It’s hard to think about death, whether your own or that of a loved one. But when the time arrives to plan and pay for a good goodbye (the funeral), it’s important to do your homework and shop around.
Some unscrupulous operators can take advantage of families’ who are vulnerable when they’re grieving. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) there are concerns that some funeral directors in the industry are exploiting consumers with unethical practices. In a speech on to the annual Committee for Economic Development Australia conference this year, ACCC Chair, Rod Sims said the funeral sector has emerged as a “key enforcement priority” for the regulator.
Why? Take your pick: misleading and deceptive practices; hidden fees; misrepresentations about products; charging fees for no service; unfair contract terms; complex product bundling; misuse of market power; inflated prices; and anti-competitive conduct by blocking new market entrants.
What Are the Warning Signs?
eziFunerals recommend that you look out for the warning signs and follow our key tips before selecting a funeral director in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and surrounding regions:
- A funeral director does not show you an itemised price list before you discuss arrangements.
- A funeral director tries to make you feel guilty for not purchasing the most expensive products and services.
- Do shop around for prices. Funeral costs can vary significantly for the same funeral in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and other regions.
- Do ask who owns and operates the funeral home you are considering. Are they family owned and independent or are they owned by the big funeral chains? Research shows Independent Funeral Directors are cheaper and provide better value for money.
- Do ask for an itemised cost. Funeral homes should provide price information over the phone if asked, and some post their price lists online.
- Do be wary of package deals that promise a discount on products and services; they often more than make up the difference in fees and unnecessary items. A funeral home cannot force you to buy a package that includes items you don’t want.
- Do get a written statement, before you pay, that shows exactly what you’re buying.
- Do understand what you’re getting in a prepaid funeral contract. Does the plan cover all the services your family require?
- Do check your state’s regulations for prepaid funerals. Know what will happen to the money you paid and whether you are protected if the funeral home folds.
- Don’t assume the funeral home is independent. Often, the big funeral chains will operate under old family names because they know customers will be more inclined to trust them.
- Don’t select a funeral director on your first call. The big funeral chains spend lots of money on expensive sales and marketing campaigns to get your business. You can end up paying more.
- Don’t be rushed into decisions. If the body is at a hospital morgue or with a coroner, you should have a few days to make arrangements, and possibly a week or more.
- Don’t be pressured into paying more than you want to spend.
- Don’t tell a funeral director how much you’re prepared to spend.
- Don’t buy an expensive coffin if your loved one is being cremated or you can’t afford it. Go for a less expensive alternative option.
- Don’t be pressured into paying for embalming. Embalming is not needed unless you require it for religious or viewing purposes.
Find a Fair Funeral Director near you
If you need to find a fair funeral director, shop around and get a Quick Funeral Quote. Simply complete our easy funeral price request form and let us do the rest. We will connect you with a Fair Funeral Director that can provide you the right funeral at the right price.
eziFunerals is a FREE consumer advocacy and funeral planning platform. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company. We are not a subsidiary of any other corporation. We are not part of any other funeral company.