|Why do so many
funeral homes not display funeral prices on their web sites? Surely
in order to complete the process of selecting a service, we need to know
the price, right? And aren’t more of us discerning consumers now
using the Internet as a valuable means to research a purchase?
The funeral industry call
the purchase of a funeral a “distressed purchase” and rightly so.
Often families are dealing with news of a death and trying to objectively
make funeral arrangements, a task nigh on impossible in a highly emotional
state. This can make families extremely vulnerable, and extremely
susceptible to a sales pitch.
More people are turning to
online resources to assist them in researching funeral prices and comparing
funeral services, without ever having to deal with a face-to-face inquiry.
In times of immediate loss, the anonymity of the Internet can offer a less
invasive means to interrogate funeral prices and services.
their funeral prices, in fact,
in some cases you may even struggle to get a definitive price. I
have emailed funeral homes that do not disclose prices, only to have no
reply, or a reply that asks me to call them for a price. Even
a call to a funeral home does not always immediately elicit a price!
So a funeral – what does it
The funeral business is like
no other business sector. It has for many years refrained from overtly
disclosing price. This is not that funeral homes do not have a pricing
structure; it is because they will tell you that they cannot give a “simple
price”, as “no two funeral services are the same”. Be under
no allusion that some funeral advisors are exceptionally well-trained sales
professionals, adept at using psychological tactics to elicit a higher
degree of spending from the funeral consumer. It is what is known
in the trade as “up-selling” – in other words encouraging you to spend
more than you intended.
The majority of funeral businesses
actually do not promote
The other distinctly defining
aspect of the funeral industry is that economies of scale work in opposition
to the ‘normal’ corporate model. The biggest corporate funeral companies
commonly charge the highest prices. Whereas one would expect that
with a greater purchasing and resource capability, the bigger the funeral
company, the greater their ability to reduce their pricing. And in
many cases a distressed family member may not even know that they are dealing
with a corporate funeral home. For some reason the corporate funeral
companies prefer to retain the ‘Mom and Pop’ sounding name of the funeral
home they acquired.
Understanding the FTC’s ‘Funeral
The Federal Trade Commission
enacted the ‘Funeral Rule’ in 1984, and further amended the rule in 1994,
in response to concerns about how funeral services and products were being
‘mis-sold’ to American consumers. In compliance with the funeral
rule, all funeral homes must have a ‘General Price List’ (GPL) that itemizes
all their individual funeral service prices and the varying costs of their
The funeral rule explicitly
states that a funeral home must “give you itemized prices in person and,
if you ask, over the phone”, however, there is no requirement to publish
their price list on their web site. Some funeral homes do publish
their price list on their web site, but unfortunately this is more of a
rarity than common practice.
Do you shop without looking
at price tickets?
So why don’t more funeral homes
put prices clearly visible in their shop window? It reminds me of
that experience of walking into the very expensive boutique, when you try
and discreetly look at the garment label in hopes of gauging just HOW expensive
it is. When you see that there is no price, you know you are way
out of your league and try and make a hasty retreat from the store before
the attendant spots you! They don’t want to tell you the price before
they have had chance to do the sell on you. And I have to say I have
phoned enough funeral homes now to hear the same pitch. I ask “how
much”, only to be subjected to an expansive monologue of how “special”
their services are.
The funeral industry is slowly
adapting to today’s’ price-conscious marketplace. Some funeral companies
choose to do this by forming an additional ‘arm’ to their existing business
with which to brand their “simple and affordable” funeral option.
For example: Jardine Funeral Home of Strongsville, Ohio also operates
Cleveland Cremation that offers a “Simple, Affordable & Worry
Free” service at a saving of “40% of a traditional funeral home”.
This examples reflects how
a once-archaic industry is adapting to change, and how those funeral professionals
who understand that the current cultural and economic climates require
a reconstruction of their identities, are helping their businesses move
with the times.
Conducting price-conscious funeral
If you are a consumer and are
using the Internet to enlighten yourself as to how much a funeral does
cost in your local area, then if you haven’t already, try using the key
terms “affordable” and “simple” in your search – you will find that there
are funeral companies promoting themselves and are happy to tell you the
‘low’ cost of their services.
If you wish to immediately
locate your nearest low cost funeral or cremation provider, then visit
DFS Memorials. The DFS Memorials network has taken the task onboard
and located an affordable family-owned funeral company in every area to
If you are a funeral professional,
does your web site really help discerning price-conscious consumers today?
Do you help your potential customers by enabling them to view exactly what
your funeral charges are online? Or do you try and impress them with
your credentials as a “fourth-generation” funeral director?
Personally I wonder if dying
is ever going to be the same again in America? The crippling recession,
(that reportedly ended in 2009), has left some American families struggling
to put food on the table. The upcoming surge of senior 'baby boomer'
Americans, are living longer and in some cases spending much of their savings
on nursing care. This is leaving many families with critically limited
funds left to meet funeral expenses.
I do expect that as more
and more people make funeral arrangement decisions borne out of cost and
simplicity, the funeral industry will have no choice but to demonstrate
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
Memorials – network of low cost funeral & cremation companies
Guides to Funeral Planning
Last Revised: 03/11/2013