The CMA is The Competitions and Markets Authority. Their job is to ensure that individual businesses providing the same service do not band together to collectively increase their prices across the board, (making excessive, unfair sums of money from consumers.)
They launched an investigation into the funerals industry to make sure that funeral directors are operating competitive businesses that offer fair, value-for-money services.
The CMA found that consumers – rightfully – didn’t always engage with the funeral arranging process. Having commonly never needed to arrange a funeral themselves before, and therefore having no prior experience of what to expect from the process, they weren’t able to engage and scrutinise the service they were getting. Most often, they would select funeral directors based:
Generally, they found that affordability rarely came into the question: most people want to make sure their loved one get the best possible send-off, regardless of how much it costs. That said, while clients want value for their money, most people have no idea how to assess this when it comes to funerals.
That’s where we come in!
When tragedy strikes, we tend to gravitate toward the familiar. We hark back to the customs and traditions of our parents, grandparents and extended families. We’re swept up in the confusion and tumult of grief – we so often simply cannot fathom making decisions and why on earth would we try doing anything different than the norm when we’ve got all this to deal with?!
While totally understandable, we’re here to show you that you have choices. Take a breath, sit with us, and in this post we’ll give you some of the tools to assess which funeral director to entrust yourselves – and your loved one – with.
“Oh use [THIS PARTICULAR UNDERTAKER]. They were simply wonderful with my Mum when Great-Aunt Mildred died in 1962…”
Did you know that many funeral directors that were local independent funeral directors a generation or two ago, are now being run by big, multi-national funeral groups? Large funeral ‘chains’ often keep the original name above the door of a funeral directors, but operate as part of a big group. Although as a family you may have used the same funeral director for generations, it’s entirely possible they’re being run by a completely new set of faces, without the same values and principals as the original family who set up the company to begin with.
The CMA found that, overwhelmingly, clients that were in need of a funeral director tended to choose firms that had been personally recommended. While generally it’s a good bet to use tradespeople that friends and relatives have used before, where funerals are concerned, their assessments are being made during a time of heightened emotion, about an industry that has been shrouded in mystery and intrigue since its inception. While you can get a good gut feeling for an establishment, when your guts are all over the place with grief, it helps to have a FuneralExperts.com on hand to help you with a little discernment.
Apart from registering the person’s death, there are no time limits on planning a funeral. There may be some practical aspects you may need to consider – such as whether or not you would like to spend time with the body of the person who has died (‘Viewing’ the deceased) – that may influence your decision. But choosing a Funeral Director is not one of them.
While it’s a good idea to take on the advice given to you by experts, ultimately the funeral is about what’s right for you, your family and your loved one. You’ll be surprised about how much you’ve already got sorted – or at least in mind – once you’ve looked through this list below…:
a) Are you arranging a burial or cremation for your loved one?
Over 70% of funerals in the UK today are cremations. A number of factors influence this – including the cost and low availability of usable new burial space. If you or your loved one have your heart set on burial, but the cost is worry, consider using churchyards, or speak to cemeteries run by local authorities/groups that offer re-purposed and/or public graves.
b) Do you know what crematorium/cemetery you would like to use for the service?
For example, do you have a family burial plot you would like to use? Where’s the closest crematorium? Who runs them? What are their facilities like?
c) What’s your budget for the funeral?
The national average cost of a burial service is £4383 (not including the purchase of the grave itself, nor any stonemasonry), and for a cremation it’s £3,290. This absolutely depends on what region of the country you live in, and indeed whether or not you choose an Attended or an Unattended funeral service.
d) Aside from the car your loved one will be travelling in (the Hearse), will you or others need transport from where you’re staying, to the funeral?
Do you need any limousines? Typically they can carry up to 6 mourners (including children: check individual Funeral Directors’ policies for fitting car/booster seats). Will you make your own way to the funeral – will the funeral director meet you there? Do you need a lift to the wake venue or back home after the service?
FuneralExperts.com will collate all these decisions for you, along with your contact details and those of your loved one. We’ll present a list of local funeral directors, arranged in price order, based on the costs advertised by them on their Standardised Price List.
Remember: the Standardised Price List is a CMA-mandated legal requirement that all funeral directors must display prominently in their premises and on their websites. It won’t include all of the services a funeral director may offer, but can be a good indicator of their general costliness.
It’s also a good idea to remember that low cost doesn’t always equal good value: a generally expensive funeral director won’t necessarily provide the best service, and vice versa.
Once you’ve chosen your funeral director, they will give you a call to discuss your wishes in more detail. There is no obligation to sign up to anything at this stage. It is sometimes helpful to speak to a number of funeral directors and get a feel for them.
Once you’ve chosen your funeral director with FuneralExperts.com, you can start exploring personalisation options with them.
a) Can your funeral director facilitate out of hours visits, if you think you may need them?
b) Will your funeral director meet you at your own home? Will they arrange the funeral remotely, if needed?
c) If you do go into their offices to meet with them, are the reception areas clean and well maintained? Is the person you meet friendly, well-kempt and polite?
d) Can you pick and choose which of their services you need from them, and can they offer support on the aspects of the funeral you’d like to arrange yourself?
e) Are they members of any regulatory bodies, such as the NAFD, SAIF, BAFD or others?
f) (Even if you don’t actually want to), would they let me look around the behind-the-scenes areas? Are they open to a tour of the premises
g) Do they have their own in-house florist, or will I need to find my own?
h) Do they offer their own Order of Service printing?
i) Do they have embalmers on-staff, or do they hire in? Can they tell you where your loved one will be being kept until the funeral?
Remember: don’t be put-off if a funeral director does not keep your loved one with them at their office the entire time their services are engaged. Some funeral directors’ premises are very small. While they may not have anywhere on-site to keep people for longer than a day or so, or when they’ve not been embalmed, are they open with where your loved one will be off-site?
j) Are they happy to spend time talking me through the different options I’ve got with regards to my loved one’s cremated remains?
k) Are they generally supportive of my ideas about what I’d like for my loved ones’ funeral?
When you’ve chosen your funeral director, you will usually sign an agreement stating that you agree to the fees they’ve outlined, and that you’re formally instructing them to start delivering their service.
That said, there will be a clause in the agreement or the funeral director’s Ts and Cs saying that there’s a cooling-off period. If at any time you feel unhappy with the service you’re being provided, you can refer the funeral director to the trade body they’re a part of (if applicable), and choose another funeral director to finish up your loved one’s care. However, you will have to pay for services already carried out by the original funeral director – often the fee to collect your person from where they died, and some – if not all – of the administration fee.
FuneralExperts.com helps you to compare funeral directors based on:
We do not endorse or make recommendations about individual funeral directors, but we do offer you the tools to make those decisions yourself.
We’ll guide you through the very first steps of any funeral arrangement, outlining the decisions you’ll have and the different options for each. We’ll help by:
Our aim is to pair as many families as possible to the best funeral director for their individual needs.
As much as we’re a funeral price comparison service, we also aim to educate the public on the funeral industry as a whole. When the time inevitably comes that the funeral industry is needed, our clients are well-equipped with the language and understanding they need to give their loved one the best funeral possible.
We hope this guide is useful to you, and wish you well with your next steps.