So, The Other Day I Met This Guy…….

Though my years as a funeral director, one of the best part of the job was meeting a wide variety of folks. Before services, at the graveside, during collations, and sometimes even during services, I get to talk to everyone.

Sooooooooooo, The other day I met a man who asked about caskets. Interesting conversation. He had been messing around building pine boxes recently. I call them coffins. Some call them caskets.  Bottom line, a container for human remains for a ground burial. He has been following my blog and thought maybe I would know someone who might be interested.  Fragrant-Pine-Shavings-for-Web-1024x680

The coffins are simple. These would be perfect for a green burial. As a matter of fact, these would be perfect for any burial.  He can produce a coffin in short time and usually can accommodate every family. As far as cost goes they are more than reasonable.

Tom Goldschmid, His cell is (802) 579-2207. Tell him you heard it from me. 196

 

 

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Times Have Changed……..

The FCA pointed out a great blog post from the blog otrib. The question they address is “Is there a way to certify a funeral as green?”  Believe it or not, one organization—The Green Burial Council— is attempting to do just that: regulate the green funeral industry to ensure that when you pay for a green burial, you get one.” says the author M. Kotch

green space

My gut feeling is that if you have thought about a green burial, you know a lot about green burials. Anyone who I have dealt with on this subject has done there home work. I guess this will be a good tool for the funeral consumer of the future. It really makes me think that more and more people who make the green choice have made these decisions well in advance.

Its all about what makes a family comfortable.  99.9% of people making these arrangements know what green means to them. They have in there mind a picture of what there green funeral is going to look like.  The people making these arrangements currently, know what is needed for their green burial. I don’t think a lot of these funeral consumers care whether the burial can be certified as green or not.  I also think that everyone has there own varying degrees of green.  greenburial11

The green funeral option is real but can only be offered in a very few areas in the country. The families I have talked to about green burials  have spent time planning these events well in advance.  I cant see a son opening the final will and testament to find out that HE has to go pick up dad and bring him to the green cemetery.  As more consumers demand this option, more good information will come out to help educate the consumer.

Right now,  it continues to get people talking about green burials.  At one time cremation was not accepted by the majority of families in the US.  My, how times have changed.

 

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Dawn Breaks on Marble Head…….

I had a epiphany.  Just to let you know, this is not my first and hopefully will not be my last, but no less it was my own major epiphany.

epiphany

I think epiphanies fall into two categories: everyday epiphanies and life changing epiphanies.  Everyday epiphanies can be experienced numerous times throughout the day. Small epiphanies like a better way to file paperwork, an easier path to follow when you leave the house in the morning. Easy stuff, new stuff, that use to be old stuff.  These epiphanies are small compared to others. The second epiphanies are the good ones. I had a big one over the last few days.

Williams River Services continues to march on as a funeral advice and consulting service.  It has been a pleasure to help the many folks I have with simple questions like “Which funeral home should I use?” to “I’m having a tough time with mom and I think I need to know what I should do next in keeping her safe and thinking about her final wishes.”  None of these questions have easy answers. Nine out of ten times I can help a family save money and give them some piece of mind. In the end, I find that regardless of the answers I give, it is impossible for me to “charge” a family for any information or advise.

I have had years of education and hands-on experience in the field of “all things end of life.”  Funeral directors need to have a rucksack full of hats.  Often wearing 3 or 4 within a matter of minutes. Over the years I have giving millions of pieces of advice based on my years of experience and my areas of expertise. Looking back I think I helped a lot of folks. I think I have given out a lot of great helpful information.

Next question is – why would I do this? Why would I give away insider information to help a funeral consumer? Recently, I have gone though some hard times.  For most of my life, my day to day was easy. Then, everything changed.  I refuse to point the blame at anyone or any one thing that had happened to bring me to where I am now. I take full responsibility for every decision I have made. The best part of where I am now is that I finally realized what makes me happy.  I hate to say it but, the view from down here ain’t to bad. What I thought were basic necessities, that I once took for granted, are actually a lot of shit I don’t need.  It has been interesting to say the least but, I have learned a huge amount about who I am and who I want to be.

I am happy to say that things are looking better now. I have a good idea of who and where I am. When I had everything, I gave very little back to my community and friends.  Now that I have nothing, I am finding that I am giving back, more and then some.  And I am extremely happy about it.   I don’t want to get all religious with you but no matter what happens to me, I will keep my faith in human nature.  No more short-changing neighbors, no more thoughts of giving in to “the man,” no more putting me first, no more over-charging families who thought I was being ethical during a loss.

Maybe this will make amends for the last 20 years that I worked as a corporate funeral director who took advantage of so many.  If you work at Jiffy Mart and have to sell a candy bar for $2.00, that’s it.  You know your employer bought it for $0.25 but in order to keep getting a paycheck, you charge $2.00 to every customer that comes through the door.  Those days are over for me and all of my advice or consulting for everything end-of-life is now free. If you feel my time was worth something or saved your family money, an offering would be appreciated.  I say appreciated but not required. give back

As usual, call me with questions, (802) 353 0021. I would tell you to call me toll-free, but I just told you I’m broke.


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Assclowns with Check Books………..

What a joke.  When a corporate funeral home gets in trouble they simply throw money at the problem until it goes away. The things they did at Eden Memorial Park were premeditated and abominable to say the least. cemetery The lawsuit talks about Eden Memorial Park. SCI employees desecrated numerous graves over many years in order to squeeze in more burials. The complaint states SCI employees were instructed to do what they had to to sell more plots.  They did this by routinely braking open outer burial containers,caskets, and discarding human remains in a dumping area on the cemetery grounds. This all to make room for the sale of more graves. The description of wrong doings are malicious, uncivilized, and heartless.  If this was the action of a local funeral home, local funeral director, or local cemetery,  all involved would be going to jail for life and a day. One_Million However, If you are a multi billion dollar company, all you have to do it get out the check book.  Write a check to the State, maybe to a funeral board, and a few more to the families involved. SCI then announces to the press they are happy that everyone can put this behind them.  “Now the families and their loved ones can finally begin to have peace knowing that these unconscionable practices will no longer be allowed to continue at Eden Memorial Park,” Oh, and the irony is that SCI took no responsibility for the incidents. The article states that SCI sounded celebratory in its announcement.

The article is here. I commend Connecting Directors and Business Week who have both been following this story from the beginning. They bring these stories to the fore front but unfortunately they are not seen by a majority of funeral consumers. I have said from the inception of this blog that corporate funeral homes should not be a first choice when services are needed. I have pointed out that they hide their ownership though the names of the funeral homes previous owners. I have said that the best way to find out who you are doing business with is to ask the person who opens the door or answers the phone.  Locally in Vermont and New Hampshire there are 6 corporate funeral homes.  Chester, Ludlow, Townshend, Brattleboro, and 2 in downtown Keene. Stockholders+Meeting If you do business with a corporate funeral home you are condoning these types of abhorrent funeral practices. Every penny you spend at a corporate funeral home will go in a shareholders pocket or be used to cover up some unscrupulous act.  These are companies that realize it is easier to make a problem go away with a check book then to treat consumers ethically from the start.

Any questions please feel free to contact me direct. (802) 353 0021. Whats fair is fair.  If you have to use a corporate funeral home, tell them you didn’t like something about the services and wait for your check.

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“Don’t Give Them a Choice…………”

Lets talk about packages.  Funeral packages that is.  When you walk into a corporate funeral home and ask for a General Price List, they are going to hand you something that is the same size as that  final paper you had to write in Social Studies back in high school.

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From experience, I can tell you that it makes the process of planning a funeral even more over whelming. Think about being in a funeral home, maybe for the first time and being handed just such a package.  This is not what the Federal Trade Commission wanted you to get. The FTC has setup a pricing outline that every funeral home has to follow by law. There are 18 items that HAVE to be included per the FTC. The FTC put “The Funeral Rule” in place so the consumer can compare prices between funeral homes. Apples to apples

In the General Price List from the corporate funeral home those 18 items will be listed.  The problem lies in where they are located.  The first 3-4 pages are packages the funeral home has set up to “save you money”.  Like McDonald’s extra value deal, the package will include everything you will need for your services, and then some. (Another blog later that gives you a breakdown of whats included) All packages are all or nothing.  In a nut shell “You will get fries with that”. The package will include alot of things you don’t need. You will also find that the promise is great and the delivery is not.  The information is confusing for a reason. Most local funeral homes do not offer packages.  If your funeral home hands you something with a staple or a paperclip be prepared to get less for more.

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As a funeral director working for a corporate funeral home it was hard for me to see any value in the packages. That being said I was retrained repeatedly on how I should present the packages to families for better results. It was difficult to sell a package to families that I didnt think was a deal at all. They were not worth the “discounted” price. I was told to work with another funeral director in Keene who had close to 100% package sales.  Not wanting to beat around the bush any longer, I asked her secret.  She said with a straight face “don’t give them a choice.”

Stay away from complete packages…….Unless you are at McDonald’s,  because everyone wants fry’s.

hshot 2011

 

As always, if you need me contact me on my phone (802) 353-0021.  Not sure if the funeral home you are doing business with is corporate funeral home? ASK them.

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I’m Betting on a Little One……..

So it has been a little over two years since the owners of Adams Funeral Home and Cremation Services formerly Adams & Kenney Funeral Homes have started down there new path.  After about a year, after going to court to get them to stop using the Kenney name in advertising, signage, and stationary, they have removed it.  It got painted off the sign shortly there after. This all follows the same time line they used when I moved in. They have now started to use their new signage.

dignity 1

Coming soon to a sign near Jiffy Mart

The Ludlow facility had a sign put up two years ago. The facility is on a back street so changing that sign would have little effect on SCI’s image.  The one in Chester would be a little bit tricky being in the middle of downtown across from the busy Jiffy Mart. From what I hear, It has been hard to explain why the change and try to  minimize the negative effects of a bad business decision.

Back to the sign. If you look at the building near the front stairs you can just make it out.  SCI’s branding with the word dignity.  This is there Main Street initiative to provide service to well Main Streets everywhere. The word dignity is used in attempt to show you how they care about your loved ones and your family. If they cared about you, they would care about your pocketbook.  From experience, mine and others, they do not.

I guess we should be thanking them.  The sign with the word dignity on it helps the consumer know who they are doing business with.   If you use a dignity funeral home you are paying too much for your services and merchandise.  That is not only coming from me  but there are articles everywhere on the internet.  Here is a good one. Another one here. These examples are par for the course. This is not the family friendly funeral home you think it is. I hate to say that some of these same incidents occurred on my watch at SCI’s Vermont funeral homes. There are a number of funeral watchdog groups who have published on just this subject. The one that comes to mind is The Funeral Consumer Alliance.

The large painted over sign in the front of the building will be replaced when SCI feels the problems have gone away.  The question now is will they proudly show their dignity logo or continue to try to hide the fact that they are part of the corporate funeral home machine know as SCI. This is the SCI who has had numerous FTC problems for years. This is the company who was responsible for numerous  unscrupulous cemetery practices over the years.  Most recently this is the SCI who has locked out funeral directors in a labor dispute in Chicago.

sci

This is not a family funeral home.

I’m betting that they put up a nice sign in front of the building in Chester with just a little dignity logo on the bottom corner. If they go the other way with a large logo,the consumer wins. It will be much easier for everyone to see that this is a corporate funeral home who thinks of you as just an opportunity to increase revenues.

Shop local, buy local, BE LOCAL. Not sure if your funeral home is locally, family owned? Ask them.   Here is a list of all of the SCI funeral homes you should avoid do business with.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me direct 1 (802) 353-0021

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Funeral Poaching…….

This sounds like the real deal.  This company says they can do everything for me over the phone. Can it be this easy?  I get a little confused when it says “We help you plan the funeral and send your choices to the funeral home of your choice so that he can then take over.”

bad idea

I’m not sure this is the way you want to meet your funeral director.  I’m not sure the funeral director would meet you at all.

My friend Kim Stacey said, “They seem to be poaching, without the funeral home being AWARE of it…until they get a call from this company asking how much they charge for a “x”…then they call the client family, quote a higher price, and send the family to the funeral home (who has no idea they are coming). I guess the funeral home gets paid, eventually, by this third party marketer, but they’ve hiked the fee (to take their share), and the family is the LOSER.”  I love a lady who don’t mince words!poachers

No matter what they say they do, you don’t want them to do it for you.  If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is, too good to be true.  Unfortunately allot of people will probably use this company. Organizations like this produce nothing more than bad press for a suspect industry. Companies like these are blemishes on a already badly tarnished funeral industry.

My advice stands. Do your business with a local family run funeral business. If you are not sure what you need to do ask a friend, family member, or local clergy.

If you need anything from me, call 1(802) 353 0021.

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