Even under the best circumstances, the funeral casket-buying process brings tremendous financial and emotional stress. Until recently, most caskets were purchased from a local funeral home in the immediate shock after the death of a loved one. Consumers are particularly vulnerable in the early stages of morning death, making them extremely susceptible to predatory selling techniques, including unnecessary upsells, package selling, and price gouging. They find themselves in a situation where there doesn’t seem to be enough time or information to make a smart, informed buying decision, and may feel coerced into a purchase.
In today's digital age, the convenience of online shopping extends even to sensitive purchases like funeral caskets. With retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Costco, along with specialized online vendors, offering a variety of caskets, you can find affordable options without leaving your home. This guide will help you navigate the process of selecting a casket online, ensuring a choice that is both respectful and budget-conscious.
Understanding the ‘Funeral Rule’
Before making a trip to a funeral home or casket showroom, you should be aware of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Funeral Rule. Central to the Funeral Rule is the General Price List (GPL). According to the Funeral Rule, funeral directors are required to provide a copy of the GPL to anyone who makes a request in person for information about goods and/or services of the establishment. This information is not merely shown to the individual in a bound folder in the office of the funeral home but a GPL copy must be given to the consumer to take home.
Although the FTC Funeral Rule is federal law, there are a few states where the state licensing board for funeral directors has managed to still impose state law that dictates that third-party casket sellers cannot operate unless they are a licensed funeral home. In Louisiana, Oklahoma and Virginia only a licensed funeral director can sell a casket.
A funeral home should not refuse to use a casket purchased elsewhere. Nor are they allowed to add a “handling fee” if you order a casket on your own. By Federal Law, you have the right to purchase your casket anywhere you choose. However, it is possible that you will meet with resentment at the funeral home since they will be losing a large percentage of profit on this transaction.
Establishing Your Budget
Before exploring online casket options, setting a clear budget is crucial. This step helps in narrowing down your choices to those that align with your financial plan, making the selection process more manageable.
Collaborating with Funeral Directors
Consulting with a funeral director can also be helpful for comparison shopping. A local funeral professional can also provide guidance on delivery logistics and any specific requirements, ensuring seamless integration with your funeral arrangements.
Visiting Showrooms for Inspiration
Although you're buying online, consider visiting a casket showroom or a funeral home. This visit allows you to physically see and feel different types of caskets, aiding in making a more informed online decision.
Prioritizing Customer Support
Verify that the retailer offers robust customer service when shopping for a casket online. A responsive customer service team is crucial for addressing queries or concerns, particularly in sensitive purchases.
Understanding Pricing and Shipping Details
Ensure transparency in pricing by checking for additional costs, such as delivery fees. Remember, under The Funeral Rule, funeral homes cannot charge extra for using a casket purchased elsewhere. Confirm the online retailer's delivery scope and timeline. Ensure they can deliver to your location within the required timeframe, keeping in mind that expedited shipping might incur additional charges.
Researching Vendor Reputation
Investigate the online vendor’s reputation through the Better Business Bureau and online customer reviews. Personal referrals from friends or family who have recently made similar purchases can also be invaluable.
Considering Pre-Need Programs
Funeral homes have been able to offer purchasing a casket as part of their pre-need and pre-arrangement programs. The money paid for a pre-arranged funeral contract goes into a state trust fund. Overnight Caskets can now offer an easy way to secure the purchase of a casket with their pre-need program. You can purchase a casket payment plan where the funds go into a trust fund, and safely secure your casket purchase at today’s prices. Payment plans are flexible, and your casket will be shipped to the funeral home at the time of need.