Funerals are a rip-off

Ruth Jackson's picture

Why is it no-one is prepared to discuss the business of death? This week a report came out warning us all that dying now costs £7,248. Yep, apparently shuffling off your mortal coil is a very expensive thing to do. The various costs ranging from funeral flowers to cremation have risen by £400 since last year. Cremation costs alone have risen by around £1,000 in the past few years to £2,720. And don't think a burial will be cheaper; it would set you back £3,462.

If this were any other cost the obvious reaction would be to ask why. Has the price of raw materials risen? Well I suppose rising energy prices must have an effect on the cost of cremation but Sun Life's Annual Cost of Death report admits that cremation costs have risen as councils look to increase profits following budget cuts. But instead of pointing this out, news reports just state that funerals are expensive and insist we should be saving for them.

Well I'm planning but I'm not saving. There is no way I'm spending £7,248 on a party I won't even attend. My family know perfectly well that should I pop my clogs anytime soon I want the cheapest funeral possible. If it was legal I'd just have my body chucked on the nearest bonfire. Instead, I keep meaning to fill the forms out so my body is donated to medical research. That ought to save a lot of money, then my family can just use £1,000 to throw a good wake and that's that.

However, there is a wider problem here beyond my own funeral. Why are we letting death prices rocket? The truth is that as a nation we don't like to talk about money and we don't like to talk about death. This is a combination that allows the industries associated with death to constantly up their prices. Who's going to haggle with an undertaker after all? Personally, I think it's time we did – I'd love to know if anyone has and what the reaction was. I've heard of cutting wedding costs by pretending you are organising a birthday party in order to avoid venues adding a ‘wedding premium'. We should all do the same for wakes.

As for the soaring cost of cremations, it's time we all took a stand against the councils' blatant profiteering.

Your Comments

It would be useful to have transparency around the actual costs of a funeral, cremation, etc. I would expect to see profits of a vulgar nature. Many other industries are being forced to expose their structure and profits. Why don't we require the same of the "death" industry. Maybe we feel like it wouldn't be polite - or would it in fact be disrespectful to the dead if we haggled over price. Personally, I'd love the folks who deal with my funeral to keep the costs as low as possible and if that means haggling, then so be it.

It's a requirement of funeral directors who are members of the trade association the NAFD to give everyone who inquires about the price of their services a written estimate. The estimate should break down the price to each service that is offered. So, the coffin price, price of hearse and limo, collection, embalming and so on should all be transparent.
In addition it is also a requirement that funeral directors have a price list on display within their premises and that they have on offer a basic funeral at a "reasonable" cost.
Now I do agree that many funeral directors, and they tend to be from the trades major players, co-op and dignity funerals, do not deliver on those requirements and that is probably because they know through experience that those recently bereaved do not plan in advance for the inevitable and at the time of need they can be taken adantage of. Harsh but true.
Education is power and if more people were aware of what is available then these providers would find it more difficult to rip of the recently bereaved.
A good place to start is over at http:// a blog where information is available that, if used, will save families many hundreds of pounds.
Remember, although it may be difficult to do, ask for a price, get it in writting and if you think you are been pushed towards something you dont want or feel is not needed then get up and walk out.