Document 1: Introduction. Investigative Reports, Secrecy, "Using" the Media and Churches.
This is the only site explaining the entire funeral industry, and revealing its deceptive tactics and confidential casket wholesale prices, outrageous
markups and profits -- kept "Top Secret" for a century to prevent the media from exposing the ripoff by all U.S. mortuaries of nearly every family.
In 1995, this site revealed to media and public for the first time in U.S. history both the industry's confidential wholesale casket prices and the fraud of
"Protective Sealer" caskets -- whose destruction of all YOUR family's bodies has been kept secret by the NFDA and EVERY U.S. mortician
to enable all mortuaries ("funeral homes") to defraud all U.S. families of thousands of dollars each.
PHONE YOUR LOCAL TV/RADIO STATIONS AND NEWSPAPERS ABOUT THIS SITE.
These reports/photos/graphics by U.S. media will help them investigate tactics and survey prices of your local mortuaries.
Of the world's millions of Internet sites, this is still the ONLY site that exposes
the industry's "TOP SECRET" Casket Wholesale Prices
and 15 Categories of Deceptive Practices secretly used by your morticians -- nullifying their claims of being "honest," "caring" and "reputable."
24-hour source of INFORMATION ESSENTIAL to the MEDIA for UNDERSTANDING
and exposing the funeral industry and explaining it correctly to the public.
(To return to the 2009 Topic List
of the Opening Page)
To go to the next section, Document 2 - How to Plan a Funeral Without Being Ripped Off, go to 2009 Topic List (bottom of the page).
INTRODUCTION and OVERVIEW
Woman walking in a cemetery.
The TWO principal unfair tactics in the funeral industry,
as reported by the FTC and media investigations, are
EXORBITANT MARKUPS and DECEPTIVE PRACTICES.
MOST mortuaries and pre-pay plans in every U.S. community:
- charge families TWO to FIVE TIMES MORE than needed by efficient firms,
- overcharge most families $500 to $3,000 or more on funerals,
- cause SERIOUS FINANCIAL HARM to thousands of families every day,
especially harmful to low- and modest-income families, and the elderly.
- charge MILLIONS of dollars of ripoff EACH WEEK,
- more than 5 BILLION DOLLARS ripoff per year in the U.S.,
- more than a half-million dollars ripoff per week in the Phoenix area alone.
. . THIS RIPOFF CAN BE STOPPED BY THE MEDIA and CHURCHES . . if
At least ONCE A YEAR -- ALL national and local media outlets -- and churches
RESULT: . Mortuaries will NOT BE ABLE to continue the daily ripoff when all families are WELL-INFORMED of the dangers beforehand -- of the outrageous markups and deceptive tactics -- before finding themselves in the difficult situation of trying to make decisions in a rushed, stressful situation -- with pressure being applied by an experienced salesperson (who is told to sell high-priced funerals or else find another job).
(TV networks, local stations, newspapers, consumer magazines . . and national and local church groups)
- . 1 . EXPOSE the funeral industry's unfair prices and methods;
- . 2 . PUBLISH some of the secret wholesale casket prices -- which will force mortuaries
to cease charging ripoff prices for caskets (as $3,000 and up for $500 wholesale caskets);
- . 3 . GIVE CORRECT "CONSUMER ADVICE" to all families.
"Abuses have ceased," morticians say. -- FALSE, they are WORSE.
Morticians often CLAIM THAT ABUSES HAVE CEASED -- because "We are NOW HIGHLY-REGULATED by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state funeral boards." -- FALSE.
Federal and state rules don't prohibit "PRICE-GOUGING," the worst abuse, and don't prohibit most DECEPTIVE PRACTICES being used today (partly because of the million-dollar lobbying of the funeral industry when the FTC was writing its "Funeral Rule" regulations, which caused many consumer protections to be dropped from the regulations).
The FTC building in Washington, DC, and Mr. Rauf Abdullah, one of the
principal attorneys of the FTC's "Funeral Rule" regulation office.
SO, despite the FTC's 1984 "Funeral Rule" and state boards -- composed totally or mostly of morticians (except in Oregon and in Colorado where the state disbanded its Funeral Board), ABUSES, ESPECIALLY FINANCIAL, CONTINUE UNABATED NATIONWIDE -- by MOST MORTICIANS.
In 1992, in California, a member of the state Cemetery Board, said: "The board ... stinks." She described the board as "spineless," and said it is "hand-holding and cheek-kissing" the industry. "When you are grieving, you are not in a position to think about money, and certainly not consumer shopping. I see it as a big racket."
At the same time, a former Funeral Board inspector said the agency is "a joke" because countless numbers of complaints he prepared only gathered dust on his boss's desk.
WHENEVER and WHEREVER newspaper and TV reporters/investigators look closely into their local industries they find that MOST morticians use EXORBITANT MARKUPS AND PRICES -- the PRINCIPAL ripoff method and the most damaging to families -- plus one or more of the following: deceptive advertising, misinformation, pressure sales methods, and deceptive tactics. (See Document 3 -- Caskets, and Document 7 -- Categories of Ripoff Methods.)
In a February 1996 TV investigative report, a Houston mortician admitted that casket markups are often FIVE OR SIX TIMES WHOLESALE, and sometimes TEN TIMES WHOLESALE (meaning a $3,600 profit on a $400 wholesale casket), in addition to all the high prices for a few hours of service to a family.
Charts from February 1996 funeral expose by Houston's Channel 2, KPRC-TV.
The first chart shows the TREMENDOUS MARKUP and PROFIT on
the lowest-priced metal casket (a six-times markup -- charging six times the
wholesale cost) at one mortuary.
The second chart shows the GREAT DIFFERENCE in PRICES and PROFITS
between the lowest-priced and highest-priced mortuaries in Houston for the
SAME funeral (minimum "traditional" funeral services and lowest-priced metal casket
offered in three or more colors, at least one color not a shade of gray, brown or green).
INVESTIGATOR'S REPORTS: Here are investigators' reports indicating whether MOST morticians, or just a few, abuse the public -- and HOW BAD their abuse is:
- "When you are grieving, you are not in a position to think about money, and certainly not consumer shopping. I see it as a big racket." (Member of the California Cemetery Board, 1992)
- "What is the GREEDIEST, MOST RAPACIOUS industry in America? ... Mortuaries ...
Many pad costs in an UNCONSCIONABLE manner, inflating the wholesale price of caskets by up to 900 PERCENT, charging EXORBITANT FEES for MINIMAL services ..." (Editorial columnist, Arizona Republic, December 29, 1985) (emphasis added)
- "The funeral industry is woefully UNDER-REGULATED in California. ..." (Editorial, Pasadena Star-News, May 11, 1988)
- "... (price gouging and deceptive practices) ... practices which are WIDELY USED and even condoned by a LARGE PERCENTAGE of the nation's 20,000-plus funeral homes." (Federal Trade Commission, report of its nationwide investigation, 1975)
- "It would be better if funeral directors would conduct themselves as honest workmen performing a needed service in a fair manner. There is NO SIGNIFICANT MOVEMENT from within the business ... TO REFORM what has become a ghoulish, PROFIT-ABOVE-ALL, final ripoff." ("Final Ripoff Can't Last Forever," Editorial, Miami Herald, June 20, 1978)
- "The reporters discovered a CONSUMER'S NIGHTMARE ... the OVERALL view from within the ... industry was a shocking revelation of deception and fraud." (Chicago Sun-Times, May 10-19, 1981)
(A nine-day series "The Death Merchants: Sun-Times probe uncovers VAST FUNERAL FRAUD." The findings of a six-month investigation of Chicago's mortuaries, cemeteries and pre-pay sales by 20 reporters. See the list of the series' articles in Document 9 -- Significant Resources.)
This 12-part document has been developed to provide reporters and investigators with a 24-hour source of INFORMATION ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for understanding and exposing the funeral industry and explaining it correctly to the public.
Much of this information has NEVER BEFORE BEEN AVAILABLE to the media because the industry knows that keeping this information confidential is the KEY to CONTINUING ITS RIPOFF of families without public outcry and revolt.
The NEED for THIS INFORMATION was pointed out in The American Way of Death, the famous expose of the funeral industry:
"About once every decade (there have been) magazine and newspaper exposes of the high cost of dying and the exploitation of bereavement" but they have had NO EFFECT on funeral costs because there has been a "lack of a vehicle for organized protest and action by the consumer (and) LACK of solid statistical and economic data to work with" (especially by the media). (Jessica Mitford, The American Way of Death, 1963)
The MISSING information (especially: casket wholesale costs, markups, samples of the great differences in the prices of different mortuaries for the SAME caskets and services, and deceptive practices used by nearly every mortuary) is now available to the media in this document.
In a video expose of funeral abuses in Denver, the TV station used this photo of
a casket with an overlay of our IFIC CASKET WHOLESALE PRICE LIST.
This list has provided casket wholesale prices and markups to the media and public
for the FIRST TIME in U.S. history.
Prices from this list are now provided here, NATIONALLY, for the FIRST TIME
in Document 3.
These prices have been kept hidden -- kept "TOP SECRET," says the FTC -- from the media, agencies, churches and families throughout this century by the industry and every mortuary so that morturies could charge outrageous markups and prices without fear of being exposed by the media, and without fear of outrage and revolt by the public.
"Don't paint us all with the same bad brush," some morticians say. HOWEVER, EVERY MORTUARY, to ENABLE itself and/or other mortuaries to charge exorbitant prices, has helped to keep wholesale prices and markups secret from the media. EVERY MORTUARY promotes harmful "protective" sealer caskets, tells of their "benefits," charges high prices for them, and seals them -- all the while knowing that the casket seals, instead of "protecting" bodies, actually bloat, damage, liquefy bodies and create tremendous pressure which bursts many casket seals -- blowing liquefied parts of relatives' bodies out of the caskets.
LAWSUITS: See Documents 2, 7B and 11B (lawsuits). Your family may have reason to consider joining in an individual or "class action" suit because of a mortuary's sale of a sealer casket to you, or your worry about what may be happening to your relatives' bodies in costly caskets, some with warranties of 25-75 years, which may burst within a few weeks or leak after a year or two.
To repeat the findings of the Miami Herald from their editorial: "Final Ripoff Can't Last Forever":
"It would be better if funeral directors would conduct themselves
(See the comments of media which have examined the industry in their various states -- and a list of investigative reports and topics -- below and in other Documents.)
as HONEST workmen performing a needed service in a FAIR manner.
There is NO SIGNIFICANT MOVEMENT from within the business ... TO REFORM
what has become a ghoulish, PROFIT-ABOVE-ALL, final ripoff."
RECENT INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS:
- "Fraud in the Funeral Industry," Consumers Digest, October 1995. Topics and charts:
- "Pre-need Planning: The $20 Billion Business"
"How to Shop: Comparing Prices"
"Burial Container Cost Comparisons"
"Funeral/Cremation Price Survey"
"Pricing an Arrangement: Getting the Best Value"
"State-by-State Survey: Preneed Trusting Requirements"
"Why the FTC Doesn't Protect You"
- Two-day series, Boston Globe newspaper, August 27-28, 1995.
- Aug. 27: "Life's last buy requires plan and patience:
. Funeral costs vary widely -- few ever try to compare."
- Aug. 28: "Growth of chains has led to rise in funeral prices"
"Critics say board regulations favor funeral directors"
"Routine verifications boost cremation cost"
- Sidebars and charts:
"Comparing funeral home charges; Burial and cremation charges"
"Death duties: How to shop for funeral services"
"Massachusetts' major funeral home chains"
"For more information"
- "Survey shows high funeral prices," Phoenix [AZ] Gazette, February 16, 1995.
- IFIC publishes Mortuary Price Comparison List and consumer advice.
- PRICES for the SAME or similar items at different mortuaries:
* Direct Cremation: $345 to $1,609.
* "Traditional" Funeral Services: $850 to $2,000.
* Lowest-priced metal casket: $300 to $1,359. (usually dull gray or brown)
(Wholesale cost $245. PROFIT UP TO $1,104 on this casket.) * Lowest-priced metal casket in pleasing color: $300 to $2,300. (blue, pink, white, etc.)
(Wholesale cost $275. PROFIT UP TO $2,000 on this casket.)
(Printed and video materials are available from the IFIC, address below.)
SECRECY, DECEPTION, SPREADING MYTHS, MISLEADING THE MEDIA
The MEDIA SELDOM EXPOSE this UNIQUE, HARMFUL INDUSTRY - - because reporters are still regularly misled and "used" by this industry TO HELP MISLEAD THE PUBLIC. They must look at this industry more carefully and in a different way than they look at any other kind of industry or business.
The entire industry has been DESIGNED to operate with such SECRECY, DECEPTION and carefully-disseminated MYTHS that it has successfully misled most media and the public for decades -- enabling it to gouge most U.S. families with little fear of it being exposed or disturbed.
. . (See some of the quotes from the early 1900s, in Document 6 -- Abuse is Nationwide)
With information finally available, national and local media can finally begin to expose this industry and protect the public.
The industry has been able to keep the information in this document about wholesale costs, markups and deceptive practices hidden from the media for decades. (Just TRY to obtain wholesale prices or price markup information from your local morticians, a morticians' organization, or even your state's funeral board!)
SECRECY - Key to the Industrywide Ripoff: The 526-page report of the 1972-75 nationwide investigation of the funeral industry by the Federal Trade Commission stated that the entire industry has worked carefully to keep its casket wholesale prices and its most effective deceptive methods "TOP SECRET" for decades. This secrecy has made it impossible for media reporters to understand the industry and has resulted in their misleading the public and giving families HARMFUL "consumer advice" ("consumer advice" often obtained from morticians).
This nationwide secrecy has enabled the nation's 22,000 mortuaries to charge outrageous prices for services and caskets (commonly using markups of 300% to 900% , higher markups than in any other industry) -- without fear of public revolt.
One media investigator referred to mortuaries as the "SILENT INDUSTRY" because the secrecy has been so successful in keeping the industry and its methods out of the media, and has prevented media reporters from exposing the vast ripoff, billions of dollars each year. (See Funerals: Consumers' Last Rights, the investigative book by Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports magazine.)
MOST U.S. families are ripped off by MOST of their local mortuaries, including by the "BEST-KNOWN" firms and those claiming to have "GOOD REPUTATIONS for years." Most families and media feel that "prices are high," but have no way to judge prices because they can't get wholesale prices -- and don't realize that families are intentionally "ripped off" by most mortuaries.
This document provided by the INTERFAITH FUNERAL INFORMATION COMMITTEE
and ARIZONA CONSUMERS COUNCIL -- Phoenix, Arizona.
Phone (480) 303-0857 or (602) 253-6814 (24-hour Information Tape Hotline)
P.O. Box 939, Tempe, Arizona 85280
IFIC: (480) 303-0857: Dr. Jaime Jorquez, Pres.
ACC: Ms. Phyllis Rowe, Pres.
For information in the Phoenix area, you may also contact Valley Memorial Society, (602) 929-9659.
In other areas, contact your local society via non-profit Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA).
. . The IFIC is a non-profit consumer group formed in 1982 to do research and inform the media and the public about the funeral industry and the needless, unjust high prices and deceptive practices used by NEARLY EVERY U.S. MORTUARY. These cause SERIOUS FINANCIAL HARM to tens of thousands of families every day, especially to those with low- and modest-income, the elderly and other families on fixed incomes - abuse seldom ever investigated and reported by each community's media to the public.
. . The ACC and IFIC have joined in offering the industry's secret casket wholesale prices and other important funeral information to media reporters and investigators, agencies, churches and the public -- to help stop the decades of daily, industrywide injustice by nearly every U.S. mortuary.
Videotape: "Understanding the TRICKS OF THE FUNERAL TRADE: Self-Defense for Consumers" by Lisa Carlson (former President of FCA), 1-800-765-0107. A project of FCA -- Funeral Consumers Alliance.
To go to the next section: Document 2 - How to plan a funeral without being ripped off, see below.
Correct "consumer advice" -- FOUR principal points.
Also: Highly-promoted, costly, fraudulent, HARMFUL "protective sealer" caskets.
Descriptions of embalming and cremation. (Also see Document 12 - "Basic Consumer Advice.")
TODAY. Send any comments, personal experiences, information, suggestions and questions.
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Click here to go to the 2009 Topic List of the Opening Home Page.
To go to any of these Documents, click: 2009 Opening Home Page and (at the bottom) click on:
A) Overview of the Industry and these 17 Documents (Very long. Being updated) | 1) Introduction, Exposes |
2) Planning a Funeral, Embalming | 3) Caskets, Photos, "Protective Seal" Casket Fraud | 3A) 2009 Casket Prices |
4) Mortuary Prices (Being updated) | 5) Industry "Profit System" | 6) Abuse Nationwide | 7A) Rip-off Categories, A |
7B) More Rip-off Categories, B | 8) Advice to Media | 9A) Significant Resources | 9B TV Investigative Reports, 1 |
9C) TV Reports, 2 | 10) Letters, Comments | 11A) Prepay Plan Contracts,Fraud | 11B) Refunds, Lawsuits |
12) BASIC ADVICE (Summary of these Documents) | 13) Short Version of these Documents