Rock of AgesNow that it is a publicly-traded company, it would seem that the Rock of Ages monument folks have abandoned their Vermont heritage and are opting for the ways of the money-hungry city-slickers. Their advice to the dealers they sell to: Set your prices at four times the cost. That's a 400% mark-up! The Rock is also purchasing retail outlets (but the name stays the same). I guess we can be pretty sure that prices there will carry the hefty mark-up, too.
How hefty will the mark up be? One "floating price" tactic suggested to dealers by a Rock staffer: Tell the consumer looking at a flat marker (these are roughly one foot by two feet) that the price is $1,000—because many people will actually pay that much not knowing any better. If the consumer complains, admit this was "top-of-the-line" and show them another one, mentioning a lesser price. (Wholesale cost for both markers: $58 before lettering.) This is a major reason why the FTC should require that monument dealers have a printed price list to give out.
A word to the wise consumer: If you are not already doing comparison shopping before purchasing a marker or monument, you'd better plan to from now on, if you're a frugal shopper. And it's a mistake to think a marker will be cheaper through the cemeteries. Sometimes those prices are set considerably higher, assuming that you'll gladly pay more for the one-stop convenience. Oh, yes, if the sales person tells you that their cheaper stones are "factory seconds," ask him/her to show you where the flaws are. Likely the only "flaw" is no Rock of Ages seal mark that cranks up the price. Other granite from the same city's quarries can be had for a lot less, and you can't tell the difference—even they can't, nine times out of ten.
The Rock salesmen are MUCH too eager to wait for you to find them, however. Taking a tip from the Fuller Brush and Watkins folks, they're now poised to go door-to-door. . . but not just any door. As soon as the obituary appears, brace yourself. As the salesman pulls up and gets out of the car, you can expect to hear the car door SLAMMED shut. He (and they're mostly men) will glance up at your window, expecting to see you peeking out. Even if he can't see you behind the curtains, he'll wave to let you THINK he's seen you. (There's a better chance you'll open the door if you think he knows that there's someone at home—whether you're in the mood for company or not.)
So you want to just say "no"? That's not so easy. The fella will insist on leaving you some material. Fumbling with his briefcase, he'll ask if he can step inside for a minute so he can set it down. Now watch this next trick. Bending over his brief case: "Oh, my aching back. It's killing me. Can I sit down for a minute?" Now he's not only managed to get inside, he's sitting down in one of your chairs or on the couch.
Want to rush him back out the door? Watch the sleight-of-hand that comes next. He'll put down an expensive pen as he reaches for the various materials he's going to give you. But you know what? The pen will be left on the table or cushion or floor. Because, after all, that gives him an excuse to get back in your door—two hours later being the suggested waiting time to retrieve "the valuable pen my wife gave me for our anniversary" or some such excuse.
Well, I have a cleft I'd suggest for his pen the next time.
Shopping hint: Go to one of the internet search engines and type in "monument." You'll get some state parks, but you'll get on-line monument dealers, too. Many of them list prices on their web site and are willing to ship anywhere in the country.