11/11/11—Two years after the state of Colorado forced cremation company Neptune to stop forcing consumers to buy deceptively marketed cremation packages, a local news channel claims their hidden cameras caught sales reps doing just that.Neptune tries to avoid state trust-deposit requirements for prepaid funerals in order to pocket as much of your prepaid money upfront, today, as they can. For example, the company sells a cremation package that includes an urn and other merchandise. They vastly over-price the merchandise ($700 in this case for a simple urn and a “planning kit”) and send it to the customer right away. That’s right, you get to keep your eventual eternal resting container right there at home until you need it.
Why do they do this? So they can consider the merchandise paid and delivered to you. That way they can spend the money right away instead of having to put it in trust to pay for your eventual services. And added benefit is that if you change your mind about doing business with the company, or decide you want burial, they get to keep your money instead of refunding what you paid for the urn.
When Colorado regulators caught wind of this they got Neptune to sign off on a consent agreement that the company would stop forcing consumers to buy this service-merchandise package. The agreement required Neptune to offer consumers the right to decline to buy the merchandise or the right to “take delivery” on it only at the time of death. By the way, the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule already requires all funeral businesses to give consumers the right to pick and choose a la carte; it wasn’t just state law Neptune was violating.
Here’s Denver’s 7News:
A former salesman brought the business practices to our attention and CALL7 Investigators decided to use hidden cameras to determine if the company is still using the sales pitch that did not comply with the state agreement.
But 7News hidden cameras caught a Neptune saleswoman telling a 7News producer that the company would not split the roughly $1,800 package into separate parts. The cremation costs about $1000 and the company charges about $700 for the urn and other items.
“So If I sign up, they send this stuff now?” a CALL7 Investigator asked.
“They are going to, yep,” the saleswoman said.
“Is there any way you guys hold on to it until it’s ready?”CALL7 Investigator asked.
“Unfortunately not,” the saleswoman said.