(Click here to return to the 2009 Topic List of the Opening Page)
PHONE...YOUR LOCAL TV/RADIO STATIONS AND NEWSPAPERS ABOUT THESE PAGES.
These reports/graphics by other U.S. media will help them investigate your local mortuaries.
This is the CORRECT BASIC CONSUMER ADVICE that all families NEED
and which all media, churches, agencies and other groups should provide to them.)
SO, every family needs to find out the lowest prices in its metro area (or the range of prices)
. . A noted pathologist: "If you seal up a casket so it is more or less airtight, you seal in the anaerobic bacteria, the kind that thrive in an airless atmosphere. These are putrefactive (produce gas and odor; and liquefy body tissue) bacteria, and the results of their growth are pretty horrible. ... you're better off with no casket at all." (Dr. Carr, in Death to Dust, 1994, p. 471)
. . Comments of two mausoleum builders: Because of the tremendous pressure that builds up: If the seal gives, the (body) liquids "come out in a BIG GOOSH." "Unfortunately, a lot of people do it the old way...seal 'er up and LET 'ER RIP (burst),"
. . AVOID sealer caskets or demand that morticians REMOVE THE GASKETS ENTIRELY or at least NOT SEAL them. Some morticians fear lawsuits by families and pre-pay buyers for harming relatives' bodies by selling sealer caskets, sealing them, and for not warning of harm. Salespersons are told to pressure you into higher-priced items; don't give in! (Columns 1 and 2 of the price list show the high markups and profits of most firms.)
. . (WEB NOTE: Web viewers can see a sample of the casket price columns mentioned above in Part 3 of the ENTIRE document, or in separate Document 3 -- Caskets. To see more about sealer caskets, embalming, decay and cremation, go to Part 2 of the ENTIRE dcoument, or to separate Document 2 -- Planning.)
RECOMMENDED: Open a "Funeral Savings Account" ("Totten" trust), "POD-Account" (Payable-on-Demand account) at a bank, savings firm or credit union for the cost of the funeral items at today's prices (call or visit a fair-priced mortuary for prices). Put the account in the name of two or three family members. In this way, the money is yours, always in your control, safe, earning you interest, and available for your funeral anywhere. If a mortuary only wants to sell you a pre-pay plan, or if a small bank doesn't know about the "Totten Trust" or funeral trust account, go to another one. (A non-revocable funeral savings/trust account [or insurance limited to a funeral] doesn't count as assets to qualify for nursing home care.)
REFUNDS: Show any plan you now have to a banker or accountant. You may have a bad plan, wasting thousands of dollars. You may be able to cancel, obtain a funeral savings account, and use the money saved for other needs or a vacation.
Insurance: Don't assign an entire funeral policy to a mortuary, but only the amount you wish to spend. Keep the rest for medical and other expenses.
CASKETS: The FTC requires mortuaries to let you use a casket that you construct, or buy from another mortuary or casket dealer (as at top of list, 10% over wholesale). Fair-priced mortuaries offer MANY BEAUTIFUL METAL CASKETS for $300 to $900 retail. (Hundreds of attractive non-sealer metal caskets in many styles/colors are available immediately to all mortuaries for low wholesale prices of $250 to $450. HOWEVER, most mortuaries display almost none of these, and in only unpleasing colors -- and mainly show "sealer" caskets with high prices; so phone ahead.) Cloth-covered wood caskets in many colors cost about $100 less than metal. Many leading clergy urge buying the least-expensive casket.
Decorating: You can buy an inexpensive basic casket, and personalize with pillow/bedding from home. Personalize the funeral any way you wish (as weddings and other celebrations); you don't need the mortician's permission. Cooperative fair-priced mortuaries offer decorative hardware, symbols, religious pictures you can put in the casket lid; use art from stores or family photos; let children help with poems, art, streamers, balloons, flowers from home.
. . 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 ("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.
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.
. . 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.)
. . All churches should OFFER THEIR FACILITIES for visitation and all funeral services to enable families to have all services nearby yet use a reasonably-priced firm outside the area so that they're not forced to use an unfairly-priced one nearby in order to use its commercial "chapel." In this way, churches can prevent SERIOUS FINANCIAL HARM to their own modest- and low-income families and elderly. From the thousands of dollars families save by using this list and the church chapel, families can easily afford a fee or a generous donation to the church for its use.
OTHER AREAS: If you live in an where there is no price comparison list, PHONE mortuaries until you find a fair-priced one (you may need to phone 10-15) or phone a consumer Memorial Society (in 140 areas of the U.S.; 1-800/458-5563). (Compile a price list for your area; contact us for help.)
YOUR RIGHTS: In 1984, the Federal Trade Commission's "FUNERAL RULE" consumer protection regulations were instituted after its nationwide investigation of the funeral industry revealed abuse by nearly every mortuary surveyed, including the best-known and "trusted" ones. The FTC's report said that there was little help for consumers from state funeral boards, all composed of a majority or totally of morticians; rather, there was harassment of mortuaries which charge low prices or advertise their prices (because they put the others to shame).
The FTC Funeral Rule gives you important federal rights (which morticians don't mention in the Arizona Funerals Information "consumer" booklet -- written by morticians, not consumers).
Among your rights are:
. 1) . Correct, complete price information by phone to anyone who calls;
. 2) . Itemized General Price List and Casket Price List before discussion of services/caskets; you should keep both. (The state requires these be mailed, so phone for both.);
. 3) . Salespersons must not mislead you (as saying falsely that: a casket is needed for cremation; embalming is required; or a mortuary employee must accompany a body being shipped).
. . Call the FTC and other numbers below about any violations.
Complaints about: Mortuaries (misleading, pressuring): FTC, 1-310-235-7890 (LA), 1-202-326-3024 (Wash.DC); Better Business Bureau, 264-1721; Attorney General's Office "Fraud Line", 542-5763; Community Legal Service Senior Citizen Office, 258-3434; TV/newspaper consumer advocates; State Funeral Board, 542-3095. Cemeteries: State Real Estate Dept., 468-1414. Pre-pay plans: State Insurance Dept., 912-8444, & numbers above.
Lack of funds: Indigent Burial Program (county), 506-8040, provides cremation or burial (no viewing or church services) for persons with no funds.
CONFIDENTIAL WHOLESALE PRICES/MARKUPS/PROFITS for sample caskets:
CLOTH-COVERED WOOD: PBF Casket Co. C60 "SQUARE STATE", 16-colors/fabrics, $195 wholesale (mortuaries charge $390 to $1,500; profit up to $1,305).
. . Palo Verde Casket Co. "ECONO PC", ("hammertex" gray, copper), non-seal, $222 wholesale (mortuary retail $360 to $1,680 (7x whse.); profit to $1,458).
. . Palo Verde "REGAL", 5-colors (silver, gray, copper, rose, blue), non-seal, $260 wholesale (retail $460 to $1,800; profit to $1,540).
. . PBF/Aurora "PARIS", (blue, orchid), non-seal, $315 wholesale (retail $515 to $2,400; profit to $2,085).
. . Batesville L48 "ANTIQUE SILVER, etc.", 5-colors, seal, $375 wholesale (retail $570 to $2,660; profit to $2,280).
COPPER: York "CITADEL", seal, $6,500 wholesale (retail to $21,615; profit to $15,115).
"REASONABLE retail" price ranges on the chart for caskets, services, cremation and shipping are based on reasonable operating costs of an efficient mortuary, confidential casket wholesale prices, reasonable markups and reasonable profit. However, many mortuaries and plans CHARGE TWO TO FIVE TIMES MORE than others for the SAME caskets and services. Several Valley mortuaries have reasonable prices - USE THEM. There is no need to pay MORE for the SAME caskets and services. And it will cause mortuaries to lower their prices to decent levels.
See the attached Consumer Information Sheet (two pages) for additional important advice. (Write for it if it is not attached.)