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FCA Affiliate News--July 2015

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Howdy, friends and volunteer leaders! 

Answering phone queries from members and the public is one of the core duties at Funeral Consumers Alliance groups. It's also one of the very best ways to train all your board members on basic advice about funeral planning. Folks call us for all kinds of reasons: to save money on funerals, to find out which funeral homes have reasonable prices, to ask questions about legal requirements for cremation and burial.

Most FCA groups have one or two volunteers who return most of these calls. They quickly become experts (and indispensable). A better idea comes from the newly formed FCA of Greater Philadelphia. Their system rotates call-return duty. But what's really different about their approach is how they share the caller's query and the volunteer's response with everyone else on the board. 

Here's how:

1. Get a virtual, free phone number from Google Voice. Follow the instructions to set this number up.
2. Configure your Google Voice account to send notices of calls and transcriptions of calls to your FCA email account. According to our friends in Philadelphia, the transcriptions aren't perfect, but you can always simply listen to the voicemail. 
3. Forward the email notification and call detail to everyone  on your board. 
4. Whoever on your board has the most expertise with the question can then answer the caller's query. 
5. Report your answer by email back to the rest of your board. 

Over time you'll be developing knowledge among your whole board, rather than concentrating it in one crucial volunteer. Remember—you're not really "lucky" to have that one super competent phone volunteer if you don't also develop their skills in yourself and your colleagues. One day that volunteer will be gone, so spread the skills around. 


Save the date!
FCA's next national conference will take place June 23 through 26, 2016, in Atlanta. Check back for program and registration details!


 Membership Irrevocable

 memorialsocietiescoverimagememorialsocietiescoverimageWe're used to being treated with suspicion from the funeral industry, but it used to be a lot worse. Straight from 1966 to your screen, we bring you Memorial Societies. . .the sinister aspects of certain funeral associations advocating fast disposal. It's red-bait-o-licious! 

A sample:

Society Members - the Forgotten Men 

Once a member is hooked, he undergoes transformation from a wholesome, mature and rational prospect to expendable and disposable matter. Upon death, depending on the financial soundness of the co-op or private operator who holds the Society contract, he may be picked up, placed in a cardboard carton, carried to the crematorium in the back of a station wagon 

and forthrightly disposed of without even token participation of his family . Chances are, the family will not even get the ashes, unless by their special request.

 

<-----Those are the flames of hell in which we all burn because we like cremation and we're un-American. Just so you know. 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated ( Friday, 31 July 2015 15:34 )
 

Well that's embarrassing.

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The Jefferson City News Tribune recently apologized for posting a regretful picture in an ad for a local cremation provider.

 

 

Consumer Alert! Best Price Casket Makes Mistakes and Blames the Grieving

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To protect his privacy we refer to the complainant as "David," which is not his real name.

We see a lot of bad behavior toward grieving people, but this is a new one. Call it the "we're sorry you were foolish enough to give us your business instead of going to our competitor" defense.

David's father recently died. Like a lot of people, he looked online to find a casket at a price better than the funeral home could offer. Pleased to find one in a particular brown color that fit his father's style, he ordered it from bestpricecaskets.com. Even though David's father didn't need an oversized casket, David ordered the larger size for $750 more because the brown color was only available in the larger size.

The casket arrived the day before the funeral. But it was black, not brown. With no time to fix the situation before his father's viewing, David reluctantly used the incorrect casket. But he did ask bestpricecaskets.com to make it right. He was obviously upset, but David remained polite in his email to the casket seller. He noted that mistakes do happen, but he wanted a refund of the extra $750 he paid to get the particular brown casket he wanted.

I'm requesting a refund in the amount of $750, the difference between the total out of pocket expense I paid and the price of a casket that I would have paid had I wanted a black casket. Yes I am including the shipping cost in the refund request as the wrong casket was delivered which caused the hardest week of my family's life to be a little tougher.

My first inclination was to ask for a full refund but I think asking for the $750 is more than reasonable. Just as I want to be treated fairly, I want to ensure my request reflects that same spirit of fairness. And I think it does.

I've had to plan my father's funeral from start to finish and it's been a torturous ordeal. This has unquestionably been the hardest week of my life. Please, please make this right without needing to escalate the matter further.

David

What bestpricecaskets.com sent back is hard to believe.

Lets take a look at the one you did receive. Actually upon checking you received the same model number 9477 which was black. You ordered the 9477 which was Brown. The price of the 9477 black is $100 less than the same sized one that you ordered. Same OVERSIZE, so I can extend the price difference plus $50 for a total of $150 off.

As you know, typically the funeral home is thousands of dollars more our price and although you did not like receiving the black casket instead of the brown one, you chose not to buy one from the funeral home. Your funeral home is in the small city of NEW YORK CITY where the funeral home can order any casket you want and have it delivered or go get it in 1 hour. Obviously you did not order the Black casket, you chose to use it rather than buy one from the funeral home for thousands more.

So, they admit they sent the wrong casket, then they blame David for using it even though the color was wrong. What was he supposed to do, paint it brown himself? Magically find another brown casket in less than a day? Notice how bestpricecaskets.com pretends that they don't understand why David bought a more expensive oversized casket so they can argue he's not due the price difference.

What kind of business makes a mistake and says, "Well, you were stupid enough to give us your money so what do you expect?"

Amazingly, David managed to refrain from swearing up a blue streak in response to such a provocative response from the casket seller.

As for the rest of your message it almost seems that you are blaming me for your mistake. The funeral home had already prepared the body in the black casket. There was no time to order a new one. There was no time to call you and ask for the correct casket. There was no time to correct your mistake before my father's services the next morning, just a few hours later. I went with your service because you had a better price point and a friend recommended you. I truly hope you are not insinuating with your last message that because services took place in New York City and that we choose your company instead of the funeral home that this is somehow my fault.

. . . .

I emplore you to put yourself in my shoes for a moment. To understand that there was no time to correct your mistake before my father's services. To understand how important the color was to all of us. To understand that I simply trusted you and your company to help give my father the send off he deserved. You made a mistake. That happens. It's unfortunate the mistake occurred on something as important as my father's funeral, but now the measure of your company is what you do to correct your mistakes. Please refund the $750.

Based on the testimonials of other customers, we doubt David's going to get much satisfaction. Responding to a similar complaint lodged with the Better Business Bureau, bestpricecaskets.com used the same line on a family that complained their casket was damaged on arrival:

The customer sent us photos and the damage was very very hard to see. The customer chose to use the casket instead of buying one from the funeral home. I called the funeral home to confirm that they viewed the body in the casket and now the casket is buried in the ground.

Of course when the damage is very bad at all the family will NEVER use the casket but rather buy one from the funeral home. They used the casket so obviously even they did not think the damage was very bad.

Anyway, we are willing to give a $100 credit on this casket.

So, are they saying they routinely sell damaged caskets? Are all of their customers simply stupid for expecting to get the product they paid for in good condition?

Bestpricecaskets.com—what's wrong with you?

Here's a sampling of other customer reviews, some good, some pretty gobsmacking.

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

Last Updated ( Monday, 13 July 2015 13:27 )
 

The New Republic: Who Owns the Dead?

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 From the article: 

 

Much of this desired proximity was connected to the idea of what nineteenth-century Americans called “the Good Death.” A Good Death was one that took place at home, surrounded by family who could not only tend to suffering but “assess the state of the dying person’s soul,”...

...“the intimacy that survivors maintained with the corpse preserved it, at least until the actual interment, as evidence of a valuable, and vital, social relation.”

 

Libby Copeland writes of the home funeral movement and a return to our funerary roots. The article, titled "Who Owns the Dead" can be found at New Republic.com. "Death Doulas" or "Death Midwives", she notes are almost exclusively women. This is in contrast to the male dominated funeral industry. Offering different styles of guidance through family directed funerals, these women help families achieve more intimacy with the dead and enable them to take back some control. As funeral guide Merilynne Rush was quoted, "My hope is I'll be obsolete in another generation" as home funerals become more widely accepted.

Last Updated ( Monday, 29 June 2015 16:16 )
 
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