Did you know that there’s a Walmart of death care? That’s often a comparison used to describe Service Corporation International, which uses the public-facing brand Dignity Memorial, and operates more than 1,000 funeral homes across the country. That kind of economy of scale should mean Walmart-style discounts, right? Only a recent price survey shows that SCI-owned funeral homes charge more than their independent counterparts. [More]
The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires disclosures and price breakdowns to protect consumers who, unless they’re pre-planning their own funeral, are operating on a time crunch and are grieving. Yet a recent study found that more than a fifth of funeral homes failed to correctly explain and itemize available options and the expenses for direct cremation. [More]
Caskets: they’re boxes that we use for a funeral service and maybe a wake, then either stick in the ground or burn up. Why do we spend so much money on them? More importantly, why are 95% of all caskets used in the United States made in this country when everything from the device you’re using to read this post to the sweater I’m wearing right now was made in China? [More]
Every time we hear of a consumer performing a low down and dirty act against another, we think there must be a limit to what people will do to score something for free. But it appears there are no boundaries to the madness inflicted by greed, as one family had to chase down a runaway hearse with their loved one resting inside in a casket after someone decided to drive off with it.
The convenience of a drive-thru window is obvious, but one usually thinks of banks or fast food chains that use them for the ease of customers on the go. And not, as one funeral home is doing in Michigan, a drive-thru viewing window for visiting the deceased. But then again, why not?
Two weeks ago, a funeral home in Fort Worth, Texas received a “notice to vacate” letter from their landlord, and they moved their business from the premises. The problem is, some customers were allegedly left behind. By “customers,” we mean eight people who are deceased were found in the building. Now the mortuary is being treated as a crime scene. [More]
When I die, I don’t want a traditional funeral. I want a party where my guests can laugh about me, have a few drinks and not be so darned sad. And it should be on a beach. With a Tiki bar and a mix of loud, loud classic rock and Bob Marley on the sound system. [More]
If you don’t want anyone to pay attention to a piece of news, be sure to put out your press release just before the biggest holiday of the year. On December 23, the Federal Trade Commission released the news that it has given its blessing for the largest company in America’s “death care” industry, Service Corporation International, to go ahead and acquire the second-largest company in the same business, Stewart Enterprises, Inc. [More]
A family in Washington State had a doubly disturbing shock at the funeral of a man recently, when they found out that not only was the wrong body in his casket, dressed in his clothes and with a photo of the man’s wife tucked inside, but he’d been cremated as well — and he was terrified of being cremated. [More]
While we might not be aware of where our mortal remains reside after we’re gone, one young man’s mother is upset that a funeral home confined his ashes to a plastic Walmart shopping bag. She discovered the bag job a year after he passed away, and calls it a “disrespectful” move on the part of funeral home. [More]
In 1984, the Federal Trade Commission enacted the Funeral Rule, a set of consumer protection guidelines for U.S. funeral home operators covering everything from pricing transparency to casket-handling fees. And every year, FTC investigators go undercover to spot-check the funeral home industry to see if folks are abiding by the rules. According to the latest report, a significant number of them are not. [More]
Back in 2008, Service Corporation International, the nation’s largest funeral-service company, made a bid to acquire the second-largest company, Stewart Enterprises Inc. The smaller company rebuffed its suitor, but reconsidered after an offer this year. The two companies will now form one large mega-death-services-corporation just as baby boomers are about to consider planning–and more importantly, pre-paying for–their funerals. [More]
When a California woman went to unpack the urn containing her late brother’s ashes, she found it had been damaged in shipping and the ashes spilled onto her floor. The crematorium that sent the urn blames UPS, which points the finger right back at the crematorium, saying it violated UPS policy by shipping human remains.
When you hand over the body of a loved one to a funeral parlor, you trust that the workers won’t scour the remains for valuables to make a quick buck. But things apparently didn’t work out that way in a Denver-area funeral home, where a freelance embalmer was indicted for swiping gold teeth from remains and pawning them.
Remarkably, no one at ClearChannel Advertising seems to have realized that it might be a bad idea to post a giant ad for a zombie-themed television program on the exterior wall of a funeral parlor. That’s precisely what happened in the town of Consett in England. The advert for post-apocalyptic drama The Walking Dead has now been taken down, and the company responsible has apologized, but how on earth did this happen in the first place?
Superficially, weddings and funerals have a lot in common: everyone’s dressed up, families get together, some people are crying, and the guests of honor ride off in fancy vehicle to an uncertain future. Funeral homes, though, are large and beautiful spaces that provide a cheaper alternative site for wedding receptions and/or ceremonies.
The Ohio state board that licenses funeral homes has shut down a business in the town of Findlay while it investigates a list of allegations against the funeral director who owns the business. It’s a long list, too, including being naked or half-clothed during business hours, putting on the jacket of a deceased man in front of the man’s family, threatening employees, and being drunk.