The Race to the Bottom: Is Price the Only Consideration When Choosing a Funeral Home or Cremation Provider?

Knowledge, quality, service, personalization, legally compliant, going above and beyond, time spent with the family – these are the qualities that people take for granted that they will receive when choosing a funeral home or crematory.  However, there appears to be a race to the bottom in the funeral industry that is negatively impacting the ability of funeral homes and crematories or cremation providers to meet these expectations and many families are walking away from the burial or cremation of a loved one – disappointed.

With on-line options touting cheap cremations and some funeral homes BOLDLY UNDERLINING IN ITALICIZED CAPS THAT THEY WILL PRICE MATCH,  it is clear that the funeral industry incorrectly believes that the number one priority to someone shopping for a funeral home or crematory is price.   And by trying to be the cheapest, many in the funeral industry have initiated a race to the bottom by cutting corners.  Some families tell stories of illegal solicitation efforts, of being offered “Factory Second” urns, being rushed through their initial meeting, receiving the cremated remains of their loved one in the mail, or not being provided options for a service or help with insurance or the option to purchase death certificates, just to name a few.

The final disposition following a death is just that – final.  Families only have one opportunity to have it done right.  There are no do-overs.  So while consumers and funeral homes have been trained to buy and sell solely on price, the race to the bottom, to be the cheapest, has the potential to leave a family bereft and unhappy with how the final disposition of their loved one has been handled.

What can you do to ensure that your expectations are met?  When shopping for a funeral home, crematory, or cremation provider, look beyond the price.  Ask yourself, what am I giving up by going with the cheapest option?  Am I missing out on using a local business who hires locals and volunteers time and money to the community?  Am I missing out on knowledge, or quality, or service?  Am I using a funeral home that engages in shady or illegal practices or finds other ways to cut corners?  And if a funeral home is visibly cutting corners, how might they be cutting corners with my loved one when I am not in the room?  Am I missing out by using a funeral home or cremation provider that really cares and is going to take time with me and help me build a positive foundation for grief?  Am I using a middleman who is going to ship my loved one hours away to be cremated?

In other words, look beyond price and ask questions about what makes a funeral home or crematory or cremation provider different and ask questions about things that are important to you.

You can no longer expect a certain level of service when contracting a funeral or cremation – the race to the bottom, to be the cheapest, has created an environment in which funeral homes and cremation providers are doing whatever they can to cut costs, doing whatever they can to provide a consumer with the cheapest funeral or cremation out there, when maybe what the consumer really wants is for their loved one’s funeral or cremation done well and done right.

21 replies
  1. Tyler Meredith
    Tyler Meredith says:

    I like that you mention how families only have one opportunity to have a funeral done right. It makes sense that a funeral can act as a very important step in the grieving process for some people and making sure it’s done properly is important to that. This could be helpful to remember for my mom because I’m sure she’d want us to choose a quality home that will ensure the event is held correctly and that there aren’t any mishaps that cause problems.

    Reply
    • Jessamyn
      Jessamyn says:

      Thank you for your insight and for being proactive to plan in advance and find the right funeral home for you and your family.

      Reply
  2. Tammie H.
    Tammie H. says:

    My father passed away and I agree with you that when looking for a cremation provider and/or funeral home, that one should ask about things that are important to the family when selecting a funeral home or crematory so that there will be no unpleasant surprises later. Thanks for posting this!

    Reply
    • Jessamyn
      Jessamyn says:

      I am so sorry for your loss and appreciate the time you took to reinforce our message that one should look beyond price and learn what services a funeral home and/or crematory actually provide and what third parties they might involve. A good experience in your time of need is priceless.

      Reply
    • Jessamyn
      Jessamyn says:

      Thank you for your comment Michael. We at Putnam want to be able to help people as they select a Funeral Home and/or Crematory and by commenting you are letting us know that we are achieving our mission. This is part of what makes the Premier Funeral Home and Crematory in Llano, Burnet, Marble Falls, Horseshoe Bay, Cottonwood Shores, Granite Shoals, Tow, Burnet, Bertram, Spicewood and the surrounding areas.

      Reply
    • Jessamyn
      Jessamyn says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. It is an honor to help others in their path to choosing a funeral home and crematory.

      Reply
  3. Jordan Miner
    Jordan Miner says:

    My sister in law was talking to us about finding some funeral services for her grandfather. I’m glad you talked about being able to make sure your expectations are met by making sure you’re not just going with the cheapest option. I’m going to have to look for some different possibilities for her, and see what we can find!

    Reply
    • Jessamyn
      Jessamyn says:

      Jordan – we are also a member of Selected Independent Funeral Homes, “a worldwide trade association of independent, locally-owned funeral homes whose common interest is in continuous improvement to best serve families and individuals. Guided by our Code of Good Practice and the benefit of shared knowledge, Selected members are professionals of the highest standards, providing families with confidence and trusted information.Member firms are operated by trusted, local professionals, often from funeral-service families who have been helping people for multiple generations. They are determined to provide the people they serve with caring guidance, clear information and a range of choices in creating a meaningful tribute after the death of a loved one.” We will be happy to help you explore the possibilities that we and other Selected members offer.

      Reply
  4. Tony
    Tony says:

    I wish I had read this first. I contracted with an inexpensive provider for my mom only to find at our time of need that they would not come and pick her up and we had to spend hours on the phone trying to find a transportation service. We were so angry. It took more time, stress, anger and even money in the end then it would have had we spent more time researching our options and looking beyond price. Take my advice – you get what you pay for.

    Reply
    • Jessamyn
      Jessamyn says:

      Dear Tony – My sincerest condolences for your loss and subsequent struggle. Thank you for taking the time to post about your experience that price should not be the only consideration when choosing a funeral home. I hope your words help others avoid a similar situation. Should you ever need help in finding a funeral home or crematory, as members of Selected Independent Funeral Homes, we have a vast network of like-minded Funeral Homes to which we can direct you in your time of need if you are not near our service area. Just call or email and we will help.

      Reply
  5. Archer Jones
    Archer Jones says:

    Before reading this post, I never really thought about the community involvement perspective. That is very important to me and I would love to see a post about how you are giving back in 2018.

    Reply
    • Jessamyn
      Jessamyn says:

      What a great idea! We are extremely active in our community and I would love to share everything we do. In the meantime, I will send you an email with a quick and basic overview and then use that as a base to create a more in-depth future blog. Thank you so much for the suggestion.

      Reply
  6. Ashley Maxwell
    Ashley Maxwell says:

    I appreciate your tip to consider cremation because that is what you truly want that for your loved one. Thanks for mentioning how whatever ceremony you have should leave people with peace of mind as they say goodbye to a friend or family member. My husband’s grandfather is very ill, and we are looking into cremation services because that’s what he wants.

    Reply
  7. Laura
    Laura says:

    Yes! Sadly hospice only gave us a list of funeral homes and prices. We chose what we thought was the cheapest and wound up paying more as my grampy was a large man, more for the transport, and more for this and that. The people who picked up grampy showed absolutely no respect when they came in smacking gum and talking about a recent hookup and pulled him onto their gurney. Swiped our credit card. It was just a bad experience. The box of my grampy’s cremated remains was delivered to my mom’s front door. We came home, found it, and my mom grew pale – I thought she was going to faint. I picked up the box and she motioned for me to put it in the closet. It is there to this day and my mom can’t bring herself to do anything about it. I am now doing research for when my mom passes as I do not have to want to wait until I am grieving and in shock and make a decision with incomplete information. I want a funeral home that will treat me and my deceased loved one with respect and care. I appreciate your blog and after visiting your website and facebook page – I would absolutely use you if we lived in the area.

    Reply
  8. James Anderson
    James Anderson says:

    I totally agree when you say that one should look beyond price and ask questions to know what makes a funeral home or crematory or cremation provider different. The father of my friend is a veteran and she wants to prepare for the memorial service as early as now. I’ll mention this to her so that she can use this as her basis in choosing who will deliver the veteran memorial services that she wants in case the inevitable happens.

    Reply
  9. Derek Dewitt
    Derek Dewitt says:

    I have a friend who recently lost his mother and so I have become more aware of funerals and funeral homes. I like your point about choosing a funeral home based on more than just price. My family and I live in Illinois and when it is my parent’s time, I will be sure to find a funeral home that focuses on the family and their needs. Thank you for providing more clarity into funeral homes.

    Reply

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