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FCA recognizes that the dissemination of individual experiences, the reporting of public information, and linking to other sites can help further our mission of educating the public on their funeral rights and options. However, FCA's limited resources and the nature of the Internet make it impossible to verify the content of personal experiences that are supplied by others or to verify the content of linked sites. FCA accepts no responsibility for these. Comments on the contents of personal reports and linked websites should be directed to the author(s).

Well that's embarrassing.

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


Last Updated ( Saturday, 08 August 2015 23:00 )

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 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 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.


What 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 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, 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?—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 "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 )

Open Air Cremation in Colorado

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Crestone, Colorado is home to one of the nation's only open-air cremation providers. Operated by Crestone End-of-Life Project, families are invited to participate in the cremation - positioning the body, preparing kindling for the fire and placing juniper branches on the pyre to add a pleasant smell to the process. This sort of open-air cremation is reminiscent of the ancient funeral rites commonly associated with Vikings. Although it may seem bizarre to many Americans, this method is still practiced among Buddhists and Hindus in other parts of the world.

High Country News has some beautiful photographs of the crematory.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 June 2015 11:50 )

New Vermont Law Allows For The Creation Of "Green" Cemeteries

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Act 24, a new law codifying green cemeteries in Vermont, will pave the way for the creation of such cemeteries in the very eco-minded state.

You can hear VPR's interview with Josh Slocum on the topic here.


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