The funeral home that I work for has been running advertisements in our local papers to both warn and educate the public when dealing with cemeteries for either preneed or at-need services. Many, many cemeteries, particularly those that are owned by corporations such as SCI & Stewart Enterprises operate much the same as new and used car lots because of the high pressure and deceptive sales techniques used. Cemeteries need to come under the same type of regulation that your neighborhood funeral home must submit to.
The following is a sample of the information listed in our adds:
Before you begin any pre-planning process, arm yourself with these six facts. By keeping these points in mind, you can avoid regrets or incurring additional expenses later:
1. There is no reason you must update your files at the cemetery prior to a death. Very often this is part of a series of sales techniques used by cemetery salespeople to sell vaults, markers and caskets.
2. Funeral homes will have a much larger selection of caskets, vaults and urns than what is available from a cemetery. This means greater choice in style and price. You may also find that similar or even lower quality caskets are as much as $1,000 more at the cemetery compared to the funeral home.
3. After selecting a casket or vault, you should receive the manufacturer’s name, model number and model name. Funeral homes will ALWAYS provide this to you. This confirms to your family the merchandise you selected is provided later– not a substitute chosen by someone else.
4. Make sure you can transfer your complete plan to any funeral home, in any state, at any time in the future. Get this promise in writing before you complete any sales transaction, particularly at a cemetery.
5. Is the price quoted only valid at that moment or for a limited number of days? If so, this can be another high-pressure sales technique from a cemetery salesperson that you should avoid. You should NEVER be under time pressure when pre-planning these important decisions.
6. Many cemeteries hire commissioned salespeople who might be required to meet sales goals or even quotas. This might shift their focus from “helping you” to “selling you.”