A couple scam artists set up fake charitable organizations during the Sandy Hook School Shooting and were taking “donations” for the families of the victims. There are few words to describe the awful level of humanity one must adopt to scam those experiencing tragedy. And while we’d like to think scamming those at their weakest moment is a confined event, it takes place as a matter of practice by some who are masquerading as “funeral directors.”
I’d like to say that ALL funeral directors are in the funeral business to serve people, but sadly there are those who are looking to profiteer on humanity in their weakest moment.
In 1984 the Federal Trade Commission established The Funeral Rule. It was created to protect you, the consumer, from scam artists who hide under the guise of respectable, here-to-help-you “undertakers.” Even decent funeral directors tend to bend parts of the The Funeral Rule, and I – being a funeral director – know which parts tend to be bent.
Let me highlight those parts of The Funeral Rule that you, as the consumer, should be aware:
One. A burial vault is NOT required by state law. Most cemeteries require a vault to keep the ground from eventually caving in, but some do not require vaults. If you don’t want to pay the extra expense of a burial vault, find a cemetery that doesn’t require them!
Two. While embalming still constitutes the “traditional funeral”, it is NOT required. In fact, we must have the permission of the next of kin to embalm. You can even have a public viewing with an unembalmed body. No worries, no one will catch death if an unembalmed body is displayed in public. *Some states require embalming when transporting a body from one state to the next.
Three. You don’t need a casket for cremation. Profiteering funeral directors will try to sell a rather pricey “alternative container” for cremation, but most crematories only require a body bag that keeps body fluids contained.
Four. You don’t have to buy the casket, urn or merchandise from the funeral home. You can buy it from a third-party, such as Wal-Mart; or, you can make it yourself.
Five. Our “basic service fee” is necessary to pay, but everything else is an optional item/service to be purchased, such as a casket and even transportation of remains (you can do this yourself … although you need to go through the proper channels).
When all is said and dead, if you want a “traditional” funeral or cremation, it should be more cost effective and efficient to use your local funeral home’s services and products, but sometimes it’s not. I advise you to price shop BEFORE you pass. Some funeral homes are nearly twice as expensive as others and it’s helpful to find that out before you die.
There are funeral directors who are legally sound, but ethically stinky in their pricing. Make sure you find a funeral director that YOU can trust with your funeral and your money. And know your rights.
This thing is in the design phase by Lequios Hearses of Japan. And I’m gonna be Debbie Downer here. I don’t think it’d work … at least in America.
Americans like to go out in style in a Caddy or a Lincoln. They like their cars big and showy in life and death. Do Americans REALLY want their loved ones to be transported in the epitome of conservation, economy and weakness?
If you’d want to use a Prius Hearse for your loved one’s funeral, “Like” this blog post. If you’re like “naaah, give me a Lincoln” tell me why you’d opt for the big Linc.
I recently saw this photo via The Order of the Good Death.
After a little more research I found that the Barbie Dream Hearse has a website. AND the hearse is available for rentals … like for parties, weddings and such. Example:
After browsing the website, I found the jackpot of time waste … their epic photo album (which may require a gmail account to access).
2. This one’s my favorite ….
3. And who wouldn’t want to put their ashes in Barack Obama’s head?
4. This is supposed to be a celebrity … I think it’s Elizabeth Hurley.
5. Cate Blanchett. Lord of the Rings fans can put themselves in Cate’s head.
Whose head would you want to put your ashes in?
Coffee has left it’s mark on our funeral home. About a year ago a 20 something stood in a viewing line for about a half hour with a 32 oz of coffee in her hand. Upon approaching the deceased, the sometimes acute psychosomatic experience called “grief” caused her to spill the entire cup right in-front of the casket and onto the rug.
After the viewing, I cleaned it up with our carpet cleaning vacuum, but the mark is still vaguely visible.
While coffee has left a carpet mark on our funeral home, it will forever mark the Robinson Funeral Home in Easley, South Carolina as they will be opening up a Starbucks Franchise in their funeral home sometime in August.
Maybe Robinson can serve their own original blend: The caffe morte. A cup to die for. Especially when its served with extra cremation.
I’m just not sure how this is going to work. The coffee shop itself is open to the public. Does this mean that I can sit in the lounge area and drink my grande iced caffe macchiato while enjoying my New York Times and a view of today’s funeral?
There’s always the-guy-talking-very-loudly-on-his-cell-phone at Starbucks. What happens when he comes into the Robinson Starbucks during a funeral?
Honestly, I’m more interested in the ideas behind the Robinson Starbucks than I am the logistics of it’s operation.
Why? Why would you do this?
Chris Robinson — the owner of the funeral home — says that it’s “one more service for people to choose from.”
I wonder if it’s an attempt to attract the younger crowd to funerals. I can picture the conversation between a mother and her son:
“Bobby, are you coming to your grandma’s funeral?”
“I don’t think so … funerals just aren’t my thing.”
“They have a Starbucks at the funeral home.”
“Do you know if they have WiFi?”
“Yes. They have WiFi and a TV.” (*the Robinson Starbucks will also include a fireplace … I wish I was making this up)
“Well, I guess I’ll come.”
Funerals are just like church … we should use any means possible just to get ‘em through the doors.
Maybe the purpose of the Robinson Starbucks is simply supplemental income?
I can also picture that conversation in Chris Robinson’s head:
“I need to make some more money. What can give me that jolt … that competitive advantage that no other funeral home has … it has to meet a basic need.
McDonalds!?! No. A McDonalds would be like handing out cigarettes to my clientele. Too obvious.
A bar? No. I’m getting close.
What would help people experience grief with an added edge? A medicinal marijuana shop? No … bad PR.
It almost seems like the Robinson funeral home is taking a page out of the Megachurch manual. Give them coffee and they will come. As my uncle said, “So the church IS influential in society?!” The church can proudly say that they played a major role in shaping the funeral industry.
If the funeral home keeps going the Megachurch route, maybe the funeral directors will soon find their wardrobe full of hipster clothes and unneeded glasses. Maybe their funeral directors will get a twitter account, and try to develop a strong social media presence. Maybe soon — like so many megachurch pastors — the Robinson Funeral Home will start a blog and name it, “Blogging about Death” or “Funeral Home Confessions.”
Wait a minute. Why don’t I have a Starbucks at my funeral home? Why didn’t I think of this!
Maybe I’ll just one up Robinson and franchise a Wal-Mart next to my funeral home: “One Stop Shop: In Life and Death”.