When we first started campaigning for fairer funerals in 2014, only 10% of funeral directors in the UK had any prices at all on their websites. This presented a big problem for people trying to find a funeral within their means. Funerals are expensive – the cost has more than doubled since 2004 – but when we’re grieving, talking to people about funeral costs is often the last thing we want to do.
If you’ve gone through the painful experience of talking to a company about the funeral of a loved one, most of us don’t want to do it all over again.
So being able to compare prices before we approach a company is incredibly important. It could also save us from spending money we don’t have - the fact is, there are big differences in what different funeral companies charge for the same goods and services.
Every day we support people struggling with funeral costs. It became really clear to us that online price transparency is one of the single most important things funeral directors can do to help people find a funeral within their means.
But when we first started asking funeral directors to put prices on their websites, the response from some parts of the industry was far from enthusiastic.
Although many funeral directors were already ahead of the curve, making prices transparency on and offline, a lot of other companies responded with a long list of practical and professional reasons about why they couldn’t and wouldn’t put prices on their websites.
That was three years ago.
Fast forward to today, and the NAFD, who represent 80% of the funeral industry, have found that a third (33.5%) of their members have prices online. This is a huge increase from just a year ago, when only 25% of their members had online pricing. Another third (36.5%) of members are planning to put pricing information online by 2019.
Strong leadership from the NAFD is partly to thank for this upsurge in transparency. They’ve committed that by 2020, all their members will have some form of online pricing.
And by sticking to our guns, making the case time and time again for why online pricing helps grieving people, we’ve shifted the mainstream practices of an entire industry. We thank all our supporters and partners for their help in making and winning this argument.
NAFD President, Alison Crake, of family firm Crake and Mallon on Teesside, said:
Today, when it comes to the majority of consumer purchases, people want to be able to do their research online first. Although it can be difficult for newly bereaved people to shop around when they are in what is often described as the ‘fog’ of grief, by putting our prices online funeral directors are helping them to make an informed choice and to feel prepared when they walk through our doors.
“This move is also about encouraging people to plan ahead – something not enough of us do these days. Hopefully a combination of online research and the chance to talk with a professional funeral director will help to make more people feel comfortable in putting some plans in place for the end of their life, or the funeral of someone close to them.”
At a time when so many of us would struggle to afford a funeral, this change in the way funeral directors do business is brilliant news for a fairer society.
The Fair Funerals pledge
Our voluntary pledge asks funeral directors to be open about pricing, including on their website. View our digital map to see which funeral directors in your area have signed the pledge.