News and Blogs

Prepaid funeral plans can be a R.I.P.-off

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Chicago Tribune
January 20, 2013

By Eleanor Laise, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Premium Health News Service

Tom Waggener remembers how pleased his parents were when they told him 15 years ago that they'd prepaid for their own funerals.

"It was so satisfying to them" to think that their children were relieved of the burden, says Waggener, 65, a retired state employee who lives near Taylorsville, Miss.

But after Waggener's mother died in 2006, the funeral home gave his family a bill for more than $10,000. It attributed the extra cost to a special order for the casket she had chosen, which was no longer in stock.

"It was an unpleasant business," Waggener says. "I really don't think prepaid funerals are a good idea."

Read the full article in  the Chicago Tribune

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 January 2013 20:48 )

FCA of Rochester Helps Families Find Lost Ashes

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Local Funeral Consumers Alliance volunteer-run affiliates help people make difficult choices every day. But sometimes they help in far more dramatic ways. Dale Smathers, Vice President of the FCA of Greater Rochester, helped unearth more than 30 sets of cremated remains that had been abandoned in a burnt-out funeral home. One family had been told (illegally) that they could not claim the ashes until they paid the bill in full:

[Katherine Goodman]White said she tried to pick up her father’s remains after his cremation, but was told she could not do so until she paid off her bill for funeral services.

“I had the bill down to $250, but then I got very sick,” she said, “and I couldn’t pay it all off.”

. . . .

“Oh, thank God! ... Thank Jesus!” White, 53, cried out as her boyfriend, Thomas Buono, walked out of the funeral home and handed her a tattered cardboard box, which contained a plastic box holding the remains. “I can’t even tell you what we’ve been through trying to get these back.”

Read the whole story at


Funeral homes may impose credit card surcharges starting Jan 27, 2013

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National Funeral Directors Association
By T. Scott Gilligan, NFDA general counsel
Posted: January 21, 2013

A seven-year class action antitrust settlement involving VISA and MasterCard.

A key element to the settlement from the standpoint of funeral service would be VISA's and MasterCard's agreement to eliminate their current prohibition against merchants imposing surcharges on consumers who pay with credit cards. Currently, VISA and MasterCard both prohibit merchants from imposing any type of surcharge against a consumer paying with a credit card. Because merchants are barred from imposing a surcharge, there is no way to recoup the 1.5% to 3% swipe fee that is paid to VISA and MasterCard by merchants. As part of the settlement, VISA and MasterCard will eliminate that prohibition and allow all merchants, including funeral homes, to impose swipe fee surcharges on consumers.

Read the full article at National Funeral Directors Association

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 January 2013 17:53 )

Five Rights of a Funeral Consumer

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Confessions of a Funeral Director
January 23, 2013

A couple scam artists set up fake charitable organizations during the Sandy Hook School Shooting and were taking “donations” for the families of the victims.  There are few words to describe the awful level of humanity one must adopt to scam those experiencing tragedy.  And while we’d like to think scamming those at their weakest moment is a confined event, it takes place as a matter of practice by some who are masquerading as “funeral directors ...."

There are funeral directors who are legally sound, but ethically stinky in their pricing.  Make sure you find a funeral director that YOU can trust with your funeral and your money.  And know your rights.

Read the full article at Confessions of a Funeral Director


The Facts of Death (VIDEOS)

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Uploaded on Mar 30, 2011

What happens when you die? Not to your soul, but to your body. Everyone has been to a funeral, but how did the dear departed get there and where does she go? I produced, directed, and wrote this one-hour documentary that aired on PBS stations around 1993. The spine of the show is following a person through the process from the time she is picked up by the funeral directors, to embalming, to getting her prepared for the funeral, the funeral, and the burial. Along the way we hear from funeral directors, historians, and experts on death and dying from around the country.

See all videos on YouTube:

The Facts of Death - Part 1 of 6 (Duration 7:08)

The Facts of Death - Part 2 of 6 (Duration 9:32)

The Facts of Death - Part 3 of 6 (Duration 8:36)

The Facts of Death - Part 4 of 6 (Duration 10:28)

The Facts of Death - Part 5 of 6 (Duration 7:25)

The Facts of Death - Part 6 of 6 (Duration 10:51)

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 January 2013 16:43 )

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