Saturday, March 2, 2013


NOTE - Due to the cease and desist letter I received from a specific corporation, all names are to be considered fictitious, but then again, I did not write the article.

I found this article on the "Funeral Consumer Alliance" website, it is a good article. "Naptune Society" sells cremation in the Greater Phoenix area. Use caution. The purpose for this blog is to instill "guilt through association and Corporate responsibility.

C.S.I. or Corporation Service International Is a corporate funeral provider owned by investors, the largest in North America, if not the world. They are the Parent Corporation of : 
  • Neptuna Society
  • Tredent Society
  • Dingity Memorial
  • Funeraria de Loss Angel
  • Advantageous Cremation and Burial
  • National Creamation Society
Dated 22 February 2013 
by Lamar Hankins, past president of Funeral Consumers Alliance (credentials speak for themselves)
Selling Cremation Door-To-Door

I just had the opportunity to be a “secret shopper” – from the convenience of my dining room table. Over the years, I have occasionally received solicitations from funeral homes or cremation services to encourage me to “pre-arrange” funerals or cremations. In recent months, I received two such solicitations from the Naptune Society. I responded to the last one, sending back their card and checking the box that indicated I wanted to receive more information.

 That information came through a phone call a couple of weeks ago asking if one of their representatives could visit me in my home. I said “yes” and a nice fellow showed up. His card identified him as an “Austin Area Counselor,” for Naptune Society, “America’s Most Trusted Cremation Services.” I was treated to a sales pitch full of misleading or outright false claims, all to get me to pay more than double the cost for a simple cremation in the Austin area.
(This is not an uncommon practice with most C.S.I. firms, the counselors and sales people are under great pressure to make quota and beat last months numbers. I know, I worked for them.)
It was obvious that he knew nothing about me, or he probably would not have made the 45-minute drive to my home from his Austin location. I have spent the last twenty years as a volunteer advocate for funeral consumers with the Austin Memorial & Burial Information Society (AMBIS), as well as 18 years working as a volunteer with the national organization with which AMBIS is an affiliate, Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA).
The counselor and I spent an hour and a half discussing pre-arrangement options that Neptune offers. The best one, from Neptune’s perspective, is being offered right now at a $150 discount, so the cost to me would be only $2,255.
Leading up to my request to know the price of the service was about an hour of information about the plan, and information he had gathered about what a few other funeral homes in the Austin area charge. The counselor had no way of knowing that just four days earlier, Nancy Walker (President of the AMBIS board) and I had finished surveying the prices of funerals and cremations for the 51 funeral services located in the Austin area.
  Corporation Service International, Who are they?

CSI is the parent owner corporation of:

  • Naptuna Society
  • Tredent Society
  • Dingity Memorial
  • Funeraria de Los Angel
  • Advantageous Cremation and Burial
  • National Creamation Society

  • C.S.I. sells stock on the New York Stock exchange and is currently valued at $15.52 a share. It has a  trade volume of 1,659,908 shares, those shares are what need to be kept happy. THEY ARE CALLED INVESTORS. The investors "need" your money to be happy, more money than they needed last month to be happy, If they become unhappy, they will pull their investment or sell off their shares and the price falls on the stock thus making the corporation worthless. Get it?
    It is noteworthy that the counselor mentioned that Naptune is owned by CSI the largest funeral provider in the world. Based on his inflection and the look on his face, I think I was supposed to be impressed by this. But I have written about CSI many times over the last twenty years, discussed legal problems with CSI’s legal staff, and had my own battles with them on behalf of my family over cemetery plots. Their world-wide activity and reputation was not news to me.
    It surprised me that Naptune uses the outrageous charges at CSI facilities to show how much better its prices are – its counselor cited rates at several CSI locations  that were much higher than Neptune’s. But it wasn’t a fair comparison; in most cases, what the counselor showed me were prices for elaborate cremation and related services, not Direct Cremation prices. Direct Cremation is universally defined as a simple cremation without a viewing or ceremony.
    When the counselor did show me a price from other providers for Direct Cremation, he pointed out that there were many hidden costs not covered by their price (e.g., refrigeration, crematory fee). But all of his examples were for prices higher than Neptune’s.

     For a few people, the best part of Neptune’s plan is that it includes – for $474 – a “Transportation and Relocation Plan.” This is worthwhile if you are traveling overseas and die on the trip, but the contract for transportation services is not with Naptune. Instead Naptune is a third-party seller for the Medical Air Services Association (MASA). Based on the contract, it appears that MASA will transport the body to the nearest licensed crematory and will return the cremated remains as per the Naptune agreement.  

    The counselor tried to convince me that the transport agreement was also very useful in the event I died while on a trip to the Texas coast (about a three and a half hour drive). He explained that a funeral home at the coast would have to take custody of my body and be paid for shipping it back to Austin for cremation. He did not know that I knew this was complete nonsense.
    If I die down at the coast, my chosen cremation provider in the Austin area could merely arrange for a funeral home, mortuary service, or crematory in the area where I died to handle the cremation for a low wholesale trade price – probably about $400 – and send the cremated remains to the Austin area funeral service. My family would pay my chosen provider’s cost for direct cremation and receive my cremated remains. I’ve had personal experience with this. When my brother died twelve years ago, an Austin funeral home arranged his cremation in the county of his death, and my parents, who lived in that county, picked up his cremated remains directly from the local funeral provider where he died, paying the Austin funeral home for the entire cost. 

    Next, the counselor tried to shock me by saying that funeral prices double every seven to ten years. I happen to have funeral cost surveys that AMBIS has done for many years, so I compared the costs from 2000 with those in 2012. Direct cremation averaged $1,468 in our 2000 survey. In 2012, the average cost was $1,899 – a 29% increase, not twice the cost from twelve years earlier. Of course, a lot of those increased costs can be attributed to CSICI funeral homes. Their cremation costs rose about 62% during this same period.
    In addition, the counselor told me that cremation in central Texas averages $2,700+, which is just not true. The 2013 AMBIS annual survey just published and available on-line at  It shows the average cost of cremation for the 51 funeral providers in the Austin Texas area priced is $2,053, nearly $650 less than the counselor claimed. 

    Of course, the counselor also did not tell me that I do not have to pay the average price. I can get Direct Cremation for as little as $695 from two providers, and for $775 or less from three others. This compares favorably with 2000 prices, which were $725 from two providers and $740 from another. So competition has made the lowest-cost Direct Cremation less in 2013 than in it was in 2000.
    But those were not the only misleading statistics the Counselor gave me. He told me that most funeral homes have two price increases yearly. Because we do an annual survey, we know that this is not true for most funeral homes. A handful have annual price increases, but many go two or three years without increases. In my experience, the number of increases has more to do with the general economy and the popularity of cremation, which takes business away from funeral services, than with any other factors. However, one funeral director told me recently that CSI was the best thing that ever happened to him. Because of CSI’s high prices, he can charge more and still offer a better deal than CSI funeral homes. Most of the Cook-Walden chain, which is owned by CSI, charges $2,740 for Direct Cremation at four of its five locations.
    I was a bit startled when the counselor told me that Clark Howard, the radio consumer advisor, recommends the Naptune Society. For many years, Howard was a member of the Honorary Advisory Board of the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA), for which I spent about eight years serving as a member of its board of directors, including four as President. To my knowledge, Howard has never endorsed pre-paying for funerals or cremation. A search of his website turned up no mention of the Naptune Society.