Funeral home markups and upselling: Hidden camera investigation (CBC Marketplace)


♪ [theme]>>David:This ismarketplace.Undercover inside Canada’sfuneral homes.>>The top level and the bottom level they start at $3,000.>>David:Can you trustthe people meantto help you the most?>>98% is mandatory.>>We’re still grieving. It’s only been a couple days.>>David:High-pressure sales.>>She doesn’t die in the next 90 days we still have to pay in full?>>Yeah.>>David:Hi costs.>>You could be looking at $12,500.>>David: marketplaceandthe Toronto Starinvestigate.Death Inc.What’s brought you here today.>>Well, I love Honest Ed’s. ♪ [super funky]>>David:We’re gathering to saygood-bye toHonest Ed’s.>>It is, in a way, about mourning, but I think it’s also about celebration.>>David:A celebration of life,but not for a person,it’s for amuch-loved bargain store.>>This weekend, for me, is a farewell.>>David:Where decades ofcheap deals and free Christmasturkeys are coming to an end.>>It’s nostalgic, I wanted to see what was going on, all the changes that would be coming to this neighbourhood.>>David:It seems like agood place to testhow much people think aboutlosing something or someone.>>I want to throw a question at you out of left field here.>>Okay.>>David:A question youmight find…awkward.What if you died today? Who would look after everything that needs to be done with a funeral.>>If we died?>>Yeah.>>Okay, that’s kind of morbid. Interesting. I get it.>>It’s pretty scary, yeah.>>What do you want?>>Not too much. I want a celebration.>>My goodness.>>It’s a weird one, I know it’s a weird one.>>I can’t even give you an answer.>>If you were to die today, who would look after your funeral?>>That’s a bizarre question.>>David: Yeah. Have you ever thought of it?>>No.>>Sort of. [ Laughter ]>>What’s your frame of mind when you’re walking into a funeral home? Are you susceptible of to being taken advantage of?>>Of course. You’re probably at the most susceptible point of your life.>>David: You’re about to find out what happens when sales trump sympathy.>>Let’s do this.>>Let’s do this.>>David:Our team is gettingready to headinside funeral homes.Just how up frontare staff whenwe need help the most?We’ll need a cover story.>>Well how about we have an auntie and we call her Alice.>>David:Aunt Alice isn’ta wealthy woman,she wants a simple service.>>There are I am. Okay, great. Okay.>>Should we do this, then?>>Yeah.>>David:Like many Canadians,Alice wants to be cremated.Come join us for the journey.Arbor Memorialis our funeralhome of choice.It’s the largest Canadianfuneral company,and it’s expanding.But it’s also one we’ve heardmany complaints about,from pressure to prepay fora funeral,to a lack of empathy,and preying on emotionsby overcharging.How bad can it be?We head into six locations.>>David:And tell the samestory at each one.>>David:In our time of need,willArborhelp usor add to the heart break?>>David:But simple isn’t whatthey have in mind.In the business of death, costscan add up quickly.>>David:What should you spendon a casket?>>David:What about embalming?It cost $500,but is it required?>>David:So manydecisions to make.>>David:Pre-planning directorslike these make a base salary,the rest is commission.So when it comes to planning asimple funeral,it’s not easy toknow what you really need.>>David:Lucky for us,Aunt Alice isn’t real.But I’m about to meet someonewhose loss is very real.So was the nightmare she facedat theArborlocationin Windsor.>>Hi, Judy.>>Hi.>>I’m David.>>Hi David, nice to meet you.>>Good to meet you.>>David:Judy Wood wrote tomarketplacewanting to shareher story asa warning to others.Did you feel going in there, that a funeral home and its staff, were a place you could trust?>>Very much. We just felt they understand and will try to assist you getting through this difficult time, and not take advantage.>>This is a business unlike any other.>>You’re so vulnerable. They have you. This was a fantastic one. We surprised her with a birthday.>>David:Judy’s sister, Diana,was only 56 whencancer killed her.Diana had paid over $4,000 forher own funeral, believing thatwould cover it, and lessen theburden on her family.It didn’t.Judy’s left to plan the rest.When you’re in the funeral home, how up front were they about all of those charges?>>They weren’t. They weren’t at all. They — the gentleman had a laptop, and there was a large screen, and as he asked us the different questions, that item went up on the list. It wasn’t until the very end that we saw what the cost would be for all of the things we selected.>>And what was that number?>>$10,000.>>And what did you think?>>Oh, we were shocked.>>This is how much you were told it would cost.Arbor recommends a package.>>Arranging and administration is $1755. What that includes, I’m not quite sure.>>David:Making senseof that packageseems next to impossible.>>That doesn’t include the cost of the vehicle.>>The transfer to the funeral home.>>That’s for –>>Doesn’t include the cost of actually getting to the funeral home. I don’t understand this.To reduce the price,Judy gets rid of some services,but it wasn’t easy.>>I didn’t want to seem like I was asking a lot of questions about money. It’s like, well, you pay what you have to pay, right? [ ♪♪ ]>>David:We’re at the samelocation Judyturned to for help.>>David:At first there’ssympathy, but she quickly getsdown to business.Like Judy, we’re offered apackage and told identifyingAunt Alice is company policy.>>David: This planner suggests embalming.>>David:But there is no lawrequiring embalmingand in a lot of cases, no need.>>David:We don’t want aviewing for our fictional aunt,so why all this?Well, it’s part of the packageshe’s recommending.>>David:Better closure?Arbor makes Judy identify hersister, which means extra costsfor things she never wanted.>>He’s very kind saying, you know, “Take your time, go in there.” It’s like, no, we’re not going to take our time. We’re only here to identify her. And yet she was laid out and presented as if she was going to be viewed.>>David: And you were paying for that.>>And we were paying for that.>>David: Even though that’s not something you wanted?>>That’s not what we wanted, and that’s not what she wanted.>>Did you want embalming?>>Not if it wasn’t needed.>>David: And what happened?>>She was embalmed.>>David: And why?>>Well, because she was going to be dressed and displayed.>>David: For you to identify –>>For us to identify her. We’re shaking our heads. Like why are we doing to this? Let’s just go with it, like he says to do that, let’s do that.>>But he’s the guy. How many times have you been through this before that?>>Never.>>So what happens?>>It was terrible. Somebody had dressed her and put make-up on her, and put her in her clothes again, and it didn’t look like her. It wasn’t — in my heart — it wasn’t her. But it was something we were forced to do. So that — we felt — I felt bitter.>>It wasn’t just that there was expense that –>>No.>>David:– you feel is unnecessary.>>No.>>David: It’s that your closure was re-opened.>>Yes. We had said our goodbyes in the hospital. We weren’t given any option. And that’s wrong.>>David:More than 250,000Canadians died last year,including Judy’s sister.In the business of death, thatamounts to a$1.6 billion industry.Big players like Arbor make themajority of the profits,and with our aging population,stand to make even more.[ ♪♪ ]>>David:I’m in Manitoba tomeet a guy who’sa know-all, and now a tell-all.>>Hi, Shane.>>David.>>David: Good to meet you.>>Nice to meet you.>>Thanks very much.>>David:Shane Neufeld hasworked in the businessfor 25 years.At times for the big guys,including Arbor.He knows the secretsof the sell.And doesn’t like what he hearsabout our Alice’s service.>>What she’s doing is increasing the value of that sale with that family.>>David: It was all about identification. It wasn’t about a viewing.>>Well they’re using identification as a means to an end. The end is to get the money for the embalming, because the embalming is expensive but doesn’t cost much.>>But most of us aren’t professionals at burying our loved ones.>>The consumer is at an extreme disadvantage. You can’t possibly come out on the ride side of that if you’re in front of people who are motivated to sell you things that you don’t need.>>David:We dig upArbor job postings.Some traits they value mostinclude : a sales mentality,people who are skilful atnegotiating and closing,who meet and exceedsales quota goals, and here’swhat that looks like in action.>>David:Remember, we only wanta simple service, a cremation,a small celebration,but they’re pushing packages.David:That same-day servicecosts almost $6400.>>David:98% mandatory, andthere’s no mention ofan À la carte option.>>I’d like to see that package, 98% seems like a very high number.>>David:It’s only when wepress that Arbor agrees to getrid of a few items,about $600 worth.>>David:The flower vehicle,for a simple service?We haven’t even talkedprice forthe actual cremation.Imagine if we werewracked with guilt and grief?So what’s really necessaryfor Aunt Alice.Shane takes a look, and saysmany items can go.Worse, he says,it seems Arbor’sdouble charging for staff.He figures the package could becut by almost $2,000.>>Well, in that case our hidden camera team is being lied to.>>I would say so. ♪ [theme]>>David: How much did the casket cost you?>>$895.>>So we managed to get the wholesale cost for that. Any idea how that is? $175. [ Sigh ]>>David:Closing the deal onyour marketplace.♪ [theme]>>David:The bigbusiness of dying.We’re undercover,six feet under,shopping for a simple funeral.>>David:Simple answers areproving hard to find.David:As sad as funerals are,they’re also a business.>>David:And the staff whohelp you plan areworking on commission.Money means a lot.>>David:This plannerencourages lockingin before losing out.>>David:And with hefty prices,you might easily be convinced.Our industry insider used to doit that way too, but guilt gotthe better of him.>>Shane, how are you?>>David:Now Shane Neufeldcalls himselfa “death care consultant.”>>I’ll take these three.>>David:He believes you shouldbe charged a flat fee.>>Shane:It’s about givingpeople the truth.>>David:And products at cost.>>And the rest of the industry, the big guys?>>Their role is to make as much money as they can. Which is fine, it’s not just something I want to do.>>David:And something he sayshe wouldn’t do, push a packagelike this: with transfervehicles, drivers…a funeral coach?>>David:But do they need tocharge almost $350for that vehicle?>>So we’re at the funeral home. Let’s go and see how far away the crematorium is.>>David:The drivetakes one minute.>>This is the crematorium right here>>Right behind the mausoleum. So we have driven…>>400 metres. That’s a dollar a metre.>>Poor auntie Alice.>>David:Another questionablecost, rental caskets, to viewAunt Alice, who remember,will be cremated.>>David: Sounds hopeful, but…>>David:We get our hands on awholesale price list.That casket cost Arbor $1,695.500 less, and they canuse it time and again.Seems like a sweet deal forthem, not a cost savingsfor us.>>David:We try saving money atanother location.>>I hope we can see what’s below that casket.It is tilted towards you.That makes it much moredesirable to purchase,and then you have this.Down below,underneath the other casket,that is strategically placed.>>David:But they don’twant us to have it.>>David:What’s the big deal?>>David:With more than $1,000on the line,they dig in their heels.>>Looked almost taken aback at the suggestion that — that she wants something simple and –>>That’s a way of making people feel minimized and feeling badly for wanting something simple. I mean, they’re being careful but they’re not being forth right.>>David:So much to watch outfor, and even with time on ourside, it’s not easy when thesell kicks in.>>David:This planner startsout wanting a depositof four grand.>>David:But really he’ll takeanything to close the deal andget the commission.>>David:He continues to push.>>She’s already answered the question, no I don’t think we want to do that right now.>>The idea is lock the business down now while they’re inside.>>Lock it in.>>David:Judy Wood’s sisterthought she’d locked it in,but Judy still had topick up the pieces.What would you say toArbor?>>You need to be more up front. People need for understand that people are hurting, they’re coming in here, relying on you, depending on you to not take advantage. And I think we were taken advantage of.>>David:So who’swatching out for us?Is there enough for you to follow up with Arbor?>>Oh, absolutely.>>David:This isyourmarketplace. [ ♪♪ ]>>David:This isyourmarketplace.Our journey insidethe business of death,reveals a world of highpressure and high costs.>>David:Where the up-sell canadd to your grief.>>David:So who’s meantto protect us,theBereavement Authority of Ontariois one of the fewprovincial regulators.It investigates complaints,keeps tabs on the industry,but regulations don’t coverthe kind of hard sellwe’re seeing.>>Good to meet you.>>Good to meet you too.>>David:The registraris Carey Smith.>>This is 98%.>>98% is mandatory.>>David:He doesn’t like someof what he sees.>>You’re the consumer, you have the ability to pick and choose.>>But he’s saying to us that 98% of what’s on there, we got to take.>>There’s things on here that legislation certainly doesn’t make mandatory.>>Should you be told that you can buy things individually and not in a package?>>Yes, you should be.>>David:But with only threeinspectors for more than 600 funeral homes, tactics like this go unchecked.>>This is basically just anidentification container.>>David:We zero in on thathome that doesn’twant us buyinga cheaper casket.>>So they’re following a law but trying to dissuade as from using the less expensive options.>>They’re certainly trying to dissuade you from using it, I just don’t understand it.>>After we’ve seen all this video any concerns around preplanning salespeople?>>Well you showed me a bunch of examples that certainly are at a minimum disappointing and would cause me to have concerns, and that we’ll have to look into.>>We went to six locations, all six are fromArbor Funeral Homes,a big player in the industry.>>I would be surprised if that’s their corporate values and philosophy, they’re a professional provider.>>Is there enough for you to follow-up withArbor?>>Oh, absolutely.>>David: We do follow up with every salesperson we met, they all say call head office. But despite weeks of discussions withArbor Memorial,they say no to an on-camera interview. We’re not questioning their right to make money, but we do have questions about their sales practices, and their response comes in the form of a statement.>>Hi five. There we go.>>David:To avoid heart ache,shop around.Ask what’s not included,and talk about it.>>Have you told your kids exactly what you want?>>No.>>No.>>It almost seems macabre when you do it, but it should be done. [ ♪♪ ]

100 Replies to “Funeral home markups and upselling: Hidden camera investigation (CBC Marketplace)”

  1. What do these people think things cost? You don’t need to have a funeral or anything extravagant. Bury somebody in your backyard if it’s that difficult for you to pay for it.

  2. I was once offered an interview for a job selling funeral services. I turned it down because my relevant experience was selling furniture and appliances. That felt wrong.

  3. My mom died last month, for the most part the funeral home we used was a lot more professional than these, but was still very expensive. Some of the things they charge are just ridiculous. WE did their most basic cremation, and according to law we have to put the remains in something. So they gave us a box. For $90. No, it wasn't made of gold. IT was a normal cardboard box like a pair of shoes would come in.

  4. At the end if the day it's a business. And they literally only have one chance to sell you something because your dead.

  5. In the North-East U.S., I was trying to set my final affairs in order and I was told that my last wishes were illegal. I had just wanted to be left in the forest near my dad's house to decompose naturally so that I could feed the animals and the land I had loved so much. I was told "no" and that I would have to select a burial site or get cremated.

  6. $10 worth of concrete. $10 worth of boat gas. I think you know where this is going. Why do people think they need all this?

  7. Wow they need to change this industry up. It should not be commission based, they’re literally just salespeople at that point. It should be a steady pay no commission so the people just try and help the customers without a vested interest in them spending more. That’s just gross!

  8. Do u guys ever follow up years later to see if anything changes? And I don’t just mean this video but most of ur videos

  9. My sister is a store manager for a large supermarket chain, whom, also own their own funeral company. When my mother passed away we went to the funeral parlour to make arrangements. The lady tried her hardest to 'upsell' but we were only interested in the cheapest option. My mum was insistent we did not spend to much. We stuck firm and got the cheapest option. Then my sister told the lady that she worked for the company as a store manager and was entitled to substantial staff discount. The lady's face was priceless. Quite rude actually but we didnt make a deal of it. My mum would have loved it!

  10. seems like such practice doesnt only happen in Canada…….

    I grew up in Berlin Germany ( a big city, the capitol even ) and a friend of my mother died. She had a pre paid arrangement of her own funeral, with booked flowers, a minister and a small procession!

    In her live she was not a wealthy woman and spend her entire nestegg on her own funeral…..

    And when my mother attended her funeral, she was shocked to see, that her friend was buried in a non marked grave, no flowers, no minister, no music or other festivities……….

  11. I have to think about that Roseanne episode where her father passed away and Roseanne and her sister went to the funeral home to make all the arrangements………. Jackie so was fierce and even threaten the salesperson with violence if she gets ripped off or taken advantages off…….and she would get no conviction because of her emotional state…..

    Made me smile and realize that you have play hardball with these types of people sometimes, to get what you want!

  12. Yeah! When I was at my brother’s godmother’s cremation the casket costed so much money! It’s just wood that you won’t even use later isn’t it?!

  13. This is my daughters account, but my wife and I have discussed this and we both agree that when one of us goes it’s gonna be in a cardboard coffin, and the money saved will go towards a holiday, my mother in law is giving her body to medical research so when she goes there’s nothing to pay, because there’s no body. Believe me we are not 100% behind this but that’s what she wants. I. Don’t even know if we get chance to say goodbye, but like I say it’s up to her

  14. I wonder how much a Star Wars funeral casket what it cost because when I kick the bucket I want to go down in the grave in style

  15. My grandfather died last year. My mom paid for everything that his insurance didn’t cover. She had one more payment to make the day of the funeral and, with around 200 people in the chapel for the funeral, they refused to do the funeral until they had the last check.

  16. So they have arbor. Where I'm from we have Dignity Memorial.
    I don't know how much was spent on my grandma this year, but the staff half-assed the damn service. Very disorganized and they were acting like they were in a hurry.

  17. I really hope that my family wouldn't overspend if I died. I'd be dead so I don't care, just pay the minimum to help get closure.

  18. just paid 900 actually 886.00 . one wanted 1100.00 hi press a.f. lost my girl of 34 yrs they wanted 300 for urn. amazon had one 79$

  19. I'll be resting in a plastic box in the coroners office , no one will come to claim the ashes …..I could careless about my ashes once I'm dead ….you deal with , I'll see you on the other side .

  20. People should be allowed to bury the body in the backyard of their home so long as they put a marker and check for all those things we are to check for before digging. No casket no nothing . Just dig the hole yourself and fill it in yourself. Simple as that.

  21. Where in the bible does it say build tomb stones and monuments for the dead , Jesus didn't need a tomb , Neither do I . it's as if your faith is so small that you feel God won't know where to find your Clay Vessel with out it being in a Gold Casket with 20 ton granite marker . It's your Soul God cares about . Do you think so highly of your self that you need a grandiose display . Will they bury you in your Corvette , in 50 years no one will know who you are …..

  22. Business is business and they are there because they want to make a profit. If they got all emotional because of the precious cargo within they wouldn't make any profit. Your loved one gets transported in a stretched hearse with multiple limousines and you think all that overhead, maintenance and salaries included, won't be offset by the businessman? MANKIND WAS MY BUSINESS!!!

    Find a 401c3 funeral home if you want. There aren't that many but they are out there.

  23. .
    i think it costs the state under 1000 to cremate a homeless dead person/no relations dead person .Honestly I would be fine with that. heck if i am not using it any more, you could make me into pet food for all i would care. I always knew these companies were a real major scam, funerals are for the living, the Dead would rather you spend that money on a party or pay some bills. Good doco guys, keep up the good work. I don't even live in Canada and i love watching the things you do, because it looks like many of the same scams happen in a lot of countries.

  24. Yeah they want to talk about “how expensive” it is. However unless you’ve worked in the industry and seen the behind the scenes (especially the health risks involved in transporting/cremating/embalming) it’s a wonder it’s not more money. 🙄

  25. As a funeral director for a large corporation in the US I down sale everyone. Because I want to serve them and there family till I retire. Always look at reviews there are scumbags everywhere.

  26. in all honesty if our ceremonial rituals werent so elaborate it wouldnt be such a burden on the survivors…. i wouldnt mind being burnt on a pyre.

  27. huh? 10k is the average price for an average nice casket so I don't see where 10k is a bad price, now if they were charging 10k for an earn or something I would be suspicious.

  28. Just for comparison in the east of Germany, my father died in July 2018, we had 10 years no contact, the funeral cost 2000 € including transport, incineration, an urn and a simple stone with his data.

    He was put on a private cemetery, the grave costs 500 € for 20 years.

  29. Columbary saleman told me, eye level is more expensive…bottom or top is cheaper….wtf…my sis is dead…i want her on top (heaven) and pay less …

  30. I saw caskets available online & delivered in 2 days. They would probably say they can’t use just any casket at their funeral home.

  31. Can you get sick from a dead person without embalming? NO! Unless they have a rare disease No! In Indonesia they keep the dead in the home. They also dig loved ones up and dress and clean them. Only the western part of the wold even do embalming. Most countries don’t practice it.

  32. I friend died then his dad 2 days later. They prayed on my friends mom's emotions and tried to take her for every penny. No different than a used car salesman.

  33. robbing poeples families ..why isant any of you with guns shooting up them places,makes more sence than schools and night clubs

  34. Holy crap in Australia it only costs about 6 grand all up and that’s with a beautiful coffin and church thingy and then a ceremony at the cemetery and then a gathering back at the hall near church with food and drinks.

  35. the day my dad died 9 months ago i called about 2-3 different funerals for price ranges and looked at online reviews before i even stepped foot inside a funeral home (which was the one i chose). i ended up paying less than $3,000 for cremation, 6 hour viewing with rental casket (it was really a nice casket and viewing) and a really nice looking urn. they truly helped me in the worse day of my life and never forced or try to sell me on anything and always asked me optional questions where i always felt i was doing a la carte. i was even considering no viewing for a much lower price but my mom and family members asked for it so i did the viewing. the only thing i hated was i couldn't go directly with the crematory to save a bunch of money and had to go through the funeral but other than that it was a pleasant experience.

    not all funerals are ripoff trying to make a quick buck. just make a few phone calls, look at online reviews and get a price range over the phone before you even step foot in a funeral. it was in the US though not Canada.

  36. Kind of a waste of money not to mention creating an industry for price gouging.  Can you imagine?  It's like literally burying $20K in the dirt that you can't get back.  I would rather my kids use that money for investment or education.  Give me a Jedi funeral on a bonfire for all I care.

  37. Having known someone who worked at a funeral home and this person being the one who carried the bodies I believe they should be getting a substantial amount it’s no a regular job. But the rest the prices are high just because they have the upper hand

  38. Jeezz.. I know of a man that died where the family made the coffin themselves and they drove him to the crematory with his brothers Mercedes Vito. That's the way he wanted it. 4000 for a coffin? If my kids spend that kind of money only to have me in a nice box for 2 days to then put the whole thing under the ground I would be so pissed off. (btw: Why do this super luxurious coffins make me think of Donald Trump?? )

  39. 15:39 they charge $350 for .4 km and 1 minute. Probably because the worker is there for longer then that. What kind of employee clocks in for 1 minute and goes home? You guys are trying so hard to make others look bad

    I have a dj business. And all my clients have never gotten married before. And they all ask me for my suggestions and expertise and i always sell them what they want and suggest more because i know mc and other special lighting will all add up to a beautiful wedding and they wont have another chance to do it again later

    Seems like basic business. Your just picking 1 bad experience and blowing it up as if every single customer that comes is as dissatisfied as that red headed lady. A few bad reviews is normal for every business. Including billion dollar companies that are 1000 times bigger then a funeral home

    Just look at the background. Look how much land there is. Something has to pay for that land and maintain the grass. Grass dont water and cut it self. I am sure $150 casket is the only expense. If mcdonalds makes their large fries for .25 cents and sells it for $3 are you going to make an undercover story?

  40. We've had a family funeral home since the 90s so i never knew this is what people go through to bury a loved one. Also wouldn't dare let these people care for any of my loved ones

  41. Excuse me, but business they don’t care about nothing the only thing they want is your money, I was working and Sales my manager want me to sale and sale and I have very good commission and if you are not sale nothing you are fired “NO JOB”

  42. The funeral business attracts the most morbid and ghoulish people you'd never
    want to meet. The sales people are lower than car salesmen. I like the fact that
    this guy is becoming a consultant where you only pay him for coordination and
    consultation and the rest is at cost. That's fair and allows the family to not be
    taken advantage of during a trying time. I hope that trend catches on and puts
    these dynasties out of business for good.

  43. There are always a few rotten apples. My family has been in the funeral business for 175 years. Their reputation for fairness and quality is what keeps them at the top. My father did not charge for the cost of funerals for the indigent. All of their funerals are the most memorable and poignant….I am grateful for them.

  44. Dead bodies are not dangerous unless they had something like Ebola. You can have a home funeral. You need no casket for a cremation, actually, you really shouldn't have one for cremation. Embalming is so toxic and only slows the decaying process slightly. Embalming is absolutely not necessary. Especially for cremation. You don't really need it for a viewing all the time either. When a body is embalmed and cremated, toxic chemicals are released. When a body is embalmed and buried, it released toxic chemicals into the ground (yes even in the metal, rubber sealed caskets). Let me take this opportunity to plug Caitlin Doughty, her books, her interviews, and her channel called Ask A Mortician.

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