Recently one of our employees flipped open a newspaper that arrives in our office on a daily basis and pointed to an ad for cremation from another funeral home. The quoted price was pretty low and he asked me how they could do that. I skimmed over the ad and then read it much more carefully, looking for something I thought I surely must have missed. The services and merchandise included in the quoted price were as follows:
“Proportional professional services of funeral director and staff, removal of the deceased from the place of death to the funeral home (within a 25 mile radius), sanitary care of the deceased, transfer from funeral home to crematory (within a 25 mile radius), cardboard cremation container.”
Toward the end of the paragraph listing the charges it was noted there were “no cash advances included”.
Do you see what’s missing? Do you see what you aren’t getting for the price they had quoted?
That’s right. Their charge for a “Simple Cremation” did not include the actual cremation. Evidently, this firm considers the charge by the crematory . . . and the $25.00 for the permit . . . and anything the medical examiner might charge for signing the permit, to be cash advances and are therefore not included in the price they quoted. But if you aren’t familiar enough with funeral service charges to catch that, you’ll be caught.
Now, I’m not bringing this to your attention to call out one of my colleagues; if that was the case I wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to avoid even naming the town in which they’re located. I’d have just posted a picture of the ad and let you read it for yourself. But don’t misunderstand, I’m also not okay with this; it is misleading at the very least. What I am trying to say is you need to know what you’re shopping for before you start to shop. And you need to read the fine print.
Most people shopping for funeral merchandise and services would be like me trying to describe a car. It’s blue. And has four doors. And it’s a hatchback. (Is there such a thing as a four door hatchback?) Other than that, I got nothing. If I can get close enough to read what’s on the trunk, I might be able to tell you which company made it, but otherwise, you can forget it. If you’re describing a steel casket to me and I ask you for the gauge, would you know it? And if you knew it was an 18 gauge, would you know how that compared to a 20 gauge? How ‘bout the interior—is it velvet or crepe or linen? Tufted, tailored or shirred? Is the hardware stationary or swing bar? Every bit of that plus a whole lot more affects the cost. It’s the same with vaults and service packages—there are so many components which can vary so differently that if you aren’t familiar with the items you can’t even begin to compare apples to apples. As a matter of fact, if you’re not careful it might actually end up being more like apples to kumquats.
If you plan on price shopping, be sure you know what you’re getting for your money. Nothing in the advertisement I referenced was a lie; it just omitted several hundred dollars of additional charges that were necessary to complete the service being offered. The best way to know what you need to know is to ask someone you trust who is also knowledgeable. That may be a hard combination to find—especially where funeral information is concerned since so many people think they’re “experts” who don’t actually have a clue—but I can guarantee you we’ll provide that information at no cost with no obligation on your part. We’ll answer your questions honestly, whether or not you choose us over someone else, because we want you to have the information you need to make the best decisions possible. In other words, we don’t want you buying a cremation that doesn’t include the cremation.