Shop Smart

It’s easy to fall prey when you’re vulnerable after the death of a loved one. These tips should help you to avoid being exploited.

  • Know what’s required. Most consumers believe that they’re required to buy caskets and embalming services. This is false.
  • Don’t be fooled. “Just because a funeral home is family-owned doesn’t mean that it has a halo around its head,” says Joshua Slocum, who is the executive director of Funeral Consumers Alliance. “There are plenty of high-pressure, sales-based funeral directors who are [members] at your church.”
  • Compare and contrast. Don’t settle for the first funeral home that you contact. You should call or visit at least four businesses that are within 25 miles of your home for estimates. FCA says you’re likely to be overcharged if you don’t make price comparisons. “It’s easy to sympathize with someone who says, ‘This is the worst day of my life. I don’t want to have to go shopping,’ but that doesn’t mean it’s a wise decision,” Slocum says.
  • Ask for help. It’s best to enlist the help of a friend or relative “who is not as emotionally compromised” to help you to find a funeral home that works for you and your budget, Slocum says. “The funeral transaction is a money exchange,” he says. “The funeral director is always aware of that. It’s how he pays his bills.” If you can’t find a friend or a relative to help you, you can find an FCA volunteer group in your area by going to funerals.org.