not. But unfortunately, a look at some of detailed stories on this blog and elsewhere shows that is not always the case. Look at the above example!

    We need to look at each FD, Coop or otherwise, to see how they treat us before we give to him or her a very important job. The great pity is that because so many of us don’t think about death and a funeral until it happens, we are in no great shape to deal with insensitivity, let alone carefully-hidden profiteering. But the best answer to be being told that having no flowers would make it look like a pauper’s funeral would have been to turn round and walk out of there.

  4. Charles

    I agree Gloria. unfortunately families seem to think that they cannot change FD once any service ie collection, has taken place. Regardless of whether, or not, they have signed anything.

    Beverley, who are you? What is your website? Apologies if I should know who you are, been a bit distracted recently.

    I would google you but your reference to regulation has immediately made me lose heart, although I am intrigued as to who you might think of as a suitable independent scrutiniser?

    I wonder how many lovely co-op staff I have met over the years have been powerless to fulfill their customers wishes, the majority seem shackled.

    A saying I have heard so often is that the said company are an excellent training ground………in how things should not be done. I wonder what percentage of indies started out with the best of intentions training at an apparently ethical company? I seem to run into them frequently. has anyone looked at this Charles?

  5. Charles

    Hello Beverley
    I have just realised who you are, sorry for being a bit slow.

    I look forward to hearing from you about the location of your Website.

    Regards Rosie

  6. Charles

    Hi Charles,

    Its really good that you’re continuing to voice the concerns of those of us that think the public deserve better funerals. Tony Piper mentioned that you’re planning to continue to write. Great news!

    Tony and I came up with an interesting proposal for George and his management team. We’d like to host a Death Cafe, specifically for them, in a place of their choosing. They can expect the finest cakes and we’ll even provide a bottle of plonk.

    In this convivial environment we’d ask them to talk about the fact that they, themselves are also going to die. No more and no less. Maybe that might help them to think differently about the service they provide?


  7. Charles

    I think that would be salutary, Jon. What an excellent idea. It would enable them to see that running a funeral business is not just about logistical efficiency and bigging up the bottom line, but is in fact primarily about meeting the emotional and spiritual needs of people hit by the unimaginable, mind-rocking, mystery-filled absence of the person who has died.

    I’d be inclined to start them off with a Death Cafe, and let that sink in. Next, I think they should sit with groups of bereaved people and find out what they mean by a good sendoff. After that, they need to get back in touch with the commercial and social goals of the Rochdale Pioneers.

    How would you feel about their rounding off all that with a public pledge in a ceremony of re-dedication to the service of the bereaved?

    A period of penance is necessary for remorse to flower as repentance. But I think you are absolutely right to focus on regenerative initiatives. How very like you!

  8. Charles

    This is the group link on facebook
    It is called Collectively against Co-op, it is our story at the hands of Co-operative Funeralcare Weymouth and their Head Office managers and our wish that the way our mum and family were treated does not happen to anyone else
    It is hard even to grieve let alone be prayed upon by some of the heartless money driven managers of this organisation.
    We have said all along that we are sure Co-operative Funeralcare must have some excellent front line staff who are in the job for the right reasons, demonstrate dignity and respect not only to those we have lost but to the families left behind who are so vulnerable

    1. Charles

      Thanks Beverley,
      Unfortunately I don’t do Facebook. The NDC does so I will ask Fran Hall to link to your site or whatever it is you ‘with-it’ folk get up to.
      Regards Rosie

      1. Charles

        All aboard for the twenty-first century, Rosie! You can make new friends, scores of them. I’ll be one of your friends if you’ll let me. In the words of the well-known tellysoap,

        I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour.
        I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before.
        I’ll be there for you, cause you’re there for me too.

        That’ll be nice, won’t it?

  9. Charles

    The course of healing for Mr T and his staff is a wonderful, generous idea. I suppose it well happen the day after hell freezes over. But if they find out about Jon’s proposal, even thinking about it might help them change track before it’s too late and whole thing disintegrates – which if they carry on as they are doing, must surely, eventually, happen?

    1. Charles

      I think you’re quite right, GM. They probably feel they are under fire from hostile forces, and they are, but the slings and arrows of their enemies are not half as destructive as their self-destructive,some would say sociopathic, business model, which is as bad for consumers as it is for its workforce.

      The Co-op Group has lots its way. It talks up a storm about its ethical values, but out there, in the market, the reality is contradictory. There’s been a lot of talk about the price paid to dairy farmers for milk in the last week or so. Here’s one response:

      “We have always been supporters of Fair Trade and have been heartened up until now by the Co-Op’s committment to it. The essence of Fair Trade is that producers in the developing world are paid a fair price for what they produce – based, amongst other things, on the costs of production. It is with a great deal of concern that we see that the pricing model being applied to milk farmers in this country by some of the large supermarkets and suppliers does not reflect the cost of production. We await the Co-Op’s reaction to the current situation, but have to say that if they fail to respond to the reasonable concerns of the producers, it could appear that they are not as committed to similar principles being applied in this country.”
      Wendy & David Westwood, Somerset.

      It’s not just funerals. The Co-op Group needs Jon to hold Death Cafes throughout. We could even send along Richard Rawlinson to preach judgement, eternal torment, damnation, brimstone, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Or we can just keep kicking til the whole pack of lies, delusion or incompetence (or mix of the 3) falls about its ears.

      Quote source:

  10. Charles

    Hello Charles

    and as you rightly say, their business model is ‘self-destructive’

    the possibility of Mr T (or indeed anyone of any calibre) replying to your letters + a host of other issues is fairly remote and by doing so, imo, they are inflicting more damage on themselves



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