My father passed away on the 10th of December and although we knew it was near, we did not have enough time to shop for funeral homes. I’m sure this is a common story.
My father used Steen Funeral Home years ago for his mother so we called them first. I was able to go by and talk to them in order to shop around. Little did we know we would need help so soon. I had done some internet research a few months earlier so I knew that a “direct cremation” should only cost about $1500 for everything we wanted. When I was talking with them I asked why they were so much higher than what I thought it should be. They explained that “they were the best” and it costs a lot to maintain the facilities they have. In my mind, I wrote them off the list right then. What I requested was direct transportation to and from the crematory, placing of the obituary I wrote, and completion of minor paperwork, and no more. For this they quoted about $4200. When he died the next morning, we had no choice but to proceed with Steen. I did complain that their price did not represent a fair market value for what they were specifically providing us. They asked me what would be fair and I replied $1200. They said they would let me know. I left feeling better about it. Two days later when they were handing me my father, they handed me an invoice for $4400. They had added $200 for “cleaning and disinfecting prior to cremation” to the bill. I was livid, but I paid the full amount and walked out. I later asked friends about their experiences and found that this type of service is usually about $2000 in the Ashland area.
The notion of “full blown” funerals with all the bells and whistles is rapidly changing and some funeral homes are adapting to a different demand. Older funeral homes seem to hold on to the traditional ideas and charge the same base rate no matter what they actually provide.
I generally do not agree with government regulation, but sometimes I wonder if taking advantage of the bereaved should be against the law.