Charles Cowling

Ian Godfrey’s brother Michael died intestate aged 40 in August of this year. His funeral arrangements were undertaken by Ian’s sister, Sally. The chosen funeral director was the Nailsea branch of Co-operative Funeralcare, who duly prepared an estimate. Click on it to bring it up to full size (Sally’s full name and address have been redacted): 

 

 

 

The funeral went ahead and, throughout, the people at Nailsea weren’t just exemplary, they were lovely.

Ian and Sally did not have ready funds to pay for Michael’s funeral but they explained (this happens all the time, doesn’t it?) that there was money tied up in assets which would have to be sold. 

They explained this also to Michael’s credit card company, who froze his account and will add no further interest payments to the outstanding sum. They, together with Michael’s other creditors,  are happy to wait until funds are available. “We understand that these things take time,” they all said. 

All, that is, except for Co-operative Funeralcare who, Ian tells me, are “threatening to sue my sister, who paid the deposit and is therefore now considered to be the customer.” There have been demanding letters. Here is the latest demanding  letter. Again, click on it to brig it up to full size. 

 

 

 

The staff at Nailsea have continued to be sympathetic and helpful. It’s the people at “‘credit control’ or whatever they like to call themselves” who are, Ian and Sally feel, being very hard-nosed. Ian adds: “it is on the phone that the threat to sue was more explicit – however they do make it clear that they will not hesitate to do that in their letter.” 

Ian and Sally are desperately anxious about Funeralcare’s behaviour and feel that, though they have kept in constant touch and tried to keep them informed, they simply haven’t been listened to. They don’t want to be sued and they don’t think it’s right that they should be sued. But they don’t know who they can speak to in the organisation to ask for the time they need to liquidate Michael’s assets. 

In their position, what would you do? 

 

 

 

 

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andrew plumeIan GodfreyNick GandonJonathanDavid Holmes Recent comment authors

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andrew plume
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andrew plume

Charles

interesting, is it not, that we never hear of Dignity (or any of the other Corporates) on this and other similar issues?

it’s always good old F’care…………………………………………………

regards

andrew

Nick Gandon
Guest

Further to my previous post on this topic, much depends upon exactly what was said between both parties when the “deal was struck”. In my opinion, if the family made it clear from the outset that they were not in a position to make payment within a specified timescale, and the FD accepted their “order” on that basis, then the FD will have to live with the consequences of the verbal contract. It would then become a matter of going to some form of arbitration or court of Law to determine what was reasonable in those particular circumstances. All depends… Read more »

Jonathan
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Jonathan

Sadly, the arrangers at the front desk in the Funeralcare branches, as at many other chain fds, can with the best will in the world only sell people what’s on the shelves behind them, and may not open the packages to take out just the elements needed. It takes an imaginative undertaker, who works independent of a chain, to sell a funeral the poor people in front of her can afford; but independence and imagination are not among the funeral industry’s most abundant assets.

David Holmes
Guest

I’m afraid I agree – three months is a reasonable period of time for payment to be made. I also agree – every effort should have been made to have offered the most basic low cost service and certainly the terms of business should have been clearly explained, written down and understood.

Having said that with £51 million profit you might have thought funeralcare could be more patient than the little people like myself?

Nick Gandon
Guest

Looking at this as a funeral director, several aspects stand out. Its roughly 3 months since the funeral was ordered, and the invoice requires payment within 28 days. Sounds reasonable. The order form that was signed by the NoK has been marked that Credit card will be the preferred method of payment, and the “probate” box has been left blank (yes this might refer to the deposit only, but thats not what the form says). That same form makes no mention of the timescale within which payment is required – a double edged sword, which could legally benefit either party…… Read more »

Kathryn Edwards
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Kathryn Edwards

I’m liking the ‘sell them the funeral they can afford’.

Kathryn Edwards
Guest
Kathryn Edwards

Take up he ‘free legal and probate advice’ offered in the ‘professional service’ element of the core contract?

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Kathryn

I’m sure that you will find that this refers to Cooperative Probate/Legal Services, which are cross sold by F’care when arranging a funeral

……………ne isn’t going to find any impartial advice there, is one, since the Legal end of the business, will be clearly ‘conflicted out’

regards

andrew

Charlotte Graham
Guest
Charlotte Graham

Looking at the estimate I have to ask the question of why weren’t the family offered a simple funeral by the Co op if funds were going to be a problem. The NAFD state that all members should offer the choice of a simple funeral plan at a cost of £995 plus disbursements. Willow coffins are beautiful but expensive. The professional fees also look quite high. Its up to us as Funeral directors to work with our families and sometimes we have to wait to be paid. Not so good for a small company like my own but I would… Read more »

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Charlotte

……………….ahem, Funeralcare do NOT like ‘simple funerals’, full stop I’m afraid

yes, they ‘have to offer it’ but the ‘in house culture’ means that it isn’t promoted, when compared to the larger profits generated from selling other funerals. Also, F’care’s arrangers are firmly on notice that Branch/Area Management are opposed to this and after all, it impacts on ‘that individual arranger’s own bonus’ and no doubt it then has a knock on effect on the bonuses received by local Management………………………

for the ‘source’ of this, please see earlier posts this year, after a certain TV documentary……………

regards

andrew

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Charlotte, Hi It’s not just the ‘administration element’ that’s so high, it’s the entire cost of F’care’s services, which totalled £2,625. I appreciate that a Willow Coffin is a couple of hundred more than ‘the basic crem coffin’ but that aside, it’s still a pretty staggering amount I have no particular desire to use the initial post as a launching pad to discuss F’care’s costs and to increase Ian’s unhappiness with them but on the face of it, this almost certainly was not a difficult funeral to arrange nor one that involved high mileage. We can see from the estimate… Read more »

Molly
Guest
Molly

I’m assuming that Ian and Sue have put their position into writing, rather than relying on phone calls? If not then that would be my starting point – a letter listing the assets that need to be sold, how far along that process is and when funds are likely to be cleared. Make it totally clear that the Funeral balance will be paid first, before any other debts, and that they are committed to paying immediately the funds become available. I would then make sure to get the name of the head cheese in Credit Control, plus the area Manager… Read more »

Ian Godfrey
Guest
Ian Godfrey

Thank you all for your comments – just a few observations from my side of the fence… – we have lost our brother, unexpectedly at a very early age – he was not in a good financial position and the sole asset of any value (a two bedroom property) was held jointly between two of us siblings under a trust agreement – the one of us who was the trustee lives overseas and attempted to get the matter of the probate sorted out before leaving the UK as he has his own family to take care of and a living… Read more »

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Hello Ian I am sorry to have read all of this but I’m afraid that I’m not the slightest surprised. It’s of no relevance to you that I have blogged repeatedly on this excellent site regarding past inadequacies of Funeralcare (“F’care”). Being a former member of the legal profession and having spent over thirty years concentrating solely on the administration of (deceased) estates, I hope that what follows may be of assistance Legally, this is nothing other than a contract between F’care and your Sister as the person who arranged the funeral and who signed off their estimate (as stipulated… Read more »

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

Molly I’m afraid that any letter to Tinning (Collingwood or Kershaw or anyone senior at Funeralcare) will have absolutely minus effect, this trio (and others) are totally immune to all things comparable to this and continue to show themeselves as totally beyond any criticism ……………after all, Tinning has adopted a brazen/flagrant stance in Charles’ excellent ‘open letters’ to him of a few months back, if those senior at F’care cannot be bothered with those letters, then, err…………. a small matter of a letter regarding an unpaid account, is nothing other than a mere trifle and will certainly not reach them… Read more »