Out of Town Cremation Company Takes Advantage of Customers – Know the Difference!
The following is a true story. You will read about one family’s experience that thousands of people across the country who want a “simple” cremation fall victim too. The names of the family have been changed, however the story was not embellished. (The name of the business misleading the public has not been changed.)
Funeral homes are left time and time again picking up the pieces for families who make well intended choices without understanding what’s involved. After reading this, please go to my website jodiclock.com and download my free e-book 5-legal-requirements-before-cremation
Sam died peacefully at home under the care of hospice on a Sunday morning. His wishes were to be immediately cremated and returned to the family for burial at a future date. Having grown up in the great depression, he was adamant about spending as little money as possible for a cremation. Written Instructions were left requesting his family not spend money on an obituary, memorial service, flowers, even an urn. His intentions were to ensure that his wife of 65 years would have enough money to live comfortably. Together his wife Mary and their seven children agreed to honor his final wishes.
The day that Sam died, their oldest child Karen began price shopping for a cheap cremation. Like most baby boomers, she turned to the internet. The keywords used in the search engine were “cremation providers in my town.” As you would suspect, after the paid ads, all the area funeral homes appeared, followed by a list of “non-funeral home” cremation society imitators who not only advertise on low price, they give the appearance of being local.
Therefore, if price is the driving factor and the service appears to be local, the average person would make the assumption that this service provider was the solution for their situation. After all – how difficult could a “simple” cremation be? Or so you would think. Here in lies the problem.
Karen chose to call Heritage Cremation Provider based strictly based from their website. She called what appeared to be a local phone number. What she encountered on the other end, unbeknown to her was a call center that was re-routed someplace else. The voice on the other end of the phone took the necessary information and shared that they would get back with her regarding when to expect someone to come pick up her father. In the meantime, she was told that they would need signatures from all of Sam’s children on a cremation authorization before the cremation could take place. The form was to going to be emailed to her.
Once Karen hung up the telephone, Heritage Cremation Provider began calling all the local funeral homes trying to negotiate a price for in our profession is commonly referred to as a “trade call.” A trade call is when a funeral home that was not originally contacted by the family, is subcontracted by a funeral home out of town or a death care provider to:
make a removal.
file the death certificate to become the funeral home of record.
if requested to embalm or oversee the cremation.
By federal and state law it necessary to have a funeral home/director be accountable for the above responsibilities.
Heritage Cremation Provider then hired a local funeral home and called the family back. They said someone would be there within the hour to pick up their father. Shorty a removal team arrived at the house and brought Sam to the contracted funeral home’s care. (Let me be clear -the funeral home had no conversation with the family)
Karen didn’t understand the paperwork and Heritage Cremation Provider could not answer her questions satisfactorily over the telephone. This communication debacle resulted in a two-week delay of Sam’s cremation. With no success, the contracted funeral home on a daily basis called Heritage Cremation Provider trying to obtain the information necessary in order to get things done. Finally, after 14 days the contracted funeral home demanded that Heritage Cremation Provider give them the family’s contact information as they were going to take matters into their own hands.
The contracted funeral home’s director was able to reach Karen and discovered that Sam was married and had a surviving spouse. The director explained that by law, the surviving spouse is always considered to be the next of kin, unless there was a pre-appointed funeral guardian assigned prior to death. This provided relief for Karen as she was trying to reach all six of her siblings to sign the cremation authorization. It was abundantly clear that Karen was angry and distraught, so the director asked her when she and her mother could come to the funeral home, sign papers and talk.
Before the end of the day, Karen, along with her mother and another sibling, walked through the front doors of the contracted funeral home. Within minutes of sitting down with the director, the family began launching questions fast and furiously. Rightfully so, their emotions were running high and was fueled by grief and fear from the unknown.
Karen hadn’t slept in days. She was having nightmares about where her father was, let alone how he was being care for. The visions in her head were those of a bad B rated horror film. No one understood why cremation hadn’t taken place after 14 days. After all, this was supposed to be a “simple” cremation.
In a very gentle, but matter a fact manner, the funeral director addressed each concern the family had. The family’s biggest fear that Sam was not being cared for with dignity. No matter what the director said, they could not hear the answer between the sobbing and morbid visions they had in their head.
In order to gain control of the situation the director had to address their two major fears. The first being the visual of Sam decomposing in some back alley and the second, that the cremated remains that they will now receive back will not be his.
At this point, it’s not about finishing a “trade call” and gathering the right information to see the cremation process out. It’s about doing the right thing for two very important reasons: to provide the family the peace of mind necessary for them to begin to heal and showing the family that there are honest death care providers.
The director asked the following two questions:
Would you like to see Sam and say a final farewell?
Would you like to be present and witness his cremation?