Here one minute, gone the next

Fran Hall

Here’s a curious thing.

Yesterday, an article written by Bird Loved and Mark Casci for the Yorkshire Post was widely circulating on social media.

It was entitled ‘How independent funeral directors offer far better prices than the chain operators’.

And it was very, very good.

Like others, we retweeted it and posted it on Facebook to get the information contained in it to as wide an audience as possible. But then something odd happened.

The link stopped working. The article had vanished. 

Then it briefly re-appeared and we grabbed the opportunity to e-mail the article, using the URL relating to it – https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/business/how-independent-funeral-directors-offer-far-better-prices-than-chain-operators-bird-lovegod-1-9950282

That didn’t work either. It took us to an article about grooming gangs, with a blank space to the right of it where perhaps the article had previously been.

We contacted the journalist who was as puzzled as us, and is looking into this peculiar vanishing.

Luckily, the content of the article had been clipped and saved by an enterprising reader, who sent them over to us.

For anyone who didn’t get a chance to read it before the internet swallowed it up, here is the article in full below:

‘How independent funeral directors offer far better prices than chain operators’ – Bird Lovegod

I happened to listen to a piece on the radio the other day, discussing the price of funerals.

According to the report, the cost of the services has risen wellabove the rate of inflation, three times the rate of inflation in fact, especially in the non-independent, big chains of funeral directors.

Prices have doubled in the last ten years, with no meaningful increase in service or delivery. Even the government has taken notice, the Competition and Markets Authority is currently ‘carrying out a market investigation into the supply of services by funeral directors at the point of need and the supply of crematoria services.’ So I decided to dig a little deeper.

Death is a particularly delicate subject, and people ‘shopping’ (is that the right term?) for a funeral for a loved one are in a particularly vulnerable position. It probably doesn’t seem seemly to haggle or negotiate over the price.

Given that most people won’t have to arrange a funeral very frequently, or previously ever, what guide and understanding do they have regarding how much they should cost? It’s probably very easy to get carried away in the emotion of the experience and not give the price due consideration.

Compounding this is the fact that many funeral directors don’t display prices on their websites. It’s often a case of ‘call to discuss’, in which instance it must be very easy to be drawn in to buying from the first enquiry. So I thought I’d do a bit of looking at how technology is making the purchase more transparent, less expensive and fairer for the customer.

I first came across a website called Think Willow. They sell coffins, the cardboard and willow ones, as well as urns and flowers, which can be delivered directly to the funeral director. This reduces the cost of the funeral, and gives the purchaser the ability to decide on a coffin in the comfort of their own home, without any pressure.

Then I came across Beyond.Life. They provide a number of life and death services, including a price comparison for funerals, and sure enough, just adding my city brings up a range of offers and prices on funeral plans and ‘buy now’ services.

It’s very good. First, it lists all the firms and their prices. If prices are not shown, a warning is in place, “Caution, this business has not agreed to show pricing.” Then it clearly shows if they are chains. And here the price differences is really apparent.

The chains are charging more than twice as much as some of the lower cost independents. The cheapest independent funeral director is just £2224. The cheapest chain funeral director, part of the Dignity group, is £5,409.

The most expensive independent is £3,609 and the most expensive chain, again, one of the Dignity group, is £5740. The difference is obvious. It’s thousands of pounds.

When it’s presented like this, a list ordered according to price, and there’s a huge jump up from the independents to the chain owned companies, one can see why the Competition and Markets Authority is looking into it.

The business of death is a necessary one, and one worth more than £2bn a year in the UK. Surely the companies providing the services could be clearer about what comes after.”

So, basically everything that the GFG has been saying for years. 

Hopefully, the mercurial appearing and disappearing of such an informative article is simply a technical glitch on the Yorkshire Post website? 

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James DunnLouise WinterF DFranJonathan Taylor Recent comment authors

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F D
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F D

The ‘beyond’ reference would be much more accurate if it stated that ‘this funeral director has chosen not to display prices on beyond’s website and pay beyond a commission for funerals acquired via their website’. There are plenty of funeral directors with prices online who disagree with comparison websites, and are therefore tarnished with the ‘beware’ warning from Beyond. Like Direct Line insurance not appearing on comparison websites, some funeral directors are very happy not to appear on them (it’s not all about price, is it?) but it’s not true to state that they don’t display their prices online just… Read more »

Louise Winter
Guest

FYI – Beyond no longer charge commission to funeral directors.

James Dunn
Guest
James Dunn

Hi – there are no charges to customers or funeral directors to use the comparison website on Beyond. Any funeral director can list their prices entirely for free and we would obviously encourage all to do so. James Dunn, Beyond

Jonathan Taylor
Guest
Jonathan Taylor

I tried posting this onto my facebook page, ( Jonathan Taylor, Impartial Funeral Information), and it looked me in the eye and told me, without the slightest embarrassment:

“Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.”

It inclines me against your technical glitch theory, Fran!

Fran
Guest
Fran

Crikey!

Louise Winter
Guest

This is an excellent article. Thank you your persistence in encouraging its return to the Yorkshire Post.