You’d never walk into the nearest car dealership and buy whatever model and options the salesperson recommended, but that’s exactly how most people buy funerals. Most pick a funeral home that’s nearby—even if they’re not going to use it for a viewing or service—or one they have used in the past—even if they were unhappy.
While people shop around for cars, appliances and clothes, and happily share shopping tips, few people visit more than one funeral home and rarely share price information, even with close friends.
Unlike other products and services, funeral prices are not easily accessible, so most people are shocked to learn how enormously prices can vary between funeral homes, even those just blocks apart. [see How to Shop for Cremation and Prices]
To make matters worse, most people are making this first time purchase under time pressure and in the throes of grief; circumstances that can make anyone vulnerable and unable to make clearheaded decisions.
To compound the problem, the only place most people know to go for advice is the funeral home. And, while most funeral directors are compassionate, caring people, they are all salespeople running for profit businesses.
Did You Know?
Since few people comparison shop, most don’t know that funeral home prices vary greatly, even in the same town.
In central NJ, funeral home charges for direct cremation range from $340—$5,040. For the same thing!
There are more than 700 funeral homes in NJ, but fewer than 350 are needed to support the death rate.
If you go to a funeral home the funeral director is required by law to give you a General Price List (GPL) that itemizes the costs of all goods and services. That makes it easy to compare prices.
If you don’t want to hold a viewing or a service in a funeral home, you don’t need to choose a funeral home that’s nearby. Shopping further afield can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
We Can Help
The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Princeton (FCAP) is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organization that is not associated with the funeral industry. We provide objective support, education and advocacy. We offer tools to empower you to make informed, thoughtful decisions about funeral and memorial arrangements before they are needed.