Email Response


Order of the Golden Rule (OGR) is a trade organization of independent funeral homes.  Here’s how they describe themselves:

Founded in 1928, OGR’s mission is to make independent funeral homes exceptional. We do this by building and supporting member interaction, information exchange and encourating professional business development through a wide range of programs, services and resources.

OGR also negotiates discounts for their members with various industry suppliers.  I recently received an email from a company that is a Golden Services Group supplier (OGR’s designation for companies that participate in their discount program).  This email was sent to many GSG suppliers, including our company, because we currently offer a discount through the program.  Here’s the text:

Has anyone else read the last sentence of the paragraph that I’ve copied from the OGR’s email?  I’ve written Connie and Diane an email as I think this goes against the commitment that we’ve made over the years to OGR as being a representative in our respective product offerings.  If all competitors are allowed to attend, the distinction as a GSG Supplier is gone.
 
EXCERPT FROM OGR’S EMAIL:  “As a GSG Member, you have the first option to select a tabletop in this year’s showcase. Please make your reservation using the Supplier Showcase Registration Form. Also included is a floor plan to make your choices, preliminary conference schedule and other details about the showcase. After February 26, OGR will open this year’s showcase to all prospective industry suppliers.”

In effect, the writer is concerned that opening the show to competitors hurts the GSG supplier that has faithfully supplied a great discount to members for several years.  I tend to agree with the writer and voiced as much in a reply.

Then, OGR wrote eveyone to clarify the issue.  Here’s a snippet from their email:

The practice of opening up the Supplier Showcase to non-GSG suppliers was started last year at OGR’s Annual Conference in Nashville. Last year GSG suppliers had first option to purchase a tabletop. We had 5 new companies exhibit who were not in the GSG group because they paid to exhibit in the space that GSG suppliers did not purchase. Again this year, GSG suppliers will be given preferred placement, along with special signage recognizing their company as a member of GSG.
 
There are 60 GSG supplier members to fill the 35 tabletop exhibits at this year’s conference.  Your commitment to participate in the showcase and provide options for the products and services our members ask for and need is essential. Providing the space and related events for a Supplier Showcase is a costly and involved endeavor on the part of any association, but it is one that allows OGR members the opportunity to explore new products that will help them be better at what they do as funeral professionals. Our role is to help make them and their businesses exceptional. Your support of the Supplier Showcase is also toward that end.

So here’s my response:
Ms. Haymes:

It is unfortunate that you are unable to get even 35 of the 60 suppliers to exhibit at the show and, therefore, need to open the expo to outside companies.

 Perhaps you’d find it beneficial to have the perspective of one of GSG suppliers about this situation?  If so, here’s my take.
 
Our company gives a great discount (15%) to your members.  I’m also required to pay a percentage to GSG for the pleasure of selling to your members. 
 
In return, you occasionally mention my products to your members through the magazine, your annual resource book and in faxes and emails.
 
I’m glad that this has been a percentage arrangement, because if I were required to pay you a flat fee every year, I’d have ended our relationship after the first year.
 
How much business do I get from OGR members?  Less than 1% of my annual sales come from your group. 
 
As a marketing plan, being active in OGR has done little for my business.  Your magazine ad rates are comparable to other trade publications, but your distribution is MUCH, MUCH less.  I can’t offer a “hurry, sale ends soon!” call to action in your magazine because your members already get a substantial discount.
 
We plan our trade show attendance by factoring things like cost, location and attendance.  Frankly, even a simple review of your show tells me that I can’t make my money back.  Consider, first, the cost of travel.  Two of us attending will cost $850 for travel (air, hotel, car) if we stay in the cheapest place and drive the economy car.  Then, we’ll have to pay $749 for the first person and $450 for the second to attend the show.  Factor in meals ($100 if we stick with fast food and IHOP) and we’re over $2000 without putting gas in the rental or other incidental costs.
 
All that to reach a few hundred OGR members from behind a 6′ table for less than 1 hour of uninterrupted time on Friday and during a 90 minute lunch on Saturday.
 
To contrast, I recently spent half that amount to get five hours of uninterrupted time with over 400 funeral directors in South Carolina.  And I had a real 10’x10′ booth.  The booth itself costs me less than $600.  And the show planners quickly filled every space.
 
I don’t mind paying for high-quality leads.  I spend thousands to exhibit at the NFDA show each year.  But I expect value for my dollar, which means space, uninterrupted time and adequate foot traffic.
 
Right now, your show’s numbers don’t cut it, so I won’t be exhibiting.
 
But I like OGR.  I have good friends who are members.  I think you are trying to do good work.  It’s just not beneficial to your suppliers (at least this one) right now.
 
Best of luck in the future.
I’ve got issues with a few suggestions they make in their email.  In the second paragraph, there’s an attempt to shift blame with the line “your commitment…is essential.”  Then, an explanation of their inflated prices by claiming that “Providing the space and related events for a Supplier Showcase is a costly and involved endeavor,” while ignoring the basic math involved here.
They’re charging a minimum of $749 for one person to exhibit at a 6-foot table.  Multiply that by 35 spaces and you have over $26,000 in fees.  Imagine, then, if half the exhibitors bring a second person.  At $450 for an additional attendee, there’s an additional $8000.
I’m sure they’ve reserved a nice room for the showcase, but did it cost between $26,000 and $34,000 for three days?
The number one reason we’re not attending?  It’s extremely overpriced.  Like, ridiculously overpriced.
But surely there’s a great opportunity to interact with OGR members and sell lots of product, right?  Here’s what the online schedule shows:
Friday, April 23rd
1:55 – 2:55 pm   Diversity Panel
2:55 – 3:45 pm   Break/Supplier Showcase
3:45 – 4:45 pm   Concurrent Sessions
5:00 – 6:00 pm  Happy Hour/Scholarship Drive
Saturday, April 24th
11:15 – 12:30 pm  OGR Annual Meeting and Officer Installation
12:30 – 2:00 pm   Lunch/Supplier Showcase
2:00 – 3:00 pm  Concurrent Sessions
2:30 pm  Supplier Showcase Closes
That’s 50 minutes of scheduled time on Friday and 90 minutes on Saturday.
A good expo adds content and value to the attendees.  A minimal entry fee, in the form of conference fees for funeral directors and exhibit fees for vendors, pays for the space and services required.  In a perfect world, the showcase charges just enough to suppliers to break even.   
I feel that the amount OGR is charging to vendors is far too much.  As a supplier, I don’t mind paying my fair share.  But I will not attend shows that require me to pay everyone elses share, as well.
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I received an interesting email today.  At first, I thought it was a joke.  But the writer is serious.  Here’s the email:

Hello Tim,
I am very glad to find you and your posts on the internet and your website. I am writing to ask you for help in finding employment. I am a licensed Estetician and am interested in the position of Corpse Beautician. I have been working with the public and applying make up for over 5 years and now find I am interested in this aspect of Estetics. However I have been researching online and not finding anything. Looking at online funderaljobs.com and places like that I have used their search windows and not found anything remotely called ‘corpse beautician’. I have also not found anything like this job description in the long list of funeral jobs in existance.
What I mean to express is that not for looking can I find even on the internet the job of corpse beautician or related position. Do I just not know the official name of this job? Do I just not know the category under which this job is listed? Is it that there is just no listings for this position at this time and my timing is bad?
I live in Houston Texas and I would like to transfer my skills in Estetics to the funeral industry. I don’t know if my serach criteria is bad or if the market is non-existant at this time. Is this position in funeral homes so rare and should I make a point of calling each individually and ask if they employ such persons? Do I need to sell myself and my skills as a new service to a unexposed area?
I simply can’t ascertain the market in my area nor online as I get no results from google searching.
If you have any advice how to approach the market or funeral homes directly and/or how I should go about getting experience on some corpses first before seeking employment I would appreciate it.
 
Sincerely,
Jil W.

After thoughtful consideration, here’s what I sent back to the writer:

Jil:

Thank you for your kind words about my website.  And yes, I can tell you a little more about the job you’re seeking and why there’s not much on the internet about it.

 
First, I’ve never heard the phrase “corpse beautician” before.  Frankly, it sounds in poor taste, which may be why no one uses the title.
 
You would do better to talk to funeral homes about cosmetologist positions or ask about employments as a dressing room attendant.
 
But the more likely reason that you can’t find job listings for the position is that few funeral homes employ someone who only does makeup.  Most funeral homes know that putting makeup on the deceased is such a tiny percentage of the workday, making it a job done by the same person who embalms the body, dresses the deceased and puts them in the casket.
In smaller funeral homes, that person might also empty the ashtrays on the smoking porch, vacuum the chapel, typeset the memorial folder, run the death certificate and stand for the visitation.
 
In fact, some firms that handle 60-80 funerals a year (near the national average, actually) might only have two full-time employees.  That means the licensed funeral director is doing all the preparation and the secretary/assistant does all the jobs the funeral director doesn’t want to do.
 
What I’ve just described is analogous with my experience working in a small, family funeral home.  However, you might be more interested in what I saw at the large corporate firm where I worked.
 
There are several large corporations that own groups or “clusters” of funeral homes across the country.  These clusters operate at their most efficient when they utilize a central prepartion facility to handle the embalming, dressing, cosmetizing and casketing of the deceased for several funeral home locations.
 
In this arrangement, there are folks whose full-time jobs are to embalm and prepare the deceased.  In the large central facility where I worked in the 1990’s, there was a person whose sole job was to dress and cosmetize the deceased clients.
 
Before you get your hopes up, you should know what that job required:
 
Lifiting 100 pounds or more (to lift bodies into caskets)
Manipulating remains for dressing
Making a windsor knot in a tie on a person who’s lying down (harder than you’d think)
Dealing with purge (bodies that leak after embalming)
Lifting, stacking, pushing heavy caskets
Any other thing the funeral directors ask you to do
Still want this job?
 
Seriously, if this is something that you’re interested in, you should call some funeral homes.  But don’t be surprised if they don’t give you the warmest reception.
 
When I worked in the funeral home, I could always tell when a beauty school had just graduated a class because I would get ten calls in a week from freshly-minted cosmetologists who thought they were the first ones ever to look for a job in a funeral home.  And it was sad to have to tell them that my boss handled all the cosmetic work and was actually really good at it.  Besides, how would they make a living coming in once or twice a week for an hour to makeup a few bodies?
 
I hope I haven’t upset you terribly.  I think you will be able to make better decisions about your future with the information I’ve offered.
 
Once last bit of advice:  don’t try to sell yourself as a “corpse beautician.”  Sounds kinda creepy.
 
TIM
Thomas:

For my initial reaction, please see the post, Eternal Space: a Debacle?, on my blog.

 
I’m having trouble getting more details from folks at Eternal Space.  To be fair, my advisory role with them was limited to phone conversations by teleconference and a few in-person discussions at trade shows.
 
Still, I thought I was reasonably well-connected with them and I wish I could get one of them to call me back.  That’s not to say that I haven’t had some correspondence with my contacts.  It just means none of it has revealed more than “we closed the company.”
 
I am still a fan of the concept, as I think that the push toward online environments means that people are looking for a place to memorialize loved ones in a virtual environment. 
 
Unfortunately, concept without skillful execution is the real problem here.
 
Remember, Thomas, that I signed a non-disclosure agreement with EternalSpace, so I won’t share with you the detailed private conversations we had, but I do want to share, in a generic way, the public actions which EternalSpace took that contributed to their current situation.
 
1.  They spent big $$$ to launch a product that didn’t exist yet.  The worst way to introduce yourself to this industry is to tell everyone how great your product is and then not have an actual product to show them.  If our company attended the NFDA show and told everyone how great our covers were and then told them we hadn’t actually finished making any of them yet, I’d return with zero sales and a dimished reputation.  ES would have been better served by plastering huge “Coming Soon” signs on a half-constructed NFDA booth.  As it is, they showed a snazzy video of their concept in a 20×40 booth with expensive white carpeting.  When convinced funeral directors said “let me start selling Eternal Space!” the ES guys had to tell them that the launch wasn’t going to be for several months.
 
2.  They created ads that didn’t reflect their unique selling point.  Don’t get me started on how much full-page ads cost (yes, I know you publish for a living, so I’ll tread lightly), but how effective are dollars spent on generic ads?  The last ad I saw showed an old man in a beekeepers outfit with a quote saying something like “I want my kids to know how interesting their grandfather was.”  Take off the ES logo at the lower right and it could be the ad for any number of other funeral industry companies.  Batesville’s logo might sugggest the ad sells customizable caskets, Messenger’s might signal the release of a new register book theme.  Respectance.com’s logo would look at home also.
 
3.  They overestimated the interest of the industry.  They thought they were “revolutionary.”  Truth is, funeral directors appreciated the pretty booth presentation, but couldn’t figure out how to make good money from the product.  They expected the industry to embrace their offering and built a business plan to bolster this misconception.  Had they realized they were selling a niche product, at best, they would have been better prepared, mentally and financially, for the difficulties they faced.
 
4.  They didn’t respect their audience.  This one’s the reason that everyone who works a trade show for me always dresses conservatively, like a funeral director.  Selling to an audience means first understanding the audience and trying to fit in with them.  A funeral director spends every day in a suit and showing respect to them means sharing that experience.  In my workshop, I wear tennis shoes or sandals (if I wear shoes – if I’m sewing I wear socks so I have more foot pedal control).  But on a trade show floor I want my customers to imagine our product, a removal cot cover, being used by a professional, which means I need to be dressed as one.  The Euro look that my friends at EternalSpace tried to use at the 2008 NFDA show – long, scraggly hair, stubble, shirt unbuttoned halfway – may have looked ready for a swanky nightclub, but didn’t fit in at a decidedly conservative venue like a funeral trade show.
 
5.   They quit too soon.  If they were truly committed to this idea and felt they were onto something, they needed to give their product more than a year to gain acceptance.  Our best sales (at trade shows) always come the second year, as funeral directors who enjoyed seeing the “new product” the first year become purchasers of the new product the second year.  In effect, many directors want to see if the company has legs and can last.  No one wants to buy a car from a company that won’t be around next year and no one wants to sell their families a product that won’t be around for a while.  Even worse, they claimed to offer Eternal memorial space; then they shuttered their site.  Ironic much?
 
Sincerely,
TIM

From my friend, Charles Cowling, who writes The Good Funeral Guide:

Tim,

your post of 13 April made me anxiously wonder why you hadn’t declared an interest, but I guess you hadn’t joined the AC at that stage.

I have to say that I don’t know that I share your enthusiasm for Eternal Space.  Sure, it makes Respectance look clunky, but it could be argued that it does that for itself.  The tributes currently viewable at ES fail to display its capability and are a poor advert.

I’d have thought that the ES market is a niche defined by taste; some are going to like it, others are going to find it tacky or mawkish — but perhaps I am speaking out of turn from a UK cultural standpoint.  I would dispute your assertions concerning the technical brilliance of ES (there’s no animation), and in terms of personalisation (the key to sales) it quickly takes on an air of seen-one-seen-them-all. 

For my money, it’s MuchLoved.com all the way — and it’s free, what’s more. But I shall be following ES with interest. It’s on to something, for sure, but I don’t think it’s anything like there yet.

Charles

This is what I love about Charles:  he writes crafty, insightful critiques.  Do I agree that Muchloved is better?  Don’t know since I only just visited www.MuchLoved.com after reading his response. 

Still, I stand behind my reasons for appreciating Eternal Space.  First, Eternal Space is truly different than a standard online memorial.  That difference is what consumers require if they’re spending money on the services; otherwise, they’d just use the free sites, like Respectance or Much Loved, and save their cash.

Second, Eternal Space will make money for funeral directors.  Will you be able to sell an Eternal Space to every client family?  Absolutely not.  In fact, I doubt more than 10% of client families will even want to hear about ES.  Nevertheless, it’s a simple add-on service that costs you nothing to offer and makes some cash when families do want it.

I think Eternal Space, as a company, has a slim chance of making it work.  But that’s also true for most companies!  Still, I think they’ve got to be very careful about how much cash they burn through as they try to make a big splash in the industry.

Thanks again, Charles, for your insight.  And I’ll pay more attention to MuchLoved.com.

Tim,

Just got back from the ICCFA in Las Vegas. It was a great meeting. This is a great group of progressive thinkers. It’s fun to listen to the different points of view from all sides; funeral, cemetery, cremation, sales and service. The main speakers were all great. Jackie Huba, John Moore, Scott Ginsburg and Doug Gober This year they tended toward the marketing side of things, which is what I like anyway, and encouraged all of us to get out there and tell people our story in every way possible, especially on the internet.

Scott Ginsburg, who has worn a name tag 24/7 for the last 9 years, gave everyone a copy of his latest book “Stick Yourself Out There”. I read the first half on the plane ride home and loved it.

Doug Gober, who always gives great talks, did a whole bit on the Apple vs PC commercials and related it to funeral service. Unfortunately far to many funeral directors look and act like the PC guy and we need to start thinking like Apple. It’s OK to make funerals fun.

The normal vendors were there (no cot covers though) but not as many as NFDA. I saw a few new cremation products that looked promising; a heart pendant that had space for a portion of cremains and a USB flash drive that could hold photos and video, was my favorite.

I do like how ICCFA has the booths open while lunch is served in the same area (They could have used a few more tables and chairs so we didn’t have to find some friendly booth to eat in) The main speakers took place before and after that period and the booths did shut down when those took place. Plus the Cocktail hours on the floor make for great socializing while still wandering the booths.

Your friends at Eternal Space got more press coverage, but I didn’t notice a lot of activity there. I know you and Ryan, from Connecting Directors, are big fans of them but I must confess that it seems a little like “The Sims goes to the Cemetery” for me. I’m still holding out to see if the general public will get this or if it’s just something for the geeks.

I had a great talk with Rob Heppel. He interviewed me for his Funeral Gurus site so maybe soon I will be a big internet star like you, Tim . I also sat in on his Strategy talk. Rob could have skipped the strategy portion for me (I already had most of it downloaded from his site) and just spent 2 hours on tips, examples and new stuff to do on your web site. What I really got out of a lot of these talks was that educational marketing is the way to go and the internet and your web site is the perfect medium for doing this. I already took some of Rob’s advice and grabbed a couple of URL’s so I can become the Funeral Information Guru in my area.

As always it’s the sharing of ideas with fellow members that’s the best. Talking over issues, getting support and letting you know that you’re not in this by yourself and that there are others out there traveling the same road.

Lastly, I’d like to pass along a great YouTube video that Alan Creedy stumbled across and posted on his Facebook page. I liked it so much I put it on my own funeral home website. You’ll need a tissue or two for this one. It’s a great example of what a “good, meaningful and memorable” funeral should be like. It’s real, it’s funny, and it touches your heart. Because we know the best funerals always include great stories. Here is the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw0s4C0g5SM 

I hope this helps you readers.

Dale Clock
Clock Life Story Funeral Home
Muskegon, Michigan
http://www.clockfuneralhome.com

Here’s a letter I recently sent to the department store Kohl’s customer service email address:

Friends:

I recently planned a special shopping trip to your store in Tavares, Florida. While looking for watches, I was greeted by Cheryl (or Sherry, not sure) who was eager to help. She was great. I picked out a watch and she agreed to hold it for me as we shopped for other items.

Enjoying our experience, we decided to get a new slow cooker, some ties, a few water bottles for ourselves and some jewelry to give as Easter gifts.

We returned to the Jewelry counter and presented a 20%-off coupon (for purchases over $100) to Sherry. She began ringing us up.

Our total was $212.89. As I began to swipe my credit card, Sherry asked if I wanted to use my Kohl’s charge. I told her I didn’t have one.

When I asked her what benefit I’d get if I signed up for one, she said I would “save 15% on your order today.”

I agreed to the offer and we began the process. After a few computer snafus, I was approved for $1000 credit from your company. As she started to process the order, I asked her why my total had not changed. Obviously,
I only agreed to the credit card because she had promised over $30 additional savings on my purchase.

Sherry didn’t know why, so she asked another young lady to help her. This associate told her that I couldn’t get the discount because I’d already used a coupon. She offered me a coupon for my next visit.

Some people would call this a version of “bait and switch:” get the customer to agree to a purchase or agreement by promising a specific refund, discount or price, then change it up after the agreement or purchase is completed.

When I asked her to cancel my card, she told me she’d already charged it and I’d have to go to customer service to have it fixed.

HERE’S WHERE THE REAL TROUBLE STARTED.

At this point, I was merely inconvenienced. I headed over to customer service, certain that a level-headed store manager would see the issue and simply offer the promised discount.

I met another nice lady at the customer service desk and, after explaining the issue, waited as she called the manager to the desk.

The store manager, Bridgette Formor, met me in front of the desk (at first I thought that was a nice touch) and asked me to explain my issue. I did. Her answer to my issue was to explain that she wasn’t allowed to “double-dip” discounts and that I was misinformed by the employee.

I restated my claim that I was promised an additional discount and completed a full credit application based upon that promise. She pointed me toward a phone that I could use to cancel my credit card.

As I stared at her in disbelief, she told me that the back of the coupon I used said I couldn’t use it with any other discounts and I should have read it. I asked her “so a piece of paper trumps what your employee tells me
face to face?” She got just a bit “huffy” with me, reiterating that corporate would not let her give two discounts and insinuating that I instigated this problem by being greedy for discounts.

I reminded her that a Kohl’s employee started this by offering a discount and added that if a piece of paper held more weight than her employees, she “needs to do some training about that.”

It was at that moment that the lack of a desk separating us made me feel intimidated, as she raised up to her full height (she’s impressively tall) and let loose.

As her voice rose, she said “That girl’s only been here a week, but I wasn’t going to apologize for her because she’s new.”

Feeling cornered, I told her I didn’t feel like she “was apologizing at all” and that I just wanted to cancel my entire order.

Her response? “Good, we’ll be happy to do that for you.”

So ya’ll lost a $200 purchase, all because one employee made a mistake and a manager decided to back a customer down with intimidation and attitude rather than reason and courtesy.

Of course, this is my account. Why not talk to the customer service desk worker who witnessed the entire conversation or the jewelry counter worker who got chewed out on the phone because she made a simple mistake with me.

Here’s the reason why I won’t be shopping at Kohl’s if Bridgette Formor is the manager: I enjoyed every part of my experience until she decided to accuse me of ripping her store off. I even appreciated the actual remorse that Sherry showed after she realized she’d made a big mistake. At the customer service counter, I presented a difficult situation to the rep there and her attitude and demeanor made me believe that it would be fixed properly. But then I met Ms. Formor and lost all respect for Kohl’s.

Sincerely,
Timothy B. Totten

And here’s the canned email response their computer sent back to me:

Dear

Thank you for contacting us about your recent experience in the Tavares store.

First and foremost, I want to apologize for any frustration and inconvenience that you had experienced in your shopping visit. Your disappointment in regards to the conversation with the store manager is understandable. At Kohl’s we strive to have our customers “Expect Great Things,” and we want to know when you feel we have not lived up to that expectation. I have forwarded your feedback to the members from the Executive Team at that location for their review and follow up. Please allow several business days for us to contact you. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this situation may have caused.

We appreciate the time you took to contact us and we hope that you will allow us another chance to serve you again in the future.

Sincerely,

Meghan B.
Customer Support Representative

So here’s the email I just sent back to them:

To My Seemingly-Inept Friends at Kohl’s:

Thank you for the form letter your forwarded in April 16th.  While I spent a few minutes preparing an explanation of my issue with your store and the reasons why Kohl’s was no longer my preferred department store, you allowed a computer to respond with the heading “Dear” and no name following it.  The unfriendly computer goes on to tell me that my feedback was forwarded “to the members from the Executive Team at that location.”  Clearly, your computer has terrible comprehension issues, since even a quick review of my original email would reveal that my problems were with the Executive Team at that location.
 
It strikes me that this email might also be intercepted by the same incompetent computer, so if that’s the case, here’s my admonition:
 
“Stop stealing Kohl’s email, you bad, bad computer!  I’m sure that Kohl’s is a company that cares about their customers’ experiences and they don’t need some sniveling, form-letter sending, fake-apology offering lazy computer who can’t even figure out a customer’s actual complaint.”
 
Of course, if this letter gets read by an actual human, I’d love for someone to actually respond to my complaint.  Even if all I get is a “piss off” from a Kohl’s representative who goes on to explain that store managers are allowed to accuse a misled customer of trying to steal, I’ll be happy knowing that at least someone behind the cold, computerized curtain of Kohl’s customer service tried to reach out, even if it’s just to sucker punch a paying customer.
 
Oh, and I’ve never given you permission to spam me, so why in the heck do you program your computers to respond to a customer service complaint by sending unsolicited spam email to the person complaining?  Are you trying to guarantee that I never shop at your store again?
 
A customer who won’t be spending $3000 at Kohl’s again this Christmas,
Timothy B. Totten
321-287-0628
 
P.S.  You can read all about my struggles with your company on the blog I write for funeral directors:  www.finalembrace.com.

My second phone call from Lawyer/CPA Bob was really just an “Aha!” message saying he would accept the bet I offered in the post, An FCA Affiliate Speaks Up.

Except my exact quote was “I’d be willing to bet…” which, in simple English, means “I would be willing…with certain conditions.”

Here’s what I actually wrote:

I’d be willing to bet my salary and Mr. Slocum’s almost $50,000 salary  that Lawyer/CPA Bob doesn’t get out of bed at 2 AM for anything close to what the average funeral director makes.

In fact, the phrase “I’d be willing to bet” or “I’d bet” are common figures of speech or colloquialisms and are understood by most English speakers to be non-literal exaggerations.

Do we believe that a teenager who says “If I have to get braces I’ll die!” is actually afraid they will kill her?

Or that a man who proclaims a new device as “the best thing since sliced bread” is serious about the implications to society of the new gadget?

Should Lawyer/CPA Bob claim that I made an actual bet, I’d point out that the bet is difficult to distinguish.  Is he claiming that he does get out of bed at 2:00 AM for a sum close to what the average funeral director makes?

If so, we’ll have to figure out what the average funeral director makes.  Then we have to see how close Lawyer/CPA Bob’s salary is to the amount.

Of course, “close” is relative.  How will we determine if the amounts are “close?”  Is there an international designation for the specific amount the term implies?

And would Lawyer/CPA Bob have to prove that he actually gets up at 2:00 AM on a regular basis (at least as often as the typical funeral director does) or would proof of a few late nights a month be good enough for a court of law?

And who enforces bets?  Are we in Las Vegas, Reno or Atlantic City? 

I’d be interested in hearing some legal opinion on how a rhetorical comment in a editorial could be construed as an actual bet.

I’d almost bet… oops, can’t say that.  I’m fairly certain (in a non-threatening, editorial way) that I’ve got some protection under the First Amendment.  I also believe that I have not threatened or libeled Mr. Slocum, Ms. Bennett or Lawyer/CPA Bob in any way.

Mr. Slocum responded with well-reasoned emails and an invitation to call him if I wanted to talk more about his company.  Ms. Bennett offered her opinion and asked me “Since when is that wrong?”  I offered my opinion back to her in the post, An FCA Affiliate Speaks Up.

Now Lawyer/CPA Bob decides that mildly-harrassing phone calls, placed from a “restricted” number, are appropriate to the conversation.  He’s clearly calling for personal reasons, as he won’t reveal his last name or contact information.

He’s wrong.  Frankly, the only reason I can imagine that he would make such calls and vague quasi-threats is that it gives him some pleasure to intimidate others.

I am not intimidated, but  I understand his initial viewpoint:  he likes Mr. Slocum.

I’ll grant that many people may like Mr. Slocum.  Heck, after a conversation, I might like Mr. Slocum. 

But Lawyer/CPA Bob decided to sink to harrassment, while my main complaint remains the same:  FCA’s primary public interaction (with non-members – the vast majority of Americans) is fear-based.  FCA is best served when they get stories placed in news sources that scare the public into signing up for memberships or buying publications.

When 70% of your annual expenses pay employee-related costs (salaries, benefits, payroll taxes, etc.) the main purpose of your organization is to fund employees.

Are the employees still doing the work of the organization?  Gosh, I hope so.  Otherwise, they’d just be stealing from their members.

I’m sure that Mr. Slocum and others within local FCA’s believe they are doing important work.  Unfortunately, they equate choosing a funeral home based upon price as the most intelligent and savvy move.

They reinforce this by falsely accusing the majority of funeral directors of being greedy or crooks.

I disagree with that remark and I encourage all funeral directors to educate your community.

If you don’t, FCA will.  And Clearly, based upon FCA’s tax returns, it pays to do so.

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