Cemetery sales from the inside---an employee's story

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It's not just consumer families who complain about the sales practices at the nation's largest funeral home and cemetery chain, Service Corporation International (brand-name "Dignity Memorial"). Many current and former employees have contacted us over the years to say they've been pressured to produce sales at the expense of ethical treatment of grieving families.

But it's not just SCI that pressures their employees and customers. Funeral director D.J. Fone worked for other cemeteries, too, and shared this story with us. 


 

I'm a 5-year veteran of the funeral-cemetery industry in southern California. I moved last month to north-central Arizona.

When the public thinks about sales predators by whom they fear being hustled, certain industries come immediately to mind, often unfairly. Even the most principled used car salesmen and women suffer from this stigma, for instance.

That's only because everybody has bought a car, but not enough people have had to deal with funeral-cemetery planning and costs, and very few people ever talk about the one thing that WILL happen to everyone. Once they do, they might finally take used car salespeople off the "most predatory" sales hook.

I had three stints of employment with the 10,000 lb. gorilla in the death care trade, Service Corporation International (SCI), also known as "Dignity" Memorial (DM). The company was fictionalized in the HBO series "Six Feet Under" as the predatory "Kroner Corporation", which kept threatening to put the Fisher Family Funeral Home out of business or buy them out against their will.

I also worked, at two other family-owned death providers, for execs who previously sold or managed for SCI/DM.

My last stint with SCI/Dignity Memorial, which turned me off forever from being associated with the company as either an employee or a client, ended in June 2013. Never again.

Not only does the company aggressively push wildly overpriced goods and services at a gullible, vulnerable public that knows nothing about the inside workings of an industry; they also rip off the people they hire.

And SCI/DM, every month, recruits (by trolling online headhunter and "job wanted" sites) untold numbers of desperate, out-of-work people as "community service advisors", paying them $10 an hour for four weeks of classroom training, then putting them out there on straight commission with the intent of the newbies excitedly getting granny and grandpa to buy a plot and policy before discovering the rest of the public wants nothing to do with them.

The benefit to SCI/DM in this churning of straight-commission sales hopefuls is that the constant door-knocking, phone-calling, and other contacts result in curious potential prospects checking out SCI/DM on the web, where they SCI/DM website allows you to preplan for yourself, with no pesky salesman involved....or his/her commission paid.

Thus, the hundreds of hours so many sales hopefuls put in on SCI/DM's behalf are unpaid, and only a very small percentage ever end up covering even their own job-related expenses, not to mention making enough to live on, despite the many promises and exaltations of success and riches promoted by motivational posters and sales managers at SCI/DM locations.

Just to give you one tiny sliver of the many reasons I quit in disgust:

The super-hard-sell market director lectured us weekly about how to make sales in the home.....only in the home. The cemetery itself was gorgeous, and sold itself once people saw it. However, he insisted on selling in the home, because "If they come to the cemetery, they can always look at their watches and say they have to be home, and you've lost the sale. Inside their home, they can't tell me to leave."

He was so arrogant he actually believed that. In the same breath, he noted how Dignity Memorial pays a nice benefit package to sales reps provided they maintain an AVERAGE commission income of $2,000 per month, which the Market Director dismissed as "Well, if you're making ONLY $2K a month, you're probably in the wrong job."

Here's the punchline. At that moment, he was less than 25 feet from the Board Volume "scoreboard" for that month, which was only a few days from the 31st. On that board were the names of his 25 Community Service sales reps, all on straight commission. Only one had earned more than $2K for that month (but not for 3 consecutive), and more than 15 of the 25 reps had ZERO income for that month.

After a solid month of being told of Dignity Memorial's corporate ethics and morals, my sales manager told me "Just do whatever you have to do to make the sale." This was the same week my cemetery had staged its third open-to-the-public seminar on preplanning, complete with free foods and drinks. For the third straight time, not one single person attended.

Earlier, I had worked for 3 1/2 years at Singing Hills Memorial Park in El Cajon CA (not owned by SCI), where the General Manager and Sales Manager were both fired after a disgruntled customer told the local TV consumer bulldog (Michael Turkoof KUSI-TV) what happened when he went to the cemetery to bury his wife in the mausoleum crypt he had purchased as preneed eight years ago

The crypt was not ready for the man's wife's body even though the cemetery had completely sold out the mausoleum; they hadn't even started building it. Yet the cemetery was preparing to mail out thousands of postcards to promote their second (unbuilt) mausoleum's preneed sales.

The GM of that cemetery—who was booted out of the job after the parent company got wind of the TV exposé—was not only the former cemetery manager of the SCI/DM property Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego, but his father was the longtime GM of that location. He enraged the widower who wanted to entomb his wife by saying not only can we not entomb her where you bought a crypt years ago, but we won't give you your money back, either, since you still own the space...which was nothing but AIR.

KUSI's consumer pit bull Turko got the GM to finally refund the man's money. And Security National Financial Corporation (SNFC), Singing Hills' Salt Lake City-based owner, finally fired the unethical bosses, which could not have been easy. They had been so cozy that the top officials at SFNC flew in to San Diego to attend the GM's sons' weddings at the cemetery, because Singing Hills was, the GM often said, "SNFC's only profitable cemetery".

And who were the GM's four favorite salespeople at Singing Hills? Was it the four dedicated, highly trained industry professionals who provided the most sales and best customer service? No, it was his two older sons and their roommate; the oldest was 26; and the GM's longtime neighbor, whom he made Sales Manager, and who dismissed the GM's sons and their playmate as "the kids." The Sales Manager later hired his own brother for the sales staff.

And both the former GM and his oldest son fled San Diego for Florida after the TV bust, leaving behind at Singing Hills the massive bronze sample memorial that was not labeled "Singing Hills"; it was labeled with the GM's family's name and featured images of his own family.

During my final day at work at Singing Hills, the GM, James A. March Jr.,  took me out to lunch at the nearby Savanna Grill.  It was there he told me “I’m glad you’re staying in this industry; it needs people like you.” 
 
When I told him my new employer, a startup funeral home, had already my OK’d my also selling property for March's cemetery (Singing Hills)—provided I didn’t STEER funeral business toward March's cemetery, which would be unethical—and that my funeral home prospecting would generate lots of new cemetery business for him, he
declined my offer.
 
Why?  “It would take business away from the kids.”  Meaning his sons and their roommate/best friend, all in their early/mid 20s.

Two years later, under new (and ethical management), I was offered my old job back at Singing Hills, but by then I had already moved to Los Angeles, and could not afford the apartment and utility deposits and moving costs to go back to the San Diego area.

After my time at Singing Hills, I was hired for sales by the owner of La Vista Cemetery in National City CA, the poorest city in San Diego County. LaVista was not only in the poorest community in the area, but was known as the burial ground for San Diego's indigent. Not exactly a selling point, particularly at their high prices.

The owner of LaVista told me upon hiring that she attained her career goal of making "her first million dollars" by selling preneed at Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego. Yep, SCI/Dignity Memorial yet again. LaVista was tucked away in National City, hard to find even on a map, and directional signs on major nearby roads made no mention of the cemetery, but freely noted its location as a LiveScan fingerprinting service, which is pure profit, certainly more so than the cemetery. High priced plots and memorials at LaVista were marketed with hype-laden "Special!!" flyers like used cars. The only thing missing was colored flags and 30-ft. inflated creatures flapping in the wind.

The LaVista Sales Manager—yet another SCI grad—recruited new sales commission suckers every other Tuesday with so-called "hiring fairs," telling prospects how much money they'd make. His schtick was "Your life is going to CHANGE with all the money you're going to make!!" His own sales board showed his best sales reps earning less than $600 per month.

What did all of these unethical, lying managers, owners, and execs have in common? They learned the funeral-cemetery ropes with Service Corporation International/Dignity Memorial. The question must be asked: Did they advance into management/ownership positions despite their ethical/legal flaws? Or because of the additional sales their questionable methods generated? Strictly of my own opinion and personal experience, I believe it's the latter.

I will no longer taint myself with the association of Southern California funeral-cemetery predators, since SCI/DM dominates the industry there.

 


 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 September 2013 13:12 )  
Comments (57)
1 Wednesday, 18 September 2013 20:52
Amy C
I strongly disagree with the above statements made. I worked for SCI for many years since 1991 and have found them to be a very reputable company. They offer great benefits for their employees and decent pay as well. Like any company regardless of industry the bottom line is important. Otherwise the business will no longer be in business! However, being involved with SCI for so many years I have found that customer service is the top priority. We care about the families we serve. Our employees are taught compassion and true sincerity. That's what sets us apart from other companies. I have worked in all departments of the funeral industry including "at need" families who have had a death as well as "pre-need" families who are planning in advanced. I have found a huge difference between those who have planned ahead and those who have not. With that in mind we strongly encourage people to plan in advanced. Not only saving the stress & burden from their families but being able to have piece of mind knowing that their wishes are secure. I know that the more people I can help, the more success I and the company will have. That's a given, it's a business... However, you must help people first. The "Service" in Service Corporation International is there for a reason. And many employees like myself take pride in that. I will agree that SCI locations are typically more expensive than other companies, but SCI is able to offer so much more than those other lower cost companies as well. Sadly the phrase "you get what you pay for" is also the case with this industry. I compare it to shopping at Walmart vs Nordstom. You will get a similar item, but the quality of product line and associates are certainly a vast difference. I know when it's my time to pass, I would prefer being treated with dignity by employees who are well trained and treat my family with respect and compassion rather than a company who pays less for their employees who may or may not like their job.
2 Wednesday, 18 September 2013 23:50
Jeff C.
Amy, after 22 years at SCI, you're so brainwashed with SCI "company speak" that you can't even separate yourself from the spin when you're leaving an anonymous post! That's pretty pathetic. Not once do you mention, or even acknowledge, that many SCI locations are serial abusers when it comes to preying upon vulnerable customers to maintain the "bottom line". I'm quite certain that customers who produce a low margin aren't treated nearly as well as those who produce a high margin. Let's face it, an SCI location knows they've really succeeded when a customer praises them for their great customer service and doesn't even realize they've been taken to the cleaners.
3 Saturday, 21 September 2013 09:13
Amy C.
I dont know what locations you may have experience with but the 8 or 9 that I have worked at all have put the customer first and have treated them with respect and dignity. Im sure there are locations that have people who may not care about their job or care about people in general. All companies have people like that. But You can not accuse an entire company of it based on a few rotten apples. All I know Jeff, is that for me.... and many people I have had the pleasure to work with truly do care about the people they serve. and We take pride in the job we do. I have worked in many other industries and have dealt with many other customers and there are always going to be people who complain or people who dont understand business. But I beleive that when you put the customer first, you will always have a successful business. I agree with you that SCI is much higher cost service than other places, im just saying that the higher service received justifys it. and when there are times that a family is not happy with something, I have seen first hand where itw made up for.
4 Wednesday, 02 October 2013 19:02
George L.
As a former employee of SCI and now an owner, (with my wonderful wife), of a small funeral and cremation service in Northern California I can say that my experience with SCI would lead me to tell all independent owners to stay that way.

The nicest way I can say this is they come into a community and proceed to overwhelm the employees, turning them from a caring professional into a salesperson that basically needs to produce the numbers or get fired. The employees are allowed very little compassionate discretion, if any.
5 Thursday, 10 October 2013 01:20
D. J. Fone
When I visited the Merkley-Mitchell Funeral Home near downtown San Diego, which had been in business serving families for nearly a century, I asked the staffer on duty "How's business?". He shrugged and said "SCI bought us out and tripled our prices. Now the families who kept us in business for five generations of heritage business can't afford us anymore."

Why does the Armstrong Family-Mitten-Malloy funeral home in Los Angeles charge less for EVERYTHING involved in a direct cremation than SCI/Dignity Memorial henchmen in the same market charge for a single night of refrigeration? The SCI/DM direct cremation is nearly 4 times the cost of the Armstrong-Mitten-Malloy services. Why? To keep the dozens of layers of SCI's national corporate sales, district, regional, market, and area managers in Armani and Lexuses?

SCI/DM has no one but themselves to blame for pricing today's consumers out of traditional services and burials and into low-cost, minimal cremation with its much lower profit margins.

I wonder what percentage of SCI/DM's sales hires, especially in Community Service, earn less than Federal Minimum Wage over the course of their employment. From the many I've worked with, I'd guess more than half spent more money trying to generate sales than they ever earned.

But, as long as they exhaust themselves as the free advertising arm of SCI/DM, driving curious prospects to preplan for themselves on SCI/DM's web pages, there's no need to pay a salesman hourly earnings or that pesky commission his prospecting generated.
6 Sunday, 13 October 2013 00:58
Boxer
This sounds similar to things at arbor memorial services up in canada
7 Sunday, 13 October 2013 09:07
Mary Nash
Sounds like it is time to start Coop funeral homes in California.
8 Thursday, 13 March 2014 22:54
Jane Doe
I have recently started a job with SCI in FL. Everything that JEFF mentioned seems that it is happening to me as well. I recently got hired for a sales positions. During my interview they spoke about how much a "sales person" makes. I have no idea what this jobs means when it comes to how much you earn. I will update you guys. I am a nervous wreck, I currently am working somewhere else and was asked to quit by Dignity. commission based jobs are SCCARYY! I hope that I can find a career within Dignity. It does appear to be a door to door sales job that has scripts on how to up sale, (as in any industry). But, I do not want to have to quit my job and fear that it was not the leap of faith I should have taken, ESPECIALLY after these warnings.
9 Tuesday, 25 March 2014 14:02
Florida SCI
Its tough to say that this particular "poster" was being forced to do his job, which is to protect families first through Dignity Memorials Core Values. Not everyone is cut out to make sales, and more importantly, to actually have the skill set to present to a family, whether before a death occurs or at the time they lose a family member. Any corporation has sales goals, so are you saying the Michelin Man only preys upon folks who have blown a tire?
Most employees that leave the sales arena are not being forced to prey upon grieving families, they are being forced to do their job which is to educate a family on the process and for them to make their own decision. Sales is not for everyone, and under these circumstances you better be ready or leave it to those that can be professional and caring (and by the way, we do sell stuff here!!!)
10 Friday, 30 May 2014 02:56
pro-sales
Interesting topic and conversation. I found this thread as I research about this pre-need sales career. I am a former realtor who switched to a government transit job when kids come around. Now kids are growing up. Transit job is getting dangerous and needs lots of real operational management experience to go up the ladder to management.
So, I came across this unique sales career, spoke to a few players in the market, SCI and Arbor here in Canada. I survived and thrived when I was in real estate sales. Prior to that I was in professional pharmaceutical sales. Did well there.
It seems to me that it is better to get into family service dept than community sales dept at SCI. Will someone enlighten me on that? Thanks for the feedbacks.
11 Sunday, 01 June 2014 12:57
Justin March
Dave you have several facts wrong in your "story."
12 Wednesday, 18 June 2014 02:20
Z.M.
My family used Smart Cremations, not once, but twice.
They delivered on all their promises for the price quoted.
13 Friday, 20 June 2014 11:01
Laura
I worked for SCI for five years, Bottom line is money money money. The caskets are at 3.7 % mark up, the ground is at 15.00% mark up. Really and then they want you to create lasting relationships by follow up sell spouse,children , brother sister and throw the friend in as well. They even say the best time to sell them next. close to deceased is within 10 days of death. I truly went in to help families. For the first three years, I could help my families. Then a new management team came in and I left feeling like I had no compassion or care for others. It took three years to come back to my true self. So bottom line they are awful to families they are to serve and care for in the worst time of families lives.
14 Friday, 20 June 2014 18:11
a son trying to move his parents plots
I believe everything the article says. My parents bought 2 plots in 76 for $750 at a cemetery in Florida and ended moving to Texas in the early 80's. The place where he bought the plots was private owned and when my dad call about 10 years ago they told my dad they were worth $1500. Now my mom is about to die and we really need them transferred. The cemetery we wanted is owned by dignity and we found out dignity now owned the one in Florida so we were excited that it would be free of charge to transfer the plots.......that's when the excitement ended. They said the plots are worth 300 and it is not worth transferring. They told us to sell them on Craigslist and want us to buy new plots for 3500 a piece. Dignity is not the place to buy a plot go to the places that are privately or family owned. They are buying every cemetery they can get there hands on to make grieving families grieve more. Very sad
15 Monday, 30 June 2014 01:28
Tony
Just by doing a little internet research it would appear that SCI probably owns less than 10% -15% of the "deathcare busness." When you talk about mega companies in an industry it's hardly comparable. If this company is so bad, there's no way it can survive? Your assumption is, people are dumb, and they just aren't. It sounds like maybe some bad apples and a bitter ex employee who didn't make the cut here. Just saying.....
16 Wednesday, 02 July 2014 12:31
Pete
SCI, Dignity, what ever name they want to hide behind are scum.

I just buried my 19 yr. old daughter in the Sorrento Valley Chapel.

My daughter was a gem, and SCI or Dignity will respect her gravesite.

They have driven over her gravesite, damaging it and having to repair it 4 times now. It is still in need of repair.

They failed to retrieve my daughters finger prints, then had the nerve to say I never asked for them, just to turn around and admit that they "screwed" up.

Does anyone know if it is standard industry practice to automatically collect the decedent's fingerprints before he or she is laid to rest?

Dignity however, refuses to turn over to me their fingerprint policy.

They refused to give me back my money for my daughters headstone, only until I showed up there with the police did they write the checks.

I want to sue them, anyone know a lawyer interested in taking my case?

I filed two complaints with the Funeral & Cemetery Bureau against them and one with the BBB. Just waiting on the "business" to respond.

I called and left Mike Turko a message, but he never called me back.

Any help?
17 Sunday, 03 August 2014 04:06
Jm
Pete
I work in this industry for an independent funeral home. State laws do not require funeral homes to take finger prints . You can ask if they would and as a courtesy they could . The markers in most cemetery are covered by a fee you may have paid called endowment care or perpetual care for the marker it's self. This is for damage repair or replacement and to raise it when it sinks down. Just tell them. When you visit look at the markers around the cemetery ? Are they neglected ,broken or sunk down, Does class action suite come to mind?
18 Thursday, 28 August 2014 13:45
Anne B.
I was never an employee, and I cannot speak to Dignity Memorial in southern California, but I can say that I am not happy with them in another western state. Right after my father died, the one DM cemetery closer to my father's residence tried stealing away our business from another DM cemetery in town with which my dad had a contract. After my father had barely been laid to rest, we started getting hounded by the sales folks trying to sell us pre-need funeral arrangements. As if that was not tacky enough, they don't even have the decency to let you visit loved ones in peace. I was visiting his grave over Memorial Day, and while trying to pay my respects, I was approached by another sales person. Right there, graveside, she was giving me her sales pitch and was trying to get information on my mom and in-laws also. Really tacky and inappropriate.
19 Friday, 12 September 2014 20:55
outside looking in
Well....I have worked for SCI as well as other companies, and I must say that in Texas, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, I never had any issue, and while yes, you must meet sales goals, there was none of this ridiculous drama that you speak of. It is a good, caring, compassionate company that offers many benefits and even offers a compassion helpline and support groups free of charge. From my experience, the bad eggs are weeded out at some point, which from your long dramatic list of jobs, you might be one...and the folks that do their jobs, well, yes they do succeed. If you are looking for a little something for nothing, then yes, SCI is not the company for you. Try the lottery or foodstamps. Stop whining, get it together and be responsible...Perhaps there is a bad manager here or there, but come on...every job you burned through???!? "just sayin..."
20 Friday, 03 October 2014 01:48
You can make a good living and care at the same time.
I too, have worked at two of the cemeteries mentioned in the article. I left both because I love the business and plan to help families prepare for death till the day I die. Working for them would prevent me from caring. One made me feel like a used car salesperson working under a jealous dictator who threatened to prevent me from ever selling insurance again if I left her. The other cemetery manager was a crook. He wrote insurance without a license and hired his girlfriend to do virtually nothing in exchange for her biweekly check. Since Turko hasn't made an appearance during his reign, at least not yet, the Utah owners still have him around. Funny thing is, he will bend over backwards to please you if you are an attractive widow, but if you're not, prepare to spend more.
My advice is, look for family owned mortuaries and when shopping for Preneed, consult with independent brokers. They don't care what Funeral Home you choose so they will compare and contrast plans for you. They have a more compelling reason to be fair and ethical because they have no one to hide behind and no one pressuring them to meet unrealistic sales quotas. If they commit a fraudulent act, they can lose their license and there goes their business.
I am on my own now, love what I do, and best of all, can sleep better at night.
Final thought... trust the individual more than the corporations.
21 Friday, 03 October 2014 14:11
Tom De Gruchy
Arbor memorial is no different than SCI, poor managers that want to hire as many people as they can to use them to get leads for the few sales staff that have no concence. It took me only 5 months to really see what they are about and it's not pretty. They will set you up on a payment plan that will last for about 10yrs, in the name of "piece of mind". The only care the reps show is for how much you can pay a d how much they will make off you. Being in a sales meeting where the movie " The Wolf Of Wall Street" is used for sales technique tips are used is appalling. People need to start buying from outside the funeral home for caskets and urns as they have unbelievable markups. The 24yr old manager I worked for bought a nice black on black Mercedes and would park In customer parking to show it off every day. Arbor has No care for employees or they would have how to help families through a tough time at need, but nope only training is memorizing scripts.
22 Monday, 27 October 2014 18:17
Thomas Edwards
SCI - Dignity has been NOTHING but a positive experience for not just myself (and I don't even work for the company) but also for my significant other, including his sales team. Since being with SCI, he has changed a staff of 8+ sales counselors and not just financially. As someone mentioned in an earlier thread, SCI is Neiman Marcus NOT Wal-Mart. Not saying there is anything wrong with Wal-Mart, Stonemor Partners, etc, but you do get what you pay for in product quality, as well as service. I'd much rather purchase a pair of $799 pair of Cole Haan genuine leather, hand-stiched shoes once every 10 years VS a pair of "leather uppers" once a year. Everyone has their place to work and everyone has their final resting place. My Daddy taught me that their will ALWAYS be those with a "Victim" mentality and those with a "Survivor" mentality, meaning, quantity versus quality. I'm going to end this saying that SCI Dignity Memorial is an extremely respectful, well paying company and we plan on happily retiring being employeed by SCI Dignity Memorial. Best of luck and respect to you all.

Sincerely,
Thomas Edwards
23 Thursday, 30 October 2014 08:09
truthbetold
Well paying company? In what world do you live? Even for Sales Manager, their base salary is low, benefits are "optional" and not company paid. This is low level work with a very low class organization. Unfortunately, Stonemor, Carriage, and formerly Stewart, aren't much different. Just a garbage industry on the corporate side.
24 Thursday, 30 October 2014 20:16
Jm
SCI big company like others they have a swinging door.why do you think Stewart's sold out.the truth be known Waltrips make more money than God from NAS car racing than death care.Ask them why they bailed. Good catholic family metory La. Screwed the Catholics with high prices in Los Angeles,don't want to take the heat no more. Lied to the stockholders and fool the peons they are going to get rich in the business. Bottom line pay the stockholders. The ones that say their happy with SCI are the ones screwing the customers. I know I worked for both of them for a long time and you peeps out there keep swallowing the hook.if you really want a challenge leave the corperations and help the good independants you make twice the money and really help the little guy when he dies. Other wise keep on fooling yourself and when they let someone steal your sale from a brotherinlaw deal you'll understand
25 Friday, 14 November 2014 04:14
Tombstone
The reality is. Its no longer about doing what's right. Those days have come and gone. The Upper Management and Owners have a new mandate. Its called "do what ever it takes" to make the sale. Does greed support the Income Statements. When your Branch`s Budget directly impacts your pay cheque you quickly learn how to stay focus and motivated.

But does this mean taking advantage of the grieving family in the front office? It might mean just that if the commission is high enough. If you could make $10,000.00 a week off your Sales staff. Would you let them have the freedom to say and do what ever they wanted? Not if you were a person of character you wouldn't. But what if you were not?

If the sales rep. doesn't sell he or she doesn't eat when their on a 100% commission.( depends on the Corporation)

But keep that Sale`s rep. hungry and you have a driven self motivated monster on the lose. Put that with a driven greedy Manager and you have a winning combination for success.

The only way that anyone is going to but a stop to this type of behaviour is to secure professional people who have no other Agenda then to hold these Owners, and Upper Management directly accountable for the actions of their Employees. You will of course have mountains of paper work and a full foot ball team made up of lawyers to deal with.


When ruthless people that lack character attach them selves to an Industry like the Care Business you better hope your not the family sitting in the At- Need family room.


But one thing is for sure there are thousands of families that will have no choice but to deal with one of these Sales Forces.

The best way to make your arrangements ... let a friend do it who`s emotionally unattached

Or don't listen or believe any of the comments on this site...
26 Saturday, 15 November 2014 02:11
Keep the torch burning
It took courage for you to tell your stories. Its nice to know that there our still some people with character.

But it will take a lot more then these few comments to deal with the real truth behind these bad boys in suits.

Regulatory Boards clearly don't have the right people to do the job at this point. But once they clean up their own house that to could change. They just need someone who knows where to look and what to look for.

No disrespect but most of you would be labeled as disgruntled employees. I would bet that's how your pass Employers labeled you in your termination file. HR - works for the company not for you the Employee.

Those of you that were hurt by these Employers I am truly sorry. For all the families that will pay the same price I am truly sorry. But for those of you that have moved on consider your selves lucky that you got out clean.

One day a strong reporter that cares about the truth will come across this and all .... will hit the fan!

Negative News sells and will as long as the public keeps demanding it.

Read all about it ...

The _________ Corporation misleads the _____________ public ( Large bold texts )
27 Tuesday, 02 December 2014 17:33
Working in the fields..
The comments about the (at times) unethical and (at other times) doubtfully-ethical practices mentioned about SCI's sales management in the prior posts are accurate---I can affirm that, being an SCI employee of over 5 years now. But although I make only moderate income here, I refuse to leave, because I believe in this kind of work and I would be ceding the field to the corruptos. Moreover, someone has to watch the wolf and do one's best to guard the naive.

Many of the sales managers (not all) are two-faced liars and they have to be outed, which is a laborious process, and I have had to do my part. But the field needs honest people, or the liars will rule the roost. (They are infernally clever.) It is different also, for me, because I have decades of sales experience and know the ropes: I have also managed elsewhere, and I know how little power a manager really has---unless individuals cave in to their own fear and anxiety about themselves and do the deceptive managers' dirty work for them.

There is a lot of good in Dignity Memorial's ideas and some of their costs have actually been lowered in the industry(for example, caskets and urns in general, compared to other chains and to individual funeral homes---I shop them all the time, so I know). Yes, direct cremation costs more than, say, a Neptune cremation, but I know quite a bit about certain cut-rate cremation providers, and they are ghastly operations with little oversight and terrible treatment of the families.

It is important to "keep after" SCI/Dignity, because the biggest problem is the outrageous salaries they lavish on their managers, which is an practical invitation to illegal or unethical activity. Prices could be cut (and the ordinary worker bees' salaries could be increased, but don't get your hopes up too much for that!). Mainly, I just feel people should get prepared, because we are all going to be leveled by Sister Death, and so we might as well get ready to take her by the hand.
28 Tuesday, 02 December 2014 17:35
Working in the fields..
The comments about the (at times) unethical and (at other times) doubtfully-ethical practices mentioned about SCI's sales management in the prior posts are accurate---I can affirm that, being an SCI employee of over 5 years now. But although I make only moderate income here, I refuse to leave, because I believe in this kind of work and I would be ceding the field to the corruptos. Moreover, someone has to watch the wolf and do one's best to guard the naive.

Many of the sales managers (not all) are two-faced liars and they have to be outed, which is a laborious process, and I have had to do my part. But the field needs honest people, or the liars will rule the roost. (They are infernally clever.) It is different also, for me, because I have decades of sales experience and know the ropes: I have also managed elsewhere, and I know how little power a manager really has---unless individuals cave in to their own fear and anxiety about themselves and do the deceptive managers' dirty work for them.

There is a lot of good in Dignity Memorial's ideas and some of their costs have actually been lowered in the industry(for example, caskets and urns in general, compared to other chains and to individual funeral homes---I shop them all the time, so I know). Yes, direct cremation costs more than, say, a Neptune cremation, but I know quite a bit about certain cut-rate cremation providers, and they are ghastly operations with little oversight and terrible treatment of the families.

It is important to "keep after" SCI/Dignity, because the biggest problem is the outrageous salaries they lavish on their managers, which is an practical invitation to illegal or unethical activity. Prices could be cut (and the ordinary worker bees' salaries could be increased, but don't get your hopes up too much for that!). Mainly, I just feel people should get prepared, because we are all going to be leveled by Sister Death, and so we might as well get ready to take her by the hand.
29 Thursday, 04 December 2014 03:33
TOMBSTONE
Arbor, has mastered the art of betrayal. S.C.I. is no longer in the same game as these boys.
But those that understand the game know the reality of these Suits.

The Wolf of Wall Street, are kittens playing with mice. The upper management that created this once amazing company is no longer there to see what has become of their life long dream. Those that followed that same dream and understood the vision, are also all gone.

So you see my friends there is no one left who can support people like you. Because the ones that did care were forced out, terminated, or simply let go. All for the entertainment value and having control. Like little children playing in a sand box. Where one boy thinks that he should have everyone else`s toys. Greedy little boys never grow up. So they spend their lives hurting people. Its rather easy for them. They don't like who they see in the mirror so they spend their day planning on who their going to have removed that day. Sounds sick. What`s worst is their never held accountable for their actions.

Take that person and put him in charge of a Company that's in the Care Business. God help us all!

The families that were once treated like gold are know longer important. The new mandate is greed motivated by money. Feed the owners, feed the board, feed the big managers, and promise the new sales reps. $90,000.00 a year jobs... which will never happen.

As you stated families will not have the opportunity to take a way this terrible burden because the prices are no longer manageable ... 10 year payment plan, is insane.

S.C.I. or Arbor - when no one watches the back door people get used and miss treated
Want more money ? Be a Manager, GET A BIGGER PIECE , before they cut the O/R; and they will.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year`s to all the Elf`s
30 Thursday, 18 December 2014 20:07
Weeping Widow
I can't post my name since I'm still dealing with a Dignity/SCI funeral home and cemetery. Based on my experience, I believe every bad thing that people have posted here.

When my spouse died suddenly I had to pay top dollar for two plots. Next was the high pressure salesman (HPS) who tried to sell me a package deal. When he pitched the silver fingerprint necklace I told him that I didn't want it. He said, "Are you certain, because once the funeral is over we won't be able to get his fingerprint." What a jerk!

I was crying through the entire process while he kept trying to make little jokes which really upset me & my family. He tried to get me to use the funeral home's reception room & caterer after the funeral. I adamantly told him, "NO!" He still insisted on showing us the room! When it came time to sign on the line, he put the silver necklace form in front of me. When I repeated that I didn't want it, he said, "Well don't sign, just line through the signature space." Like he couldn't have done that?

After the contract was signed he told me that I could bring the payment to the first viewing. No mention of life insurance assignment. I left there stressing about how I would get $13k together in 48 hours. My insurance company told me about it & HPS's manager helped arrange it with the insurance company. She was nice and compassionate.

Don't even get me started on the nightmare of purchasing a grave marker from somewhere other than Dignity!

Having said all of this, I feel sorry for these people who are under so much pressure to make sales to earn a living wage. I have absolutely no respect for the upper management of the company that intentionally deceives and takes advantage of people who are grieving. There's a special place in Hell for them. I hope that someone does initiate a class action suit against them.
31 Thursday, 18 December 2014 20:16
Weeping Widow
There is so much more that I could tell here, but space is limited. For the people defending SCI/Dignity, how do you explain this?

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-24/is-funeral-home-chain-scis-growth-coming-at-the-expense-of-mourners
32 Monday, 26 January 2015 22:48
kris
sci stonemore they are all crooks 17 years in the bussiness i now work for a family and i love it
33 Thursday, 29 January 2015 19:32
Employee in FL
I feel like a fool. I was taken in big time by Dignity Memorial. Having done preplanning for another company, I wanted to stay in the same field upon relocating. I could never envision being taken in like this.

My average day consists of an hour sales meeting to start the day, approximately 8 hours a week attending committal services, an hour to an hour and half on administrative work to include processing contracts. The remainder of the day is developing leads, presentations and if I'm lucky enough to sell an overpriced funeral or cemetery property to another poor fool.

The computers provided to FSCs are problematic and cause embarrassing delays in providing a printout for customers to sign. It is not uncommon for a customer to be in the office for three to four hours for a presentation and waiting upon the counselor to provide a computer generated contract. The FSCs are continually apologizing for the amount of time needed due to lack of adequate computers, printers and scanners.

Employees are not told they need to provide their own supplies however it becomes apparent if you want to complete your work.

Compensation is ridiculous! There is no mileage reimbursement, unless you are management. The compensation system for sales is so complex that none of the sales force understands it. When the sales force begins to understand the pay it is then changed. There are many who are making less than minimum wage. Management will provide certain employees with for certain sales leads as if to ensure examples if it can be done. What management fails to see is that the other team members see what is happening and it creates ill feelings.
34 Monday, 09 February 2015 19:24
KRIS
STONEMOR IS NO BETTER !!!!! I was at the top. They preinstall vaults to take the money the grounds are unkept. managers steal, families are treated like crap, i could go on and on stay far away from stonemor sci and carrige
35 Wednesday, 18 February 2015 21:26
lad in louisvle
Dignity. ..what a joke...sci..scumbags
Former employee, manager.

STAY WITH LOCAL.
36 Monday, 23 February 2015 13:25
Rich
It's incredible how many of the same negative experiences have been shared with Dignity Memorial. I was in our industries Sales Management for 30 years most of which public companies and by far Dignity was my worst experience. When a organization has to keep repeating that they hold themselves to the highest ethical standards you're saying it because you're not practicing it. For the sales professionals out their seek a independent because this industry is made up of caring, honest, families first professionals that are rewarded emotionally and financially!
37 Monday, 09 March 2015 08:25
I feel like a fool. I was taken in big time by Dignity Memorial. Having done preplanning for another company, I wanted to stay in the same field upon relocating. I could never envision being taken in like this.
where was this?
38 Monday, 16 March 2015 18:54
JR
Unfortunately, I think all the top Cemetery companies seem to operate the same....it's not about grieving families anymore....just money. I was at Stonemor Partners and they never invested any money back into their parks...just kept buying up more. The parks are a disgrace....they don't care and the managers are terrible. As long as they are selling...they get to stay and to the same unethical practices in getting people to buy. A lot of times, they didn't even need the items that were sold...very sad. Nothing lasts forever and I think all those backstabbing, lying managers will eventually loose there jobs. I think SCI and Stonemor especially, will feel the hit as well....can't wait. Sorry to all the people I had to rip off in order to keep my job. Remember...you don't have to buy a casket to be viewed before cremation...rent one. Buy urns, markers, headstones ON-LINE...much cheaper! Shop around for best $ and perpetual care...don't let them get you emotional about protecting your loved ones, blah, blah. That's how they get you to buy!
39 Monday, 16 March 2015 19:00
JR
Unfortunately, I think all the top Cemetery companies seem to operate the same....it's not about grieving families anymore....just money. I was at Stonemor Partners and they never invested any money back into their parks...just kept buying up more. The parks are a disgrace....they don't care and the managers are terrible. As long as they are selling...they get to stay and to the same unethical practices in getting people to buy. A lot of times, they didn't even need the items that were sold...very sad. Nothing lasts forever and I
think all those backstabbing, lying managers will eventually loose there jobs. I think SCI and Stonemor especially, will feel the hit as well....can't wait. Sorry to all the people I had to rip off in order to keep my job. Remember...you don't have to buy a casket to be viewed before cremation...rent one. Buy urns, markers, headstones ON-LINE...much cheaper! Shop around for best $ and perpetual care...don't let them get you emotional about protecting your loved ones, blah, blah. That's how they get you to buy!
40 Saturday, 21 March 2015 17:24
nbg
I have worked for SCI for the past 12 years as a family service counselors, providing excellent service and compassion. ..which is what sci requires..the money and benefits are great and assisting families with Dignity and respect has been a very rewarding experience.
41 Tuesday, 24 March 2015 23:02
nlj
NBG, how much were you paid to say that!?!
I've been with the company nearly five years and every year has gotten worse. I came on board thinking I would be working for a company of integrity and in a position of honor.
Well, not with the company's encouragement, I maintain my integrity and treat all families honorably. SCI is just another sweat shop of employees paying more for their dry cleaning then they can really afford.
When the company cut the minimal base we received as Family Service Advisors from $8 an hour to straight commission, its true ugly head was revealed.
This company has some of the most dedicated people working for it but the greed of the company is too selfish and heartless to appreciate them (us).
I have watched characters of people literally change before my eyes because of the antics used to meet quote or face getting written up by a manager who couldn't meet quote as a FSA.
I can't speak for other areas of the company but on the south side of Atlanta, we have the most incompetant leadership I have ever known in 40+ years of employment.
It's clear that NBG drank the kool aid, as many do and typically it's those that allow themselves to be puppets will usually advance.
If you want to maintain your integreity...consider becoming a used car salesman before working for SCI.
42 Wednesday, 15 April 2015 16:27
Amanda
I purchased a plot in La Vista Memorial park in 1962 for my parents and was told they would keep the grounds beautiful and the fountains would also be kept up but today the employees can't even find my dad's marker for me. The grass was so overgrown they had to pull it to find his name. My mom died and was buried in another state and this company refuses to help me sell the plot that I have left. It is all about the sale and the customer is left without any service.
43 Wednesday, 20 May 2015 21:38
don
I work for stonemore. I was lied to about what the job was doing the interview. They lie to their sales staff about everything! They call existing customers over and over commiting fraud to get in their homes. They train you to market illegally to people on the do not call list. After seven months I was given my termination notice. How the government doesn't stop these people is beyond me. They don't even order the markers for these people till someone complaines. No one person is in charge of a park. Three separate departments. So problems are ignored.
44 Sunday, 07 June 2015 08:40
brian
Iam a former employer of 3years+ of Hauck enterprise's they are subcontracted out by SCI/Dignity to do the burials and so called maintenance. Worked at riverside memorial in Tequesta FL .Iam a 30 year resident of this community and believe the stories you are hearing about the abuse of this company to the families and its employees are 100% true .SCI/DM has pretty much bought up every cemetery/funeral home and crematorium in palm beach county. The cemetery in question once Owned by another long time resident Roy Rood witch he became owner in 1947 and sold to SCI/DM in 1997.THe cemetery is a true veterans' cemetery with a long time history going back to the civil war.Roy Rood kept this cemetery beautiful and well kept and sold the spaces at a fair price to the familiesIts in this community.BUT since SCI/DM has been running things the cemetery is know a disgrace due to the lack of perpetual maintenance and the prices have sky rocked!! As maintenance workers only two of us for 15 Acers? we were only the grave digger's and maker installers. Everything else was subcontracted out .We were totally ill equipped to do anything else. The trees have not been professionally trimmed for years there's is bad iron stain on all the flat and upright markers because the well they drilled is no good and they wont go on a reclaimed water system? The grass if your lucky get fertilized once a year as apposed to 3 to 4 times as it should be. The roads have tripping hazards every were from the large oak trees the road itself has not been black toped for proudly 20 years now. The three main mausoleum's the roof on two of them is way past time to be replaced all three have serious and dangerous structural issues witch was verified by a lic contracting engineer in early 2014 ! Never addressed further ???!A bad accident waiting to happen!! Most of all the cremation benches are all stained very badly with iron from the irrigation many beyond the point were you have to bring in a professional to restore the original finish? The place is a real mess! Its pretty clear that that SCI/DM is not living up to there responsibility of perpetual maintenance for the cemetery but at the same time have increased the prices of markers monuments and burials? Were is all that $$$$$ going??Many but not all of the sales people witch there job title is( counselors ) are bad people most of the good sales people see the dishonesty to the families and move on to another job but on the other hand there are the ones that live to get the deal done at any cost. The sales mangers are real scum bags!! I have seen some really bad shit go down at riverside memorial were families were totally taken advantage of!!There has been some really bad management at this location for some time now and still is ??As I stated early iam a long time resident of this area and SCI/DM has a very bad reputation in this area. The sad part is the of property that was bought many years ago the families are forced to deal with these ass holes. Just another example of how corporate America takes a very privet and personalized service and turns it into a greedy money pit. Save you $ and self respect and try to find a family owned funeral home.SCI/DM are very BAD people.......
45 Monday, 22 June 2015 14:21
John
I have a plot in Crystal Lake Cemetery in Mpls. Mn. bought in 1990 when Dignity owned it and lots where transferable . In June of 2013 when I tried to transfer it to Phoenix AZ. I was informed that Dignity no longer owned it and I was out of luck with a transfer. Can they legally do this????
46 Saturday, 04 July 2015 21:54
Miguel
Does anyone here know where or who provides "Dignity" sales teams disguised as "Social Workers", their list of clients to visit? If you do please e-mail at migue3256@yahoo.com
47 Tuesday, 07 July 2015 16:20
cindy
Hopefully soon cemeteries will have to fund 100% of all pre- need sales. This will keep families from being high pressured into programs they cant afford and keep salespeople from using aggressive sales tactic. Cemetery Sales people are trained to be high pressured. Cemetery business is a multi Billion dollar industry with no laws or restrictions.They can cancel your account and rob you of all your money and never have to deliver any goods.
Hopefully someone will destroy the beast
48 Friday, 10 July 2015 11:40
vicki
Cindy Hopefully PA Senators will vote for this greedy industry to trust 100% and force the cemetery company's to refund all money that was payed in on pre-need sales if the family decides to do something else . EVERYONE should be contacting PA senators and telling there stories on how they were robbed from their money and never received goods or services. Families pay in thousands of dollars then miss a payment, their contract is cancelled. The cemetery Keeps the money! Family's receive nothing. Even if you don't live in PA it will start other states to do the same. It is PA Senate bill 874 ONLY THE CORRUPT CEMETERIES FEAR THIS BILL. There is NO law in place to protect the consumer against this industry that preys on elderly, sick , widows or widowers.
49 Thursday, 16 July 2015 06:54
Tim
SCI - Stonemor- CMS East They are all the same.
The owners are Corrupt and Greedy. Get real. Its not about helping families , its all about sales. Every cemetery owned by these low lives has a sales quota that the sales reps are required to reach every week. This causes high pressure sales regardless the families situation. Just to open and close a grave at these cemeteries its $1700 and up. A church cemetery opening and closing cost under $500.00.
The mark up on caskets, burial vaults, memorials at these Cemeteries is high way robbery. Yea its all about helping families. Bottom line, its about how much money can the owners put in their greedy pockets. They could care less about who they rip off as long as it keeps them fat and happy.
50 Saturday, 18 July 2015 07:38
Gordon
There are no laws in place to protect the consumer.
Hopefully soon our government will open their eyes and realize how corrupt the cemetery business is.
51 Monday, 27 July 2015 06:57
Belfont
Currently, the Cemetery and Funeral Merchandise Trust Fund Law (Act 459 of 1963) requires sellers of funeral services and merchandise that are to be delivered at a future date (pre-need) to deposit 70% of the purchase price into a trust fund account.
The corrupt cemeteries have misinterpreted the law and sought to avoid the 70% trusting requirement through the use of “constructive delivery” of certain merchandise prior to the time of need. Certain merchandise, such as caskets and burial vaults, are purchased prior to the time of need and purportedly set aside for the purchaser but never actually delivered to the purchaser. Claiming that the merchandise has been delivered, sellers then retain 100% of the sales price rather than complying with the trusting requirements.These cemeteries changed the definition of "Stored" to Delivered. PA senate bill 874 will better protect consumers by prohibiting “constructive delivery”, thus insuring that funds will be maintained in trust and available at the time of need, providing for return of funds including interest earned if the purchaser cancels the contract prior to performance, and add to the fund trustee reporting requirements. These changes will help protect the increasing number of individuals who choose to enter “pre-need” contracts for funeral services and merchandise. This bill will protect the consumer. EVERYONE should be voting for this bill to pass.
52 Tuesday, 28 July 2015 08:38
Vested Interest in The Industry
I had same situation with Jim March and his youngest boy and his "Friends". Strange I came across this blog to begin with but then to see his name and how he managed the facility just blew my mind. It was such a similar resemblance to my mistaken journey with that family it actually made me chuckle.
While I am neither for or against Corporations I will say the one thing everyone has seemed to have missed thus far is the amount of money they spend on reform and legislative challenges the industry faces, an amount many independent could not afford to do......
53 Wednesday, 29 July 2015 18:17
Posted in philadelpia news
Denise Caramenico inquired about a plot at Conshohocken’s Calvary Cemetery, run by Stonemor she got e-mails for months from a man who said he was from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Catholic Cemeteries. Then a salesman tracked her down at work and called.“I’ve never experienced that,” said Caramenico, of East Norriton. “Not even with purchasing a car.”This was one of several complaints posed in phila. news.
54 Friday, 31 July 2015 06:45
Linda
my name is Linda and at one time we were paying on a double plot for when we pass away. My husband was diagnosed with heart disease and was only given a few months to live. He was not able to work. I lost my job during this time and We could no longer make the last few payments on our burial plots. I called the cemetery and ask if they would give us a few months to get back on our feet and start payment again. The cemetery refused and cancelled our account and refused to reimburse us back the money we had paid in. We will never use the plots because our contract was cancelled so why is the cemetery keeping all of our our money. They will resell the plots and still keep the money we payed in. We have nothing to show for the thousands of dollars we've paid in to the cemetery. Where did all our money go?
55 Tuesday, 11 August 2015 20:32
Consumers Beware
The Cemetery Industry Profits Millions Of Dollars Every Year From Cancelled Accounts. The Most Amazing Thing Is The Cemetery Companies Never Have To Provide Any Merchandise Nor Are They Required By Law To Give A Refund Back To The Consumer. The Consumer Has ZERO Protection Once They Sign A Pre- Need Agreement. The Owners Care Only About One Thing. Money In Their Pockets. Doesn't matter If Its Coming From Elderly, Poor, Sick Or Dying. They Only Care About Getting Rich. They Will Cancel Your Account If you Become Delinquent On A Payment And Keep All Your Hard Earned Money. Linda Im Sorry About Your Husband And That You Lost Your Money . Bottom Line Is Your Thousands Of Dollar You Paid The Cemetery Was most likely Used To help buy The Owner(s) a New Cadillac.
56 Sunday, 16 August 2015 19:20
Philip
I had bought a couple of plots for my parents years ago from Rose Hills. The value of the plots had increased considerably. They had both passed away and buried in those beautiful plots situated on rolling hills with Downtown L.A. skyline/city view. We used the same Dignity affiliated for their funeral services. They arranged for the Louisiana Big band that played beautiful band music during my parents' services, and held a parade in Los Angeles Chinatown, before putting them to rest at the huge Rose Hills cemetery.
57 Wednesday, 02 September 2015 06:55
stay away from family owned cemeteries.
Some people on this sight have posted find a family owned cemetery to work for. I'm here to tell you that family owned cemeteries are the absolute worst to work for. They make up their own laws and rules to profit the "family". You will be the under dog because you are not family.The family owned cemetery company I worked for owned cemeteries in the east coast Ohio- Pa- N Carolina. The owner and the vice president of this company treat their sales people horrible. They talk down to their employees,discriminating the sales force and demand long hours in the field doing door to door sales. The cemetery required me do administrative work I was not payed to do. The worst experience I have had in the cemetery business was working for a family owned cemetery..

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