Dear Abby recently printed a letter from Doris in Florida who writes about being propositioned by a preneed salesman after giving a funeral home her name, address and phone number in exchange for a free laminated bookmark with her deceased friend’s obituary.  Read her full story here.

Having seen this first hand at my own area SCI locations, I had to respond:

Dear Abby:

I was dismayed and annoyed to read the concerns of Doris in Florida about being asked to make funeral arrangements after giving her name to a funeral home in exchange for a free laminated bookmark with the deceased’s obituary.

I’m dismayed because, having worked in the funeral industry in Florida, I’ve seen this practice take place at several area firms.  My most recent experience was with SCI (Service Corporation International, the largest consolidator of funeral homes with over 2000 firms) funeral homes and cemeteries in Central Florida.  Working for their competitor, I had to ask them to stop asking OUR clients for names and addresses when we buried a person in their cemetery.  More than once we were forced to remove their book which solicited information in this way.

I’m annoyed because of the further damage this does to the funeral industry.  The majority of funeral professionals are hard-working, compassionate folks who are intent on providing the important functions that allow for a celebration of life.  And while I disagree with Doris about costs (her friend was under no obligation to purchase from this funeral home and the funeral home is allowed to change their prices, just like any other business) I completely agree that this misleading tactic is rude and dangerous.  While Doris shouldn’t have expected to get something for nothing (I seem to recall advice about a “free lunch”), the funeral home should have disclosed the real reason for their “free” offering.

Running a funeral industry blog (www.finalembrace.wordpress.com) and with 10+ years of experience in the field, I know the hearts of the vast majority of funeral providers.  Our hearts go out to Doris and her friend.

Sincerely,
Timothy B. Totten

I strongly encourage everyone to respond when you see this type of information.  Such stories begin to change your community’s attitudes about funeral directors.  By sharing your views, you have the opportunity to let the community know who you really are and encourage the media to think of you as a resource for funeral-related stories.

Publicity is good (except maybe the kind Dear Abby’s been giving our industry).  Get yourself into the limelight in your community.  Let them know that you’re an “expert” who can be called upon for information and advice.

( Special Thanks to BT Hathaway of Funeral Words for turning me on to this story.)

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