(To go to the 2009 List of Topics of the Opening Page)
To go to the next section: Document 6 - Abuse Is Nationwide -- By MOST Mortuaries: Media Reports, go to the List at the bottom of this page.
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These reports/graphics by other U.S. media will help them investigate your local mortuaries.
THE FUNERAL INDUSTRY'S PROFIT SYSTEM
(Note: The media need to provide this basic information to the public. ... This text is from the BASIC CONSUMER ADVICE section of the our IFIC's December 1995 "Mortuary Price Comparison List," a survey of the prices of the more than 60 mortuaries in the Phoenix metropolitan area.)
and HOW IT AFFECTS YOU
For decades, consumer organizations (Consumers Union, AARP and others) have complained about the high prices of the funeral industry. (See Part 5 for quotes from investigations in past years.)
THE TWO REASONS FOR HIGH PRICES
. . The two main reasons for the high prices are that there are FIVE TO TEN TIMES TOO MANY MORTUARIES in most communities, and a desire for HIGH PROFITS, that is, "greed." (There are about two million deaths per year in the U.S., and about 22,000 mortuaries, so an average of about 91 bodies per mortuary. However, some mortuaries have as many as 1,000 bodies (cases) per year, leaving others with as few as 25 bodies per year.)
. . Many low-volume mortuaries (with only one or two funerals a week) charge outrageously high prices in order to unfairly stay in business. (In any other industry, such firms would have to merge or go out of business, but the funeral industry has adjusted itself to enable them to continue.)
. . Most high-volume mortuaries (five to 15 funerals a week) could charge one-half or one-third as much as low-volume firms, but charge the SAME high prices or HIGHER to make tremendous profits. The high prices SERIOUSLY HARM modest- and low-income families and senior citizens.
FUNERAL INDUSTRY'S PROFIT SYSTEM: High-priced mortuaries have been able to continue this unfair system for decades by:
- 1) . ABSOLUTE secrecy throughout the industry to keep media, churches, agencies and families ignorant of low wholesale casket costs, exorbitant markups and deceptive sales tactics,
- 2) . misleading the media and public via ads, interviews and deceptive literature (as "Funeral Costs") by the National Funeral Directors Association itself,
- 3) . charging outrageous prices, "professional" fees, service and casket prices (caskets regularly marked up 300% to 700% or 1000%, often a markup/profit of $1,000 to $4,000 on a single casket -- the reason why they do not advertise prices),
- 4) . promoting costly, destructive, "protective sealer" caskets that damage every body,
- 5) . high-pressure and deceptive sales methods and plan contracts,
- 6) . harassing low-priced firms to try to force them to raise their prices,
- 7) . providing gifts to many clergy to coax them not to warn families about unjust prices and sales tactics, but to recommend the high-priced mortuaries and distribute their literature and advertising calendars,
- 8) . getting state funeral boards/legislatures to make regulations to assist profit-making, and create harmful "consumer" booklets to mislead the public.
(See Funerals: Consumers' Last Rights, Consumers Union.)
THE SOLUTION: CONSUMERS UNION says: "IT IS UP TO INFORMED CONSUMERS TO IMPROVE (FUNERAL) INDUSTRY PRACTICES." . . Individuals, churches and media can end the abuse by becoming informed and then taking TWO STEPS recommended by consumer groups:
- 1. SHAME unfair mortuaries by widely-exposing their low wholesale costs, outrageous markups and prices, and widespread deceptive practices.
- 2. urge families to AVOID unfair mortuaries.
. . Only shame of price exposure and loss of business will cause them to use fair prices and practices.
. . To inform consumers, our IFIC and Funeral Consumers Alliances (FCAs) publish information about industry methods, casket wholesale prices, markups, and mortuary prices.
MEANWHILE, the consumer's ONLY WAY TO PREVENT RIPOFF, as AARP and many consumer organizations state, is for families to
Bad advice is often given to families by TVs, newspapers, financial publications and others which don't know about casket wholesale costs, high markups and deceptive methods and contracts. Churches harm their families by distributing advertising calendars of unfairly-priced mortuaries and plans. Common media "consumer" advice,"Take a stable friend with you," doesn't help those who go to firms with high prices and unfair tactics.
. . . FIND A MORTUARY WITH REASONABLE PRICES anywhere and use their own church for services to avoid unfairly-priced mortuaries nearby.
. . All churches and organizations should MAKE COPIES of this price comparison list and provide them to all families, and urge families to avoid unfairly-priced firms. (This will benefit families -- and cause unfair mortuaries to end their continuing and growing abuse.)
To go to the next section: Document 6 - Abuse Is Nationwide -- By MOST Mortuaries: Media Reports.
Quotations from several reports and articles.
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Click here to return to the 2009 List of Topics 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