Friday, April 27, 2012


The Funeral Scams!

I love to find things on the Internet that support everything I have been saying all along about the industry I work in. This is a little something I found this morning that I decided to share with you. It is pretty straight and to the point. I Hope you find it educational. I have found that many independent funeral homes fear any type of posted literature that are factual and to thew point about the industry. The best response they have for the family is

"They are just saying things that will hurt you and are not being considerate of your emotional state in a time of Bla Bla Bla Bla....."

Get it?  Do yourself a favor, please do not stay in the dark.  Take this information and be educated in this industry, it is a very hard and cold industry to have to be involved with, But it is even harder and colder when you get taken advantage of by it.

Miguel Legaspi

Today we discuss a topic we've never talked about before: funeral scams.

We know funerals are not something most people want to think about; however, we suggest you read through this issue now and then remember to look at it again if you ever need to plan a funeral or help someone else who is making the decisions for a funeral. It can really make a big difference, especially at a very difficult time.

Rolling Over in the Grave: Three Funeral Scams

Most people would rather not think about funerals -- whether it be their own or that of a loved one. Yet knowing about funeral scams can save families from added heartache when they are already in an especially vulnerable state of mind.
The average funeral with all the extras can easily cost a family over $10,000. For many people, a funeral will be one of the most expensive purchases of their lifetime, next to a car, and you cant drive a funeral around.
Though most funeral directors are compassionate people who care about grieving families, the chance to sell high ticket items like cushion-lined mahogany caskets or embalming prior to cremation are business opportunities too good for some to pass up.
The federal government protects consumers from unfair business practices with a law called The Funeral Rule. A few of its main points will help you know what to watch out for.

Casket Scam: First Impressions

One way funeral directors fatten profits is by introducing customers to their most expensive caskets first.
Industry studies have shown the average casket shopper buys one of the first three casket models they are shown and usually the one that is in the middle price range.
This means it is to the funeral director's advantage to steer customers towards showroom models first.
The Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to show customers a list of all caskets the company sells with descriptions and prices before showing any models.
The Funeral Help Program advises consumers to ask about lower priced caskets, even if they don't appear to be readily available. Some funeral homes tuck cheaper caskets away in a basement. They may even be painted "uglier" colors to seem less appealing.
More attractive colors or cheaper models may need to be ordered, but should only be a phone call away.
"At last count, there were over 500 models of caskets on the market for under $1000," according to their website. If you don't see what you want at a price you are willing to pay, immediately ask to see a catalog.

Funeral Package Discounts That Mislead

Traditionally, caskets were sold only by funeral homes. But now showrooms and websites sell caskets independently, sometimes at cheaper prices.
The Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to use a casket you bought somewhere else without charging an additional fee.
Some funeral homes have tried to get around the retail casket store competition with deceptive promotional packages. They offer "deals" that reduce the price of their caskets, but make up the difference by increasing the funeral director's fee by a comparable amount.
Mortuary service fees are intended to cover the funeral director's time to plan the funeral, make arrangements with a cemetery and obtain required permits such as a death certificate. The FTC says these tasks should take about four hours or less and should not be a large expense.
Be suspicious of any package deal that includes a mortuary service fee in the thousands of dollars.
Any practice that seems like a casket pricing scam may be reported to Arizona State  Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers

Casket Gasket Scam: Preserved for Eternity

Another deceptive practice is selling "protective" caskets. These include a rubber gasket designed to delay the penetration of water into the casket, theoretically preserving the body from biological entities.
The protective casket has been called the biggest rip-off in the funeral industry. The gasket costs $12 to $20, yet funeral homes typically charge $700 to THOUSANDS of dollars more for models with gaskets than for those without.
The Funeral Help Program says the gasket can actually have exactly the opposite effect. Further, these gaskets could even make the caskets seal rupture if the deceased is not embalmed and the vessel fills up with methane gasses,(it will).. For this reason, mausoleums do not allow the gasket or they literally leave the casket open..
The Funeral Rule forbids claims that "protective" features like the gasket help preserve the remains indefinitely, because they don't. They just add to the cost of the casket.

Six Funeral Tips:

The Federal Trade Commission -- the federal agency that enforces The Funeral Rule -- offers these guidelines for consumers planning a funeral:
  1. Shop around in advance. Compare prices from at least two funeral homes. Remember that you can supply your own casket or urn.
  2. Ask for a price list. The law requires funeral homes to give you written price lists for products and services.
  3. Resist pressure to buy goods and services you don't really want or need.
  4. Avoid emotional overspending. It's not necessary to have the fanciest casket or the most elaborate funeral to properly honor a loved one.
  5. Recognize your rights. Laws regarding funerals and burials vary from state to state. It's a smart move to know which goods or services the law requires you to purchase and which are optional.
  6. Apply the same smart shopping techniques you use for other major purchases. For example, you can cut costs by limiting the viewing to one day or one hour before the funeral (if at all), and by dressing your loved one in a favorite outfit instead of costly burial clothing.
For more information on how to avoid funeral scams, check out the FTC website, Funerals: A Consumer Guide.

The Funeral Consumers Alliance offers additional tips on keeping funeral costs down.
One last point: some funeral directors really lay on the guilt to get you to overspend. Making decisions beforehand -- and recognizing that you don't need to overspend to honor and show your love -- can help a great deal during a very difficult time.
We know this was a difficult topic, but we thought it was important to give you the info about funeral scams that you might need someday.
Anyway, that's a wrap for this issue. We wish you a great week!

Saturday, April 7, 2012


As of recently, there has been an increase in burial and cremation services. Now there is no problem with that, but most are on the rise being misrepresented as such and also being an illegal and unlicensed establishment.

Before I start, remember this, a funeral home cannot ask for more than what is on the price list for merchandise and services, so they want very much to keep the price high, but also don’t want to be known for offering discounts to the consumer all the time. They don’t want the reputation as one that just “Gives it away”.

So lets create another fictitious location that gives services at a lower cost.

 Oh, I have changed some of the names and corporations so as not to get sued.

So what is this all about? Well, the “fictitious” International Service Corporation (ISC) out of Texas, the Digity Memorial Providers came up with a brilliant idea about 5 to 10 years ago to introduce another branch of funeral service providers called “Avdantage Funeral and Cremation Services.  The reasoning behind this move was because a good part of the community that sought out the Digity guys to conduct funeral services were finding that they could not afford the facilities. So ISC started purchasing up allot of local funeral homes in the poorer areas of town.

Two Sides to the same Corporation
It sounds like a great plan, but it was a plan done solely focusing on revenue and not much else. The service is adequate but not like the Digity locations, no bells and whistles here. The best part of it is, no matter which facility you use, a Digity or an Avdantage, you still have the deceased stored, embalmed, dressed, casketed and prepared at the same locations. Either L.A. Moore Grimsham in Phoenix or Moonland Mortuary in Sun City. You may be paying different prices, but it’s all being done the same way, at the same location by the same people.  You’re just paying more or less, depending on which ISC facility you use. (Next time you go into a Digity or Avdantage facility, ask if the deceased is being held or prepared there, if they say yes, they are lying) Basically, your paying for the use  beautiful building, that all.
So what does it take?
Well, the independents thought that ISC should not be the only ones getting in on the double pricing, so they tried to do the same thing. It's a small price to pay, to some it is worth the chance because by the time they get around to this level of poor thought process, all morals, ethics and values have been tossed out the window long, long ago. I mean all it takes to open a funeral home is:

·         rent a small space (store front)Less than 500 square feet in a strip mall
·         Have a chapel or a room called a chapel, Seats 10 or more
·         Has an arrangement room with catalogs and a few urns
·         A small preparation room with embalming table
·         5 bottles of embalming fluid
·         Embalming tools and machine
·         A hearse or a letter from a friend who has a hearse that can lend it to you saying he will
·         A bathroom
·         A phone

That is all you need. You don’t even need a cooler.

 The Storefront!

So there you go, these individuals at these local facilities would rent a building (a storefront, there is nothing wrong with a storefront funeral provider), Have all this stuff cheaply installed, do all  this, get inspected by the state board, get licensed and then close the building and not the business just having Quest or Cox forward the phone to the parent funeral home.  It’s a scam to serve the rich and the poor with two price lists from the same business. It is worth the loss because they were hoping the Arizona Funeral Board would not get around to inspecting them. There are only 3 investigators on the state board and they are swamped with paper work all the time. ALL THE TIME!

HI! I'm a Stupid Idea!

Well it got to the point that some got cockier than that, even bolder and even stupider.  I heard of one funeral home on the waaaaaaaay west side of town whose owner was going to advertise a cremation and burial and have the number ring a dedicated cell phone number and have a staff member answer all the time and go to the families house for everything, the removal, writing the arrangement taking payment, contract and even returning the remains. The family would never know the difference. If the family couldn’t afford his funeral home, he would refer the family to that number and still get the sale. This is so illegal. (The state board is already watching this fiasco)
 Some locations have even gone so far as to put a phone number on the Internet with no physical address, and when you call the number it is always an answering service who will tell you that the director is in a meeting, in with a family or away on a service, he or she will call you back in 5 minutes,  Every time you call. It seems kind of odd after a while that this person never ever answers the phone. EVER!
What does the state board say?
As per the Arizona State board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, If your Funeral home, cremation Facility, Funeral service facility,  whatever it is you are serving the community under a funeral home name or establishment....... if it is promoting funeral service “ANYTHING", it is required to have a physical address were the family can come to, make the arrangements and see the deceased. It is the law. and they can only advertise and promote ONE funeral business out of that location and use ONE General Price List.
So remember, the next time you go to a facility or call one, ask some questions. if they are all to easy to recommend you to a more affordable location and slide you a phone number across the table, be aware. If you do call on that other location, insist on going to the facility to handle the arrangements, if you go or the produce one, ask to see a license with a the business name and beware of funeral homes on the far west side of the valley that gives you a phone number of someone that might be able to “Help you out” That phone might just ring in the other room.