Why undertakers don’t post their prices

Charles Cowling

Undertaker

 

The following is by Charles Manby Smith writing in London Life magazine in 1853.

Messrs. Moan and Groan know well enough, that when the heart is burdened with sorrow, considerations of economy are likely to be banished from the mind as out of place, and disrespectful to the memory of the departed; and, therefore, they do not affront their sorrowing patrons with the sublunary details of pounds, shillings, and pence. … For such benefactors to womankind – the dears – of course no reward can be too great; and, therefore, Messrs. Moan and Groan, strong in their modest sense of merit, make no parade of prices. They offer you all that in circumstances of mourning you can possibly want; they scorn to do you the disgrace of imagining that you would drive a bargain on the very brink of the grave; and you are of course obliged to them for the delicacy of their reserve on so commonplace a subject, and you pay their bill in decorous disregard of the amount. It is true, that certain envious rivals have compared them to birds of prey, scenting mortality from afar, and hovering like vultures on the trail of death, in order to profit by his dart; but such “caparisons,” as Mrs. Malaprop says, “are odorous,” and we will have nothing to do with them.

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David Latham (NFFD)Charles CowlingEvelynJonathanAndrew Hickson (Kingfisher Funerals) Recent comment authors

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David Latham (NFFD)
Guest

Here at the NFFD (National Federation of Funeral Directors) we strongly believe that greater price transparency, combined with a willingness to embrace internet marketing, is crucial to the ongoing survival and prosperity of the independent funeral industry. Whilst it is true that some consumers continue to turn to the nearest, cheapest, or most familiar, firm when tasked with arranging a funeral, as the older generation (and its traditional buying habits) dwindles, we will see ever-increasing use of the internet as a means of ‘shopping around’ for best value and service. And this isn’t just confined to the funeral industry –… Read more »

David Holmes
Guest

I was encouraged to watch this weeks ‘Eastenders’ funeral. The Beale family certainly didn’t shop around – in fact they didn’t even get to choose the FD. The deceased was murdered, the Coroner had the body in his care, until a police liaison officer informed the brother of the deceased that it had been released. The brother kept this nugget from his father, Ian Beale, who had been busy distracting himself by re-opening a restaurant. When he did finally pass on the info regarding the body, Dad (Ian Beale) immediately asked the obvious, ‘where is she now?’ and was told… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

When people are in the stress of immediate bereavement, and the hospice or nursing or care home is pressuring them to hurry up and solve their own dead body storage problem for them and get the thing off their premises by tonight, they don’t tend to say, ‘wait there, I’ll just check the internet and ring round a few likely looking locals to guage which ‘funeral director’ would best suit my emotional needs as well as my budget and I’ll get back to you in a few days when I’ve had a chance to decide what’s for the best in… Read more »

Andrew Hickson (Kingfisher Funerals)
Guest

Jonathan I think you are wrong on this count. Of course some people, even most perhaps, fall into the ‘stick a pin in a name’ category, but there are more and more who are shopping around before the death actually happens. These shoppers are mostly internet shoppers, and the ability to price a funeral online is proving a winning formula for them. Frequently people say to us “we’ve already priced up the funeral on your website” (on our jazzyform) and produce a print-out, citing that as the reason they chose us. Many see it as a challenge to make sure… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

You, and the few like you Andrew, are indeed set apart from the rest. I’d say that goes for the people whose attention is attracted to your service also, and agree with you that the ones I’m talking about are indeed still the majority.

What proportion of relatives would you say are planning the person’s funeral before they die nowadays? Any idea at what rate that is changing?

Evelyn
Guest

Today I visited a family in Bucks who are doing just that – planning the funeral before the death. The dying lady has planned everything – a friend feels honoured to be asked to drive her to the crem in his bedecked work van, she’s asked her friends to come and wash and prepare her body, and (after speaking to a couple of local FDs – all sporting fabulous in depth details about themselves and their vehicles before any reference to their clients…she also visited the new co-op branch and was offered a £50 off voucher to be used before… Read more »

Evelyn
Guest

MC – you’re right – even if the stats are a bit made up 😉 An expression I’ve heard often is: “We were advised to go to the Co-op. We were told, they’ll take care of you.” People sadly and naively believe that if the good old Co-op costs £3.5k then all the others must be MORE expensive….. We can hope that everyone will begin to be better informed – I believe it’s slowly changing – people are finding the independents and the decent, honest FDs – especially the ones who publish their prices. If anyone wants to add a… Read more »

MC
Guest
MC

Did you know that 93% of the poorest families do not shop around and they are the ones who end up using most expensive funeral directors. Meanwhile 64% of the richest families do shop around – mainly because they have access to the internet. They are far more likely to end up with an independent FD who costs less.
(I made all that up but I bet it’s close to the truth)

GMT
Guest

Your right David, It is transparency but will it catch on…………. Some traditional FDs will never advertise prices its probably a taboo word and many will have the attitude, if it has not been done before why do it now. The Funeral Profession is changing and for the better in my opinion i will probably get shot down by some traditional FDs for saying that but its right. People do still shop around for estimates and if all FDs had just the basic cost ie professional services and coffin prices on line would this not help the family. “A family… Read more »

David Holmes
Guest

We are proud to be one of the few who do display our prices on our website. No mystery, just simple transparency.

I am delighted to add that a client family has this very week sourced and supplied their own coffin too..

It’ll never catch on with the mainstream!