Cheryl Fox's 20-year-old daughter, Becka Fox, took her own life in April of 2013. One can hardly imagine a more horrible event in a family's life. The disorganized lack of professionalism on the part of the funeral home to whom Cheryl entrusted Becka is salt in a very raw wound. As you'll see from the email exchange below, Cheryl's requests of the funeral home are reasonable and she's been far more patient than most parents in her position would be. We hope that by publicizing Cheryl's story that the people at Klamath Tribute Center will be motivated to remedy the situation.
In chronological order, here are the emails between Cheryl Fox, Tim Lancaster (funeral director at Klamath Tribute Center), and Klamath Tribute Center owner Bob Gordon. They detail numerous errors on Becka's death certificate which caused the family delays in getting important affairs settled, charges for services the family didn't order, and the failed delivery of keepsake thumbprints from Becka's thumb that the family ordered.
From Cheryl Fox, sent to Tim Lancaster June 25, 2013—
Dear Tim,I am utterly disgusted by the constant mistakes and lack of attention that was given by your staff during my family's difficult time. Since my first interaction with Klamath Tribute Center and Eternal Hills, there have been constant mistakes made and things not done that were supposed to have been. These mistakes and oversights have only added to the heartbreak we have suffered and postponed any healing that we may have begun to have. While you may find these things mundane or frivalous, I ask that you put yourself in my shoes. I truly expected more from a funeral home who has been in the area for so long and that is the reason for my email - which I hope you get as I have sent numerous emails that apparently never make it to your office...and they never get a response.After much discussion with friends and community members, I have found that we are not the only ones who have suffered at the hands of Eternal Hills and Tribute Center staff during our hard time. It makes me wonder exactly why? You are in the business of helping people put a loved one to rest...to begin a healing process that sometimes takes years...to provide a lasting tribute to the person they loved. Yet mistakes are consistently made and the people who pay you good money for these services are expected to sit idly by and accept these situations. I will not do that. I believe it is time that someone there take responsibility for the mistakes that have been made and these things need to be brought to someone's attention.Below are some of the issues we went through..and the order in which we went through them...Can you see why I have gotten increasingly upset?
- After meeting directly with you and your assistant, the obituary that was originally written was completely wrong. It had to be re-written by myself and my sister - yet I was still charged for this.
Lancaster responds: The obit is written from the interview guide and then given to the family to correct. It is then corrected once the family correct the mistakes in the communication process. Once it it corrected or re-written it is then given to Herald and News who now charges per line for this item. ( It used to be no charge) We take a check to Herald and News for the amount of the obit which is then listed on the agreement under cash advance. So the charge is not for writing the obit but a charge by Herald nad News
- I sent numerous emails with the information we wanted in the funeral folder and services (I have copies and dates sent of those emails if you would like) but your staff claimed they only got partial information. My sister had to physically bring things to your office on multiple occasions, only to find out that your staff just "didn't read" the emails that were sent.
Lancaster responds- I am not sure why these did not go thru , I will check the back log to see if they are consistent in what they told you
- The funeral folder states that "Graveside Services" were held... my daughter did not have a grave.
Lancaster responds - It still reads this way and is incorrect - I like you have no idea why we would call this a graveside service - REFUND $ 95
- During the services, the CD that was playing cut off before the last song and started over. This made her friends and father, who had contributed to the CD, think that I made the decision to not include those photos...which is not the case.
Lancaster responds- I am not sure why it stopped, electorinic failure, I actually did test it and it played fine. However it should still work during the service - REFUND $ 95
- The [live web-stream] of the services to the web did not happen...We had numerous Aunts, Uncles and cousins from South Dakota at a meeting place that day so that they could feel a part of that sad day..only to have them disappointed because the services were not uploaded.
Lancaster responds- Initially we said we did not need this service and actually discounted it off of the expense so you were no charged for this item. However if we are going to do this we should do it right and not have another service at the end. I have fixed that with the staff person respinsible for that. REFUND $ 195
- The death certificate was incorrect..and still is. We tried twice to make sure her father's name was correctly spelled..but no one ever got it right. I finally gave up. ALSO, the date of death at the top of the certificate is "2012" not "2013". These are things that can, and have, caused problems...yet I was charged.
Lancaster responds-This needs to be correct for the future and if it is not it needs to be corrected with an affidavite . REFUND $ 20
- I called your office sometime around April 20th and was told that I could come pick up my daughter's remains. When I arrived I found out that the butterfly urn was ordered late and was not yet there. Rebecca's remains were offered to me in a plastic container...which I found very offensive. I opted to wait for the urn to bring my daughter home in.
Lancaster responds-The urn you selected was done on line and when I found the distributor for it because the staff I asked to find out did not, which delayed the process. The Urn I was told by the distributor that it could not be engraved , which I called. The urn cost to us was what you paid for it. When you came in I told you that we could get a plaque and you declined.
- When I was finally able to retrieve my daughter's remains (a month after her death), the urn was not engraved as you and I had discussed. I let this go because, quite frankly, I was afraid to put my daughter back in your hands and just wanted her home. see above
- THUMBIES - this was the final straw - I have made numerous phone calls to your office over the past month, only to be told that the Thumbies we ordered would be there soon. Today I called and was told by Jessica that the Thumbies were never ordered. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! This was something I and my oldest daughter have been anxiously waiting for. A momento of Rebecca to carry with us always. Now we won't have that because someone on your staff failed!
Lancaster responds-This was initialy not used , although you said you wanted them. You then said that we did not need to pay the minister because he was a relative and I said we would use that money for the thumbies. I then placed it on the agreement under that section, I don't know if that confused our staff but it did not get ordered and that it my fault - REFUND $ 250Please respond back and let me know if I have inaccuracies in thisTim
While most of your staff have been compassionate to my situation, it does not make up for the numerous errors that have occurred. I am not an unreasonable person and I can appreciate that people make mistakes, but this situation has been absolutely ridiculous. Tim, imagine if this was your loved one? Please consider this and then decide how you will respond.I will expect to hear from you with regards to these issues and am requesting compensation for these things as well. You may call me at [redacted] or respond to this email. I would very much appreciate a meeting with you and look forward to your earliest response.Regards,
There were several other emails between Fox and Lancaster, mostly administrative in nature. Lancaster apologized for the errors, but the situation dragged on.
Email from Chery Fox to Tim Lancaster June 26, 2013—
This is fine Tim. The things that happened can't be changed. This whole process has been extremely difficult and when I think about it I just sit and cry. I feel like I've lost all the momentum I was gaining in my grieving, and now I'm starting over again. It's time for me to move on and it's not about money at this point. Money won't change what happened and it certainly won't bring back my daughter.Although we don't have the Thumbies, my oldest daughter would like to get her sister's fingerprints. You had told us they would be held on file there? Please let me know what we need to do to get the refund, death certificate change, and fingerprints.Thank you,
CherylLancaster responds- I will still get the thumbies for you but will refund the money that way you will have bothCheryl-Hi Tim, When should I expect a refund for the items below? Please let me know ASAP. Thank you.Lancaster-Monday I will have them write the check from the Tribute Center
I'm curious if you ever ordered the Thumbies (as promised below). I haven't heard anything so just checking in. Also, did Rebecca's death certificate get corrected? Again, didn't hear back from you and it's probably something I should have a corrected copy of.
Thank you for keeping me informed.
Two days later—
2nd request. Please respond Tim.
Lancaster-looking into it today
From Cheryl Fox 11 days later, August 31, 2013—
It's been more than 11 days since you sent me this email. It's sad to think I'm still dealing with all this. I guess it's no biggie to you...but I feel very hurt and upset again that you just don't seem to care. Even though you refunded some of my money, I should still be somewhat of a priority to you. Your company messed up royally and I trusted you to make it right. Also, I wasn't going to bring this up Tim, but I think you should know... Even the check that was written to me was wrong. It was written out for $600 but the numbers on it said $650. I had to fight with my bank as they tried to take back another $50 when I had it cashed. I'm sure you can look at your cancelled checks and see what I'm talking about. It's just one more thing that was screwed up by your staff....and ultimately you. With everything you've put me through I should have asked for at least half of the money back. I think that would have been fair with all the hardship you've caused my family. This should not have been a time for me to have to worry if things got done properly. That's what I paid you for! *PLUS, per your website at http://klamathtributecenter.net/ and you advertising, it claims a 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. Well, I am certainly NOT Satisfied!!
Months since my daughter's death and I still have no valid death certificate...nor do I have the Thumbies you promised. On top of that the memories of laying Rebecca to rest will be forever in my mind due to your lack of professionalism (as noted in our email conversation below). It's unbelievable how little consideration I have been given in this situation. I would appreciate a response from you right away.
A week later, September 17, 2013—
Dear Mr. Lancaster,
This will be my final attempt to contact you before seeking legal advise. I have requested your response on multiple occasions, but you have chosen to ignore me. While I know things can get busy, there is no excuse for the lack of attention to my concerns. I would suggest that you review our correspondence below and then let me know how you would like to proceed.
Cheryl D. Fox
Yet one more week later, September 14, 2013, Cheryl Fox writes directly to Klamath Tribute Center's owner, Bob Gordon—
Dear Mr. Gordon,
It is with deep regret that I am emailing you today. I have tried for several months to work with Tim Lancaster at Eternal Hills to have my concerns taken seriously, but it has not been successful. At this time I feel I need to share with you the experience I have had.
My daughter, Rebecca Fox, passed away on April 9th of this year - Tim and the staff were in charge of the arrangements. Throughout the process of laying my 20 year old daughter to rest, numerous mistakes and oversights have been made. I have included several of these issues in the email below...which I invite you to read. While Tim did compensate for some of the issues (as noted below), I feel that he has "blown me off" every time I try to inquire about something. He has consistently told me he would "look into things" and then I don't hear from him until I 'push' again. While I understand that things can get terribly busy in your business, It feel that my issues should have been addressed and remedied by now.
The bottom line is, I paid for a service that was provided very poorly. After more than 5 months, I still have no valid death certificate (after numerous requests) - which has caused me issues with tax returns, DMV transfers, insurance, etc.
I have been told that Thumbies would finally be ordered..which has not happened.. Not to mention the multiple oversights listed below, which have caused me and my family heartache about the entire process in general. This should have been a time for us to grieve our loss and say goodbye to my young daughter, Becka. Instead have had to deal with inaccuracies and blatent disregard for my concerns. It is sad to think that I have had to wait so long to begin my healing process because I'm still trying to "FIX" issues that should have been provided properly.
Again, I invite you to review all of the correspondence below. I am very sorry that I have had to resort to contacting you. However, you can clearly see that I have done my best to work with Tim with no resolution.
I will look forward to hearing from you soon.
Cheryl D. Fox
Six days later, September 20, 2013, after hearing nothing from owner Bob Gordon—Dear Mr. Gordon,I was really looking forward to getting a response from you. I understand things can get busy, but you did clearly state you would respond by Wednesday the 18th - yet I still have not heard from you. Please let me know how you would like to proceed.Regards,Cheryl Fox
Mrs. Fox sorry for my misunderstanding I understood you were not returning until yesterday (Friday) and I didn't want my response to get lost.
I've reviewed with Tim your daughter file along with the refunds he granted, also I've talk with the manufacturer of the Thumbie and have been assured that your daughter Thumbie will be here next Friday.
I hope this will resolve all the outstanding issues! Bob
That same day, from Cheryl Fox to Tim Lancaster—
I still need a valid death certificate and I will also expect there are two Thumbies.
Owner Bob Gordon responds-Tim get Mrs. Fox and me an answer on the corrected DC Monday! Bob
And that's where we are today. Klamath Tribute Center, we'd love to update this post to show you've taken your duty seriously and did your best to put this right.