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Putting this under "Frauds & Scams" because that's the closest category on Aging Care that fits the problem!


Dad was looking to inter my mothers ashes, so he bought a cremation bench (like a niche, but you put the container in the hollow place in the bench) and the salesperson for the cemetery told him it would cost another $200 to put his ashes alongside hers - when his time came.


Well it came, and now they want $680 to do this! The person I spoke with told me it was because of inflation. I used an online inflation calculator, and that comes to only $270 - a big difference!.


I found the deed for the bench, but there are no financial papers with amounts on them. I was with him when he bought it, so I heard her tell him $200 - like it was part of his 'deal' in buying that bench. The whole bench & space to put it didn't cost but about $2000, so $680 to open it and reseal it (glue it shut) is insane. This doesn't include putting his date of death on it either - and anything done to this bench - sealing it, engraving it - MUST be done by the cemetery or their 'associates.'


I feel they took advantage of a senior (my dad) and are now taking advantage of the bereaved (me!).


I heard the quote of $200 given to my dad because I was there with him, but can't find it in writing. If dad were alive, he'd never submit to being robbed like this - or having me robbed either.


Problem is, I have his sister & brother who want to come for a funeral. My immediate family had a chapel service for dad, because his siblings couldn't get here right away. But I feel obligated to inter dad alongside mom, and this funeral was planned for next week. Oh, and there will only be 5 people there - 4 relatives including me & the person doing the service! I don't need a canopy or chairs (it will be brief), but this seems to be the charge - $680, not $200 - even though I don't need tents and 50 chairs.


Any ideas on what, if anything, I can do about this?

Sorry for your loss. I found out when I was calling for prices they would only quote me a ball park estimate. They said the price could go up at any time. When I asked about prepaying they said that not everything was allowed to be prepaid. Yeah, they have their ways of getting as much as they can, right?

That stinks if you end up having to pay more. They should be honest with their price quotes.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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My condolences to you and your family.... The funeral industry has figured out how to get more💰 and know that we're vulnerable at this point. What else can you do besides run around and still have to pay more money somewhere to rest your dad's remains. Same thing happened to me at the cemetery for my mother.. We prepaid and had to pay the same amount of money to open the grave, and buy a liner to bury her with our father. Supposedly it's all paid for now and when our mother's time comes we shouldn't have to put out more money for the cemetery. We will see... Makes you angry to feel had... Find peace in whatever way you decide 🙏
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Reply to Psalms23
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Thank you for your answers - you've given me some things to look into. BYW, it's planned for a Friday. We are interring a cremation urn in a bench, so there is no body that must go in the ground - it's not like an emergency interment to add to their excuse to ask this outrageous price. I don't think we as caretakers (or as elderly persons ourselves) should allow the funeral industry to prey on us.
I'll re-read the rest of these thoughtful answers when I get a moment. I got sick shortly after asking this question, and haven't been able to!
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Reply to Angeleyes1
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Is the service on a weekend or during the week. I learned when planning the particulars for my parents' funerals in 2017 and 2018, that it is more expensive on the weekend because they have to pay overtime to the staff who are responsible.
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NeedHelpWithMom 5 hours ago
Interesting.
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THe issue that is at the forefront of all of this is the lack of a paid receipt. When push comes to shove, verbal agreements do not mean anything. I recently learned from a cemetery salesperson that pre payment with documented receipts provides the greatest savings. She explained that if people do not pay "pre-need" the need at time of death is considered an on demand emergency which results in higher prices. Not fair; but apparently this is common practice in the funeral industry
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Reply to Peanuts56
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Sadly, without it in writing, you really are at their mercy.  Along with everything else right now, costs have gone through the roof.   This is just one of those areas that put you against a wall.   Really, what are you going to do...and they know it.  Funeral business, Weddings....they are a racket that the greedy run, knowing that families and feelings are involved and they manipulate that right into their pockets. It is awful and I honestly feel bad for you...but without it in writing, there really is not anything you can do.  Funeral homes can set their own prices to a point.
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Reply to Wuzzyblue
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Let's not forget, there are State laws that the cemetery and the funeral homes must abide. What is allowed in one State may not be allowed in another.
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Reply to freqflyer
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I feel your pain! My Dad was cremated in 2013 with a previous request for his ashes to be buried along with Mom when she passes. Both Mom and Dad had (have) prepaid funeral expenses but Mom is now wavering between burial and cremation. The funeral home tells me that if Mom decides to be buried in the plot she already owns, there will be an additional "opening the grave" charge to place Dad's ashes with her!! Really??! The hole is already open, for heaven's sake! Why a second "opening" charge to put a box in an already open grave? When I voiced my disbelief about this additional charge, the funeral home rep said it is "policy". That's not exactly the word I would use!
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disgustedtoo Oct 14, 2019
Wow, how callous! Was the person at least nice enough to don the latex gloves before asking you to bend over?

In movies and on TV, we often see people depositing handfuls of soil at the end of the service, but before the grave is covered again... could you just "deposit" the ashes (maybe even the whole container, assuming you/mom have held on to it until the time comes) when the service is done? Would they jump in and take it back out? Might be worth it to try, just to see what they do!!! If they did remove it, the fee might be worth the entertainment (although it would take away from a solemn moment, I myself would like to see my kids do something like that! Warped sense of humor, I know.)!

Geez, mom and dad had/have prepaid plans... I think I need to contact them again to see what the status is. I do know after taking over mom's finances that there was a bill for dad, not cheap either - perhaps they were not "paid up" at that point (2008?) No real service, no church, cremation only and military burial. Mom is still ticking along, and when I spoke with them a few years ago, they indicated she was "nearly" paid up - I need to know what that means, how much it will potentially cost, what we need to do, etc. There will be no elaborate anything. Mom is 96, all her generation is gone, most friends gone or incapable of attending anything. No service, no church, just cremate and inter with dad. If what she has paid isn't enough, what are these people, blood-sucking vampires? (I do know that her "plan" earns $100+/- a year interest - had to file 3 pages of a state form E just to document this??? She never had to pay a dime to the state as they don't tax federal pensions or SS, but DID promote their paperwork reduction act - seriously, THREE pages? Most of what is on that form is NFA.) I changed that to some other line on the Fed form and she's in a no income tax state now, so no state forms, plus I have tax guy do hers now.)

Like someone else said, I don't want her ashes here - she'd likely find a way to haunt me!
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If it isn’t in writing unfortunately you don’t have much recourse. Simply put. If any business relied on “quotes” not in writing those businesses wouldn’t be in business long.
Not the media or better business bureau will get the fee whittled down. $680 is actually reasonable; when my brother died in June the Catholic cemetery my parents are interred in wanted $1000 to “open” the grave for his ashes to be placed there with my parents.
Funerals are expensive. And yes unscrupulous people will try to get as much money as they can while the family is grieving.
I did not pay the $1000. My brother was cremated and I had a Mass for him. The priest offered to take his ashes and scatter them in a Catholic cemetery- considered consecrated ground & I took him up on the offer. I did not want his or anyone’s ashes in my home. That is not for me although it’s up to others how they feel & what they want.
As we say in Nursing, if it ain’t documented it ain’t done”.
BTW my first “quote” for cremation was $5000. I told the guy he was crazy. He called me back with a different price $2500. My husband found a very nice & honest funeral director who agree to $1500. We signed the contract.
I agree with 97yroldmom. Any business can change their prices & if you didn’t get it written in the contract you are at their mercy.
I would just pay the $480 difference or ask your siblings to split the cost.
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Angeleyes1 Oct 15, 2019
No siblings, I'm "it"! My dad would've been furious in life if I'd let someone cheat him like this. In death, he'll haunt me for sure!
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If there was no contract in writing, you may have to pay the difference. Or like Riley suggested, set up a GoFundMe account.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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No contract prob no luck but if by chance they were bought out by a large conglomerate since the orig bench was purchased, the sales person prob doesn’t make the decisions on what to charge.
Check to see where the Corp office is. The orig person shouldn’t have promised that without putting it in writing. Not very professional.

The big concern that buys up FHs usually keeps the same name and personnel so might be worth checking. They do depend on the familiarity of the funeral home name and good will in the community.
A small business owner will sometimes feel free to offer things they have a low overhead on in the hopes of gaining more business. A big outfit paying salaries and benefits wants to see a profit.

But to be fair any business can go up on prices. Unrealistic to think they won’t. It’s hard to get much of anything for $200 these days.

They do quote and are forced to stick to lower prices when they sell preneed contracts.
But with those contracts they have money coming in.
One of my aunts had a preneed she bought in her 20s. When she died at 94 it was a shock to the funeral home when they saw the contract.
Cousin didn’t have to call the Corp office but did ask if he needed to call Corp or could the local office handle. It was a great contract. Cousin only had to pay for flowers. And this was a full blown funeral.

The industry has had a major blow since cremation has become so popular. I like your dad’s idea of a bench and the engraving. I hope your family can resolve the issue and enjoy the gathering to celebrate a life well lived.
You want them to be together in the bench. Just elevate your contact remembering they aren’t contractually required to budge. You need to speak with a decision maker not a salesperson. The sale was made back when your dad bought the bench would be my approach. You are looking to speak with someone concerned about fulfilling the agreement already negotiated. Good luck and let us know how it comes out.
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Angeleyes1 Oct 15, 2019
They've promised to put me in touch with the new owners. I'm waiting for an email with my paperwork now, hoping they don't 'forget' to send this contact information!
I'd have had no problem paying a reasonable amount adjusted for inflation, and then some, but three and a half times the promised amount is beyond ridiculous. Hopefully, they'll put me in touch with someone from their company who doesn't want to FTC looking into their business and thier poor record keeping.
Will let you know how it turns out!
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Get someone to go to GO FUND ME a program to raise donations on the internet. Explain the situation and you may get helpful donations via the computer. I know it works. Someone familiar with the computer could list you on GO FUND ME.com.
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Reply to Riley2166
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Unfortunately, if there is no written contract and your dad didn't pre-pay for services at the time of the $200 verbal quote, then you don't have legal standing against the price of a service changing over time.

You didn't mention when the conversation took place, but $680 is not out of line with 2019 prices for niche interment.

Perhaps the cemetery has a payment plan? Would your relatives each be able to contribute? If not, you could wait to inter the ashes until you've had time to manage the cost and hold the service at home rather than graveside.
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Angeleyes1 Oct 15, 2019
Dad was to be interred with mom. My relatives amount to my father's sister & brother - both older and need their funds for their own retirement. It's not about the ability to pay, I could figure something out if I had to - it's about the principle. My father would be outraged by thier deception and unscrupulous business practices! Would you buy anything for 3 and 1/2 the stated price, even if you still couldn't locate your paperwork in a hurry?
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Things have gone up drastically in the last 10 yrs. I think cemetary costs have gotten higher because more people are chosing cremation. When Dad died 13 yrs ago Mom had the head stone done for both of them. She pasted 11 yrs later. For her DOD all that was needed was a 3x1 in plaque that was premade with the year. It cost me $186. There was no prepaid cost at the time the headstone purchase.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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If you didn't get it in writing, there may be no recourse. If you can't afford the higher amount, perhaps you can talk to them about your finances and ask for a discount - perhaps not having the tent and chairs will help convince them. Explain that you were told that it would be $200 (and do you know the name of the person who quoted you this amount and the date?) I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through this during this difficult time!
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Reply to NancyIS
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I would consult with BBB and see if they could help you.  Also, see if there is a cremation society that this one belongs to and their rating, or if they are part of a funeral business society in your area.  You might even ask a funeral home for pointers.  The contract should state what was paid, and amounts owned.  How about finding old bank statements to see if there were any other amounts paid previously, or something in the lockbox, etc.?  I am looking at this as well since I will be the only person attending my mom's service with a memorial service down the road in a different state, so I have no idea at this time what everything entails with a cremation vs. an outright funeral other than cost factors.
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worriedinCali Oct 13, 2019
The BBB is a private business however not a lot of people seem to know that. They aren’t an official entity, they can’t take any action, they can’t force anyone to cooperate and respond to complaints filed with them. That’s not to say they aren’t useful though.
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Hi. Gosh I went thru this .. they are thieves & they make up prices as they go. Ask for the pricing guide, or anything where it is written so you can show it to family.. .bet they don't have one!
Let them know, you will need to turn this matter over to the Federal Trade Commission.
Here's the link on your RIGHTS regarding price sheets. & more

https://www.usurnsonline.com/funeral-resources/avoid-these-10-common-funeral-scams/
Goodluck....& sorry for the loss..I just loss my parents & I learned a few things & my bf is a funeral director.
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Angeleyes1 Oct 15, 2019
Thank you, your link was very helpful.
The cemetery is not backing down, and now they're insisting on seeing me in person before the interment. I must have hit a nerve when I mentioned the FTC.
I found out that the cemetery was sold since my father purchased his bench. I told them that doesn't matter, they still must honor their contracts and that they should have his contract on file in their office. They seem to be completely disorganized - I doubt they have any paperwork either - they looked up his cremation bench using his name only. They didn't even seem to know my mother is in there already!
I found the order for the bench - drawings, dimensions, sales woman's name, etc. - but have not yet located anything with prices. It's all here somewhere, but my father has boxes & boxes of papers going back to the 1980's - and not arranged by date, so I'm still searching.
I'll pay to have him interred this Friday because his sister from another state can come, and this is totally for her. I know this is important to her, and she's been ill, so I don't think it wise to wait. If I were to do as my father would have preferred, I'd fight this ridiculous fee first. He never let anyone cheat him in business arrangements - I almost feel guilty for doing this before the fee problem is resolved.
I know many people would just let it go, but I must take after dad. And I know if I let this cemetery get away with robbery they'll be emboldened to rob everyone unfortunate enough to have a plot or niche with them!
One other thing may be playing into this. There was a time in this area when my married name meant one thing - money! Some members of his family are quite wealthy, but that's 'the other side' of his family. Since I've lived here I've dealt with people raising prices the minute they heard my name. I couldn't take my car for repairs or even get my driver's license without someone trying to scam me. I've always gone somewhere else, but in this case I can't. Dad's cremation bench is with this cemetery, so I have to stand and fight.
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Perhaps I'm missing it.. I'm not seeing what is the timeline between the $200 commitment and the $680 actual amount. Was it a month? 2 years? The longer the time the harder it is to hold someone to a verbal commitment. Why did you not get this $200 commitment in writing? I am assuming your not fresh out of high school. How many decades have you heard "get it in writing". Without something in writing you will need to find a way to get these people to get a conscious. The other thing you should do is escalate it to the management/ownership of the facility. If this $680 number is too difficult for your family to cover can you take this bench and her ashs and go somewhere else? Perhaps another facility or even a public park (you would have to get permission from the park district or whatever) The other option is $680 divided by 4 is $170 each.

Not trying to be mean but if in the year 2019 coming up with $680 to cover an expense like this is causing a financial crisis you have bigger things to worry about than this
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Clou1313 Oct 14, 2019
I thought about just saying, pay it!
But, everyone has money issues to some degree, let's assume that. I'm 61, & I still tend to believe in ppl.
Instead of helping her, yes let's add to her grief & tell her she has worse problems!
Just lovely. Sometimes ya just need to bite your tongue!
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I would start by telling them that this story is going to be in the Newspapers. Every single word of it. That it will be online, on facebook and etc. No accusations, just their name and the story of what happened to you, word by word.
That is if you really care to pursue it. I would not. I would hold a celebration of life in my own home and I would inform everyone of the story why.
My partner and I have already requested cremation, spreading of remains wherever they care to do that, no services. But that is us and everyone is different in how they feel about these things.
I would not feel obligated to inter Dad by Mom. I would spread his ashes someplace he deeply loved. If there is an afterlife in which he looks down upon you I guarantee he no longer cares about such things. After celebrations are for the living. You are living. Your much loved (clearly) Dad and Mom are not.
Cute story about my Mom. My Dad predeceded her, and she wanted his ashes. Got them. Mentioned how heavy the box. Put in closet and there they remained until about 10 years later she followed him, but not before saying "F.'s in the closet still. I don't know WHY I wanted to keep his ashes. Please. Just dispose of them. As to my own, I don't care where they go."
If you want some peace and no hassle and someplace to visit them both you have a decision to make. I would tell them you will pay them, and you will see them in print for a long, long time.
It is hard to stand on a leg without the papers. For me it would be the principal of the thing, I guess.
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worriedinCali Oct 13, 2019
I think they are probably used to those kind of empty threats. It’s 2019, people constantly try to use the fear of the media and social media to get what they want. The OP has nothing in writing so I doubt they will be able to successfully intimidate the cemetery. Also the OP didn’t say how long it’s been since he got the initial quote. That’s a big piece of the puzzle missing here.
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If he had paid the $200 at the time, it would have been paid in full.

I paid for my father's funeral in full at the same time I paid for my mother's. At the time of Pop's passing, it was still paid in full although the actual cost had increased quite a bit in 7.5 years. Due to his poor health at the time of my mother's passing, the Funeral Home allowed me to pay in full.

There's probably not much you can do now but pay the different price.
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Reply to RayLinStephens
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Unfortunately if you do not have a contract stating a specific amount, then you really don't have much of a leg to stand on. That's why I took my parents to get a pre-arranged funeral.
Everything that was to be included was listed along with the amount paid. When the time
came to bury my Mom, I did not have to pay any additional fees which would have been a LOT more then when she signed up for the plan about 15 years ago.

If you are unable to get them to give you a better price, I would probably pay what is necessary so that your Dad can be placed next to your Mom. Everything is so expensive today.
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Reply to Caregiverhelp11
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I paid $700.00 to have my husband’s cremains buried next to his dad. This was his request. There is a space on the monument for additional family member names and the cost to add name is $225.00. I have friends who have all paid these prices for cemeteries in our area. Cemeteries in our area are very old and running out of room.
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That seems very high even for interring a full casket.
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Jbean1 Oct 13, 2019
Interring a casket in a shared plot costs far more.
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Funeral homes will take advantage of a person's grief in that they are not thinking straight which is why a pre-arranged funeral is essential. I keep my father's ashes at home in a large beautiful cigar box and when mom passes I will do the same beside his ashes in the China cabinet. If you go on Amazon you will see incredibly beautiful cigar boxes most suitable for remains and advertised as Cigar Humidor. They are only like $20 to $40. Actually you can go to local cigar shops too. These cigar boxes look *better* than those wooden boxes the funeral homes sell...but only a fraction of cost. Think about that.
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Better Business Bureau? Funeral directors assn for basic info and fact checking. Lesson to all to get it all in writing always. If you have a strong case local TV consumer reporter, if you had funds I'd suggest an elder law attorney.
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Mary9999 Oct 13, 2019
I agree about the Better Business Bureau. Even if the funeral home is not a member, the BBB will investigate promptly. With my complaint, they immediately contacted the company for a resolution on my behalf, which they got. No company (even a funeral home) wants to have complaints and results posted on the BBB site, and they do post them for everyone to see. Also, I find that negotiating with a company helps many times. It can't hurt to ask.
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What are the prices for similar services from other facilities in the same area? If you didn't know they had told your dad $200, would you still feel the $680 is a rip off? Since you do not want or need some of the services that are included in the $680 fee, can you use that to negotiate the fee down? Would $400 still be too much?

Is there a local investigative reporter for consumer affairs? While negotiating the fee you might want to ask them how much it would be worth to not make an appearance on the show.
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I was told it was $2000.00 to open the grave for cremation urn and that wasn’t a firm quote because the cemetery could not guarantee the price later. Plus did not have an option to prepay. Not sure if this is common practice or not.

Hope you are able to work it out.

My niece was able to pay in installments when she couldn’t pay the full amount for her mom. Maybe they will allow you to do that too.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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When did the firm quote $200 for opening the space and resealing it?
If that price isn't stated on the paperwork, what does the paperwork say about fees? Anything?

Inflation in the context of services like this isn't limited just to the value of money alone; it's being used loosely to cover cost increases in general, which probably include things like regulation of the disposal of human remains and other yards and yards of red tape. And, yes, I don't think it's cynical to agree with you: what they think they can get away with in terms of admin fees.

If I were you, I would work out what upper limit I wouldn't feel insulted by and see if I could argue them down to that. But then again, in the end - don't you just want the job done? It's a matter of how much of your time and energy $410 is worth to you.
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