A message from our Founder
Thank you for taking the time to read this message. I have posted this in response to the Toronto Star / CBC Marketplace report on Friday. This report showed hidden camera video of some very questionable business practices at a number of Ontario Funeral Homes and Cemeteries. These practices are not just limited to one large company, and this practice is not something new it has been in place for decades. These practices include extreme mark ups on products, in some cases upwards of 348%, as well as sales tactics that are high pressure and misleading. Unclear pricing in many cases is why families get caught in this trap. All of this may be a shocking revelation to some, but to me it is something that not only have I been aware of for almost 20 years, it is something I have been fighting against for years through consumer awareness and advocacy. The good news is that there are still honest trustworthy Funeral homes, cemeteries and cremation services out there, in fact they are in the majority. The challenge for consumers is figuring out who are the ones you can trust?
Here is the best advice I can give you. Search for providers in advance, this will prevent you from making a decision under pressure, shop around online. Most if not all Funeral Homes, and Cemeteries have a website, the problem is that not all have price lists or pricing of any kind displayed online. To me that is a big red flag. If a service provider does not want to show you their price list on their website, the question to me is why not? I would keep looking for a provider that has no problem with giving you honest, clear and instant access to their pricing. Once you have an idea of what the services you want and the cost, you can then make an informed choice of which provider you wish to contact. Before you make contact, have a list of questions ready. Take a friend or family member who is not as emotionally involved as you may be. Do not disclose financial information about the size of the estate or life insurance benefit amounts until you have established a price on the services you want. Realize the boundaries of the relationship between you and the establishments representative. This person may be empathetic, but they may also be on a commission and that may be an incentive to have you spend more. Most importantly ask if there will be any additional fees, above and beyond what you have agreed on. This is especially important if you are pre arranging , the last thing you want is for your family to be burdened with an unexpected bill for thousands of dollars after you have passed. If at any time a funeral arranger tells you that embalming or viewing / identifying the deceased is required by law, be aware this is absolutely not the law. This may be a funeral home policy, which is completely different then being required by law.
If you have already made pre arrangements with a provider that you feel may have used some questionable practices, you do have the right to under the law to cancel or transfer your pre arrangement. There are many upstanding providers in Ontario, with a little bit of research you will find peace of mind to know your family will be taken care of the way that every person deserves at a time of loss. If you have had an experience with a provider that you feel was something similar to the experiences in the report, please contact the BAO, at 1-844-493-6356, they are looking out for your best interest. For further helpful advice and assistance please visit www.thebao.com The governing organization that regulates Funeral Homes, Cemeteries and Cremation Services in Ontario.
Since the Market Place Report on Friday , our funeral home has been flooded with calls from consumers wanting to know if we are owned by one of the companies featured in the report. I am proud to say that we are not, we are independently and locally owned. I have been advocating consumer protection my entire career, and I am also very proud to display our price list in a clear and easy to understand manner on our website. I must also note that our pricing and mark up is among the lowest in Ontario, which I am also very proud of.
After seeing questionable practices in undercover video of Funeral home and Cemetery staff in action, one consumer called and asked why “mystery Shoppers”, are not sent to establishments randomly to see if they are following the law and what sales tactics they may use? I thought that was a great suggestion. Maybe the BAO, may want to explore this as a tool to make sure that these sorts of business practices becomes a thing of the past. I realize that the BAO is doing its best to enforce legislation and protect the public interest. However with 640 Funeral Homes and over 66,000 know burial sites to oversee, It would seem like a difficult task, considering there are only 3 inspectors in all of Ontario. I would call on the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, to dedicate more funding to allow the BAO to hire more inspectors to help enforce legislation and protect the public interest.
My response to concerns from consumers is to start a petition, (which is accessible on our website, as well as change.org and in person at our locations), this petition calls on the Provincial Government to amend the FBCS Act 2002, to require Funeral homes, Cemeteries and Cremation Services to publish their General Price List, on any websites the establishment has. This simple change in legislation will advance bereavement consumer protection into the year 2017. Once this change is made it will empower the consumer to avoid over paying for services and products that they can not afford, and may not even want.
PLEASE CLICK SIGN OUR PETITION
REQUIRE FUNERAL HOMES, CEMETERIES, AND CREMATION SERVICES TO POST PRICE LISTS ON WEBSITES
Knowledge of pricing is key to consumer information, and the number one question consumers are seeking answers to. This simple action of making this mandatory will help insure that grieving families are not taken advantage of during a time of loss. Please help us by signing this petition: Make price lists mandatory – Change.org