The passing of a loved one can leave families dazed and distraught. Arranging the logistics of a funeral service seems overwhelming and depressing. That's when funeral homes can intervene and help loved ones make necessary arrangements for the departed's farewell.
Here, funeral packages offer convenient services that families can choose and proceed without hassle. However, the funeral home industry continues to grow. And there is more evidence suggesting that these packages continue to add more fluff and unnecessary services that families must pay for. In most instances, most people wish for a simple graveside service, a quick burial, or a straightforward cremation. But the mandatory whistles and bells that come attached to the funeral package often drive up the bill for grieving families.
Today, let's dive into how this industry is evolving and the unnecessary services you may identify and refuse when dealing with funeral homes.
A Look Into Funeral Home Packages
Most funeral homes today offer a conventional basic package that includes all the services you'll need for a standard funeral. For most families, this package covers all the services and elements of funeral planning they require.
What a Basic Funeral Package Looks Like
Every standard funeral package will include what they call a basic services fee. This amount remains mandatory, and it covers non-negotiable elements of the funeral arrangements. It includes payment for standard paperwork, death certificates, essential funeral services, etc.
Hearse transportation, chapel area, reception, memorial service, etc., are other items that may come under the standard package. Some funeral homes may include embalming charges, casket costs, etc., to the mix too. Some funeral packages will include charges for obituary services and essential staff assistance that you might need along the way.
Misconceptions About Basic Packages
Many people run into inconveniences dealing with funeral homes because they were misinformed or misled about the services. Clarifying funeral doubts and understanding common yet dangerous misconceptions will allow you and your family to steer clear of expensive funerals and unearthly prices.
The first misconception to avoid is the belief that funeral packages come fixed with no room to manage or modify the terms. In reality, many funeral homes offer packages that you can customize or modify based on your requirements and funeral plan as a sign of respect. Being aware of this feature will give you the power to request changes or omissions in the package.
In some instances, the package's pricing may also be up for negotiation. Comparing funeral homes and services will allow you to identify exorbitant prices or requests for discounts on specific items.
Also, not every item listed in the package falls under legal requirements. So, it's wise to enquire about your state or city's laws and remain aware of what is mandatory (and what's not).
Learning to Spot Unnecessary Elements in the Packages
Here are some proven practices and tactics you can use to narrow down the best funeral packages across your city. You can also use these measures to identify irrelevant items in the package that you can omit or remove.
Check Out Different Funeral Homes
Many grieving families make the mistake of going through with the first funeral service they encounter. A grieving time is not the ideal setting to be out canvassing dozens of businesses. But comparing as many as you can will give you a better idea of what packages are available.
A funeral home may offer a more affordable traditional burial if that's what you want. Alternatively, another funeral home may let you use a rental casket at an affordable cost. Cremation packages may differ depending on which vendor you choose. So, take a look at different funeral vendors to find the funeral package that best suits your budget and needs.
Sit and Talk to Funeral Directors
The funeral director normally holds the keys to the type of funeral package, the cost, and the type of funerals the home organizes. Be open about your budget and requirements. Ask what facilities they offer, whether a viewing comes with the package, how they handle the body, etc.
Ensure that the funeral home has a licensed funeral director. Your city may have a licensed funeral directors association. Also, put up any doubts and questions you have about funeral expenses and their price points.
Ask for a General Price List
The Federal Trade Commission and the National Funeral Directors Association require all funeral homes to maintain transparency and honesty in the way they price their services. So, funeral consumers have the right to request the funeral home's general price list. This list contains a detailed breakdown of each service item's cost and the price for every service rendered.
You can go through the list and present questions about the charges or point out items that you may not need for the funeral.
Recommendations and Reviews
Get in touch with past customers of funeral homes to gather their impressions or experiences with the home. You can join online groups or forums where users share advice, tips, and best practices that work for funeral services and vendors.
These networks are also good places to read funeral home reviews and the quality of their services. Organizations like the Funeral Consumers Alliance and other similar groups can offer support and guidance for dealing with funeral directors and staff.
Why Some Funeral Homes Include Unnecessary Services
As the population grows across cities and towns, the need for professional funeral services continues to grow. Like any other industry, the commercial aspect of selling funeral services often gets in the way of meaningful service.
Funeral Homes Become Businesses
Funeral homes need to earn revenue for their services and to expand their services and capabilities. Like any other business, the measure of profits often becomes the primary goal for some of them. The funeral home's practices and regulations can take a turn for the worse if profit and revenue become the top priorities. In such instances, funerals become opportunities for vendors to increase the price an cost of services they offer.
Regrettably, they may resort to creating a funeral package that includes services that are not mandatory. We consider it unethical, but it's the thrifty move for funeral homes looking to enhance their profits.
Taking Advantage of a Grieving Family
An unethical funeral director may see the opportunity to pry on emotional vulnerability when grieving loved ones approach the service. The funeral home may resort to hiked prices or including additional services that increase funeral costs for the loved ones.
Most people end up spending more or overlooking small expenses when going through an emotionally distressing time. Most vendors will have unspoken practices that prevent such exploitation, but there is no strict funeral rule that prohibits it in explicit words. So, it's wise to remain wary of such practices.
Ignorance of Customers
Some prospective customers remain ignorant of their rights as consumers when approaching funeral homes. This vulnerability increases the risk of the funeral director or the home taking advantage of the situation.
The funeral home may include extra services that the funeral service does not require. For instance, cremation services often need a simple wicker casket or simple wooden box that reduces environmental impact and costs less. But a nosy funeral director may insist on an expensive rental casket that adds additional figures to the funeral costs.
Signs To Watch When Trying to Avoid Unnecessary Funeral Packages
Secretive Pricing Tactics
Reliable funeral homes will remain transparent in all their dealings and pricing structures. As mentioned earlier, the federal government requires all funeral vendors to present honest pricing documents that explain their services and associated costs.
Watch out for funeral homes that are ambiguous with their pricing. Stay away from vendors who refuse to reveal a breakdown of their packages and cost of individual services in the package.
Rigid and Non-negotiable Packages
Trustworthy funeral homes understand that every grieving family comes with unique requirements. As a result, a professional and polite funeral director will listen to your needs and even offer slight changes in the package based on your wishes.
However, questionable funeral homes may not entertain any negotiation, ensuring that customers end up paying exorbitant amounts for irrelevant and redundant services.
Sale-sy Language and Tactics
Proceed very carefully if the funeral director seems too keen on bundling several services into the package. They may try to upgrade a simple graveside service to a fancy burial package. The home may insist on buying an expensive coffin from them even when you can arrange your own casket.
The funeral industry encourages general rules that some funeral homes may bend and manipulate for their profit. For instance, embalming the dead is not a mandatory requirement for cremation. Embalming the body is usually a funeral rule if the departed wishes to be buried in a casket, and there's a graveside service at the cemetery or memorial service in a chapel. Funeral homes may convince the family to include an expensive casket, and buying the casket outside of the funeral home directly from casket suppliers like Trusted Caskets usually is the most affordable option.
The disturbing trend of the funeral industry turning into a commercial enterprise continues to rise. However, many funeral homes offer flexible plans, reasonable rates, and reliable services. Correcting all the malpractices of the industry is not possible single-handedly. But avoiding unnecessary costs and preventing them from taking advantage of you is doable.
Remember to compare vendors, research local laws, look for reviews, and communicate well with the funeral director before finalizing your funeral package.