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Tips for the dark side of life

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  #1  
Old 08-07-2004, 07:20 PM
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Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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Tips for the dark side of life

I'm posting this in hopes it might help someone. It will soon be 6 years since we lost one of our sons. We had him buried in what we think is the nicest cemetery in our area. This thread is not about him or us. It's about something you should consider concerning big business and death. Here is my experience with it.

When he passed away, we bought a marker with a carving of a man fishing to mark his grave, but we didn't buy a family monument at that time. Recently, we've noticed that the carving (called a skin cut) was getting to the point that the figure was extremely hard to see. We expected this to last forever when we bought it. It is still there, but as dirt comes in contact with the granite, the image becomes difficult to see. When we complained about it, we were told they would replace or repair the marker for $130.00, and we were also told that the salesperson should have never sold us this particular granite to be used with a skin cut because of the grain structure in the granite. Our contention is that the salesperson acted in representation of the cemetery, and it should be replaced without charge. The monetary part is not what bothered us, but the principal of the thing certainly is. I told the person handling this that this was not acceptable as far as I was concerned, and he told me he would take it up with the board of directors. He knew we were considering buying a family monument now, and the next day he told me it would be replaced without charge. At this point in time, I was not very impressed with the way they handled the situation.

We found out that there is a large variance in pricing from different businesses for the very same monument. It is unlawful for a cemetery to tell you that you must buy a monument from them instead of competitors.

We spent some time with the salesperson for the cemetery, looking at different options for a monument. Whenever we asked him for a price, detailing the different charges, or other information we would need to do comparison shopping, he refused to answer our questions directly (even though we didn't tell him we were shopping), but always gave us an answer that would make it hard for us to shop elsewhere. He absolutely refused to give us the information, no matter how we asked. He always had an excuse, such as time restraints. He also told us the color of the granite we were considering was dark black. Dark black is not a color used in the industry, but we were able to find another dealer who knew what was happening, and is able to help us. This dealer will sell us the same monument for about 35% less than they want at the cemetery. He also told me there is sometimes as much as 50% or more between competitors. He also gave me all information I asked for, and told me to check with other competitors, as he did not work on comission.

From my experience, here's what I suggest.

Do not wait until you lose a loved one, because you are very vulnerable, and you will not consider prices. Go to a cemetery to look at monuments and markers, so you will not make a mistake when you make your choices.

Check out different competitors, but be sure you are comparing apples to apples. In other words, price things that are exactly the same!

Have the competitors break all costs down to the finest details.

Write all information down when you get it, not after you get back in the car. Another option is to take a voice recorder with you.

Ask the salesperson if he/she works on comission. This can make a big difference in the final price, and they might be reluctant to tell you.

Be aware of any restrictions or regulations your cemetery might have. Don't be surprised if they seem strict.

Above all, remember that many of the people who seem so considerate are the ones who will take you for a ride when you are vulnerable. Don't wait!! It's harder to make choices than you might think!

Ed
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Old 08-07-2004, 08:41 PM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Very good points, and thanks for sharing. The sad fact is salepeople are salespeople, and the death industry is an industry (and one with not that great a reputation, to boot).

If possible, make your own arrangements. There are tons of "pre-need" plans available today, there are even websites for this.

And don't forget your living will and to sign any sort of organ donation option on your driver's license (and be sure to tell everyone your wishes, as well).

The last thing we can do for our loved ones is to do what we can to minimize any hardship caused by our leaving.
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Old 08-07-2004, 09:06 PM
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Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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I'm glad you brought up the living will and organ donors. They are putting up billboards in our area that says "So you thought you were an organ donor?" It strongly suggests that you make sure your family knows your wishes are to donate. Apparently there have been quite a few instances where organs were not donated, even though it was the wishes of the deceased.

Ed
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