When I visited the Merkley-Mitchell Funeral Home near downtown San Diego, which had been in business serving families for nearly a century, I asked the staffer on duty “How’s business?”. He shrugged and said “SCI bought us out and tripled our prices. Now the families who kept us in business for five generations of heritage business can’t afford us anymore.” Why does the Armstrong Family-Mitten-Malloy funeral home in Los Angeles charge less for EVERYTHING involved in a direct cremation than SCI/Dignity Memorial henchmen in the same market charge for a single night of refrigeration? The SCI/DM direct cremation is nearly 4 times the cost of the Armstrong-Mitten-Malloy services. Why? To keep the dozens of layers of SCI’s national corporate sales, district, regional, market, and area managers in Armani and Lexuses? SCI/DM has no one but themselves to blame for pricing today’s consumers out of traditional services and burials and into low-cost, minimal cremation with its much lower profit margins. I wonder what percentage of SCI/DM’s sales hires, especially in Community Service, earn less than Federal Minimum Wage over the course of their employment. From the many I’ve worked with, I’d guess more than half spent more money trying to generate sales than they ever earned. But, as long as they exhaust themselves as the free advertising arm of SCI/DM, driving curious prospects to preplan for themselves on SCI/DM’s web pages, there’s no need to pay a salesman hourly earnings or that pesky commission his prospecting generated.