Are the details of shopping funeral services a mystery? Today I present four tips to help you sort through your options and make better-informed decisions when shopping funeral providers for cremation services:
1 What if I only want to purchase a cremation, and have no interest in having a full funeral service or memorial service at a funeral home?
You’ll want to ask specifically for “direct cremation,” which means you’re requesting only the cremation service and not any other bells and whistles. Be sure to state your wishes clearly to let your service provider know that you do not wish to use their facility for a memorial service. Always be clear. We recommend you request a “no frills” direct cremation.
2 When seeking a cremation service provider, is there a difference in providers?
Yes; knowing what type of provider you are requesting pricing from helps inform you as to their costs. There are five types of providers, and asking which type they are will give you a keener insight into their scope of offerings. These are:
- Funeral Home, Crematorium & Cemetery: Typically a funeral home, which also owns a crematorium and cemetery, located on the outskirts of a city or town, or in some cases, what was once the outskirts. Usually the funeral home, crematory and cemetery are all on one parcel of property.
- Funeral Home & Crematorium: Some funeral homes own their own crematorium, which may not be located on the premises.
- Funeral Home: Most funeral homes do not own a crematorium and purchase their cremation services from a local crematorium.
- Cremation Retailer: A cremation retailer only provides direct cremation through a relationship with a local crematorium. Unlike funeral homes, they are simply a retail storefront and do not have any facilities for a full funeral service or memorial service.
- Direct Crematorium: Not all crematoriums deal with the public, but some will provide services both to funeral homes and the public.
3 Is there a difference in pricing between service providers, and if so, how best can I compare these costs?
Yes, there is a range in costs for cremation services, and so pricing will vary per service provider. We recommend you shop providers to compare costs. When doing so, it’s important to compare exact line items.
4 Is there anything else I should know?
Yes, there is the Funeral Rule, a law put into effect by the Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers when shopping funeral services. It specifies that anyone requesting pricing on funeral goods and services must be handed an itemized general price list (GPL). Many service providers now offer pricing on their website, but if they do not, by law you can call to ask for pricing and they must give you quotes over the phone. Or if you visit a service provider, by law they must hand you a GPL immediately upon commencement of discussing services. They are not supposed to bundle services without also providing single items, and are only allowed to charge you one non-declinable fee called a “Basic Services Fee”. If you need assistance with concerns regarding protection under the Funeral Rule, we recommend you contact the Funeral Consumers Alliance, a non-profit organization working for consumer rights.
- To learn more read about the Funeral Rule read our article here.
- For more suggestions read our past blog post “What to Do When Someone Dies, Ten tips above and beyond typical funeral services.”
- For Ceremonial ideas check out our article Planning a Funeral or Memorial Service.