Caskets: Should You Buy at The Funeral Home or Online?

Funeral planning includes purchasing a casketChoosing a casket for a friend or loved one is not a simple process – between choosing a special casket that represents the tastes of the deceased to deciding what materials the casket will be made of, many grief-stricken family members are too exhausted to object to the price.  While funeral planning is a trying time for all, it’s important to remember that you do have certain rights when choosing a casket, which are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission – and it’s important to know what exactly those rights are.

Consumer advocates and funeral homes lobbyists have long battled over the rights of individuals to purchase third-party caskets, since many consumers found the inflated prices of funeral home caskets to be particularly deceptive.  In response to complaints, the Federal Trade Commission passed the “Funeral Rule” in 1984, which states that a consumer has the right to purchase a casket from a third-party vendor – and the funeral home must use that casket according to your requests.  While many funeral homes have grown to accept this new law, many homes will only mention these cheaper alternatives when you request more information.  It’s worth knowing the FTC’s “Funeral Rule” and your rights before meeting with a representative about your loved one’s service, especially if you want to secure as fair a price as possible.

If you’re still not sure whether or not you’d prefer to buy online or at the funeral home, here are a few important points to consider:


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Is Price Important? It’s not uncommon for funeral homes to raise prices on a similar casket that you can find online.  Third-party retailers can offer heavily discounted caskets due to sheer volume; additionally, many retailers have partnered with airlines like Delta and Continental Airlines to offer reduced prices for shipping caskets to friends and family members of the deceased.  In this instance, it may be beneficial to purchase a casket online, as you can save thousands of dollars on a casket for your loved one.

Are You Looking For Convenience? For many who are grieving, the last thing that they want to do is hunt around online for a casket simply to save money.  If this sounds familiar, then you may benefit from ordering your casket through the funeral home, since it’s tantamount to one-stop shopping.  At the funeral home, you can also see and touch your loved one’s potential casket, which is an experience that you can’t have when shopping online.  If you’re more comfortable with handling funeral preparations at once, then choosing a casket at a home might be right for you.

Do You Know An Impeccable Vendor? Unless you know of a third-party vendor with an impeccable reputation, choosing a casket online can often be a nerve-wracking experience for many individuals.  How do you know that the casket will arrive on time?  Will the casket look the same as it does online?  Will you receive an undamaged casket?  Make sure you know that the online vendor has a spotless reputation before placing your order – you’ll spare yourself from any potential heartache and frustration.

Do You Want Security? Ordering online may save you money, but many individuals may find more comfort in being able to see the casket before the service.  While many third-party retailers have spotless reputations, when it comes to secured shipping and handling, there’s still a small risk that the casket could be damaged or lost.  If you order your loved one’s casket online, make sure you insure it so you prevent any financial losses should the casket become damaged during shipment.  However, make sure you have a back-up plan should the casket arrive damaged – or not at all.

Should you choose to order online, the funeral home may refuse to sign for the casket when it’s delivered– however, the Federal Trade Commission insists that staff members must sign for consumer caskets if they routinely sign for their own, so make sure that you underscore your rights when preparing for your loved one’s funeral.  In many cases, consumers are unaware of their rights in the funeral industry, so arm yourself with knowledge in order to secure a fair deal with less hassle.  After all, a funeral is about mourning and celebrating the life of a loved one, not haggling with funeral home directors – the more knowledge you have about what you want and what you’re looking for, the quicker you can get back to grieving with friends and family members.

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