Charles 11 Comments

Extracts from a story in Metro, 2 July 2012: 

Beverley Webb and Michelle Blakesley said the way Co-Op Funeralcare handled Gloria Roper’s service was ‘shambolic’ after one worker said: ‘We’ve brought out our 4.15pm instead.’

The coffin was about to pass through the curtains at the crematorium when the family noticed it was a different colour to the one they had purchased. 

Michelle Blakesley said: ‘We tried to tell the manager who had organised the funeral what was going on but she had already left.’

‘They were so heartless and condescending. One of their staff tried to tell us we were wrong, insisting our grief was making us confused. We were distraught.’

The Co-Op of Weymouth, Dorset, issued a ‘sincere apology’ and refunded the sisters £1,000.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are very sorry and have apologised to the family for any distress caused.

‘A full investigation has taken place into why our policies and procedures were not followed and appropriate action has been taken.’

Further details from the People, 1 July 2012:

They also complained Co-op Funeralcare in Weymouth, Dorset, made a string of errors such as having to change Gloria’s coffin plaque after getting her date of birth and death wrong before last December’s service.

The sisters said their memorial rings, costing £575, were also inscribed with incorrect dates. They claimed the family were told they could not have purple balloons because there was a ­“helium shortage” in the UK.

Metro story here. People story here.


  1. Charles

    God knows how that comment got posted, I haven’t finsished writing it yet… I was about to say that, at the precise moment that I was looking for the right word to describe the way Fcare treats its clients (for a comment on ‘Believe in the system…’ see below), one of them is quoted here saying it herself.

    I do love those ‘moments of grace’ – thanks, Fuck’emallCare.

  2. Charles

    …..and so it goes on and on

    an absolute shambles, nothing else

    the standard of ‘care’ is shocking

    it’s time for this Goliath of the death trade to seriously have it’s wings clipped or for the bird to be shot down


  3. Charles

    Trust in the system. Use the system. Operate the system.

    I wonder if that well known US burger chain has the same mantra?

  4. Charles

    The Channel 4 programme was the biggest pile of shock, manipulative and bad investigative journalism, designed to have this effect on people. Yes there were some issues within the programme of rougue staff that clearly need to be addressedd with action taken. But all organisations suffer this. Yes, the service provided is a sensitive one and needs the upmost care and respect but the organisation is also a business that has to make profits and monitoring and selling products and using resources in the best way is the way in which it does this. Mistakes happen in all industries, devastating for the families and shouldn’t happen, but to err is human. The programme and related articles would stand up better if a rounded view of the many dedicated and caring staff was given, the high standards of the company that have to be adhered to, the strict code of conduct and internal investigation procedures in place, the fact that co-op is the only company of it’s kind with a training school and verified training programme and a rounded view of the sales techniques in smaller independant companies, only then will a true and fair representation be given, rather than this one sided, emotionally maniupulative drivel that C4 graced our screens with.

  5. Charles

    Hello June

    Debate is as you will have guessed on this blog is encouraged and I’ve read what you have said

    Despite funeralcare having a training School, there are too many issues that stack up against them, many of which have featured in this blog during the past few years. There have been too many foul ups and poor standards to have dismissed those as being part ‘of a large organisation’ where said difficulties will occur from time to time. Bearing in mind their prices (pretty well the highest in the UK), I have nil sympathy for the organisation per se but I do have some for the genuine hardworking and caring employees, at ground level. Branch Manahers, Area Managers and the next layer are something completely different



  6. Charles

    Hi Charles
    The story you featured above was about our mum who died suddenly in December, and the “string of errors” the list is too long to record on here, but am happy to share by email if you want it.The Branch Manager rang three times the day before the funeral – despite previously giving her a 500 pound deposit and evidence of a small policy mum had, when she could not speak to us directly, she texted this message – her spelling errors not mine “How did you all with the chapel visit, coul dyou bring some more cash tomorrow, thanks hope your ok”
    Yes she wanted us to hand over cash in an envelope on the day of the funeral.
    We know their are some fantastic funeral directors out there, who have compassion, treat the bereaved and their loved ones with dignity and respect, we so wish we had engaged with one of them.
    A funeral is a distress purchase, you trust people to do the right thing when you are vulnerable, there is no rehearsal, no re-run.
    We have been asking The Co-operative to revise their procedures, retrain staff and follow thier code of conduct for the last seven months.
    So we put all our hope in a system to right the wrongs, an email I recieved from the Area Manager states ‘ You are not the customer of Co-operative Funeral Care and as such we will only deal with Michelle as she is our customer”.
    This was despite my sister and I jointly signing the customer agreement arranging our mum’s funeral together – and really I am not the customer!. (Note we did not ever recieve a copy of our agreement, we were really too upset to think we should ask for it, it was the least of our problems at the time) I thanked the Area Manager for making me feel very insignificant in this process and the corker to it all, when we finally heard six months later from another senior manager,it was only to inform us they had made a mistake with the final account and you have to pay more, we will deduct 1005.45 from your total bill in excess of 5500, however if you chose to go to FAS we will withdraw this offer.
    It really is time to independently regulate this industry, to protect those doing a great job and to ensure those who continue to provide sub-standard care are compliant or deregisterd.
    Kind Regards
    Beverley Webb & Michelle Blakesley

  7. Charles

    Thank you Andrew for pointing out that there are many ground level staff at co-operative that see their role as an honor and do their upmost with each and every family to make sure their experience is a good one. It is easy to forget them in this current debate and as well as the families who have been featured in the recent article the C4 programme also affected those staff who are good caring and take pride in what they do… I just didn’t agree with the way in which C4 used an unrounded debate to evoke emotion in families and staff.

    Many thanks

  8. Charles

    One of the things I find most most shocking about the way the Co-op operates is the way the ‘funeral director’ arrives with the hearse, delivers the coffin in to the crematorium and the vicar, then gets in the hearse and drives away. I see this happen all the time.
    As Beverley Webb says when something went wrong she looked for her funeral manager and she had left. How can that be right?

  9. Charles

    Further to my comment above:

    And the reason the funeral director had left probably, is to pop round the corner to retrieve the second coffin from underneath the deck in the hearse (yes believe it) and go to the next funeral.

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