Funeral home markups and upselling

April 13, 2017 Blog No Comments »

Confidence in the funeral services industry in Toronto was rocked by a recent undercover investigation by reporters at CBC Marketplace. The report included hidden camera footage of what some unscrupulous funeral homes do as part of their sales process. The report highlighted some shocking business practices that seem to have been in effect in these homes for many years. The video shows some funeral home providers misleading their customers and forcing them to spend more than they had anticipated.

It is very alarming that some funeral homes in Canada are taking advantage of their grieving customers in this way. It is not all bad news however as there are still some very reputable funeral services providers out there that offer transparent pricing and a sympathetic, patient method of outlining all of the options that are available to the family and friends of the deceased.

So, when you are looking for a funeral home for a family member or friend, how can you be sure that they are one of the good ones. Here are some tips that will help ensure that you do not fall prey to these opportunists.

1) If possible, plan ahead

This may not be easy if the the passing of a loved one is sudden. If you can take your time when doing research on the funeral home you want to use then you can avoid the pressure of finding a place in a hurry. If you have time to prepare, you should use it to learn as much as you can about the reputation of the funeral home and go from there.

2) Check the cost

Nearly all funeral homes will have a website, and there should be a list of at least the prices of their services and products. If you don’t see these clearly listed, then you should have cause for concern. This could be an indication that they are not open and honest about the cost of planning a funeral with them

3) Make sure there are no hidden costs

The CBC marketplace report also highlighted that these shady funeral homes will often throw in a hefty bill for additional services and fees. These hidden costs were in the thousands of dollars, so be careful when reviewing the contract.

4) Bring a friend

Planning a funeral is a very emotional time. It is these emotions that the funeral homes shown in the CBC Marketplace video prey on. If you bring a friend who is less emotionally involved with the deceased then they may think of questions you don’t, and even notice something questionable in the fine print.

5) Keep a few things to yourself

The funeral home does not need to know anything about the size of the estate or any financial information regarding benefit amounts. You should not discuss anything related to this until you have already discussed the price of each and every element of the service they offer.

6) Embalming is not the law

Something that was highlighted by the CBC Marketplace report is that many of the funeral homes they investigated stated that the law requires the deceased to be embalmed for the funeral or viewing. This is not true and just a method to upsell you on a service that may not always be necessary.

It is our hope that these tips can help prevent you or anyone else falling prey to any funeral home that uses the same tactics to upsell customers in their moment of grief. We are grateful to the CBC Marketplace reporters for showing these funeral homes in their true light and helping educate customers to what they are entitled to so that they only pay what they need to when laying a loved one to rest.

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