Is there a Funeral Price War raging – and if so, who started it?

 Written by Director, Gareth Coles:

Over the summer you may have been made aware of the considerable turmoil in the funeral industry at the moment… Well, behind the scenes here at Coles we’ve been pulling out all the stops to campaign on your behalf for fairer funeral prices for all – and wanted to share the 3 things we’ve been working on.It kicked off on 1 June when the cost of funerals came under scrutiny, with two separate reviews being launched. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is reviewing funeral costs, “to ensure that people are not getting a bad deal”. Meanwhile, the Treasury is focusing on concerns over pre-paid funeral plans. The Treasury’s preference is for all pre-paid funeral plan providers to be brought within the remit of the Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA)…

1 – Seeking Assurances on Pre-paid Funeral Plan Regulation:

Given that not all funeral plan providers adhere to the same high standards as Golden Charter, of which Coles Funeral Directors is a member, we are supporting any Treasury proposal that will provide enhanced protection and choice for all customers. However, we’ve been in touch with our local MPs to ensure the model of regulation really does protect customers’ best interests…

The organiser of the overall service, funeral directors are the obvious ‘go to point’ for customers looking to purchase a pre-paid funeral plan.  When considering the purchase of a funeral plan, what many people seek is the opportunity to speak directly with the funeral director who will carry out the funeral when the time comes, allowing for the plan to be tailored to fit the individual’s preferences and to take into account any regional differences that apply, particularly in relation to third party burial and cremation fees. This route also allows the plan holder to make a connection with their funeral director in what is an emotional purchase.

As independent funeral directors, we wish to continue offering such counsel to families and, as such, we’re campaigning for assurance from the Treasury that the model of regulation developed for the pre-paid funeral plan sector will continue to facilitate the essential role we play for the benefit of customers, without the burden of a model of financial regulation incompatible with a small business offering consumers an impeccable end-service.

2 – Denouncing the ‘Funeral Price War’!

Then, in July – likely in response to the CMA’s inquiries – Co-op boss Steve Murrells declared on Sky News that Co-Op Funeralcare had started a funeral price war!

Well, I think it’s fair to say that there’s not an independent funeral director anywhere in Britain that believes Co-op Funeralcare is leading the way on price. Far from it in fact and we’ve joined our fellow SAIF members in protest of these unfounded claims.

Independent Funeral Directors have always been able to offer families the best value – and always will. Any price war is really between the large groups, which have inflated funeral prices in recent years, whilst independent funeral directors have kept costs to a minimum and are consistently much cheaper. Research by our trade association SAIF shows that Dignity is the most expensive with Co-op next. Independent funeral directors are significantly cheaper and we expect that to remain the case.

It’s also widely regarded in the industry that independent funeral directors also perform better on service for bereaved people and are better suited to tailoring funerals to your needs, because they are not beholden to large corporate structures.

 3 – Our Fair Funerals Pledge

As a demonstration of our commitment to ensuring the best funerals at the very best available, fair prices – Coles has also joined the Fair Funerals Pledge. Here at Coles, transparency and honesty is at the centre of what we do. With funeral poverty having risen 50% in just three years, it’s of key importance that the bereaved have access to open information and prices on funeral directors’ websites.

By being open and transparent about our funeral prices by displaying them online (something we have done for the past 5 years), we hope to help our customers make informed financial choices to help avoid the pitfalls of funeral poverty.

The Good Funeral Awards has also recognised our efforts in this case – and we’re in the running for the Most Helpful Funeral Advice Website, thanks to this nomination:

“I have recently taken out a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan with Coles Funeral Directors. They aren’t my local funeral director as they’re based in Cardiff and I live in Bassaleg. However, I found them on the internet when I was searching for information on pre-paid plans and I found their website to be incredibly helpful – with lots of blogs on reasons to pre-plan and the types of arrangements I could make. It contained lots of information and showed clear prices, which I really appreciated. (I also checked out their reviews on Google and Social Media and every one I read provided a glowing recommendation of their service). I booked my appointment online and when I went in to meet the team and discuss my options their approach was very thorough and reassuring whilst simultaneously making the whole process really easy. As such I’d like to nominate them for a Good Funeral Award in the ‘most helpful funeral advice website’ category please.”

I hope this blog has demonstrated that it’s really important to me, and all the team here at Coles that you, our customers, can trust us – and we do this by always acting in your best interests. If there is anything you would like to ask about information contained in this blog – please do not hesitate to get in touch >