Funeral home markups and upselling: Hidden camera investigation (CBC Marketplace)
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Funeral home markups and upselling: Hidden camera investigation (CBC Marketplace)

♪ [theme]>>David:This ismarketplace.Undercover inside Canada’sfuneral homes.>>The top level and the bottom level they start at $3,000.>>David:Can you trustthe people meantto help you the most?>>98% is mandatory.>>We’re still grieving. It’s only been a couple days.>>David:High-pressure sales.>>She doesn’t die in the next 90 days we still have to pay in full?>>Yeah.>>David:Hi costs.>>You could be looking at $12,500.>>David: marketplaceandthe Toronto Starinvestigate.Death Inc.What’s brought you here today.>>Well, I love Honest Ed’s. ♪ [super funky]>>David:We’re gathering to saygood-bye toHonest Ed’s.>>It is, in a way, about mourning, but I think it’s also about celebration.>>David:A celebration of life,but not for a person,it’s for amuch-loved bargain store.>>This weekend, for me, is a farewell.>>David:Where decades ofcheap deals and free Christmasturkeys are coming to an end.>>It’s nostalgic, I wanted to see what was going on, all the changes that would be coming to this neighbourhood.>>David:It seems like agood place to testhow much people think aboutlosing something or someone.>>I want to throw a question at you out of left field here.>>Okay.>>David:A question youmight find…awkward.What if you died today? Who would look after everything that needs to be done with a funeral.>>If we died?>>Yeah.>>Okay, that’s kind of morbid. Interesting. I get it.>>It’s pretty scary, yeah.>>What do you want?>>Not too much. I want a celebration.>>My goodness.>>It’s a weird one, I know it’s a weird one.>>I can’t even give you an answer.>>If you were to die today, who would look after your funeral?>>That’s a bizarre question.>>David: Yeah. Have you ever thought of it?>>No.>>Sort of. [ Laughter ]>>What’s your frame of mind when you’re walking into a funeral home? Are you susceptible of to being taken advantage of?>>Of course. You’re probably at the most susceptible point of your life.>>David: You’re about to find out what happens when sales trump sympathy.>>Let’s do this.>>Let’s do this.>>David:Our team is gettingready to headinside funeral homes.Just how up frontare staff whenwe need help the most?We’ll need a cover story.>>Well how about we have an auntie and we call her Alice.>>David:Aunt Alice isn’ta wealthy woman,she wants a simple service.>>There are I am. Okay, great. Okay.>>Should we do this, then?>>Yeah.>>David:Like many Canadians,Alice wants to be cremated.Come join us for the journey.Arbor Memorialis our funeralhome of choice.It’s the largest Canadianfuneral company,and it’s expanding.But it’s also one we’ve heardmany complaints about,from pressure to prepay fora funeral,to a lack of empathy,and preying on emotionsby overcharging.How bad can it be?We head into six locations.>>David:And tell the samestory at each one.>>David:In our time of need,willArborhelp usor add to the heart break?>>David:But simple isn’t whatthey have in mind.In the business of death, costscan add up quickly.>>David:What should you spendon a casket?>>David:What about embalming?It cost $500,but is it required?>>David:So manydecisions to make.>>David:Pre-planning directorslike these make a base salary,the rest is commission.So when it comes to planning asimple funeral,it’s not easy toknow what you really need.>>David:Lucky for us,Aunt Alice isn’t real.But I’m about to meet someonewhose loss is very real.So was the nightmare she facedat theArborlocationin Windsor.>>Hi, Judy.>>Hi.>>I’m David.>>Hi David, nice to meet you.>>Good to meet you.>>David:Judy Wood wrote tomarketplacewanting to shareher story asa warning to others.Did you feel going in there, that a funeral home and its staff, were a place you could trust?>>Very much. We just felt they understand and will try to assist you getting through this difficult time, and not take advantage.>>This is a business unlike any other.>>You’re so vulnerable. They have you. This was a fantastic one. We surprised her with a birthday.>>David:Judy’s sister, Diana,was only 56 whencancer killed her.Diana had paid over $4,000 forher own funeral, believing thatwould cover it, and lessen theburden on her family.It didn’t.Judy’s left to plan the rest.When you’re in the funeral home, how up front were they about all of those charges?>>They weren’t. They weren’t at all. They — the gentleman had a laptop, and there was a large screen, and as he asked us the different questions, that item went up on the list. It wasn’t until the very end that we saw what the cost would be for all of the things we selected.>>And what was that number?>>$10,000.>>And what did you think?>>Oh, we were shocked.>>This is how much you were told it would cost.Arbor recommends a package.>>Arranging and administration is $1755. What that includes, I’m not quite sure.>>David:Making senseof that packageseems next to impossible.>>That doesn’t include the cost of the vehicle.>>The transfer to the funeral home.>>That’s for –>>Doesn’t include the cost of actually getting to the funeral home. I don’t understand this.To reduce the price,Judy gets rid of some services,but it wasn’t easy.>>I didn’t want to seem like I was asking a lot of questions about money. It’s like, well, you pay what you have to pay, right? [ ♪♪ ]>>David:We’re at the samelocation Judyturned to for help.>>David:At first there’ssympathy, but she quickly getsdown to business.Like Judy, we’re offered apackage and told identifyingAunt Alice is company policy.>>David: This planner suggests embalming.>>David:But there is no lawrequiring embalmingand in a lot of cases, no need.>>David:We don’t want aviewing for our fictional aunt,so why all this?Well, it’s part of the packageshe’s recommending.>>David:Better closure?Arbor makes Judy identify hersister, which means extra costsfor things she never wanted.>>He’s very kind saying, you know, “Take your time, go in there.” It’s like, no, we’re not going to take our time. We’re only here to identify her. And yet she was laid out and presented as if she was going to be viewed.>>David: And you were paying for that.>>And we were paying for that.>>David: Even though that’s not something you wanted?>>That’s not what we wanted, and that’s not what she wanted.>>Did you want embalming?>>Not if it wasn’t needed.>>David: And what happened?>>She was embalmed.>>David: And why?>>Well, because she was going to be dressed and displayed.>>David: For you to identify –>>For us to identify her. We’re shaking our heads. Like why are we doing to this? Let’s just go with it, like he says to do that, let’s do that.>>But he’s the guy. How many times have you been through this before that?>>Never.>>So what happens?>>It was terrible. Somebody had dressed her and put make-up on her, and put her in her clothes again, and it didn’t look like her. It wasn’t — in my heart — it wasn’t her. But it was something we were forced to do. So that — we felt — I felt bitter.>>It wasn’t just that there was expense that –>>No.>>David:– you feel is unnecessary.>>No.>>David: It’s that your closure was re-opened.>>Yes. We had said our goodbyes in the hospital. We weren’t given any option. And that’s wrong.>>David:More than 250,000Canadians died last year,including Judy’s sister.In the business of death, thatamounts to a$1.6 billion industry.Big players like Arbor make themajority of the profits,and with our aging population,stand to make even more.[ ♪♪ ]>>David:I’m in Manitoba tomeet a guy who’sa know-all, and now a tell-all.>>Hi, Shane.>>David.>>David: Good to meet you.>>Nice to meet you.>>Thanks very much.>>David:Shane Neufeld hasworked in the businessfor 25 years.At times for the big guys,including Arbor.He knows the secretsof the sell.And doesn’t like what he hearsabout our Alice’s service.>>What she’s doing is increasing the value of that sale with that family.>>David: It was all about identification. It wasn’t about a viewing.>>Well they’re using identification as a means to an end. The end is to get the money for the embalming, because the embalming is expensive but doesn’t cost much.>>But most of us aren’t professionals at burying our loved ones.>>The consumer is at an extreme disadvantage. You can’t possibly come out on the ride side of that if you’re in front of people who are motivated to sell you things that you don’t need.>>David:We dig upArbor job postings.Some traits they value mostinclude : a sales mentality,people who are skilful atnegotiating and closing,who meet and exceedsales quota goals, and here’swhat that looks like in action.>>David:Remember, we only wanta simple service, a cremation,a small celebration,but they’re pushing packages.David:That same-day servicecosts almost $6400.>>David:98% mandatory, andthere’s no mention ofan À la carte option.>>I’d like to see that package, 98% seems like a very high number.>>David:It’s only when wepress that Arbor agrees to getrid of a few items,about $600 worth.>>David:The flower vehicle,for a simple service?We haven’t even talkedprice forthe actual cremation.Imagine if we werewracked with guilt and grief?So what’s really necessaryfor Aunt Alice.Shane takes a look, and saysmany items can go.Worse, he says,it seems Arbor’sdouble charging for staff.He figures the package could becut by almost $2,000.>>Well, in that case our hidden camera team is being lied to.>>I would say so. ♪ [theme]>>David: How much did the casket cost you?>>$895.>>So we managed to get the wholesale cost for that. Any idea how that is? $175. [ Sigh ]>>David:Closing the deal onyour marketplace.♪ [theme]>>David:The bigbusiness of dying.We’re undercover,six feet under,shopping for a simple funeral.>>David:Simple answers areproving hard to find.David:As sad as funerals are,they’re also a business.>>David:And the staff whohelp you plan areworking on commission.Money means a lot.>>David:This plannerencourages lockingin before losing out.>>David:And with hefty prices,you might easily be convinced.Our industry insider used to doit that way too, but guilt gotthe better of him.>>Shane, how are you?>>David:Now Shane Neufeldcalls himselfa “death care consultant.”>>I’ll take these three.>>David:He believes you shouldbe charged a flat fee.>>Shane:It’s about givingpeople the truth.>>David:And products at cost.>>And the rest of the industry, the big guys?>>Their role is to make as much money as they can. Which is fine, it’s not just something I want to do.>>David:And something he sayshe wouldn’t do, push a packagelike this: with transfervehicles, drivers…a funeral coach?>>David:But do they need tocharge almost $350for that vehicle?>>So we’re at the funeral home. Let’s go and see how far away the crematorium is.>>David:The drivetakes one minute.>>This is the crematorium right here>>Right behind the mausoleum. So we have driven…>>400 metres. That’s a dollar a metre.>>Poor auntie Alice.>>David:Another questionablecost, rental caskets, to viewAunt Alice, who remember,will be cremated.>>David: Sounds hopeful, but…>>David:We get our hands on awholesale price list.That casket cost Arbor $1,695.500 less, and they canuse it time and again.Seems like a sweet deal forthem, not a cost savingsfor us.>>David:We try saving money atanother location.>>I hope we can see what’s below that casket.It is tilted towards you.That makes it much moredesirable to purchase,and then you have this.Down below,underneath the other casket,that is strategically placed.>>David:But they don’twant us to have it.>>David:What’s the big deal?>>David:With more than $1,000on the line,they dig in their heels.>>Looked almost taken aback at the suggestion that — that she wants something simple and –>>That’s a way of making people feel minimized and feeling badly for wanting something simple. I mean, they’re being careful but they’re not being forth right.>>David:So much to watch outfor, and even with time on ourside, it’s not easy when thesell kicks in.>>David:This planner startsout wanting a depositof four grand.>>David:But really he’ll takeanything to close the deal andget the commission.>>David:He continues to push.>>She’s already answered the question, no I don’t think we want to do that right now.>>The idea is lock the business down now while they’re inside.>>Lock it in.>>David:Judy Wood’s sisterthought she’d locked it in,but Judy still had topick up the pieces.What would you say toArbor?>>You need to be more up front. People need for understand that people are hurting, they’re coming in here, relying on you, depending on you to not take advantage. And I think we were taken advantage of.>>David:So who’swatching out for us?Is there enough for you to follow up with Arbor?>>Oh, absolutely.>>David:This isyourmarketplace. [ ♪♪ ]>>David:This isyourmarketplace.Our journey insidethe business of death,reveals a world of highpressure and high costs.>>David:Where the up-sell canadd to your grief.>>David:So who’s meantto protect us,theBereavement Authority of Ontariois one of the fewprovincial regulators.It investigates complaints,keeps tabs on the industry,but regulations don’t coverthe kind of hard sellwe’re seeing.>>Good to meet you.>>Good to meet you too.>>David:The registraris Carey Smith.>>This is 98%.>>98% is mandatory.>>David:He doesn’t like someof what he sees.>>You’re the consumer, you have the ability to pick and choose.>>But he’s saying to us that 98% of what’s on there, we got to take.>>There’s things on here that legislation certainly doesn’t make mandatory.>>Should you be told that you can buy things individually and not in a package?>>Yes, you should be.>>David:But with only threeinspectors for more than 600 funeral homes, tactics like this go unchecked.>>This is basically just anidentification container.>>David:We zero in on thathome that doesn’twant us buyinga cheaper casket.>>So they’re following a law but trying to dissuade as from using the less expensive options.>>They’re certainly trying to dissuade you from using it, I just don’t understand it.>>After we’ve seen all this video any concerns around preplanning salespeople?>>Well you showed me a bunch of examples that certainly are at a minimum disappointing and would cause me to have concerns, and that we’ll have to look into.>>We went to six locations, all six are fromArbor Funeral Homes,a big player in the industry.>>I would be surprised if that’s their corporate values and philosophy, they’re a professional provider.>>Is there enough for you to follow-up withArbor?>>Oh, absolutely.>>David: We do follow up with every salesperson we met, they all say call head office. But despite weeks of discussions withArbor Memorial,they say no to an on-camera interview. We’re not questioning their right to make money, but we do have questions about their sales practices, and their response comes in the form of a statement.>>Hi five. There we go.>>David:To avoid heart ache,shop around.Ask what’s not included,and talk about it.>>Have you told your kids exactly what you want?>>No.>>No.>>It almost seems macabre when you do it, but it should be done. [ ♪♪ ]

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100 thoughts on “Funeral home markups and upselling: Hidden camera investigation (CBC Marketplace)

  1. People are dead but still being taken advantage of …for business sake…that’s why I don’t like funeral business because I’m afraid of ghosts

  2. I don't know if you have this in Canada and USA or other countries but I'm from Scotland uk and you can take out your own funeral plan were you pay so much a month over an agreed amount of years depending on how much you can afford and want to spend so your family don't have to worry about the costs as well as greiving the loss of their loved ones it sadly something we have to think about but I feel peace of mind knowing my family won't have to worry about getting the money if anything did happen some people just don't have the money please look into and see if that is something you can do

  3. $4,000.00 is for a direct cremation, not a funeral and burial. An average funeral is about 10 thousand dollars. The funeral director did not take advantage of her. What is this person upset about? Some funerals cost 1 hundred thousand dollars. You cannot have an open viewing without embalming the remains, unless, the person just died and will be before the day is over. Is this woman out of her mind? The stench of decomposition will put you into a state of seizure. You will be unconscious without general anesthesia. The cheapest service with a rented casket, a service and cremation should cost about 5 to 6 thousand dollars. Have you smell the morgue? You will never be the same person again. Believe me.

  4. Where I live on the Kenai peninsula in Alaska, you can bury your own the old way. We have a free cemetery that is beautiful. You can build your own casket or use a cardboard box. Whatever you want. Some people even donate their time and equipment like an excavator to dig the hole. Ive even known of some who have been buried with shovels by all of their friends. This gave them closure in a way. Some even choose to wash and bathe their own dead loved ones. It can be part of the healing process and not cost your family a ton of money. I want to be cremated myself, but it’s nice this is an option in some states. Many are just not aware it is.

  5. It’s so unfortunate that it’s gotten like this. Whatever happened to having your sons bury you in the backyard family graveyard? Unfortunately you can’t do that anymore cause it’s probably illegal.

  6. I want my casket to be custom made with a device so when the lid is opened it raises my body so it looks like I’m siting up

  7. I cremated my Dad when he died in 2017, over the phone, I live in the East Coast and My Dad dies in LA. It Cost $750.00 total… these people got taken it sounds like.

  8. I have two memorial candles for my Aunt and Pop-Pop, wanted to get two more for my Uncles who have passed they told me that it would be $60 a piece. Asked a family friend, who owns a funeral parlor and he said he could get me a case of 12 for $120…WHAT??!?!! Got the case instead and was able to give my Mom-Mom, Mom and my two living Aunts candles for their sons/brothers.

  9. This funeral home it shiesters. Why would they charge to ID the body and Embalming is only necessary for a viewing not for cremation.

  10. Imagine…all this time I didn't think there was a lower form of life than a lawyer but these bottom feeding scumbags take the cake!

  11. I've been told I would save money by buying a plot and casket for me and my wife when we were making arrangements for my daughter's funeral.

  12. It’s business after al if they don’t make money they will just go into a other field and then nowanna will sell caskets anymore

  13. Why funeral services can't be done as a free community process with taxes that's already being paid by tax payers? Things turn very violently when it comes to selling in North America. Everybody is trying to sell you anything unnecessary to increase bill. As an example in my country Turkey funeral services are completely free provided city hall.

  14. mum dad and my daughter where all dressed . but told we didnt have to embalm . we used life long friends who owned the service and we got the funerals at the proper prices . around £3000 per person . and that wasnt a favour . i insisted on them making a living .

  15. I suddenly lost the use of my legs in 10/2017 and have weeks I cannot remember… (It took 2 years and a lot of PT but I’m walking again!)… I was 35 at the time… I cannot express how important it is to have a plan, regardless of your age… you never know

  16. There's a special place in hell for funeral sales people, I hope to God. Your regular sales people are bad enough but this is taking it to another level.

  17. Gotta love the spin cbc will put on anything, expect more of it since they are shitting their pants with the election upcoming.

  18. "we're under cover..six feet undercover….. we killed ourselves and went in as ghosts undercover to catch these slimeballs in the world of the living"

  19. Oh man arbor is one of the worst! Stay away from the large chains! Go to the independents and understand that a simple cremation shouldn't be more than $1600 to $1800 at most and that's including the deceased being oversized and after hours transfer of the body. I hate that these guys ruin it for the rest of us in this industry. Even if you want a viewing, that's about $250 And should never involve embalming unless the body needs to wait for more than 10 days for the viewing. It involves making the deceased presentable, not fully done up.

  20. What's the problem, these people have the freedom to choose their funeral home. Are people unaware of their options?

  21. Ladies n Gentleman…these are businesses and their sole purpose is to make a profit while providing a service.

  22. I get people need to make money and everything but I think our very last wish should be granted and not charged…

  23. $800 for transfer and cremation of my dad. We ended up spending $1000 total with everything, I feel like that’s fair to pick up and burn a body.

  24. If you're being cremated why would you need a coffin wouldn't they just check your body in the furnace after you're done and then the people see your urn

  25. Why spend so much on a box that is going in the ground? And whose contents will rot and turn into a pile of smelly mush.

  26. That is so sad. The lady totally could have filed a lawsuit against them for embalming against the the family's wishes. Without consent it's a felony I believe?

  27. The scam isn't that they are upselling their product, it's that there is no reason for caskets in the first place. People should be buried simply and in a way that doesn't promote harm to the living environment. Caskets reduce our dead to landfill.

  28. Just another industry where they are 100% out to rip you off and really don't care about you or your loss. Disgusting how people are sometimes.

  29. casket is a waste of money, sturdy cardboard box, will be just fine and bury me in the back garden, I would also put it in my will that if any funeral director tries to rip off my family, I am going to come back and haunt the be-jesus out of them

  30. Selling xmas and thanksgiving item good close it down. Holidays is not what they seem to be. Look how much hate and crime increases in that time frame just watch.

  31. No doubt some shady practices going on, however, they lost me when they attacked the funeral homes markup on the caskets. What difference does it make what the wholesale cost is on the caskets? Are they going after the bottled water industry next. Hell they sell a bottle of water for $1 Pretty sure their cost of the water is $.00001. How dare them mark up an item?

  32. There are no laws that prohibit home burial, but you must check local zoning laws before establishing a home cemetery or burying on private land. It is also legally required to use a funeral director, even if you are burying on private land. Embalming is only required if a person died of a contagious disease.

  33. "We dont condone practices that make our customers feel pressured!" But also has their sales employees make commission

  34. When my grandfather died grandma had him put in his 1970 Chevy Nova and that car was then buried with him in it on his farm.

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