How ‘money-hungry’ funeral homes are ripping off loved ones

Grieving Families Suffer at the Hands of Money-Hungry Funeral Homes.

flowers on coffin image
Funeral homes are gouging grieving and vulnerable families of thousands of dollars as advocates fight for more transparency in pricing with some providers charging as much as 370 per cent more for a cremation and 1350 per cent extra for an open casket viewing of a loved one. The exposure of the rorts comes as advocates fight for more transparency in pricing, amid concerns that looming reforms won’t go far enough. A mystery shopping investigation by Choice made public today finds a cremation with no ceremony could cost as little as $1200 or as much as $5600 — a difference of 367 per cent.And the price of a body viewing among 36 providers across five state capitals ranged from $110 to $1600 — a variation of 1354 per cent.Funeral homes are gouging grieving families of thousands of dollars, with huge mark-ups on coffins and cremations.Adding to this, industry researchers Ibisworld recently reported the “mark-up on coffins by funeral directors can be greater than 100 per cent”.Choice found nearly half of the providers it checked on failed to provide written cost information within 48 hours.“Many funeral homes are clearly charging inflated pricing and profiting from a lack of transparency,” said Choice’s Saimi Jeong, who did the mystery shop.Seda Dastan was appalled by the “money-hungry” funeral service provider her family used after the death of her grandmother Freda Hopkinson.Experts say it is difficult for consumers to compare funeral costs.Victoria is the only state that requires providers to publish the price of their minimum offering, but what that includes can vary from home to home.NSW is proposing to require providers to display prices on their websites — a change welcomed by Choice.However, University of Wollongong associate professor Lee Moerman, who has studied the industry, said the prices must be for a standardised ‘basic funeral’ so people can compare like with like.“It’s the opacity that the issue,” Ms Moerman said. “People don’t know what they are paying for and there’s a reluctance to shop around, which you can understand.“But if a funeral provider on one side of the road is charging $4000 and the one on the other side is $10,000 and you know they are for the same thing, where are you going to go unless you’ve got a good reason?”Australian Funeral Directors Association president Andrew Pinder said it “supports transparency”. The 35 per cent of the industry that are members of AFDA had to provide itemised costs upfront, he said.“But I’m concerned that it’s not standard practice,” Mr Pinder said.He said mandating standardised online pricing carried risks because it could “eliminate choice”.“I’m not aware of standardised 21st birthdays or weddings,” he said.Western Sydney woman Seda Dastan was appalled by the actions of a funeral service provider after her grandmother Freda Hopkinson died in January.The provider took the body away despite being told before arriving that its services were no longer needed. It demanded $700 to release the body to the family’s preferred provider, she said.“They were just money-hungry,” Ms Dastan saidSource: News Corp Australia Network
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