Unexpected Cemetery Cost

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Jun 11, 2018
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#1
Greetings,

I've recently reached out to the funeral agency where I purchased and paid fully a funeral plan for my mom back in 2006 to make sure that there would be no unexpected surprise. Now, i've been told that there is a current cemetery cost of $400 if I decide to bury her on a Saturday and $1,200 for Sunday. They never told me about this potential price back in 2006. I was showed an empty space in the contract Internment Rights Section where that option could be exercised. I pointed out to them that when my dad died in 2012, the burial was on a Saturday and they did not charge that $400. My concern is two-fold: first, the representative told me that the CURRENT price is this ($400). So probably there could be a FUTURE price. Is that scheme legit? Who can control or monitor the conditions that Funeral Parlors are using to raise their prices on locked-in customers?

To swing profit on upcoming dead people in such a way is to say the least breathtaking. What do you think can be my option besides bury my mom during the week and not on the weekend? is is a legal or a new rip-off trend that funeral parlors are doing on unsuspected customers during their emotional states while preparing for funeral? Who can I report them to?

Please advise,

Jacques
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#2
I think you have to look at the contract.

Here is information from my state:

What is a "guaranteed" funeral?

"With a guaranteed funeral, the funeral home guarantees to provide the services, merchandise and facilities you selected for the amount of money in your account The guaranteed funeral is not affected by future price increases since the funeral home accepts the principal and interest as payment-in-full. Your estate will not have to pay anything extra for those items that are guaranteed A guaranteed funeral will not include certain items, such as cemetery costs, clergy fees, death certificate fees, etc However, the funeral home cannot charge more than its ACTUAL cost for these cash advance item"

You have to look at what was prepaid.

And it is not unknown to have to pay more for the weekend:

Digging the grave. You'll pay to open and close the grave, and the cost will vary depending on the time and day. A burial between 9 am and 3 pm on weekdays is the cheapest. Burial after 3 pm could cost twice as much, and a weekend funeral could cost three times the weekday morning rate.

https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C000-S001-the-lowdown-on-funeral-costs.html
 
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Jun 11, 2018
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#5
Thanks Christina & Neil for your feedback. I wrote a letter to the Division of Consumer Bureau in my State that monitor Funeral home issue. While I understand that dying is a billion dollar business, I feel that the funeral home was not upfront with me in regards to potential cost in regards to cemetery logistics over the weekend. They were in a position to know because I would often go to the main office, and then we would hop on a golf cart to the cemetery right across the street to look at grave. There is no way for me to find out I was dealing with two different businesses at that time. If this environment is not regulated, it can be manipulated by unscrupulous operators in time of bereavement. Today's price $400 for Saturday and $1,200 for Sunday, why not $2K tomorrow.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#6
What does the contract you have with the funeral home say about the cemetery costs? Since there are so many different cemeteries one could be buried in- how could the funeral home know what the cemetery is going to charge? And rules and costs change over the years. You bought the burial contract 12 years ago.

Have you contacted the cemetery yourself to ask what their fees are. I have been parents and brothers and sisters for longer then I can remember and there has always been a fee for the grave. They do have to pay people to work on the internment day.

Please pull your original contract and see what it says about cemetary costs. There is no crystal ball for a funeral home to know what a cemetery costs 12 years into the future.

What does your contract say? I would imagine it’s similar to what Christina posted.
 

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
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#7
If it is a Jewish cemetary, they are prohibited from burials on Saturday. So it makes sense that Sunday would be more expensive.
 
Jun 11, 2018
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#9
The funeral contract did not mention anything about Cemetery contract even though there is a letter from the funeral home that stated "find enclosed your funeral and cemetery contract". In retrospect, this is a sign of amateurish even though they are associated with reputable names in their industry. I am very methodical (I purchased a big binder with dividers and put a section for my grandma, father, mother in every aspect that concerns them : health / finance / Power of Attorney / Doctor Visit / ID / Insurance / you name it. I kept copies with all my interaction with every institution concerning them. The day after my dad died in 2012, I went to the same funeral home with my parents binder to inform them to start the process. The lady asked for my father's name which I gave her. Then, to my big surprise, she laughed loudly to inform that this person does not have a funeral plan and I would have to buy a plan today for at least $15K. I let her finisher her monologue. But when I told her that I have a copy of the funeral plan, she just requested my copy so she could make a copy for herself and gave it back to me with no apology. Since my mom is in frail health today, i decided to check back with the funeral home and now it's a price hike.

There is a section in that funeral contract which talked about INTERNMENT SERVICES and a cost associated to it which has been paid. Even though the cemetery cannot forecast future costs, it is still probable that there is a yearly budget associated with their operations. As a result, they should be within the realm of reality to ascertain constant and variables in such context. It could be a case of Profiling whereby they pull statistics on a specific timeframe to look at the occurrence of burial rythm in their cemetery and choose to tackle an add-on price where the occurrence is accentuated. As well, it could be a tactic to increase their own financial cushion if they are in the red. They want to raise their prices, it's their prerogatives. However, there should be a protocol to inform clients about those things in a reasonable manner at proper interval. While for me, I pity them because it's an extra stress that I certainly could bypass, one of these days, they might roll the dice on a client that is on a short fuse and the validity of such tactic might be put to test in a majestic way.
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#10
I think you are being very diligent in checking in on this, but perhaps you are creating problems before they exist? Right now, the worst case scenario if you want a funeral on a Sunday is $1,200 and on Saturday is $400.

This will be a simple contract issue when your mother passes. You have a contract that states the funeral is fully paid, correct? There is no mention in the contract about extra fees for Saturday and Sunday burials, correct? Anyhow, what I am guessing has happened is that either ownership has changed and/or there are now new contracts and new policies that the person you were speaking to on the phone was quoting. Unless this person had a copy of your specific contract in front of them, they may have just been stating current policies.

If you are truly concerned about the extra costs, then I would make an appointment with the current owner and take a copy of your contract. If there is still a disagreement, then the contract language will determine whether or not the extra monies are owed.

I do not think you should have to pay an added amount now, just because the policy/contract has changed. The funeral home made the deal contained in the contract and took money, which they have been able to earn interest off of. They cannot go back and rewrite a contract to suit them now. I do hope you can get this fixed with the owner.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#12
A lot depends on what was prepaid -- was it an exact plot, what services were included, was it the cemetery or funeral parlor, what was included in the contract?