Costco Ships Your Mom's Casket To Houston, But The Funeral Is In New Jersey

D.’s mother passed away last week. The funeral is today, and the wake was yesterday. He writes that thanks to Costco and their supplier Universal Casket, the casket that he ordered with expedited shipping was somehow shipped to a different city entirely, leaving the family scrambling for a new casket at the last minute, and defeating the entire purpose of ordering a casket by mail order in the first place. Costco did reach out and make things right, but not until later.

I am writing this message to The Consumerist when I should be writing the eulogy for my mother’s funeral on Friday. I am writing this because I made the mistake of ordering her casket through COSTCO on Monday, paying extra for expedited delivery. I was assured that the casket would arrive at the funeral parlor the following day, or by Wednesday at the latest. The salesperson at Universal Casket, who COSTCO uses to fulfill their orders, explained that the expedited service I was paying for generally resulted in next day delivery if ordered before 2 p.m. (which it was), but given that it was Martin Luther King Day, the casket would be delivered by Wednesday at the very latest. I provided all payment information and completed the order. I received confirmation the following day from Universal that the casket would arrive today, Wednesday. The shipping confirmation had the correct name and address of the funeral parlor. Everything seemed to be in order.

I received an email from COSTCO today [Wednesday] confirming that the casket had shipped and would arrive around 9:30 a.m. At 10:40 this morning I received a call from M. at Universal Casket telling me that the shipper had notified them that it would not be possible to deliver the casket today, and possibly not by tomorrow, either. I explained that my mother’s wake was to be held tomorrow and asked her to find out what casket they could deliver given the emergency nature of the situation coupled with the fact that we, as customers, had done everything that was asked of us in timely fashion. She said she would look into it and call me back.

It this point I called COSTCO and explained the situation to a person named T. Meanwhile, my wife was frantically trying to locate another casket. T. said she would speak to her supervisor to see what COSTCO could do. As a COSTCO customer for over 20 years I had every confidence that they would find a way to make things right. This was not to be.

While on hold for COSTCO, I called Universal Casket again, as a half-hour had passed and there was no further communication. I left a message on their answering machine. While still on hold, my call waiting indicated that Universal Casket was calling me back. I took the call to learn that M. had spoken with the owner of Universal Casket and he said there was nothing they could do to get a casket to the funeral home in time for the viewing. I expressed my disbelief. M. told me I could call the owner myself if I wished to have him tell me personally that there was nothing that could be done. I declined the offer.

Meanwhile, after some time on hold, T. from COSTCO informed me that they were sorry, but there was nothing they could do but cancel the order. She explained that somehow our casket had been shipped to Houston Texas. I told T. that I was shocked and disappointed by COSTCO’s failure to perform at any reasonable level, particularly considering the sensitivity of the issue. At this point T. told me that COSTCO would refund me an additional $250 as an apology. I told Teresa that I realized what had happened was not her fault, and understood that she was placed in a difficult situation. I went on to say that it was nice that COSTCO was making some gesture, but what I had just been put through was very distressing and the gesture seemed hollow.

Thankfully, my wife was able to find another casket company that claims they will deliver a casket tomorrow before noon, enabling us to proceed with our 2 p.m. viewing. Thank you, Consumerist for giving voice to my frustration at this difficult time. I will now return to writing my mother’s eulogy.

D. followed up on Thursday. He wanted to let us know that Costco contacted him and made things right.

It is important to let you know that I received a condolence call from COSTCO that seemed heartfelt. I feel they responded sensitively. More importantly, I felt that their procedures will be reviewed to minimize or eliminate the chance of this happening again. While the experience was extremely stressful and unpleasant, I feel my voice was heard, and for that I am grateful.