You may or not have been up early enough to catch the ITV Daybreak piece on funerals on Thursday morning. The GFG media monitoring team wasn’t. It was at the seaside. Had it not been for a call from Rosie at the Natural Death Centre we would have missed it altogether.
Impelled by a strong sense of duty, and to the accompaniment of howls of impatience — you have to wade through acres of vapid adverts to get to it — we have now witnessed the report for ourselves.
We learned nothing new. The tone was hostile and entirely price-focussed. ITV had commissioned a poll and discovered that 1 in 3 of us feels pressurised into spending more than we want; 42 per cent of us feel we were overcharged; 1 person in 3 doesn’t understand the costs; and 1 person in 7 isn’t happy with the service. It all depends how you word the questions, doesn’t it?
ITV requested quotes from 120 funeral homes around the country for a simple funeral. Something like £2000 separated the cheapest from the dearest.
A woman seeking direct cremation was told by one funeral director “We don’t do that” and failed to recommend someone who would. Her google-savvy daughter, after “weeks”on the internet, eventually sourced Poppy Mardall, whom she praised to the skies. How she missed all the other direct cremationists out there is a mystery.
Dominic Maguire, for the NAFD, countered criticism by reminding us that a third or more of the cost of a funeral is disbursements and only 80 people complained last year.
There was good advice about asking a friend to do the ‘project management’. We were told that we could do it all ourselves, but we were given no guidance on the small matter of how to look after a dead body.
The report did not tell us that there are lots and lots of good guys in the industry; seek and you shall find. It was, arguably, an unhelpful omission.
You can catch the report on the ITV Player here. Starts at 7.42.