Funeral directors sign QSA pledge

Quaker Social Action have relaunched the Fair Funerals pledge amid concerns at the scale of price rises and the behaviour of some funeral directors

Funeral directors across the UK have committed to providing transparent pricing by signing a pledge organised by Quaker Social Action (QSA). The Fair Funerals pledge was relaunched by QSA amid ongoing concerns at the scale of price rises and the behaviour of some funeral directors, with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) currently conducting a full-scale inquiry.

Last year, the CMA accused some funeral directors of taking advantage by charging high prices at a time when customers were vulnerable. It said the reluctance of firms to disclose clear prices, including online, and to provide comprehensive information on the quality and range of services, made it hard for people to compare funeral directors. The CMA has since reported that half of the funeral director websites they audited did not contain price information.

Lindesay Mace, manager of QSA’s Down to Earth service, said: ‘Last year Royal London reported that the average debt taken on by those who struggle with funeral costs had increased by fourteen per cent since 2018. We frequently support clients who are confused and unclear about quotes they have been given; what costs are for; whether third party fees are included or simply what the total will be, having been told they will only get something in writing after the funeral. Clearly, much more needs to be done.’

Vicky Wilson, who organised a funeral for her grandmother, said of her experience: ‘The “all inclusive” quote we had first been given turned out to be missing a number of costs. With those additions, the final price came in £2,000 higher than expected – taking the final price (excluding the wake) to over £5,500.’

Catherine Powell, co-founder of Pure Cremation, which has signed up to the 2020 pledge, said: ‘Every bereaved family deserves expert help to create a satisfying farewell within their budget.’

QSA’s Fair Funerals website provides customers with a tool to check whether their local funeral director has signed the pledge to help them find a funeral within their means, ensuring they are open about the price of their services, including any third party costs, any deposit required and when the final balance is due.

The blight of ‘funeral poverty’ was also covered in an article in the Daily Mirror last week in which Lindesay Mace revealed that one Down to Earth client had been forced to go to a loan shark to pay for funeral costs. If the money wasn’t repaid within two weeks, they would have had to pay double what they had borrowed. One woman ‘was potentially going to just not claim the body,’ Lindesay Mace added.

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