Nearly two years after CBC Marketplace exposed the common practice of aggressive sales tactics at the largest publicly owned funeral home chain in Canada, another hidden camera investigation has revealed new examples of upselling and rule-breaking by some staff.
Arbor Memorial was the subject of a 2017 investigation, which revealed huge markups, confusing charges and pushy tactics by sales staff on commission at branches in Ontario.
Do similar funeral practices occur in Australia?
Although both these investigations are based in Canada, Peter Erceg, Founder, eziFunerals is of the opinion that similar sales practices may be occurring in Australia.
The Australian funeral industry is dominated by two publicly listed companies, being InvoCare Limited (ASX: IVC) and Propel Funeral Partners Ltd (ASX: PFP). InvoCare owns well known brands such as White Lady Funerals, Simplicity Funerals and Value Funerals. Between them they likely account for more than 40% of the Australian funeral industry, following aggressive acquisitions to grow market share and profits for shareholders.
“Despite several government inquiries, Australia’s corporate regulators have failed to tackle ongoing community concerns about misleading practices in the industry and a growing concentration of market share by Australia’s two public listed companies. Calls for another investigation in Australia, is underpinned by continued and ongoing reports of misconduct within the funeral industry”, Erceg says.
The funeral business is unique in that its customers are often at their most vulnerable and could be particularly susceptible to sales pressure. Comparison shopping is rarely considered and customers often arrive unaware of what really needs to be done for their loved ones.
“That’s where eziFunerals can help. We are an independent funeral advocacy service that supports Australian consumers understand their funeral rights.”
“By learning how to choose wisely, consumers could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and improve the overall satisfaction with the services they receive”, he says.
eziFunerals is a free consumer advocacy and funeral planner that supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company, and are not a subsidiary of any other corporation. We do not conduct funerals and we are not part of any other funeral company.