Updated: Feb 10
Most of the time, funerals are organized in a hurry, since nobody really knows when one's time is up. In the sad days following a death, the bereaved people in charge take several emotional overspending decisions – and the funeral directors know that. Below are 12 funeral gimmicks everyone should be aware of.
1. Top Funeral Caskets For Sale Approach
One of the tricks used by a misleading funeral director is showing the 3 most expensive caskets in the house, worth a few thousand dollars each. The company has more coffins in their inventory, but when it comes to a funeral, studies show that people always choose one of the first three caskets shown.
Shameless gimmicks are used when sellers promote 'protective' caskets. These casket have a thin rubber gasket around the edge and are advertised by the salesman as 'protection against the penetration of biological entities'.
'The body will be preserved for a longer period, maybe years', they say. Just because of that benefit, the seller will add another $800 to the cost of the casket, while in reality the mounting of the rubber is probably worth $25.
2. Prepaying For a Funeral
Be very careful if you are required to pay everything upfront. Refuse that and find a different funeral director. More than $450 million in funeral goods and services that were paid for in advance but never provided.
3. Funeral Home Unpaid Balance
The Funeral Home Unpaid Balance call is one of the nastiest scams that could happen to you after losing one of your family members. Let's say the funeral you organized was two days ago.
The phone rings: "Hello, this is Shawn from the xxxx funeral home. Sorry to bother you, our condolences again. I know it's a tough time and you just had the funeral two days ago, but you still owe us a balance of $135.75."
"We don't want to keep calling you since you are going through a difficult time, but it's better for you to pay as soon as possible, as interest will be added daily and we know you spent a lot of money already." Then he will ask you to pay through the phone with your credit card. How is this a scam?
Criminals check daily obituaries and know exactly all the details about the event: your name, the deceased, the funeral home, etc. This scam is very hard to avoid by families that actually still have a legitimate balance to pay.
4. Funeral Packages Discount
The Funeral Packages Discount bait and switch tactic is very tricky. The packages offer so-called deals that reduce the price of the caskets but make up the difference by increasing the funeral director's fee. What is that?
A director's fee is legitimate and covers his time to plan the funeral, make arrangements with a cemetery and obtain required permits such as a death certificate.
5. Giving You The Guilt Trip
A death in the family is always a tragedy. When dealing with a funeral home, bring a close friend to the face-to-face meetings. You might be too fragile mentally to discuss business, so having a trusted person helping you remain objective and take practical decisions is critical. Especially when a sneaky sales guy throws guilt references in regards to the deceased, and you end up upgrading to a $6,200 coffin.
6. Cremation Caskets and Containers
Beware of the funeral directors saying that having the body in a casket for the cremation is mandatory. Crematoriums only require a basic body bag to help contain the body's fluids before the cremation. Other packages may include caskets to go into the crematorium, but they are not a must. If they tell you a coffin is needed, stay away.
7. Burial Insurance
Some funeral directors may ask you about your insurance, and that's okay, as they probably will try to help you out with the funeral costs being low. However, there are some who use that information for the reverse purpose.
They might try to squeeze every penny out of your insurance policy by steering you towards a package that is somehow priced right at the amount your insurance policy covers. If you hear: "Are there other family members who can contribute if it goes over?" - well, that might be a red flag.
8. Funeral Packages Customized To Your 'Need'
Questionable practices include funeral directors asking more questions than necessary. One of them would be what neighborhood you live in - and your brother, sister, and rest of the family. This would give him a good insight on what expenses you can afford and what kind of packages he can prepare. Something to think about.