Once upon a time, the only folks who asked for a discount on their funeral bill were destitute people or those from cultures where haggling and bartering are more commonplace.

In fact, every Hindu funeral I ever helped arrange was negotiated by the family, even though they were often wealthy business owners driving expensive cars and living in upscale neighborhoods.  But we were never offended, as we understood that bargaining is a part of the way Hindu business owners in our part of the world (Central Florida) do things.

However, more and more Americans of all cultural backgrounds are being fed a constant diet of advice from financial consultants and personal finance writers who encourage their minions to demand discounts, since “it never hurts to ask.”

Personal finance writers claim that “paying full price” = “throwing money away.” 

At one time, the embarrassment of asking for a discount at such an emotional time would deter families from seeking a discount.  In turn, the tacit understanding that clients would not begrude a fair price, coupled with the honesty required by the profession (since most firms operate in small communities, dishonesty is usually sussed out quickly and the firm shunned by the potential clientele) meant that the price on the GPL reflected the costs required to keep the business running, with a tidy profit added to keep the owner comfortable.

Unfortunately, I’ve been hearing more and more reports from funeral directors who are getting counteroffered when they present the bill during an arrangement conference.  While some of these folks claim they have not prepared for a death (remember the days when Americans actually saved for the future and knew that they would die one day?), many are simply looking to save a few bucks because they’ve been told how deceitful and underhanded morticians are.

This selfish attention to “getting the best price at any cost” and the belief that a businessperson who expects a 4-8% return on their investment is a huckster, means that most funeral directors will have to build discounts into their GPLs, which will actually cause more pain for the consumer who doesn’t ask for a discount and doesn’t want to haggle.

Consider:  how many people LOVE going to a car dealership?  In my experience, few people do, because they know how the game works.  They have to fight and scratch to get the best price, for fear that they’ll be taken advantage of.

Add that unpleasant experience to an already-difficult time at a funeral home, and you have the perfect reason to skip the funeral home altogether.