It is often claimed that the casket accounts for nearly half the cost of a funeral. Funeral directors we interviewed took exception to this, and more than one offered an article with a neat little Pie Chart which indicated that the cost of the casket comprises only 14% of the total burial cost. The interesting thing about this was, they all cited the same article, and that article was published in 1972! It was also based on data supplied by the National Funeral Directors Association, so a certain amount of spin might be expected.
Point of fact, the casket WILL amount to half the total funeral costs ... *if you let it. The standard industry mark-up varies between 200% and 400% (over wholesale), but it is not uncommon for popular models to be as high as 1600%. A case in point; one particularly up-scale casket we priced along the Eastern Seaboard was priced at $13,600 in Virginia, $26,500 in Pennsylvania, $42,000 in New Jersey, and a whopping $70,000 in Washington D.C.! They all paid the same price for it wholesale.
Be prepared to hear some techno-babble when it comes time to select a casket. There'll be talk of non-corrosive liners, seals, gauges or weights, and so forth. When it is all said and done, a casket is merely the box-within-a-box and NONE OF THEM is significantly more protective than the other. In fact, per the Funeral Rule, it is illegal to even make such claims but the lack of an inspection force makes it commonplace.
All the whistles and bells make no difference to whoever's inside the casket and going broke to assure the funeral broker that you do, indeed, care, is assinine. Fully 92% of all funeral directors surveyed cited Emotional Over-Spending as the prime reason funerals are so expensive. They should know since they encourage it.
Whatever you are comfortable spending, and no more. Ask to see the catalog if you don't see something in your price range. With over 1000 casket models available (some starting as low as $300) there's no reason the director can't work within your budget. You will, however, meet resistance.
Expect the more-reasonably priced caskets to be off in some dark corner or even in the basement. You can also expect them to be referred to as 'cheap', 'welfare boxes', 'minimum caskets' or other demeaning terms, and they may well be displayed in unflattering colors such as putty and olive green. Not to worry, whatever casket you choose will likely come from a nearby warehouse anyway, and they have LOTS OF COLOR COMBINATIONS AVAILABLE, so take your pick from the options listed in the catalog. They'll even paint one for you, if requested.
We have negotiated with casket manufacturers all over North America and can now offer affordable caskets direct to you. And without the huge markups. To check these models and their prices, visit our Affordable Caskets Catalog.
It is illegal for funeral homes to tie fees for their services to your purchasing a casket from them, or to charge a 'handling fee' for a casket bought elsewhere.
Common Ploys & Scams
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