The need for price transparency does not stop at prices on websites. It extends to clients knowing what costs they agree to when they make the funeral arrangements.
The NAFD Code of Practice Principles requires that its members “treat your clients and prospective clients fairly, with respect and dignity, keeping in mind that some may be vulnerable” and “after taking instructions, you promptly provide your client with a clear printed or written itemised estimate that clearly states why each charge is included”.
The SAIF Code of Practice requires that “clients must be provided with a detailed written estimate at the time of arranging the funeral or, if that is not achievable then as soon as practicable afterwards.”
As a profession, we know that funeral directors want to do the best for their clients by arranging a personal and meaningful funeral. For all clients, particularly those who do not shop around for whatever reason, having a breakdown of the costs of the funeral arrangements is crucial. This knowledge enables them to plan their payments, whether from the deceased’s bank account, their funds, or whether they need to explore other options to raise the necessary money.
Our dedicated helpline, Down to Earth, has recently spoken to people who have made funeral arrangements but have no idea what the funeral will cost. Although the helpline does not usually begin 1-2-1 support to clients after the funeral has taken place, we do get contacted by families who have received an unexpectedly high bill at a point where they cannot make changes to the arrangements.
This situation leads to great worry and stress for these clients and can negatively impact their financial well-being. It also increases the risk that the funeral bill won’t get paid, leading to bad debts and bad feeling between the client and the funeral director.
By providing clients with complete information about the funeral costs, not only online but in relation to their specific arrangements, funeral directors give the client the power to make the right choices for their circumstances. This includes enabling them to review the costs of those choices so they can make changes, if necessary, to improve affordability and seek financial help as soon as possible where needed.