Deep Doubts About Neptune

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by Lamar Hankins, past president of Funeral Consumers Alliance

Selling Cremation Door-To-Door
 
I just had the opportunity to be a “secret shopper” – from the convenience of my dining room table.  Over the years, I have occasionally received solicitations from funeral homes or cremation services to encourage me to “pre-arrange” funerals or cremations.  In recent months, I received two such solicitations from the Neptune Society.  I responded to the last one, sending back their card and checking the box that indicated I wanted to receive more information.
 
That information came through a phone call a couple of weeks ago asking if one of their representatives could visit me in my home.  I said “yes” and a nice fellow showed up.  His card identified him as an “Austin Area Counselor,” for Neptune Society, “America’s Most Trusted Cremation Services.”  I was treated to a sales pitch full of misleading or outright false claims, all to get me to pay more than double the cost for a simple cremation in the Austin area.
 
It was obvious that he knew nothing about me, or he probably would not have made the 45-minute drive to my home from his Austin location.  I have spent the last twenty years as a volunteer advocate for funeral consumers with the Austin Memorial & Burial Information Society (AMBIS), as well as 18 years working as a volunteer with the national organization with which AMBIS is an affiliate, Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA).  
 
The counselor and I spent an hour and a half discussing pre-arrangement options that Neptune offers.  The best one, from Neptune’s perspective, is being offered right now at a $150 discount, so the cost to me would be only $2,255.
 
Leading up to my request to know the price of the service was about an hour of information about the plan, and information he had gathered about what a few other funeral homes in the Austin area charge.  The counselor had no way of knowing that just four days earlier, Nancy Walker (President of the AMBIS board) and I had finished surveying the prices of funerals and cremations for the 51 funeral services located in the Austin area.  
 
It is noteworthy that the counselor mentioned that Neptune is owned by SCI, the largest funeral provider in the world.  Based on his inflection and the look on his face, I think I was supposed to be impressed by this.  But I have written about SCI many times over the last twenty years, discussed legal problems with SCI’s legal staff, and had my own battles with them on behalf of my family over cemetery plots.  Their world-wide activity and reputation was not news to me.
 
It surprised me that Neptune uses the outrageous charges at SCI facilities to show how much better its prices are – its counselor cited rates at several SCI locations that were much higher than Neptune’s.  But it wasn’t a fair comparison;  in most cases, what the counselor showed me were prices for elaborate cremation and related services, not Direct Cremation prices.  Direct Cremation is universally defined as a simple cremation without a viewing or ceremony.
When the counselor did show me a price from other providers for Direct Cremation, he pointed out that there were many hidden costs not covered by their price (e.g., refrigeration, crematory fee).  But all of his examples were for prices higher than Neptune’s.
 
For a few people, the best part of Neptune’s plan is that it includes – for $474 – a “Transportation and Relocation Plan.”  This is worthwhile if you are traveling overseas and die on the trip, but the contract for transportation services is not with Neptune.  Instead Neptune is a third-party seller for the Medical Air Services Association (MASA).  Based on the contract, it appears that MASA will transport the body to the nearest licensed crematory and will return the cremated remains as per the Neptune agreement.  
 
The counselor tried to convince me that the transport agreement was also very useful in the event I died while on a trip to the Texas coast (about a three and a half hour drive).  He explained that a funeral home at the coast would have to take custody of my body and be paid for shipping it back to Austin for cremation.  He did not know that I knew this was complete nonsense.  
 
If I die down at the coast, my chosen cremation provider in the Austin area could merely arrange for a funeral home, mortuary service, or crematory in the area where I died to handle the cremation for a low wholesale trade price  – probably about $400 – and send the cremated remains to the Austin area funeral service.  My family would pay my chosen provider’s cost for direct cremation and receive my cremated remains.  I’ve had personal experience with this.  When my brother died twelve years ago, an Austin funeral home arranged his cremation in the county of his death, and my parents, who lived in that county, picked up his cremated remains directly from the local funeral provider where he died, paying the Austin funeral home for the entire cost.
 
Next, the counselor tried to shock me by saying that funeral prices double every seven to ten years.  I happen to have funeral cost surveys that AMBIS has done for many years, so I compared the costs from 2000 with those in 2012.  Direct cremation averaged $1,468 in our 2000 survey.  In 2012, the average cost was $1,899 – a 29% increase, not twice the cost from twelve years earlier.  Of course, a lot of those increased costs can be attributed to SCI funeral homes.  Their cremation costs rose about 62% during this same period.  
 
In addition, the counselor told me that cremation in central Texas averages $2,700+, which is just not true.  The 2013 AMBIS annual survey just published and available on-line at
<http://fcaambis.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/2013-FH-Survey-02-13-13.pdf> shows the average cost of cremation for the 51 funeral providers priced is $2,053, nearly $650 less than the counselor claimed.
 
Of course, the counselor also did not tell me that I do not have to pay the average price.  I can get Direct Cremation for as little as $695 from two providers, and for $775 or less from three others.  This compares favorably with 2000 prices, which were $725 from two providers and $740 from another.  So competition has made the lowest-cost Direct Cremation less in 2013 than in it was in 2000.
 
But those were not the only misleading statistics the Counselor gave me.  He told me that most funeral homes have two price increases yearly.  Because we do an annual survey, we know that this is not true for most funeral homes.  A handful have annual price increases, but many go two or three years without increases.  In my experience, the number of increases has more to do with the general economy and the popularity of cremation, which takes business away from funeral services, than with any other factors.  However, one funeral director told me recently that SCI was the best thing that ever happened to him.  Because of SCI’s high prices, he can charge more and still offer a better deal than SCI funeral homes.  Most of the Cook-Walden chain, which is owned by SCI, charges $2,740 for Direct Cremation at four of its five locations.
 
I was a bit startled when the counselor told me that Clark Howard, the radio consumer advisor, recommends the Neptune Society.  For many years, Howard was a member of the Honorary Advisory Board of the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA), for which I spent about eight years serving as a member of its board of directors, including four as President.  To my knowledge, Howard has never endorsed pre-paying for funerals or cremation.  A search of his website turned up no mention of the Neptune Society.  One entry by Howard in 2010 had this to say:
 

“Pre-paying for funerals not a Clark Smart option

RIP-OFF ALERT:The Wall Street Journal reports some 20 million people have pre-paid for funerals to relieve their survivors of the obligation at the time of their death. While that sounds good in theory, pre-paying for a funeral in practice has involved bad purchases, theft of funds, insolvency and other assorted gotchas. 
 
“What exactly are the problems? To begin, Americans move a lot. Where you live at age 50 -- when people typically start pre-paying for funerals -- may not be where you'll be living at the time of death. Unfortunately, when you move in the future, the way pre-paids work is that you forfeit much of the money. 
 
“Second, your end-of-life wishes may change over time. It used to be that only one in four people opted for cremation. That's become about one in three in recent years. 
 
“Meanwhile, future projections show that cremation may soon become the dominant method of disposition, perhaps because a cremation can be much cheaper than a traditional burial. 
 
“Another problem has been outright theft of money by shady funeral home operators -- despite state efforts to crack down on shenanigans. . . .
 
“So what should you do? Clark prefers that you pre-plan (but not necessarily pre-pay) through a local non-profit memorial society. Visit Funerals.org for more info.”
 
That link is to the FCA website.
 
To help understand better Clark Howard’s advice, it is instructive to look at what happens to the $2,255 the Neptune Society charges during their special promotion:
 
– $730 goes into a trust and is not touched until you die and the cremation is actually done;
 
– $1,051.11 (includes some state taxes) is taken outright by the Neptune society and the customer is given several items of merchandise when the contract is signed.  That merchandise includes a wooden “memento chest” which houses a wooden urn, a photo keepsake, 25 “Thank You” cards, and a “Neptune Information Book,” all of which costs Neptune no more than about $200 wholesale.  This means that Neptune can immediately pocket about $750 (the tax must be paid);
 
– $474 is allocated for the transportation plan, all of which, presumably, will be divided between MASA and Neptune at the sale of the pre-paid plan.
 
It appears, then, that at least half of the funds paid for the pre-arrangement contract can be spent by Neptune, perhaps years before it performs any service other than providing the merchandise to the purchaser.  A purchaser of such prepaid services could lose a substantial amount of money if the purchaser’s plans change a year or two later.
 
However, Neptune does offer a unique benefit at no additional cost.  If the purchaser has a child or grandchild who dies before that person’s 21st birthday, Neptune will provide an identical cremation for the deceased child or grandchild.  It is difficult to find the data on deaths of those under 21 years of age in the US, but it is unlikely that this should be a major incentive for purchasing a pre-paid cremation, though it may have emotional appeal for some.
 
The counselor made the customary pitch that paying in advance will give both me and my family peace of mind, and everything will be paid for.  However, the contract identifies twelve items that may require additional payments at the time of death, such as placement of obituaries, flowers, and other service-related expenses.  It is simply wrong to mislead families with a sales pitch that is belied by the very contract used in the transaction.  
 
The total contract and related documents run to thirteen pages, all of which need to be carefully reviewed.  The counselor told me that Neptune gives customers a full thirty days to change their minds.  However, I could find nothing about this thirty-day rescission promise in any of the contract documents.  
 
Neptune’s counselor offered another tidbit of false information, as well.  He claimed that one of the funeral services in San Marcos required a casket for cremation, rather than the less expensive cardboard container used by Neptune.  However, the price lists for all three funeral homes in San Marcos offer a cardboard container for Direct Cremation.  Besides, both federal and state regulations bar funeral homes from requiring a casket for cremation.
 
The bottom line regarding pre-paid funeral and cremation contracts is the same today as it was twenty years ago when I started doing funeral consumer advocacy work.  Only those in very unusual or special circumstances – someone with no family or friends to make disposition arrangements, or someone who is making final arrangements before becoming eligible for Medicaid – actually need to pre-pay for burial or cremation.  As always – Buyer Beware!
 
© Lamar W. Hankins, Freethought San Marcos

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 March 2013 13:33 )  
Comments (27)
1 Thursday, 05 December 2013 11:05
Suzanne P
Neptune indeed has a 30 day full refund policy. And a service guarantee. Neptune's plans are for the folks who don't want the extra added services of a full service funeral home.
2 Friday, 04 April 2014 16:24
Dorthy Waller
Talk to any family who's loved one was smart enough to sign up with Neptune Society, When my dad passed they were a blessing. My brothers and myself, are still friends. which is not always the case when it comes to collecting everybodies share of the funeral bill. Our dad knew how funeral parlors operate, up selling grieving families. He pre-planned as not to put us through that, and left what little he had to his grandchildren. Since that time, all three of us put a plan in place for ourselves so our children wouldn't bear that burden, and also would stay friends. Thankyou Neptune
3 Sunday, 27 April 2014 11:08
Steve Blackwood
Neptune are rip offs and I'd like to meet Dorthy Waller- they have 10 days before
4 Sunday, 11 May 2014 18:39
Pam Arnold
Darn, yesterday I signed up for a Neptune plan $2,581 [approx.] Now I am thinking about cancelling. Is the only difference that funeral homes rip your family off after your die and Neptune simply rips you off BEFORE you die? Now I don't know what to do. Maybe just putting money in a POD account specifically for a cremation is the way to go.
5 Wednesday, 02 July 2014 23:06
Elana
Individuals, As well families have a choice when they pre-plan. Making arrangements at the time of need results in the greatest emotional and financial cost to those left behind. It is not only selfish but imposing to leave behind the guilt of not being sure if the deceased's wishes were met. I don't know anyone who looks forward to making final arrangements at the time of need for a loved one. A Fact: Everyone of us will die; regardless which provider gets the business....PLAN AND PAY FOR YOUR OWN!
6 Sunday, 06 July 2014 17:47
Sheryl Jackson
When my grandfather died, he had pre-paid for cremation through Neptune. Everything was handled with the utmost dignity and respect. My mother was distraught and his pre-planning made everything much easier for the entire family. When my father died, nothing was planned and it was horrible. My brothers and I fighting, spending way too much money because we were just too overwhelmed and too emotionally tired to argue. What are you going to do, start price matching services at this time? No, just call the local funeral home and pay whatever they say. Thousands of dollars later and a family feud is what we were left with. Comparing the two, Neptune is a no-brainer and I would recommend them to anyone.
7 Friday, 25 July 2014 13:42
Rae
This looks to be more an issue of an unscrupulous and over zealous sales person, rather than the value of Neptune and it's benefits and services. As far as what's not included in the Neptune plan, it's because they are a direct, no frills cremation service covering the important necessities, and now do offer an online memorial/obituary. If Neptune was so bad why is it that they have maintained such high ratings with the BBB, have been in business for over 40 years and have some very respectable affiliate organizations? Also, even though Neptune is now part of SCI, we are still a separate company and call our own shots. Much of what is stated by Lamar is based more on his opinion and experience, someone who is comfortable in dealing with this circumstance, However, most of us are NOT and would not know how to conduct ourselves in such a way as to not make emotional purchasing decisions at the time of need, often spending MUCH more than a pre need plan from Neptune.
8 Friday, 25 July 2014 14:17
Josh Slocum, Exec. Director
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. We've had scads of complaints about Neptune---some very similar to Lamar's complaints, some quite different---for more than a decade.

And the Better Business Bureau ratings aren't worth much, in my opinion. BBB makes its money by the fees businesses pay to be members. The conflict of interest should be clear.
9 Wednesday, 06 August 2014 11:31
deonna
neptune handled both my mother, and my special friends pre-paid cremation, i have no complaints. there were no hidden charges, and they were very respectful, i am getting ready to do my pre-paid arrangments with them as we speak.
10 Saturday, 04 October 2014 01:39
Pam
My mom passed away NINETEEN (19) days ago and still has not been cremated. She pre-paid for this service in 1989. The person handling this was supposed to have emailed me some paperwork I needed to sign and a week passed and I never received it - I called back to see what email address she was sending this to, and spoke with someone else and provided it to them. Another week passes - still nothing. I call and the person tells me she has emailed it to me and I told her I had not received it - and yes, I had checked my junk mail but nothing from them. She calls me today and was very rude and told me I would have to come to Orange County today because it has been more than 8 days (whatever that means) and it is illegal and I must come in today - I told her there was no way I could and personally, this lady is not very bright- she initially used my name as the decedant -and doing this on the day your parent passes was very unsettling. SO I told her while we were on the phone I would send HER an email to make sure she has my correct email address and then she could just attach the document(s) and hit reply - She confirmed while I was on the phone she got the email - BUT she couldn't just "attach" the documents - she would have to re-scan them etc. (Which to me tells me she probably never scanned it to begin with or she would have a copy on her desktop or in her "sent" emails right? Anyway - she said she will again scan and resend them but that I must get them back to her before 5pm today - I told her I would print them, sign and fax them back to her from a FED-EX office - that was at 10am this morning - by 3pm I still had not received anything so I sent her another email marked URGENT - no reply, sent another email at 4pm and stated in order to fax it back by 5 time was of the essense - nothing... I called and of course she was gone for the day - and I explained the whole thing to Heidi that answered the phone and she said she didn't know if the other person had or had not sent me the documents and that I would have to wait until MONDAY - at which point my mother will have been stacked in a morgue for 22 freaking days!!! I am so beside myself - it makes me absolutely sick. Why on earth didn't they OVERNIGHT the document(s) to me from the very beginning - They wait all this time - oh my gosh, it makes me sick to my stomach to think that my mom is just in some box somewhere with God knows how many others (since there were previous legal actions regarding the stockpiling of bodies) and what is it they need from me? I did not request any ashes, she had decided at the time she purchased this plan back in 1989 she wanted her ashes scattered at sea so I cannot imagine what else they need. They have taken an already very sorrowful time and made it unneccesarily stressful all because of errors on their part. I am not letting this go but wondered where or who I could complain to because no one there is helping me and to me it seems they have let this whole thing go on and on for no other reasons but stupidty, piss-poor management, failure to follow-up - I just still do not understand why they didn't overnight it after I contacted them, provided all of the information they requested, and was told all would be handled. I realize this is an extremely long post - but I really do need to find out where to turn for assistance with this. I want my mom to have her final wishes carried out - I don't want to keep imagining her in some freezer box somewhere!!! So please, if anyone can help or provide me with contact information, I would be so grateful.
Thank you for taking the time to read this...
11 Saturday, 04 October 2014 01:42
Pam
My mom passed away NINETEEN (19) days ago and still has not been cremated. She pre-paid for this service in 1989. The person handling this was supposed to have emailed me some paperwork I needed to sign and a week passed and I never received it - I called back to see what email address she was sending this to, and spoke with someone else and provided it to them. Another week passes - still nothing. I call and the person tells me she has emailed it to me and I told her I had not received it - and yes, I had checked my junk mail but nothing from them. She calls me today and was very rude and told me I would have to come to Orange County today because it has been more than 8 days (whatever that means) and it is illegal and I must come in today - I told her there was no way I could and personally, this lady is not very bright- she initially used my name as the decedant -and doing this on the day your parent passes was very unsettling. SO I told her while we were on the phone I would send HER an email to make sure she has my correct email address and then she could just attach the document(s) and hit reply - She confirmed while I was on the phone she got the email - BUT she couldn't just "attach" the documents - she would have to re-scan them etc. (Which to me tells me she probably never scanned it to begin with or she would have a copy on her desktop or in her "sent" emails right? Anyway - she said she will again scan and resend them but that I must get them back to her before 5pm today - I told her I would print them, sign and fax them back to her from a FED-EX office - that was at 10am this morning - by 3pm I still had not received anything so I sent her another email marked URGENT - no reply, sent another email at 4pm and stated in order to fax it back by 5 time was of the essense - nothing... I called and of course she was gone for the day - and I explained the whole thing to Heidi that answered the phone and she said she didn't know if the other person had or had not sent me the documents and that I would have to wait until MONDAY - at which point my mother will have been stacked in a morgue for 22 freaking days!!! I am so beside myself - it makes me absolutely sick. Why on earth didn't they OVERNIGHT the document(s) to me from the very beginning - They wait all this time - oh my gosh, it makes me sick to my stomach to think that my mom is just in some box somewhere with God knows how many others (since there were previous legal actions regarding the stockpiling of bodies) and what is it they need from me? I did not request any ashes, she had decided at the time she purchased this plan back in 1989 she wanted her ashes scattered at sea so I cannot imagine what else they need. They have taken an already very sorrowful time and made it unneccesarily stressful all because of errors on their part. I am not letting this go but wondered where or who I could complain to because no one there is helping me and to me it seems they have let this whole thing go on and on for no other reasons but stupidty, piss-poor management, failure to follow-up - I just still do not understand why they didn't overnight it after I contacted them, provided all of the information they requested, and was told all would be handled. I realize this is an extremely long post - but I really do need to find out where to turn for assistance with this. I want my mom to have her final wishes carried out - I don't want to keep imagining her in some freezer box somewhere!!! So please, if anyone can help or provide me with contact information, I would be so grateful.
Thank you for taking the time to read this...
12 Tuesday, 07 October 2014 14:48
JMJ
My father-in-law remains were handled by Neptune in the DFW area, and they were courteous, and respectful. The costs were well below anything that any funeral home here could offer. Don't let this article dissuade you from comparing the services. Also, you have a choice of packages from less to more options.
13 Thursday, 30 October 2014 12:54
Ken Goodwin
My wife passed in early 2013. I checked around. Neptune society was three times the price of the non profit organization on the above mentioned web site. Except from above. “So what should you do? Clark prefers that you pre-plan (but not necessarily pre-pay) through a local non-profit memorial society. Visit Funerals.org for more info.”

I paid directly to the local funeral home for Direct Cremation $699 plus tax. It was the contract amount negotiated by People's Memorial in Washington State. They have contracted funeral homes all over the state. With that contracted price you get: No sales pitch. Period. Cremation with an alternative container. Very nice simple box. Cremated remains are placed in basic urn for pickup by survivors. You pay extra for Death Certificates.

Neptune Society bugs me to this day with almost daily phone calls to try and get my business. They call from call centers using various phone numbers. The last call they said they would keep calling till I let them come out and pitch me their information. I yelled at them. They hung up. I also get letters in the mail.
I concur completely with the article above.
14 Tuesday, 02 December 2014 03:42
CeeCee
I had to laugh a little reading about the nightmare that the Neptune Society has become thanks to SCI. It sure seems they have the "reverse Midas touch" on many avenues of "the death care industry." When my Mom passed away, I was going to get her directly cremated, as per her own wishes made WELL KNOWN to everyone who knew her, & pay less than $600 for the whole ordeal. However my sister & stepfather got chumped by an SCI owned funeral parlor & went against her wishes & had some hokey visitation (with a closed casket at my insistence as I refused to go against my mom's wishes never to be seen "pumped full of chemicals & made up like a cheap prostitute" no matter what those 2 buffoons wanted) & while it was nice to see friends & family, it was insulting to be given a bum's rush after 2 hours for $4000+ I beg that others look into other avenues through the aforementioned website, be it for an "immediate need" or pre-planning. I've seen so many folks bilked for insane amounts of money they didn't have & pre-paid funerals causing more hindrance than help. The Neptune Society may have been started with good intentions, but it went downhill & as soon as SCI got involved, it became a cruel joke. The only 2 things assured in life are death & taxes so it's only smart to pay attention to them. Make wills, write things down, tell people & stay far away from anything that has an SCI affiliation.
15 Wednesday, 07 January 2015 13:07
David E. Cairns
You have an IMPORTANT ERROR in your next to last sentence, "Only those in very unusual or special circumstances – someone with no family or friends to make disposition arrangements, or someone who is making final arrangements before becoming eligible for Medicaid – actually need to pre-pay for burial or cremation. One does NOT become old enough for Medicaid, but for Medicare. Medicaid is for the financially needed.

I am unaware that either Medicare or Medicaid pays for cremation. Can you provide details?
16 Wednesday, 07 January 2015 13:49
Josh Slocum, FCA exec. director
Hi David,

Let me clarify. If a person is going to go on Medicaid (*not* Medicare, but Medicaid, the assistance for the poor), Medicaid requires the person to do what's called a "spend down." That means the person has to spend most of their own assets before they will qualify for Medicaid.

One way to save some of those assets and still qualify for Medicaid is to buy a prepaid funeral that is designated as irrevocable. Medicaid will not count that money toward your eligibility for benefits.

Does that make more sense?
17 Tuesday, 20 January 2015 19:18
Christopher Kavanaugh
I began receiving UNSOLICITED emails, phone calls and mailers 3 years ago. I explained I was A. ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN and as a USCG vet the LAST place I wanted to end up was in the ocean again.
The high pressure salesman informed me 'Your priest is full of BS, you can be cremated.' I still get mailers. I return them with the foulest language possible. They still don't get it. I guess I will have to open the seacocks and scuttle their damned boats.
18 Sunday, 01 February 2015 07:44
Joseph Pender
Funeral Homes sells Wakes &Funerals They make very little money on cremation. You can pre plan cremation with them but your grieving loved ones will be upsold to a Wake, thats just what they do.
The joker who wrote the article is a shill for Funeral Parlors . Both my parents had Neptune Plans, as I do, they sold us nothing at the time of death. They were a blessing at a difficult time.
19 Wednesday, 11 February 2015 00:06
linda springer
I am so sorry I ever went with this company they have ripped me off charge me over $1000 for a cardboard box and I have difficulty getting in touch with customer service they forced me to pay $50 a month payment so they can charge me exhorbitant finance charges terrible company I am so disappointed I thought they were a very reputable company but obviously I was wrong
20 Wednesday, 11 February 2015 00:10
linda springer
I am so sorry I ever went with this company they have ripped me off charge me over $1000 for a cardboard box and I have difficulty getting in touch with customer service they forced me to pay $50 a month payment so they can charge me exhorbitant finance charges terrible company I am so disappointed I thought they were a very reputable company but obviously I was wrong
21 Friday, 27 February 2015 19:43
Alfonso Bidasoa
Due to my line of work I travel a lot outside the U.S. and because I'm and independent I have to search for my own means, healthcare and now cremation service, therefore I'm looking for a way of getting a kind of voucher/certificate with number that I can carry with me 24/7, in card or bracelet, so that if I happen to snuff it, my body can be taken to the nearest crematorium and be disposed of.

No ceremonies, not even an autopsy... just a simple and direct cremation. That's my philosophy.

Maybe there's an association that knows about such things... dunno.

If so could you please email me?
kontraphoto@gmai.com
lekunberri@gmx.com
22 Tuesday, 03 March 2015 22:30
Doc Ford
My wife and I just went to a Neptune presentation today. We saw an ad in the local newspaper that highlighted, "Leave your wallets and checkbooks at home" and scheduled an appointment.

There were a few differences in her presentation and facts from what I have read in this stream, such as the cost of a funeral doubles every five years (not 12) and there is only one package, you can't create your own package and pre-pay. The cost was $2629.29 BUT that was because the price had just been raised 2 days ago, March 1, by $100 but because she begged the company it agreed to let her offer the old price until the end of this week AND then she gave us a coupon which, if we purchased the package within 6 days, would give us another $200 off. Each.

Now, it's unlikely that I will outlive my wife (well, most days it's unlikely) as I am 73 and she is 29, so the $200 coupon for her is really worthless as its real time value would be eroded by the CPI and be about nil when she dies at the age of 87. Besides, I'm guessing that she will have already married another rich guy and cost will not be an issue.

At one point I asked a question and her answer annoyed me. They will bury me at sea, yes. It's part of the package. But if my wife wants to tag along on the boat to make sure I'm dead and gone, they would charge her $695. Huh?

Having recently gone through the new car-buying kabuki dance, I thought that she might tell us any minute now that she would go back to her sales manager's office and see if she couldn't get him to authorize an even lower price if it would get us to sign a contract before we left today because we were such nice folks.

There were three other couples at this presentation and she did say, at the outset, she would like to meet with each of us individually after the presentation. One of the couples wanted to meet right after and we set a date for the end of the week. I knew I would want to do my due diligence before I got the hard sell.

So, I came home and googled, "cremation services like Neptune' and here I am.

Oh well. We did get a tasty free lunch at an Italian restaurant and it only cost us an hour of our time, counting the lunchtime. Since time is money, it was not quite a free lunch, but as a retiree, I've found there is no such thing as time.
23 Friday, 13 March 2015 15:20
c mark
My experience was similar, didn't get the 'free lunch' but my initial contact was by telephone (we live in FL). I was glad my mother gave me the phone so I could ask more questions. I don't think the salesperson was pleased with my questions...8% on unpaid balance?? and other questions etc. I hope to help others in our community; BE CAREFUL
24 Friday, 27 March 2015 20:42
Diane
I would first like to say that my mother purchased cremation services from Neptune in 1995. Her cost for this was $2500.00, now she had told me for many years that this covered her veiwing, service, cremation, urn. Her ashes were also to be returned to me. Now since her purchase she moved with me to Oklahoma (this was in 2002) at which time I called Neptune to make sure that her wishes would still be covered by their plan. I was told that they would and they would work with me when the time came. Well My mother passed away March 7th 2015 (this month) and I planned the service with a funeral director here letting them know that my mother had paid $2500. back in 1995. we figured since they had stated that my mothers money had been put in trust for her final wishes to be carried out everything would go smoothly. Well the veiwing for my mother was on the 13th and she has been cremated however not with any help from the Neptune plan my mother had paid for. As of today the Neptune plan has not paid a dime of my mothers hard earned money to help with her final costs and I am now out the $2400.00 the funeral home costs. I do have my mothers ashes and made sure everything she wanted was done, however I was told when I called the Neptune people today and explained to them that I had covered the costs and that we still have not receive the urn and money they said they were going to send I was told (quiet rudely) that they would call the funeral home so they could over night the urn, and the money issue was between the funeral home and them and I had no write to involve myself in this issue. Now am I wrong or is this not MY MOTHER and her wishes!!!!!!!!!! I would think it is more my right then anyones. I would not recommend this company to anyone!!!!!!!!!!!!! Beware everyone....
25 Wednesday, 15 April 2015 18:20
LW
It is always good to do your homework, however you should not go on just the "one sided story" of a advocacy consumer group, talk show host or the funeral/cremation provider. Cremation shouldn't be taken lightly or used as the easy way out, there are some unscrupulous people in this world that are looking to make a quick buck and they don't care how they do it. I always say, cheaper is not always better, you get what you pay for! I know of a situation where a low end cremation provider was illegally harvesting long bone and tissue and selling it, so you see, they could afford to offer a low price to create more demand because they were making up their profit loss some other way! The death care industry is a business and the sooner we all realize that the better. You have to pay "the man" to do something that I'm sure none of us want to do or even have the means or equipment to do. Just like we pay the doctor when we are sick, pay the mechanic to fix our cars, pay the attorney to get rid of our speeding tickets...
Do any of you remember when the price of gasoline was .35 cents a gallon or a gallon of milk used to be .95 cents?? Hellooooo, its called the cost of inflation, as the cost of living goes up around us you would have to naturally assume that so would the cost to die. I know my grandmother pre-planned and paid for her funeral and as one of those people that would have had to step up to the plate to help bury her I was very thankful that she did. I don't think it is going to be my daughters responsibility to pay for my funeral some day, its my responsibility!
So yes it should be buyer be informed and pick someone (funeral home) that you know and can trust. I also think it is smart to tour their crematory, see for yourself what is going on!
26 Saturday, 18 April 2015 13:54
Linzy J
I've just read all these comments and feel like an idiot that I didn't check out other options/costs before signing a contract with Neptune. Is there any legal recourse to take if it's past the 30 days if they misrepresent their services as being less costly than other services. Is there some governmental agency to appeal to due to their misleading information? Or am I being naïve again? I appreciate this board and the information they provide for consumer awareness - just wish I had been more diligent and less trusting (or if I'm to be totally honest - too lazy on my part). I just wanted to alleviate the work my children will have to do on my demise but it still could have been accomplished and actually when you think about it, if you do business with an established (as in a real brick & mortar business) you can at least have someone to talk to face to face instead of a visitor to your home that you most likely will ever see again since they're only the salespeople and not the actual unseen people taking care of arrangements. We need to go back to the old fashion way of doing business - face to face at real businesses and maybe it's more convenient to have someone visit our home than visit a mortuary at least we know who we are actually dealing with.
27 Thursday, 23 April 2015 09:35
Mike
I have Neptune and it is good to know that my family won't be taken for a ride when a funeral service provider can take advantage of their volatile, grief-stricken state as I am in the process of being laid to rest.

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