Neptune's Legal SCAMS

E-mail Print

10/06/2008 - Thinking about doing business with the Neptune Society? Think again. For years, FCA has been pointing out Neptune's tricky accounting practices they use to illegally pocket consumers' prepaid cremation money instead of putting it in the bank as most state laws require. Finally, one state is taking legal action. Hats off to the Colorado Division of Regulation for a great job protecting funeral consumers. Here's their press release. . .

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release - Oct. 3, 2008

Contact: Cameron Lewis, Colorado Division of Insurance, 303.894.2261
Chris Lines, DORA Public Information Officer, 303.894.7873

DORA's Division of Insurance Alleges Neptune Society Used "Bait and Switch" to Lure Consumers
to Purchase Pre-Need Funeral Contracts

Colorado's Commissioner of Insurance, Marcy Morrison, has ordered representatives of the Neptune Management Corporation,d.b.a. Neptune Society (Neptune) to appear at a hearing to answer charges that the company misled consumers and manipulated prepaid, preneed funeral accounts in order to skirt Colorado law and maximize profits.

An investigation by the Division of Insurance indicated that the Neptune Society was using a "package plan" offer to entice consumers to purchase a particular pre-need funeral services contract. While state law mandates that 75 percent of a pre-need funeral services contract be held in trust to protect the consumer, the Neptune Society created a plan that allowed Neptune to keep, rather than trust, more than half of the entire plan premium.

"We will not stand for businesses that ignore consumer protection laws," Morrison said. "Pre-need funeral plans are prime targets for scams because the service purchased is not provided until an unknown date far into the future."

Most pre-need funeral plans require full payment at time of purchase for funeral services, such as burial or cremation, although the purchaser does not know when, in the future, the services will be used. With funeral plans and pre-paid cremation services running thousands of dollars per contract, Colorado law provided that 75 percent of any preneed plan would be held in trust. That way, should the firm close its doors, move out of state, or no longer offer the service purchased, the consumer could still have most of the money returned in order to purchase another plan.

By reducing the amount actually trusted, through a dual-contract system, Neptune has kept approximately $2.6 million of consumers' money that should have been protected in trust.

Allegedly, Neptune Society skirted the law by inducing consumers to purchase a "package deal" and sign two contracts: one for future funeral and/or cremation services, and a separate contract for the immediate purchase of merchandise, such as a funeral urn, at grossly inflated prices. Most of the funds from the funeral services contract were held in trust, as required, but the funds from the "merchandise" contract were not trusted.

As an example,

· One contract purchaser paid a total package price of nearly $1,333.

· Of that amount, 55 percent of the package price (about $700) was charged for "upfront merchandise" on a separate contract.

· Rather than place three-fourths of the entire $1333 into trust as required by law, Neptune chose to place only 75 percent of the remaining $610 into trust.

· This means a customer who had paid nearly $1400 for a preneed funeral contract had less than $560 trusted.

· In addition, the "merchandise" costs were inflated with a charge of $349 for a funeral urn valued at approximately $13.

The "bait-and-switch" is just one of several charges filed against the Neptune Society. Neptune must also answer charges related to:

· plan and practice to avoid compliance with preneed trusting requirements,

· violations of the general provider agreements,

· conditioning the sale of a preneed contract upon the purchase of a second contract, and,

· violation of several tenets of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.

With approximately 5,000 pre-paid funeral accounts in Colorado, Neptune confirmed that fully 100 percent of their customers had chosen the "package deal," which appeared to cost less than purchasing those same items individually. However, the "package deal" allowed Neptune to put as little as 35 percent of the package price in trust, thereby avoiding trusting approximately $525 per each preneed contract. The amount that Neptune has avoided trusting is close to $2,625,000.

The "Notice to Set" scheduling conference will be held October 24, 2008, at 1:30 p.m. at the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts, 633 Seventeenth Street, Suite 1300, in Denver. At the Oct. 24 scheduling conference, Neptune Management Corporation and the Division of Insurance may agree to engage in alternative dispute resolution, or a date for a full hearing will be set.

DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission.


November 1, 2007 —We've had numerous consumer inquiries and complaints about companies calling themselves the Neptune Society. Lamar Hankins of the Austin Memorial and Burial Information Society in Texas, has figured out that not all Neptunes are the same. There are several companies with this name that are entirely unrelated to each other. Here's the explanation from the largest Neptune (this company is publicly traded on Wall Street):

The Neptune Society, Inc., through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Neptune Management Corp., owns the right to provide cremation services under the tradename and service mark "Neptune Society" in the 49 states outside of California, and in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties within the State of California. The Neptune Society, Inc., and its predecessor companies, have been providing cremation services for more than 30 years. The Neptune Society, Inc. is not affiliated with other Neptune Societies in the State of California that provide cremation services outside of the Counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. In those California counties where we do not own the right to use the name Neptune Society in connection with our services, we provide our services through an affiliated company, Trident Society®. In some states, applicable laws require us to use names other than Neptune Society. In Oregon, we provide our services as "Neptune Cremation Service".
Below is an article Hankins wrote for the Fall, 2007 edition of Creative Choices, the newsletter of our Austin funeral consumer group. Like we've seen in the past, he found Neptune's prices were significantly higher for a simple cremation than many other services in the area. Hankins also found the company's price lists confusing and misleading. Here at the national office, we often hear from consumers who've been solicited by Neptune salespeople, only to find out they could have bought a simple cremation for about half the price Neptune is charging. The company is heavily into selling "preneed." As always, we urge people to avoid prepaying for death services unless they need to set aside assets for Medicaid. Remember, no matter what a funeral salesman tells you about "peace of mind," "freezing today's prices," and "taking care of everything," there are huge consumer pitfalls involved in prepaying. For better options, see our pamphlet on preplanning without prepaying.
Courtesy of the Austin Memorial and Burial Information Society

'The Neptune Society, a cremation service provider on the West coast since the early 1970s, has now opened three locations in Texas–in Ft. Worth, Houston, and Austin.In a recent interview with the Editor of Creative Choices, Neptune Management Corporation President and CEO Jerry Norman explained that there are four Neptune groups, all of which are separate companies. The Neptune Society that he manages presently operates in ten states and has headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Several AMBIS members have contacted the AMBIS office recently after receiving mailings from Neptune. Neptune’s marketing plan in Austin consists primarily of mailings to lists of names and addresses of people aged 60 and over that were purchased from mailing list vendors.Neptune strongly promotes prepaying for cremation services, a practice that AMBIS does not support unless a person is preparing to qualify for Medicaid.

Neptune is moderately expensive. It uses two General Price Lists (GPLs)–one for preneed sales and one for at-need sales. Whether at-need or pre-need, Direct Cremation with an alternative container can be purchased for $1592, though Neptune claims that its minimum price would be $2066 at-need, but that includes some items that are not needed by most families, like common scattering of the cremated remains at sea. The average direct cremation cost in the 2007 AMBIS survey of funeral costs is $1642.Fifteen Austin-area cremation providers surveyed provide direct cremation for less than Neptune’s $1592 charge.

However, Neptune offers a “Direct Cremation Package”for $1389, whether purchased at-need or pre-need. When purchased at-need, the package does not include a“Neptune Information Guide and Portfolio” (valued at $249). The package does include an urn valued at $349. The wholesale cost of both the information package and the urn is probably less than $100. Thirteen Austin-area providers offer direct cremation for less than $1389. When purchasing pre-need, Neptune offers “Transportation Protection” for $399. If a purchaser dies more than 75 miles from where the pre-need contract was purchased,Neptune guarantees service at no additional cost[Note from FCA - this is a common "feature" of prepaid plans, but most consumers don't need it. We think it's not worth $400].

A 20 ga. steel casket at Neptune costs $1,895, higher than the cost of a 20 ga. casket charged by all of the service providers included in the 2007 survey. Neptune will be included in our 2008 survey due out next February.Neptune is still experiencing some glitches in its operations in Austin, including mistakes in its GPLs, but the company says these problems should be resolved soon.'


Neptune's Preneed Deal

  • Would you buy a preneed from Neptune if you knew you'd get less than half your money back if you wanted or needed to change your mind?
  • Would you start making payments if you knew you wouldn't get the first half back at all?
  • Would you choose Neptune if you were still in good health and traveling, knowing that your family would have to foot the bill if you died out-of-town and would get reimbursed by Neptune for less than half of what you paid?

Not all Neptune Societies are owned by the same company. We have no way of knowing if they all operate the same way. The following trust fund trustees are identified on the preneed contract sent to the FCA office: Emanuel Weintraub, Jacqueline Bell, and Irwin Karp—with offices in Burbank, San Pedro, and Santa Barbara, California. If you have a different preneed agreement with another Neptune Society, the FCA office would appreciate a copy—to confirm that others might be doing the same thing, or to give credit where credit is due if they aren't.


In 1992, Virgil Poch and his wife made cremation arrangements with the Neptune Society in Santa Barbara. The following are verbatim excerpts:

MERCHANDISE STORED OR DELIVERED

Cremation Urn: $77.80
Cremation Container: $298.00
Disposition of Remains with Memorial Plaque
_X_ Sea Scattering ___Rose Garden ___ Return to Family: $115.00
Total Merchandise: $490.80
Sales Tax: $37.98

TRUST FUND

Professional Services—Including cremation, removal, refrigerated holding facility, procurement of signed death certificate, disposition permit, professional and administrative services, Neptune Staff, transportation within County of address listed below.
TOTAL FUNERAL TRUST FUND: $470.00
TOTAL PURCHASE PRICE: $997.98

ALL PAYMENTS made under this Agreement shall be applied first on merchandise stored or delivered, then on sales tax, and then on deposits to the general trust fund. [That's to guarantee they can keep the maximum under law if you default or cancel.]

DELIVERY PROVISION: Purchaser is entitled to delivery and possession at seller's principle [sic] place of business of each item described as merchandise stored or delivered herein only upon payment in full of the Total Sales Price of this Agreement. Upon such full payment seller will deliver or warehouse for Purchaser all such items.


On the back of the contract:

TRUST PROVISIONS

1. ARRANGEMENT FOR SERVICES: In consideration of the payments provided herein, Seller agrees that it will provide merchandise of quality described [no description], and will provide for the other articles of professional services and facilities described for the final rites of the Purchaser. This agreement includes the services of on call 24 hours, procuring attending physician's signature for death certificate, preparing death certificate, all crematory charges, completing and forwarding Social Security forms and Veterans Administration forms for reimbursement of applicable death and burial allowances to the family. The agreement does not include services of out-side mortuaries, funeral notices, removal from home [what's the other "removal" on the front good for—death in a hospital or nursing home only?], death certificates [not even one?], filing permit fees, removal of pacemakers and special handling for contagious diseases [it's illegal to charge extra for this].

. . .

5. TERMINATION OF THE TRUST . . .
B. CANCELLATION BY TRUSTOR: All written requests for revocation by the trustor of a trust shall be honored within fifteen (15) days of receipt thereof. The portion of each pre-need contract that is fully refundable are the funds held in trust [in the case of Mr. Poch, only $470]. The merchandise and sales tax provision of the agreement is non-refundable as this merchandise has already been purchased and stored for your use at time of need. This merchandise is available for your pick-up at one of our warehouses. . . .

6. INABILITY TO PERFORM: If, for any reason, Seller is unable to perform the funeral services prior to or upon the death of the beneficiary of a before-need trust agreement, then the trustees shall pay all trust principle [sic] to the beneficiary, trustor or the legal representative . . . [again, in the case of Mr. Poch, only $470].

7. DEATH OUTSIDE OF SERVICE AREA
A. . . . All expenses of the mortuary outside of the Seller's service area including preparation and shipment are to be paid by the Purchaser's family or heirs. If applicable, refunds or adjustments would be made at the time of death. [Only $470 would have to be returned to your family.]

B. If the Purchaser wishes to use a mortuary in an area out of the service area of the Seller, the Seller, upon notice will do all possible within 24 hours of notice to provide the same services through a mortuary in that area. [What about same merchandise? Or will that be left unclaimed in the local warehouse?]


This is a GREAT example of why it is a TERRIBLE mistake
to prepay for your funeral!
According to California law (7735), 100% of what is prepaid for a funeral arrangement must be placed into trust. Later in the same article, however, appears an exception (7741) for "merchandise that is delivered as soon as paid for." This is called "constructive delivery" and has caused problems in every state where such dubious dealing is permitted (notably Florida, not in Texas). Because the merchandise has been "purchased" and "stored," the cost for such is not refundable. Is the state of California checking to see if it's actually there? In another state, less than half of what was supposed to be in the warehouse was found when the state showed up for inspection. <

That Neptune lists its "cremation container" at $298 is further evidence of milking the situation for its own benefit—to the detriment of consumers. No state will tell a company how much it may or may not charge for various items of merchandise. But $298 for what could be a $10 cardboard box?! By taking an outrageous mark-up on the box and minimal pricing on services, Neptune has pocketed more than it placed in trust and limited the amount of any transfer or refund should you die while away or if you decided to cancel the whole thing altogether.

Note that the $115 cost of ocean scattering, a service, is listed under "MERCHANDISE STORED OR DELIVERED" and not placed in trust. This service is inexplicably linked with merchandise—the memorial plaque—but there is no logical or necessary link between the services offered and this item of merchandise. Because an undelivered service (ocean scattering or any of the other available options) cannot be warehoused, it appears that Neptune has violated trusting requirements in this regard.

Actually, the California law on constructive delivery was amended in 1995, AFTER the Pochs had purchased their Neptune plan. Merchandise must be actually given to a consumer now, not stored. And what is Neptune giving to consumers at the time of arrangements? According to one report, the consumer gets a funeral planning booklet (valued at several hundred dollars to avoid trusting the full amount).


Neptune at least admits up-front how much is NOT going into trust. Unless you have a statement that indicates a full refund or transfer of what you paid can be requested at any time, preneed purchasers of other arrangements should mark the contracts: DO NOT DELIVER MERCHANDISE UNTIL TIME OF NEED. And then get verification that the full amount paid has been put into trust—not the warehouse. Better still, keep your money in a pay-on-death account at your own bank and let your family know it's there.


August, 2001

According to General Price Lists in our possession, Neptune in Portland, Oregon, is charging $300 MORE for cremation services sold PRENEED than at the time of death. Consumers in other locations where Neptune is operating are advised to be cautious before making any preneed purchases.

Funeral Consumers Alliance has mailed the following letters, out of concern for the problems of preneed buyers in the states where The Neptune Society, Inc. is operating.

August 27, 2001

Myra Howard
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, HQ-238
Washington, DC 20580

Dear Ms. Howard:

We believe the Neptune Society, by requiring the purchase of certain items, is in violation of the FTC Funeral Rule. One Florida preneed agreement lists a $49 charge for the 78-page "Neptune Society Information Book," a $99 charge for a "Lucite Plaque," and $129 for a "Minimum Urn." An inquiring consumer was told these items could not be declined. The crematory, by necessity, must place the cremated remains in a receptacle even if only a plastic bag, the cost of which should be part of the cremation price. (Someone selling ice cream doesn't charge separately for the cone or a plastic cup.) In Portland, Oregon, Neptune customers are being charged $149 for the information booklet. (See enclosed.)

We believe these or similar schemes are occurring at all Neptune locations for the purpose of recognizing a disproportionate share of the revenue prior to the delivery of cremation services. (A separate complaint, enclosed, is being sent to the SEC, as we believe these tactics are a violation of SAB 101.)

By handing a consumer a planning kit, registration kit, and plaque--to which unreasonable and exorbitant prices have been assigned--Neptune reduces the amount of money placed in trust by nearly half. This practice is injurious to consumers who may die in another location, move, or simply want to cancel the contract. These people won't be able to transfer or receive adequate funds to pay for a cremation elsewhere.

Because Neptune is actively pursuing preneed sales, including anticipated new markets, and because the future viability of this company is in doubt per the last annual report, we would appreciate your immediate attention.

Sincerely,

Lisa Carlson, Executive Director

cc: Neptune Society, Inc.
Rudy Thomas, Arizona Board of Funeral Directors
Jeff Brown, DCA, California
Colorado Dept. of Insurance
Larry Folsom, Florida Dept. of Banking and Finance
Dennis Britson, Iowa Dept. of Insurance
Debbie Orecki, NY State Funeral Board
Jodi Hanson, Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board
Jon Donnellan, Washington Funeral and Cemetery Board
SEC Complaint Center and Robert Bayless, Division of Corporate Finance


August 27, 2001

SEC Complaint Center
450 Fifth St. NW
Washington, DC 20549-0213

This complaint is being filed in regard to the Neptune Society, Inc. for what we believe are fraudulent trade and accounting practices in violation of SAB 101. It is of particular concern to us because these practices will harm at least some of Neptune's customers who, in the future, may need or wish to change their plans.

According to the SAB 101 FAQ discussion (Topic 13.A.3 --question 4), a company may recognize revenue in a multi-element sale only if the elements are saleable independently of the bundled package and the elements are priced at fair market value based on evidence that is "reliable, verifiable, and objectively determinable." Furthermore, an undelivered element must not be essential to the functionality of the delivered element.

While it is likely that similar practices appear to be happening at all Neptune locations, the Neptune tactics in Portland, Oregon seem especially egregious. Enclosed please find a copy of their "Neptune Cremation Service Pre-Need and Pre-Payment General Price List." If one wishes to purchase a "Basic Cremation--Local," the following services are provided:

Basic Services [$495]
Transfer of the body from the place of death [$350]
Preparation of deceased
Refrigeration [$300]
Fibreboard cremation receptacle [$20]
Cremation process [$225]
Registration packet * [$79]
Neptune Cremation Service information book * [$149]
Memorial Plaque * [$99]
Minimum Urn * [$179]

Neptune does not disclose the total cost of itemized merchandise and services ($1,896), instead offering these at a package price of $999. Only $500 will go into trust, the brochure indicates, with the asterisked items above "delivered" and the remaining $499 therefore not refundable.

Neptune's own prices, as found on their General Price List, reveal that the goods and services which are not delivered at the time of sale total $1,396. Yet, Neptune puts only $500 in trust to cover the cost of delivery of those goods and services. This is not the consumer protection such trusting laws were created for.

We challenge the rationale on which the "delivered" items can be claimed for the purpose of revenue recognition for the following reasons:

  • It is a violation of the FTC Funeral Rule for a funeral service provider to require the purchase of any item. (See our letter of complaint to the FTC of this date, enclosed.)
  • A registration packet would NOT be purchased by a consumer from Neptune except for the requirement by Neptune to do so and certainly not independently of cremation services. If the registration packet has any value, it is of value only to Neptune as a record of the transaction.
  • The (required) purchase of a "basic urn" is a highly unlikely sale independent of a person's plan to purchase cremation services. Because it's not your ideal cookie jar, its functionality is, in practice, dependent on the final cremation. Some don't wish an urn at all, preferring instead to accept cremated remains in the plastic or cardboard box that comes from the crematory

  • Some would find a Lucite memorial plaque in exceedingly poor taste, and wouldn't dream of such a buy. Neptune, however, is requiring its purchase.

  • The price of $149 for the "information book" (78-page booklet) is NOT, we believe, listed at "fair market value" and would have minimal if any sales if marketed independently. In fact, the evidence for our claim is compelling. The following have been offered to the public in recent years: Last Wishes, a 123-page, write-in, spiral-bound, soft-cover, trade book, retail price $14.95; "Before I Go, You Should Know," a 20-page end-of-life planning kit for funeral plans with a Living Will in a plastic document pouch accompanied by a refrigerator magnet, retail price of $10 includes shipping; The Beneficiary Book. a large three-ring binder with 122 pages in nine detailed sections, retail price $29.95. Those are examples. Quite a few others of the same ilk in a similar price range are being offered. While another end-of-life planning guide might find a market niche if it had something unique to offer, certainly the $149 price Neptune has attributed to its "information book" (booklet) would make independent sales verygive away attractively printed booklets for documenting end-of-life plans and wishes. Neptune's ploy is not only out of step with the industry practices but could not be independently sustained, we believe, given the competition. unlikely. Furthermore, it is common practice for many funeral homes to

Neptune's annual and quarterly reports repeatedly refer to nonrefundable purchases as a key financial asset. Given the vagaries of the human existence, folks move, die while traveling (without a protection plan), or change their plans, perhaps because they've subsequently located the same services for considerably less. Under the current scheme of recognizing revenue, Neptune benefits itself to the detriment of consumers by its use of unfair practices, tactics that drastically reduce any possible refund or transfer of funds.

Because of Neptune's aggressive marketing and growth plans, we would appreciate your immediate attention.

Sincerely,

Lisa Carlson, Executive Director

cc: Robert Bayless, Division of Corporate Finance, SEC
Myra Howard, FTC
Neptune Society, Inc.
Rudy Thomas, Arizona Board of Funeral Directors
Jeff Brown, DCA, California
Colorado Dept. of Insurance
Larry Folsom, Florida Dept. of Banking and Finance
Dennis Britson, Iowa Dept. of Insurance
Debbie Orecki, NY State Funeral Board
Jodi Hansen, Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board
Jon Donnellan, Washington Funeral and Cemetery Board

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 October 2008 16:36 )  
Comments (69)
1 Saturday, 30 August 2008 09:42
My wife died 3 1/2 months ago in Spain. We took out a plan with Neptune 18 years ago. We only had to pay $11 for a permit to have her sent to the local cemetery. Neptune paid all additional domestic and international expences. Was much cheaper in the long run than my mothers cremation at a local funeral home in Huston 6 years ago. STAY AWAY FROM TRADITIONAL FUNERAL HOMES if you want to save money and emotional grief!!!

God Bless

Bill J


[Response from FCA] - Are you serious? You think we put up this information on Neptune's practices to lure consumers to use traditional funeral homes? You can't possibly have read this site, or you'd know that we're the biggest nonprofit watchdog over the entire funeral industry, traditional and otherwise.

I'm glad that you had a good experience with Neptune, but that does not change the fact that they're a shady company.Do you think your experience makes all the information we've collected on them untrue? Do you think we should not present it to the public just because it didn't happen to you? If so, why do you think that? It always surprises me when readers and consumers, like you, actually get angry at watchdog organizations for trying to *protect them* from companies known to abuse consumers.

Oh, and thanks for the blessing, after accusing us of trying to con consumers. . .
2 Tuesday, 07 October 2008 20:05
Good job Marcy Morrison. Stand up for consumers and enforce the law.
3 Friday, 10 October 2008 08:16
Elizabeth’s Story

The day after my Mother died, I called the Neptune Society to verify that they had picked up her body so that all the pre-planned arrangements could be put into effect.
My first question to the young lady that answered the phone was that she verify they had picked up my Mom from Memorial Hospital in Pembrooke Pines. I was passed to another young man who told me he did not know. When I told him he needed to find out, he said something about just getting to the office. He then placed me on hold. When he returned to the phone he told me that he had my mother’s file in his hand, and, yes, they had picked up Mom yesterday at 2:30 PM.
I told him that was not possible because Mom died at 4:30 PM. Without a hint of empathy for my situation, he insisted that, in the file, it said she was picked up at 2:30 PM. I suggested that perhaps he had the wrong file. He fumbled around for a moment, and then said he was reading a note in the file of a phone call from the hospital at 5:30 PM. He still could not give me the information that I was asking for.
I then asked about the Chapel. The young man on the phone said, “What Chapel”.

Two years prior to this day, a salesman came to my parents house. My parents, like so many elderly people, decided that it was time to make arrangements for their passing. They decided to be cremated, and liked the idea of their ashes going to sea. A commercial for the Neptune Society caught their eye.
Of course, what my parents were really looking for was peace of mind. They both wanted to know that, when that difficult day came, everything would be taken care of.
They were assured that all would go smoothly. Instead, it was a mess, and not one person that we came into contact with at the Neptune Society office showed an once of regret.

The young man on the phone told me that he would really need to call me back. When I hung up the phone I had to share with my grieving father that we did not know where Mom was, and that it looked as if we needed to start finding and planning where we would have her Memorial service.
My father decided to call the Neptune Society sales man that had come to their house two years prior. The sales man was apologetic to our circumstances, and said he would make a few phone calls, and call us right back. When he called back, he said that everything was fine, that they had Mom, and that yes, there was a “room” that we could use for the memorial service. The sales man suggested that we drive to the location, and look at it because it was small.

My sister and I drove my father to the Neptune Society to see the “Chapel”. When we arrived a girl behind the desk began to usher us into a room, and we told her that we were there to see the Chapel. She turned and said, “we don’t have anything to do with that, we do not have a chapel here”. Confused, we told her what the sales man had told us, and that the chapel was a part of my parents contract. After debating this for a moment, she said that they did do that in the past, but do not do “it” any more. She seemed to have an epiphany when we mentioned it being in our contract, and said that they did have a room. She then took us to a room that was obviously a conference room with a large conference table and about ten chairs. She told us that this was their “Chapel Room”.

We were then placed in a room to meet with the young man that I spoke with on the phone. He entered very matter of fact to explain the paperwork that needed to be filled out for the permits to cremate my Mom’s body. I interrupted and asked if he could please suggest a Chapel where we could arrange my Mother’s Memorial service. He said that they did not handle any of that, and he did not know of any.
He told my father that they would place a small obituary in the paper for my Mom. My father filled out, signed all the necessary papers, and we left.

For the remainder of that day, the day after my mother’s battle with cancer ended, we were left scrambling to find an appropriate place to hold a memorial service. During the brief time that we spent at the Neptune Society’s office we were told that Mom’s remains were in Lake Worth where the Neptune Society has a crematory. It was then explained to us that they were trying to open a facility locally, but that they had not obtained the permits yet. All of this information was overwhelming to us all, and did not help us in any way.
Also during that Neptune visit, we were subjected to over hearing a women in the back office loudly complaining about customers that were calling on the phone.

We were fortunate to find a Chapel through my Mother’s wonderful Hospice group. My father ended up paying an additional $600.00 so that my Mom would have the memorial, that he thought, was already arranged.
Later that day, we also found out that even with a pre-planned contract, we could have changed the arrangements the day after my Mom passed.

My parents trusted what they were told by the Neptune Society. I wonder how many other elderly people are sitting on a “contract” with this company and will ultimately have the horrible experience that we had. My parents purchased the contract two years before my Mother passed, never thinking that what they were told was not the entire truth. Instead, we were placed in a horrible situation at the worst and most vulnerable time of our lives.

My hope is that this information will get out, and that no other family will be placed in the same position that we were. This company should be investigated. The Neptune Society’s practices are negligent, and in my opinion, obscene. The “Package” my parents purchased included a series of services and items. People need to know that what we actually received through that contract was only the cremation. We were told that my Mom’s ashes would be put to sea, and that my father would receive a plaque stating her name, and the location where her ashes were dropped. Nothing else in the contract was given, no urn, and no Chapel for a memorial service. We discovered small print in the contract that stated that a Chapel is only provided where available; my parents were told that it was available in Pompano. The urn for my Mother’s ashes was quoted for $300.00 on the contract. Because we were not taking possession of her ashes, we were told that there was no need for an urn, and that her ashes would be taken to sea in a plastic container. My sister asked why my father would be paying for the $300.00 urn. We were told that it is simply part of the “package”.

It is so important to know the facts before the loss of a loved one. I learned through this experience that it is best to find a reputable funeral home and get the answers from them. A reputable funeral home can help you escape the neglectful practices of the Neptune Society. They can provide the same services, and for less money. They can handle all of the changes for you.

If my family would have known this the morning after my Mom died, we would have been able to place all the plans and arrangements in the capable hands of Barbara Falowski’s Funeral Services with a simple phone call. We would have avoided all the pain and confusion that the Neptune Society placed on us by their shabby, and unprofessional actions. We were under the wrong impression that my father had no choice because of his contract.

My mother received a beautiful memorial service because of Barbara Falowski. At one point during the service, a friend of my Mom’s handed me the obituary notice that the Neptune Society placed for my Mom. Through all of the tumult over the past few days, I had forgotten about it. I unfolded the small newspaper to read the obituary. It said:

Pearson-Weingarten Elizabeth, 67, of Sunrise, FL passed away on October 5, 2008.
Neptune Society Cremation.

I realized after looking through the obituaries that it is customary for the funeral homes to attach their name to the obituary. I just couldn’t help feeling that this was the last, in a series of wrongs, inflicted on my family. That my mother would leave this world advertising a company that so failed her is grotesque.

Please tell this story! It is so important!
4 Thursday, 23 October 2008 13:56
To say that because of a few incidents, that all of Neptune is shady, is both ignorant and biased. Has every funeral home in America never had one complaint? Not likely. Funeral homes over the generations have been known to extract high fees for services and goods at a time when most people are grieving and experiencing one of life's most painful moments. The national average is something in the $7-8000 range! You should be encouraging people to establish and set up their services far in advance since most of us never know when we will die. It is the smart thing to do. Whether standard funeral or cremation, it is each individuals decsion and setting up a pre-need service takes a huge burden off your family and loved ones. That is what's most important. I had a fantastic experience with Neptune as did all of the friends and family that I recommended to them. While you may be an "independent watch dog" as you say, it is clear by your comments and venom that you are focused on "at-need" services rather than helping people plan for the uncertanties of life. We plan for accidents and catastrophes, why not something that is definite? Your article is misleading and a scare tactic. That is all. Most people will see right through it as such.
5 Monday, 17 November 2008 20:43
Darla B
I am glad that I found this information BEFORE my parents bought into the Neptune Society!

With this information, they have decided to use a local company which is well renowned in our area in Missouri.

Thank you for all of your valuable information.
6 Saturday, 28 February 2009 09:21
G.T.S.
It is definately confusing for the consumer that there are more than one Neptune Societies. The mislead families are outraged that this fact was not identified when they are purchasing a policy to the time they need services rendered. Advice, please ask when you call any Funeral home if they are affiliated with "Which" Neptune Society. The tarnishment that the Neptune Society Management Inc. has caused the industry is degrading and an embarrassment to all the reputable firms that try daily to assist families in their time of need. Be informed prior to purchasing any pre-need policy. The Government agencies are there to help protect the consumers, BBB, State Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, and finally keep copies of everything you sign and infomr the responsible parties who will be settleing your affairs of the location of your documents, membership numbers and what you have paid for and what is non-guaranteed items. Be informed!
7 Monday, 06 April 2009 12:46
gary larsen
Neptune society does thousands of cremations each year with satisfied families. Many of the statements that I have read above mislead consumers to think neptune society rip-off families when in fact they provide peace of mind and go beyond what is expected in many situations. No company, traditional funeral homes or other type of business, of any size operate without some complaints. Who knows thier agenda.
8 Monday, 06 April 2009 13:33
Josh Slocum
"Neptune society does thousands of cremations each year with satisfied families. Many of the statements that I have read above mislead consumers to think neptune society rip-off families when in fact they provide peace of mind and go beyond what is expected in many situations. No company, traditional funeral homes or other type of business, of any size operate without some complaints. Who knows thier agenda."

Gary:

1. Do you, or do any of your family and friends, have any financial connection or interest in Neptune? It should be obvious why I'm asking.

2. Who is "they" in "who knows their agenda?"

Sticking your fingers in your ears and singing "la la la neptune is good la la la" won't change the facts. FCA has long fielded complaints from Neptune customers about tricky sales methods, broken contractual promises, hard-sell cold calling to customers at home, and more. Now some state agencies are wising up, too. You can't wish away the facts, Gary - Neptune has broken the law. They're a shady company, and they charge twice the reasonable price for a direct cremation. It's too bad - the business model is a good idea. There was no reason to muck it up with immoral and illegal behavior.
9 Friday, 24 April 2009 10:20
Kathleen Hagen
I just wanted to say thank you for the information on the Neptune Society. I am trying to make arrangements for my mother before anything happens so we won't have to worry at the time of her passing. I had a salesperson from the Neptune Society come by and had a very uneasy feeling about him and his company. The concept sounded good but I just didn't truly trust him. I told him I would see about cashing in one of my mom's policys (by his request). He called constantly which made me think he was desparate for my business. Red Flag! I decided to go with my gut feeling and look them up. So thank you for confirming what I was already feeling and helping me avoid a possible disaster.
10 Friday, 08 May 2009 18:43
Gustavo Arrietta
Is the owner of the Neptune Society, or the founder, by any chance Joe V. Williams III? he is a local slumlord-using the term as defined by wikapedia and also the local paper- in Cleveland TN. He's a pathological liar and a sociopath (from my observation) and has no problem cheating and lying and committing perjury-I and many, many others have observed.
He also owns half of Fort Hill Cemetary, aka Forest Hill, possibly aka Sunset Memorial (so many assumed names). he does business in TN and GA and around the South. The town took him to court during the past 10 years to try and force him to keep up the cemetery-which after much resistance he now treats as a joke. He spitefully instructs his men to throw out any flowers left around the graves. I believe he has funeral operations going by the names Stuart and Hardwicks also. He's a modrn day Potter and is trying hard to turn Cleveland, TN into Potters field. He has real estate offices in TN and GA : C21 Williams and Williams, Williams Corp, Williams and Langford, Louisville land Co property and Real estate "management" where he manages to run half the historical homes in the neighborhood into the ground. His partner is Kennedy Omanwa. They have (or had) a senior saints assisted living center going in Chattanooga, which appeared to be a run down house (704 Belvoir Ave-but since relocated)
This Neptune operation is right up his dark alley: Joe Williams=Bill J?
11 Wednesday, 13 May 2009 10:03
JD
My Family did not have the money to pay for the cremation at Neptune's set pre-need price. They took care of everything including the transport costs. I believe as an indigent case, with the cost of death certificate copies, we ended up paying less than 400 dollars and were treated just as kindly as other families that we knew that had dealt with Neptune and were referred by. I believe isolated incidents should not determine the integrity level of a company as a whole, but rather the particular situation and the people who are involved in it at that time.
12 Wednesday, 13 May 2009 10:18
Josh Slocum
I'm glad you had a good experience with Neptune, but that doesn't invalidate the company's problems. They're not isolated incidents; they're systemic, as ought to be obvious by reading the articles about Neptune here. You did notice they're in legal trouble, didn't you?

None of this takes away from the good experience you had, and I'm glad you had it. But don't cover your eyes to the truth in order to protect your good experience. That experience is yours, no matter what. But it doesn't change the fact that Neptune is a deceptive company, and FCA cannot in good conscience recommend it to anyone.

Surely you're not saying that you think consumer families like yours shouldn't be warned about potential scams? Surely you're not saying that Neptune's systemic problems simply aren't valid because they didn't happen to you? If you knew that a popular bank was accused of defrauding consumers, charging usurious credit card rates, and had violated consumer finance laws, would you still say we should judge that bank only on the individual, isolated experiences of one consumer or another?


- Josh Slocum, exec. director, FCA
13 Friday, 12 June 2009 21:15
Connie Newman
I am late coming to this party but it still bothers me a lot. My mom and dad bought Neptune contracts in San Jose, CA in the 1970's. They liked the part about being buried at sea. My mom died in February of 1981. It was later disclosed in the newspaper that she was a part of the group that had been disposed of in the city dump. My dad was offered a chance to participate in a law suit which he declined. As if that could make up for the images he would always have. When my dad died I declined using the contract he had purchased. In his memory, I didn't want anything to do with the Neptune Society in his final event. That was probably foolish on my part and writing this is the only satisfaction I will ever have over what happened to my parents. Buyer beware! I advise against going this route.
14 Wednesday, 29 July 2009 23:53
Hobie
Neptune Society and Trident Society are the same cold and insensitive monsters who are there to prey on the vulnerable.

I paid my contract in full 4 years ago and called them so I could cancel my plan since they were conducting illegal activity in Colorado. I was told I would only be getting about $500 back and I paid twice that much.

They are evil people, it is a sham and the state should shut them down!
15 Friday, 23 October 2009 16:06
Jim Scott
I was visited by a Neptune rep this morning and almost signed up. Glad now that I did not; your advice has persuaded me not to make any "pre-need" arrangement.
However, I am curious about the BBB rating which gives Neptune an A+ . Would be grateful for your feedback.
16 Sunday, 25 October 2009 11:16
Josh Slocum
Interesting, Jim. Glad our advice helped. Remember, when you leave a public comment here, there's no guarantee we'll see it immediately. Better to email us directly, in addition, if you want an answer. I just happened to notice this one.

Well, the BBB has never been high in my esteem. I find they do little actual investigation of their businesses, and their ratings are often worthless. You might want to submit this article on Neptune to the BBB and see if they change their tune!


Josh Slocum
Exec. Director
Funeral Consumers Alliance
17 Thursday, 04 February 2010 19:28
Shelley
we are going through this now. My Grandma purchased what she thought covered all her cremation services(as my Grandpa did purchase and was covered when he died 10 years ago) only to find out they charge for the urn(ridiculously overpriced at 300 plus) and the death certificate copies. The rep told us the policy changed several years ago. In addition the rep reassured us that my grandma had been picked up from the hospital only for us to get a call from the hospital the next day asking us if we couldnt' afford to cremate my grandma and to offer some special service as her body was still there! My Grandma would be really upset if she knew all this, god bless her soul. Kind of disheartening at a time where we were already dealing with greif. We of course purchased the urn because they told us they couldn't release the ashes without one that sealed and we didn't want to just put her remains in some crappy box we purchased outside of there.
18 Wednesday, 16 June 2010 19:39
john t


Say what?

I know folks who have been more than happy with the services offered by the Neptune Society. Now as I am preparing to make my own plans, the Neptune Society was was quick to come up.

As I read through this page, I was becoming suspicious of Neptune. I went and searched the BBB and found an A+ rating. A+ means NO CONSUMER COMPLAINTS in three years. Unlike Josh, I am fully aware that the BBB is the most competent consumer organization in the US. I don't know where Josh gets off with his off hand (with nothing to back it up) criticisms of the BBB. Knowing that he is clueless, I am inclined to ignore the rest of the info here too.
19 Wednesday, 16 June 2010 20:28
Josh Slocum, FCA exec. director
John,

You of course may make any choice you wish about whom to do business with. It puzzles me, though, why it doesn't concern you that the BBB gives a company an A+ rating when it's known that this company engages in illegal practices that harm consumers. You don't just have to take my word for it - read the above and you'll see Colorado regulators have sued Neptune. Neptune has been the source of numerous complaints to FCA for more than a decade, yet the BBB has received none. It's true that consumers may not have known to contact the BBB, but that doesn't change the fact that Neptune has widely documented problems that *do not show up in the BBB's rating for them*.

Why doesn't that cause you to wonder, John? The information I've posted here on Neptune is what "backs up" my lack of confidence in the BBB, at least on this company.
20 Thursday, 24 June 2010 12:15
J.R.
I was just called by the neptune society, and after being witness to frequent online and telephone phishing scams, i can pick out a wheeler-dealer in a heartbeat.. Although i doubt this was a phishing scheme, a lot of things triggered doubt. First of all, he said i filled out a card of interest and sent it in. That was a lie. as i send about 3 letters a year, and those are usually sympathy cards. when i told him, he said that it was probably too long ago for me to remember. I am only in my 30's i have no long term memory loss. That was the first flag. Then he wanted to meet me in person, as he 'happened to be in town'. I live in a remote area, that leads to nowhere, someone happening to be in town in quite rare. Flag #2. Then i got a super high-pressure sales pitch that would not take no for an answer. this is what really made me leary and ultimate start googling this bunch of yahoos.
if they DO perform a good service now again, it is for one reason that is witnessed even here.. rebuttals, referrals, and endorsements. but there is no way i am going to pay them a single cent in order to be entered into the 'endorsement lottery' of this place.
21 Tuesday, 10 August 2010 16:20
HulaMula
We just lost a family member who had a Neptune Society contract. They were efficient, professional and alleviated much of the burden that comes with the loss of a loved one. We were directed to the West Covina branch and our caretaker did an excellent job of handling the coordination with the convalescent home, the ordering of death certificates and communication of options. I'm sorry that others may not have had such a positive experience with NS.
22 Wednesday, 20 October 2010 17:44
Bob Young Saint Louis, MO
I have been signed up with Neptune for about 4 years. Signed a contract etc. I do not care 'how' they make their money, from my money, as long as I get the services I paid for.
The funeral home business is madder than hell that folks are finding out what kind of crooks they are themselves. Neptune Society figured out a method of a no-frills cremation and that is good enough for me. No viewing room, no pall bears, and your family can have a memorial service at their convenience, not at the convenience of the funeral home.
I am a veteran and they will take me straight to Jefferson Barracks Cemetery, where I will have a head stone and what I call a mini-grave in their cemetery.
If Walmart had a cheaper service, folks would be going there instead of the glitzy elegant Funeral Homes Industry.
23 Thursday, 21 October 2010 10:12
D. J. Dilworth
Enjoy the kool-aid sir. Neptune has "figured out" a number on things - doubt you would be interested though.
24 Sunday, 05 December 2010 01:25
Ed McAvoy
Two weeks ago during our Seattle area snow storm, one of my customers died. Her daughter called to thank me for the pre-planning she did with me. The daughter and her family did not have to travel through the snow to make arrangements at a funeral home because Neptune came through on all services promised. Her Thanksgiving holiday passed in remembering her Mom's life and not facing up-selling and confusion in a funeral home.
25 Wednesday, 15 December 2010 19:42
Whoa Nellie!
I am a fraud investigator and have seen thousand of scams, schemes, tricks, enticements and can smell the stink of the hustle feet away!

I opened a first class letter addressed to me...and inside it vomited its lies. No return address on the envelope was the first clue. I called a local telephone to make an inquiry about the outrageous claims on an enclosed faux "legal" document. The person who answered had forgotten her name! Clue #2. To may talk to my manager. Whats is name? ...I don't know. I have an idea...open your wallet and look at your drivers license and you will see your name. Now walk over to your managers desk and you will see a name plate on her desk. That is your managers name! See how easy that was! Thay asked ME why I was so "hostile"! YOU mailed ME a letter first class with no return address as required by US Postal regulations. I called you on the telephone and neither you or your manager has a name...and your business has no name--just trademark "Trident". It has that little R next to it. So what is the name of your company? "We can not divulge that information". It gets better. I know why you are upset! Oh really is there another reason to be upset? They were too busy talking and scamming to understand.

Their next question was ARE YOU Jewish? That must be it! No wait... YOU are Moslem ...that explains it..!

I am sorry but you are incorrect. No YOU are..! Excuse me? You are either Christian Jewish or Moslem ...and there is nothing else.

There are hundreds of religions --my religious preference is NONE of YOUR business. I have had enough with your stupidity...goodbye!
26 Friday, 15 April 2011 01:04
Harold Wolf
I have in posesion an 1099-INT stating that interest on my Neptune was 22.46. I sign up to this program back in 1988, I have never seen any interest and nobody has ever answered my mails.
Please help what can I do.

Harold
27 Friday, 15 April 2011 07:37
Josh Slocum
Harold, please email us directly at fca@funerals.org. You've left a comment on the public section, not an email directly to us. We need you to contact us directly so that we know how to reach you.
28 Wednesday, 18 May 2011 15:53
Terrance and Karin Lanning
My wife and I signed up with Neptune 11/6/2007. We bought everything they offered, both pre need and need, including transportation from anywhere in the world.

Are we in trouble? I'm 65, my wife is 73.
29 Wednesday, 18 May 2011 15:55
Terrance and Karin Lanning
I forgot to mention we live in Pasco County, Florida.
30 Sunday, 29 May 2011 10:03
Bill Angers
Thank You for your excellent service, if it was not for your report I would have probably contacted the Neptune Society about cremation for me and my wife. What really amazes me is how many people even after all the evidence, ignore the facts it must be either ignorance or they wish to be complicit in this unconscionable fraud.
31 Saturday, 25 June 2011 13:43
Bob
After meeting with a Trident independent sales representative I became very suspicious due to his pressure tactics, so I have decided to research all complaints. The salesman did provide me a copy of the BBB rating that shows them as A+, but now I am reading very negative information from various sites regarding them. I would have purchased the contract had it not been for the sales representative being so insistent and not letting me even discuss it with my family.

Bob
32 Tuesday, 05 July 2011 17:12
john
Can you advise who the better alternative to Neptune Society is?
33 Wednesday, 06 July 2011 11:21
Connie
My parents bought prepaid plans a number of years ago from Neptune. Just as a balance to some of these comments, both of my parents have passed and Nepune was terrific in both cases. Having said this, I don't know what they paid, only that the services were provided as outlined in the document I had and offered promptly with great kindness.
34 Thursday, 25 August 2011 12:56
Bella
Are you for real??? Exactly what is it you investigate, because that whole piece on your phone call to Trident is rediculous...I only hope that people are not that brain dead to believe that type of hype. Start looking up all the other businesses that handle funerals and cremations you will see the same thing. If a business is this shady, how can they have remained in business for over 37 years. Could it be their competition trying to put them out of business? It could be some unhappy consumers...after all being in business over 37 years and doing as many cremations as Neptune and Trident does yearly...there is bound to be some unhappy people, you can't please 100% of the people every time!
35 Wednesday, 12 October 2011 11:10
Thelma Wilford

Neptune Society was nothing other than exceptional when it came to the death of my husband.  I understand that there will always be people looking to discredit companies.  Neptune was there like they said they would and I was able to hold on to the urn for six months before they helped me place him in the National Cemetery. 


We both have had our plans with them since 2004.  I cannot imagine trying to plan his death services while grieving.  I did that with my mother and was emotionally upsold left and right.  If I could do it again, I'd preplan with Neptune vs. another company. 

36 Tuesday, 01 November 2011 17:53
KM

November 2011


I am waiting, with my fingers crossed, for my salesman from Trident to return my contracts that I cancelled one day after purchase.  I didn't have time to read the contracts so I started doing some research on the internet about the company.  What I found, made me sick to my stomach. I was scammed.  I thought I was a pretty knowledgeable person who wouldn't fall for a scam.  Here is an example of what my contract contained:


$819 for a biodegradable urn - yes, a small cardboard nicely decorated box - so pretty (not)


They charged me 8% interest to finance the product/services I HADN'T EVEN USED YET!  That was a huge red flag!  They get around the trust fund by sending you the physical merchandise within the first 30 days for you 'to hold onto'!


BEWARE and spread the news to your friends and family.


 

37 Saturday, 05 November 2011 21:37
Thomas l Fountain

After reading all the pro & Cons I'm still confused! How does one know what, or who to believe?


 


Is there a reputable organization on the market who will perform such services? If so, are you at liberty to make such recommendation.  Thank You

38 Monday, 14 November 2011 17:44
John

CA State Attorney General, Kamala Harris has recently filed a lawsuit against the California Master Trust for embezzlement and mismanagement.  This is the Trust that over 27000 Californians have their funeral pre need trust funds depositied in through their dealings with member Funeral Homes of the California Funeral Directors Assn.  I wonder how many are also members of the Funeral Consumer Alliance?  Who funds the FCA, again?

39 Monday, 14 November 2011 17:53
Josh Slocum, FCA Exec Director

John, what does the CA Funeral Directors Association problem have to do with FCA and its funding? We are in no way connected - do you understand that we are a consumer advocacy organization, not a funeral industry association?


We are funded by donations from the public and our affiliated member groups ---NOT funeral homes, but local nonprofit organizations like many 501(c)(3) charities.

40 Monday, 14 November 2011 19:52
John

COPIED FROM FCA OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA'S WEBSITE.


 


What We Do


We contract with local, independent mortuaries so that our members receive death goods and services at affordable prices. We also engage in consumer-education outreach and advocacy.This includes group presentations, printed materials, personal consultations and membership benefits. Every year in the fall we conduct an annual meeting for members and the public.


Our History


The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Northern California was founded in 1959 as the Sacramento Valley Memorial Society by individuals concerned about consumer rights and protections and the high cost of funeral services. Since then we have changed our name to the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Northern California to allign ourselves with the national organization. We have always been affiliated with the national organization, Funeral Consumers Alliance, Inc.


Josh it seems a tad disingenuous that the FCA has nothing to do with Local Funeral Homes and is totally supported by 501(c)(3) organizations unless you mean all of the national organizations revenue comes from it's chapters.  That may be the case.  Yet the local chapters make arrangements with local funeral home providers so that they may receive referrals from the FCANC.  I am confident that these local funeral service providers are somehow compensating the FCA for to be part of this referral network.


Your advice and opinions are heavily weighted toward local brick and mortar funeral service providers and severely negative of optional providers such as Neptune, etc.  The average cost of cremation in 2009 was $2600. It would seem that the optional providers are priced less than this average.  This average is driven by these brick and mortar, traditional providers.


I think it would be difficult to maintain a truly independent opinion, if your funding is coming from those being evaluated.


Just one man's humble opinion.


 


 

41 Monday, 14 November 2011 20:45
Josh Slocum, FCA Executive Director

John - you have no basis to make the accusation that we, at the local or national level, are being compensated by funeral homes. We are not. The relationships that some FCA groups have with local funeral homes are merely negotiated agreements to give our members reasonable, set prices on certain services. There is nothing different about this than any other group that negotiates for volume discounts for its membership.


Our bylaws prohibit funeral directors or anyone in the industry from participating in the governance of our organization.We do not take gifts from the funeral industry (with the exception of nominal donations that some funeral directors who support our mission. And by nominal, I mean $35 to $50 occasionally, just as members of the public do). Such donors are less than a percentage point of my national office's income - I can think of only two out of our entire donor pool.


Not only would taking funding from the funeral industry call our IRS status into question, it would be unethical and foolish. I can't for the life of me understand why you think we'd risk our reputation as a consumer watchdog by doing that. How did you arrive at the ludicrous position? What makes you so upset with our criticism of Neptune (do you really not see all the stories of their illegal and unfair activity above? Does that not cause you to pause and think, John?) that you come up with the outlandish notion that we're being paid by "brick and mortar" funeral homes to have our opinion?


As far as the price of cremation being high - Neptune is about twice what a reasonable price for a direct cremation could be. We always advise members and the public to aim for about $1,000 or less on such a service. I don't care whether they get it from a fancy, high-overhead funeral home or from a simple storefront establishment. Our objections to Neptune have nothing to do with supporting entrenched funeral homes (for goodness' sake, the first chapter of my book is all about our efforts to help break the stranglehold of the old school mortuary establishment). It has to do with Neptune's smarmy tactics. That's really not a complicated thing to understand, John.


You may not libel us, John, and consider this your last warning. Do not make any false accusations about us. Start arguing in good faith or you won't be posting here any more. I've been more than patient with you, and you've used up your quota.


For anyone concerned, our finances are an open book, as the law requires. We have nothing to hide. Anyone may see a copy of our 990 tax filing with the IRS at any time.

42 Friday, 18 November 2011 18:50
John

All I can say is WOW!  And if I may parphrase the Bible;


"You Shall Know the Trees by It's Branches"

43 Tuesday, 27 March 2012 10:19
Paul L.
WOW!!!
Now I am really confused,After reading all of these Pro&Con coments I hardly know which way to go. I am just mailing an Info request card that came to me thru the mail from Neptune in Ft Worth. I have also begun to contact the "Brick & Mortor" Folks to gather Info. The differance in cost just for creamation is at least double+ to be sure one call does all has its emotional value. But I do not wish My Wife to have to go thru go thru all of the heart breaking arrangements the B&M folks put before you.And My Wife will need every cent that can be saved.I'm not sure Neptune is the answer but then again maybe they Are ?????
44 Sunday, 06 May 2012 06:00
Lois S
Oh my, I'm looking into a case of NY mother whom bought a pre need from a company just like this one a sales person came out to the Alyssa and got many elderly people to buy through a company funeral home.
All her needs were to be met no matter where she died.
My horror story is now.mother past August 2011 her contract was bought in California paid in full.
The company sold out to a family run business and I was told first sorry we don't have the same owners.Then I found out this is not true.when a funeral home buys they also inherent the debts also.
now, moms gone for 8 months and I'm getting bills for 2000.+ for her cremation. Inwhich she prepaid yrs ago for 615.00
I called the funeral homes both..
I told them 1 I have a contract the man wrote to state they will except the pre need amount as well so I'm covered but I've gotten bills for her even the 30 of April 2012
It makes me sick to think these company's are putting us and me through HELL cause they take but don't honor...
California, needs to stop this from going on.
And the Government needs to step in and force these so-called business pros.stand up and be accountable for the bad debts.
Yes they do put the moneys in a said trust and they make lots of interest off of this..
Sounds Ponzie sceem ..steel. then then loved ones are stuck and grieving ..
I'm going to file on my case. My mother is gone and my brother is stage 4 cancer. Dear Lord help us. Please stop these bad people from doing this.. I'm a stressed out mess.
45 Thursday, 21 June 2012 01:32
Robert Fager
For years my older brother Jim told me and our family that he was a paid up member of The Neptune Society. He said that the arrangements that he made with Neptune would provide for a cremation and a scatter burial over the mountains of Northern California at no cost to the family. Jim died tragically just days after his 39th birthday. We are a family of very modest means leaving a $7,000 plus traditional funeral out of the question. I remembered his story of being a "card carrying" member of the Neptune Society but could find no such card. I called the Neptune Society and, just as a suspected once I could find no such card, that he had not made any such arrangements with them. I was devastated to learn that his Neptune Society story was just something he wanted to do but never really got around to. The person on the phone was very sympathetic and told me how to arrange what he always wanted to have happen, be taken care of by the Neptune Society. I agreed to pay a very reasonable one time payment at a cost that I was able to come up with which was about 85% cheaper than the traditional route. Neptune took care of the rest very quickly and professionally. I came upon your site as I was looking to compare The Neptune Society with other like societies to make prearrangement plans for myself. I learned quite a bit about Neptune and the business of pre-need cremation services. Thank You. Your site gave me the information necessary to make an informed decision. I'll be buying a Neptune Society of Northern California package shortly.
46 Friday, 10 August 2012 07:21
DP
Both my parents had pre-paid contracts with the Neptune Society. They signed up in their home town of Wellington Florida. When dad passed away it took time to get all the death certs and ashes back (Im going to say within a week) Now a year and a half later mom passed away, Ive been waiting for her ashes and death certs for almost 2 weeks, I cant imagine what the heck takes so long. They keep telling me they are waiting for the doctors to sign off on the papers, then they told me they cremate in the order the paperwork comes in, so you are in refridgeration for almost two weeks !! This is insane. The other day I was talking to a lawyer friend who said maybe they Outsource the ashes and thats why it may take longer also. The only thing that worries me thru this whole process is the fact that "are my moms ashes really her"? We have taken dads ashes and scattered them at sea and plan to do the same with mom in the same spot in Key West. I think I will print out a copy of all these complaints and hand it to them when I get my mothers ashes.
47 Friday, 23 November 2012 17:23
Judy A.
My husband bought Neptune Society contracts for both of us here in San Antonio. My husband passed away a week before Thanksgiving. I had a private autopsy done, which was completed the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The Neptune Society was supposed to pick up the remains after the autopsy. They didn't. I called them Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) and played hell even getting to TALK to someone from Neptune. After 8 hours of being on the phone between Neptune, the pathologist, and the hospital where my husband died, Neptune FINALLY picked my husband up Wednesday night. I was told he would be immediately taken to the crematorium. Today, I call the crematorium and am told he's not there. I am furious. I call Neptune and leave a hateful message and, after an hour, they call back. It seems my husband's remains are in some kind of "holding facility" until they can make arrangements for cremation. This is NOT what we signed up for. We were given the picture of being immediately taken to the crematorium and cremated and that is NOT what's happening. They take your money and leave your loved ones in some crappy warehouse in the ghetto like dogs run over on the side of the road until they get a "full load" to cremate. Avoid this crap!!!!!!!!!!!!!
48 Tuesday, 27 November 2012 20:51
Mike
I'm considering two companies, Neptune and Smart Cremations. I am totally confused after reading many compalints and few non-complaints. Is there a company out there one can trust?
Thasnk you,
49 Tuesday, 27 November 2012 21:05
Josh Slocum, FCA Executive Director
If you're considering prepaying, don't, unless you have to spend-down for Medicaid. No matter what a business promises you there's no such thing as "all taken care of," "no price increases ever," and "no more decisions to make no matter what."

It's far safer to keep your money in your own bank account and shop around for a good price, making a list of funeral homes and cremation businesses that have reasonable prices. Give this list to your survivors. They need knowledge and education on how to handle the inevitable, not a promise that "it's all paid for" with no tools to make decisions when the time comes.
50 Thursday, 17 January 2013 17:06
Emily
I just got a very strange call from Neptune. I sent them an E mail some time ago and they were just getting back to me. As it happens, said the salesman, for such he was, a representative of ours is going to be on your street tomorrow. One of your neighbors has also requested information. This sounded suspicious right away to me - we live on a tiny street with six houses. I told him it sounded like those shady drive-way guys who say they just happen to have enough tar left to black top your driveway after finishing one down the street. The background noise sounded like a busy sales office. the guy wasn't very good. He turned me over to his manager to "verify my address" and they had everything right down to the zipcode BUT they had me in Florida -- and I live in a New England state. So I said teasingly, Hmm, is that representative going to be on a plane from Florida to see me anyway?" He was very confused and had to refer me to his manager - and there was an audible conversation, "nah, nah, " said the manager. Next thing I knew, I was just getting some "information in the mail." I called the home office and found out they are not licensed in my state - not that Salesman Harry bothered telling me this. Perhaps this is one of the "Non-Neptunes" or copy cats? I belong to a local Funeral Consumers Alliance but it seems moribund. My husband will be 90 in two years and I want to get something settled for our final arrangments but am perplexed about the differing opinions: Prepay is bad? Even an elder attorney told me to do that.
51 Friday, 18 January 2013 11:39
Josh Slocum, Exec. Director
Hi Emily,

I'm not surprised to hear these shady tactics. Remember----prepaying isn't a magical "take care of everything" solution. You can plan ahead, including setting aside money for your cremation in a payable on death account at your bank with a named beneficiary, without paying a funeral business ahead of time. Your elder law atty is wrong to recommend it unless you're facing a Medicaid spend-down.

Also, all funeral businesses must give price quotes by phone. Calling five or six in a thirty mile radius will probably find a direct cremation for $1,000 or less. There, that's your planning, done and dusted. The next step is giving all this information to whoever it is---spouse, kids, etc.---who's going to be the one to hear of your death and who will be responsible for calling the funeral or cremation business. Prepaying doesn't accomplish any of that---it just gives your money to a funeral business ahead of time and leaves you with a false sense of security.
52 Friday, 18 January 2013 11:41
Josh Slocum, FCA exec. director
Hi Emily,

I'm not surprised to hear these shady tactics. Remember----prepaying isn't a magical "take care of everything" solution. You can plan ahead, including setting aside money for your cremation in a payable on death account at your bank with a named beneficiary, without paying a funeral business ahead of time. Your elder law atty is wrong to recommend it unless you're facing a Medicaid spend-down.

Also, all funeral businesses must give price quotes by phone. Calling five or six in a thirty mile radius will probably find a direct cremation for $1,000 or less. There, that's your planning, done and dusted. The next step is giving all this information to whoever it is---spouse, kids, etc.---who's going to be the one to hear of your death and who will be responsible for calling the funeral or cremation business. Prepaying doesn't accomplish any of that---it just gives your money to a funeral business ahead of time and leaves you with a false sense of security.
53 Thursday, 24 January 2013 01:04
Jon Dosa - Palm Springs, CA.
I received an 'info' card from a local 'Trident' company and sent it back requesting info. Instead of a written brochure/sheet, I got a phone call trying to arrange in in-home appt with one of their 'reps'. I told them I didn't want to make an appointment, and asked for the 'info' (prices/services) over the phone, but was told she 'didn't know'. This blog has really helped me. Now I don't trust either Trident or Neptune. I like your idea about calling around for prices, then of establishing a 'pay upon death' bank account. Thanks!
54 Monday, 28 January 2013 13:23
carl willis
I am a former sales agent for the Trident Society in northern Calif. Unfortuneately, all of the allocations in this report are true. Trident, aka Neptune(they're all the same company, just different names as a cover) Their charges for merchandice, ie, booklets, boxes, urns etc. are insanely priced to avoid the amount of money they must place in trust. Simply put, if you are required by law to place 75% of the sale of the service in trust, then you simply inflate that portion of the sale of the merchandise to 90% of the sale and then you only have to place 75% of the remaining 10% in to a trust account. In other words, if you pay $2500 for the total plan and $2250 for the merchandise, you must place only 10% of the remaining $250 or $25 into the trust account. That is the amount you would be refunded if you elected to cancel . My numbers are exaggerated to make the point clear, but I think you see the foolishness in the Neptune/Trident plans.
55 Monday, 04 February 2013 11:26
T. Forister
So glad I'm reading about Neptune. I also requested info by mail. They have people call you and say they will send info but never do. How can they not have information about how much something cost. They want to come to your home for some weird reason. I'm on my 4th person saying they will send info - I just want to see exactly what they think is info. I hope this is not a legit company with simply lousy sales people. I ask for the name and tele number of the owner - there is "dead" silence.
56 Wednesday, 20 March 2013 13:43
N. Williams
Now I'm totally confused. We live in Madison, WI. The lowest estimate for direct cremation is from Gunderson Funeral and Cremation Care. Their basic fee (with no additional services, such as container, death certificate, transportation, etc.) is $2,080. This is compared to Neptune Society package totaling $2,473 which includes all the above. I just worry about Neptune's trustworthiness. Will they be there when we die?!
57 Sunday, 14 April 2013 01:36
Portland consumer
Just encountered the Portland, Oregon "Neptune Cremation Services". A relative was going to be charged $979 for a "memento package" consisting of a wooden urn, a box, a book, and 25 note cards. (I imagine that the actual value of this "package" is less than $20.) The Pre-Need Agreement was $730 ("discounted" from $880), and the "Transportation and Relocation Plan" was $474 (to move her remains in the unlikely circumstances that she was out of town at time of death). The "discounted" total was going to be $2173. She would pay $500 down and then make $50 payments with 8% interest, so the total cost of the package would be $2399.

When I called to tell the salesperson we needed to cancel she insisted that the relative was not obligated and there was no need to fill out the cancellation form. But as far as I can see, everything was completed except for a credit card number, so we will obviously be sending in the cancellation form. I thought it was interesting that the sales rep was very insistent that I shred the paperwork since it contained the rep's information. Now that I have researched the company's practices, I can't help wondering whether she was concerned that these numbers would end up being seen by state authorities. It seems so obvious that the company is trying to work about state laws, that I'm now curious what is being done to stop them. (Ironically, I'd almost hate to see them go out of business, since so many people would lose money that wasn't properly held in trust.)
58 Tuesday, 18 June 2013 16:24
jane doe
Folks by now everyone should know that big insurance owns the directors in charge of everything in this country.The BBB is their baby with all insurance who have state senators and reps who do their bid and call in Washington D.C.....why our country is so messed up....one persons opinions.....
59 Friday, 05 July 2013 18:44
S.C. Diamond
Five years ago I purchased the "pre need" services from the Neptune Society. I also paid in full for the transportation service they offer to transport remains from"anywhere in the world".titled APASI.
In the past month I have received 2 sales letters from Neptune Society offering to send information regarding the purchase of their services. Am I concerned? Oh yeah!
60 Friday, 05 July 2013 18:57
S.C. Diamond
Five years ago I purchased the "pre need" services from the Neptune Society. I also paid in full for the transportation service they offer to transport remains from"anywhere in the world".titled APASI.
In the past month I have received 2 sales letters from Neptune Society offering to send information regarding the purchase of their services. Am I concerned? Yep.$2,000 worth!
61 Sunday, 25 August 2013 12:30
John White
Please give your contact information. I tried
sending to your E-mail address but it was
returned.
62 Tuesday, 15 October 2013 17:42
Sever Einum
I used to receive interest income annually but have not received any since 1999 .
Any thoughts? Sberteinum@aol.com
63 Monday, 18 November 2013 13:43
Warren Stevens
Requested information from Neptune Society to compare costs with Cremation Society of Georgia who fully disclosed costs and benefits. Neptune refused to discuss prices over the phone. The will only do it one on one. The reason I am sure is to try and close you using high pressure tactics.

I would stay away from this organization.
64 Tuesday, 04 February 2014 23:55
Bob
All I know is when my mother in law died the funeral home that had her body charged us almost $10k to cremate her, put her in a casket, and bury her. And this did not include the head stone. My wife and I had to put it on a credit card as my mother law died unexpectedly and we did not even know if she had life insurance because she had no will either. I would strongly advise pre-paid so people can avoid getting gouged like we did. I think a lot of these complaints are people stressed out and not being familiar with what to do when a love one dies. Bottom line is if you wait until after you are dead your family members can't even grieve your loss because they are under so much financial stress from the cost it is unbelieveable. I had no idea burying someone cost that much. It is all a scam no matter who you use.
65 Thursday, 13 February 2014 17:38
Ian A.
My father recently passed away. It has been stressful and expensive trying to deal with all the details. This lead me to start thinking about a prepaid plan for myself. I read all the reviews/ complaints here and still ended up buying a the full Neptune package incl. the shipping anywhere in the world. I attended the meeting with the rep and she answered every question I had. I feel confident with my purchase.

I agree with what some others have said, there are going to be complaints, especially when Neptune has cut into the other guys profits!

I can't bear the thought of leaving these details and costs to my children. They'll have enough to worry about.

Neptune has an online memorial site, as a member I'll be able to leave messages, upload audio/video and I can begin building in just a few weeks. I think it's a great idea.

If anything changes, I'll post here.
66 Friday, 14 March 2014 16:57
Matthew Rivera
I regret that there are people working in funeral service or the cremation industry that have not been honest & professional with the families they are serving. As in all fields of vocation or occupation, there are staff that should not be there in the first place. I am a licensed funeral director and crematory operator, now retired after 30+ years. In running our family funeral home, my parents instilled morals, mutual respect and sincerity in the manner in which we interacted with the families that we were serving, and especially their deceased relative. We depended on the respect of our friends and neighbors in the same town in which we lived. Whenever you communicate with a funeral home or a "cremation society", always request a General Price List depicting all of that establishments fee's for services & merchandise. Funeral homes are required to provide this information at your request, and this will help avoid confusion & provide clarification. You may also read the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) funeral rule at ftc.gov to learn more. All consumers have different preferences and expectations, and while some may not choose to have formal services in an elegant chapel at a funeral home, that same family may also not be comfortable with paying less and having someone show up in a van, load your relative, and mail you a "box" with some cremated remains in it after a week or two. Just because people are being practical and completing arrangements within their budget, doesn't mean that they do-not want dignity, competence and professionalism. The families I served always had questions regarding proper identification of their loved-one, professionalism, compliance and a dignified, clean facility! If cost is your only concern, then the guy in the van operating out of a garage with a crematory retort is best for you, however know that he probably doesn't want you to see where your deceased family member will be. Price is an important part of the discussion, but selecting a provider based Only price could be a mistake. Make calls, ask questions, request printed information be mailed or e-mailed to you for your review, and ask for recommendations from close friends, etc. And remember, many of the largest funeral home, publically-traded corporation/conglomerates have gone bankrupt and are in re-organization. Many times, a family company has much more at stake to succeed, their good name, reputation?
67 Friday, 25 April 2014 00:14
M. L. L.
Many of these comments reflect a lack of knowledge about the Better Business Bureau. It is my understanding that the BBB is a pro-business organization that businesses pay for membership in. The main purpose is to promote the member's businesses and not necessarily to protect the consumer.
68 Wednesday, 18 June 2014 13:12
Bob
I just left Neptune after working there for one year. They treat their ISR's with no respect. It is a grind house, they teach you to beat up the clients. They cheat customers over the urn, that they call merchandise to get around the laws. Look at the urn and tell me it is worth $1,000. It can't cost more than $20 and it is made in China and very cheap in construction. It is not real Cherry wood, just stained. There are many places charging $450 to $650 for the same service, go there and not Neptune.
69 Wednesday, 24 September 2014 21:51
Lalo S.
KUDDOS to Josh Slocum and his Funeral Consumers Alliance for exposing the shady practices of some cremation companies to defraud and deceive the most vulnerable people....grieving families. I have read virtually every comment on this page, the vast majority of which paint an incredibly negative picture, to say the least, of the practices of the Neptune Society. The only logical conclusion is that there must be an enormous amount of truth to what these people are saying and there can be no doubt that it would be wise to research this company further before doing business with them. I would also like to comment on "John T's' ridiculous assertions that FCA is somehow receiving financial payoffs from the Funeral Homes Association. These wild insinuations are indeed grounds for a lawsuit against John and he should be careful as it appears there may be a connection with said company he is defending. Or people may wonder if "John" is really an actual person posting a real review. If an actual person, I am curious as to why he is so quick to defend this company. As he himself paraphrased from the bible, "You shall know the tree from it's branches."

Add your comment

Your name:
Comment: