Why are funerals so expensive?
Thu, 06 Sep 2012 7:00p.m.
Funerals can be expensive affairs - $9000 is an average figure in New Zealand - but why does it cost so much?
Most of us don't ask questions, we just do what we've seen done before - we engage a funeral director and more or less leave it to them.
So Campbell Live’s John Selwood has asked the questions we might be too sad, too busy, too shy… or too dead to ask ourselves.
Watch the video.
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30/05/2013 3:16:34 p.m.
I can see that in cases of sudden or traumatic death the services of a funeral director are invaluable, but I wonder if people realise how easy it is arrange a funeral? If the death is expected there is plenty of time to think about what can be done. Even preparing a body for cremation or burial is within the range of an ordinary person, particularly with the aid of the palliative care team. With the guidance and assistance of the Hospice nurses I prepared my father's body - to me it is last personal thing you can do for someone you love. From there it was just a question of transferring the body to the casket and transporting it to the crematorium. Talking with the crematorium staff beforehand meant that we knew exactly what we had to do and they provided the forms for us to take away and fill in. I understand that this is not what everyone wants, but I do think that if people knew how easy it was they would be flabbergasted. Money was not the issue - but I would have to say that apart from the cremation fee, the cost was no more than $300. It means that we can now donate $8000 to the Hospice.
30/10/2012 2:03:08 p.m.
Christopher McDonald wrote:
I make special coffins. They may not be cheap, but they are crafted with the utmost care given to design and detail. I don't sell my coffins to funeral directors because the mark up rate in almost all instances is +100%. If I sell to a funeral director I have to "give it away" because nobody will buy it if I get a fair return and they add their 100%!!! I do sell through Trade Me and through my website LastPost.co.nz.
Of course funeral directors are going to protect their "patch" as some of the comments from FDs and supporters above show. It is interesting how they won't be transparent about their pricing isn't it!!
26/09/2012 5:12:48 p.m.
Another gotcha is to note the fees quoted are GST exclusive! Just who is able to claim the GST component of a funeral back from the IRD? Why isn't GST tacked on to the quoted prices.
18/09/2012 10:54:07 p.m.
Funeral directors costs are absolutely ridiculous,the government should being looking into their costs,like any other business you have the right to a detailed account.re: their professional fees,re: casket cost over and above what they purchase them for? Campbell live good on you but get a bit more indepth re their costs
18/09/2012 11:16:53 a.m.
Kerry Rowlands wrote:
I thought this piece was excellent and just wish I had seen it a couple of weeks earlier. We received the bill for my Grandmothers casket etc and found one cost for "professional services" excessive. When I asked the Funeral Director to clarify what that entailed he mentioned registering the death, placing an ad, use of facilities. I pointed out there was an additional administration cost which surely covered placing an ad and registereing the death. My Grandmother is from a remote part of NZ so we held the tangi seperate from the Funeral Director. I personally would welcome more regulation and transparency to the industry as I feel like some costs are excessive and the answer I got was basically "it is what we charge", "it is industry standard" without qualification of what was done for specific charges.
8/09/2012 6:01:36 p.m.
To all the Funeral Directors, you do such a wonderful job. It is not an easy job to do. We had the service for my best mates mum yesterday and thankfully, the Funeral Director actually knew her, so everything was perfect. People do not understand what it takes to prepare a body, to dress and make up the face, to try and get it spot on because you know, that if one thing is different to their noraml look, the family can become distraught. I certainly don't begrudge the Funeral Homes their fees. They will often work with you to cut down on costs etc. I would wonder about the cost of the plot more than the F.D's fees. But then, some Cemetaries, like, for instance, Te Awamutu, keep the plots and surrounds in tip top condition, so it would need to be taken into consideration. The fee vs personal responsibility for maintenance. Worth it in most cases. Right at this moment, I would not be able to afford a funeral for a goldfish let alone a loved one...and apparently, having your own cremation at the back of the farm is not allowed...hrmph!! ;P (I would like to know why...If the death is confirmed legal and is registered...why not?!! Would be a lot cheaper to have a bonfire (that is in my cultural ancestry!!)I guess in some ways, it does come down to money, but don't blame the Funeral Directors, they do a wonderful job, a job that not everyone can, or is willing, to do.
7/09/2012 8:28:23 p.m.
I saw your report on funerals last night and was a little concerned at the flippant and challenging way your reporter dealt with such an enormous topic in such a short time. It was belittling to funeral directors who are professionals in their field and who mostly give beyond what they are paid for, to the families of the deceased. Ok some people do want the cheapest way to dispose of the body and that might be all right for some, but for others, they need the assistance of the funeral director who is able to co-ordinate and ensure everything runs smoothly. A death is not just about the funeral and there are many things to consider and organise as well as all the paperwork. People have always been able to run their own funeral, just like they have been able to do their own plumbing/building/ /represent themselves in a court of law/ do their own accounts/ be a doctor to their own families, but there are definitely times when a professional is needed for all of those things including dealing with death . My husband has been a funeral director for more than 25 years and has always worked above and beyond the hours he has been paid for. These days, people certainly have more input into having a funeral the way they want it and the funeral director is there with the knowledge and expertise to help as much or as little as required. As for gripes about the standard service fee charged – have you thought about costs to have the funeral director who has to be on call 24/7 (and IS called out) and has to have his car cleaned, filled with petrol and at the ready 24/7 and all his equipment etc up to scratch to deal with each situation as it arises. Flexibility plus is required! Give the funeral directors credit for dealing with some not-so-nice situations, the whole gamut of personalities - frequently in intense grieving mode and making it all work out smoothly for the family and friends concerned.
7/09/2012 6:11:01 p.m.
Tamara Linnhoff wrote:
Rose/Mike - completely agree with what you're saying. The sections of the interview in which it was stated that funeral directors carry out a vital service, and almost families choose to use the services speaks volumes. DIY is not easy, and the logistics for example of preparing a body for viewing (whether embalmed or not), or simply transporting someone in a dignified way, and the overhead costs of a funeral home's premises or chapel were completely ignored. The section of my interview where I compared a funeral to a wedding - many people prefer the traditional steps, and a few are fine to have a low key affair at home, was edited out. That's the nature of trying to fit such a huge topic into 5 mins - impossible to be balanced. I'd like to stress that the Good Funeral Guide website is not a "DIY guide" as described - it's a guide to help families be aware of which aspects of a funeral they might be able to do themselves to lower costs, not to reduce the remove the role of a funeral director. From the website: :Funeral Directors can play an important part in supporting a family through the difficult first days, and making arrangements for an appropriate funeral. Many funeral directors are open to families taking part or leading however much of the logistics as a family wishes.
Family led funerals with no funeral director involvement are possible, but probably only feasbile for those who have planned ahead, or can handle the logistics of organising an event at a time of great stress." This wasn't accurately reflected on the show. Lastly, lower cost can be dignified, but cutting costs too low does risk cutting too many corners - families still often do want to spend time with a loved one before cremation or burial, which takes time and may involve some worthwhile some expense.
7/09/2012 9:39:20 a.m.
Rose & Mike Anderson wrote:
As a funeral director and the owner of a funeral home I was horrified by the cost of funerals section on Campbell Live. When people say the cost of a funeral is $9000 dollars they forget to mention that often times over half of that amount is disbursements that the funeral home carry for the family. The funeral service fee is adjustable in line with what work the funeral home does for the family- for instance a graveside service would not incur the same fee as a full service, and a direct to the crematorium funeral (which we do do as well) would not obviously incur the full fee either. The idea that funeral directors just wear nice suits and drive flash cars belies the fact that they deal with all the aspects of the death... the care of the body, body preparation, family dynamics (which can be very interesting and require careful handling at times). Funeral directors are available to the public 24/7, and have to cope with every situation that comes up whether it be arrangements, legal, advisory, emotional, practical aspects, etc... The directing of the funeral is a very small part of our job. The fees we charge reflect that and we do not apologise for our fees, just as any other business does not apologise for theirs. There are many aspects of the care of the deceased that the average person just doesn't want to know about, and certainly doesn't want to have to handle. We work hard with our families to create a farewell that is unique to the person who is deceased, and in line with the budget a family has. Help is available through WINZ etc, and there are many ways of keeping costs down. Pre arrangement and pre paying a funeral are good ways of managing this aspect of our living - because we are all going to die at some stage - so why not be prepared. It's one thing to say - just take me to the crematorium, but the funeral, while it is about the person who died, it is FOR those left behind. The "cheap" option does not always fulfill the purpose.
7/09/2012 9:33:48 a.m.
Deb Borlase wrote:
Watched John Sellwood story very informative. Mum died two weeks ago in Taupo where Funeral home charged $2141 for prep, coffin and details very good then I drove her to Auckland for service and burial in Howick. Used Davis Funerals Pak just for storage and attending funeral organised flowers - no problem with disbursements $3047.96 then $1840. plus gst on top total $5421.96 ridiculous as I organised the service and we already had the plot - now I am dealing with a dispute over their Invoice when it would be nice to just have some time out after everything - the words licence to print money come to mind and yes my Mum would also have had a fit if she knew May end up at "Fair Go". Keep up the good work Campbell Live
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