Originally based in Canada, Basic Funerals is one of the first funeral parlors opened in America to provide online funeral service planning. Unlike traditional funeral parlors, Basic Funerals addition of online service arrangements to the options of in-person meetings and telephone chats have helped the company gross nearly $1 million in profits.
Currently, Basic Funerals provides services in Ontario, Canada, and the state of Illinois. The funeral home intends to expand to Colorado and an additional Canadian province.
The owners of Basic Funerals support the idea that there can never be too much convenience during death. They aim to make the task of funeral planning easier, because often families and friends are understandably more preoccupied with grief.
Basic Funerals advertises their ability to connect with grieving families through offering convenience, affordable services that reduce the amount of visits directly to the funeral home and offer customized packages. Basic Funerals’ customers can select minimum burial and cremation packages that cost slightly over $1,000 including tax.
These minimum packages greatly can cut the costs of funeral expenses by thousands of dollars. However, consumer advocacy groups have expressed concerns over equating funeral services with online shopping.
First, they argue that Basic Funerals may be misleading potential customers with its costs, because the cost of burying a loved one varies depending on different circumstances that can affect the preparation of the body. Also, Basic Funerals does not explicitly state that its prices exclude the cost of purchasing burial plots in cemeteries.
Most consumers are unaware that cemetery expenses are separate costs from funeral expenses. These cemetery expenses may result in an additional cost of up to $2,000 on minimum burial costs advertised by any funeral parlor.
Second, some consumer advocacy groups voice concern over the impression quick online funeral services gives to the specialization of funeral parlors. These consumer groups complain that death cannot be equated to an online Amazon purchase.
Another challenge for Basic Funerals is state regulations for the United States and provincial regulations for Canada. Each state and province maintains special licensing requirements for death services, which the online retail model may prove difficult to satisfy.
Nonetheless, Basic Funerals’ online chat operators, who are licensed funeral parlor directors, offer to provide potential customers with a list of local cemeteries, so customers can compare prices. Undeniably, Basic Funerals has given Illinois clients even more convenience in services than other funeral parlors in their time of need.
Consumers can even prepay for their funeral with Basic Funerals’ Trust Fund services. The funeral parlor’s trust fund services makes it easier for baby boomers and other individuals who plan their estates to minimize the financial strain on their surviving family members.
To ease the concerns of funeral consumer advocacy groups, Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush has proposed the Bereaved Consumers Bill of Rights of 2011 to encourage the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regulate all pricing practices of the funeral parlor industry and cemeteries. The bill is currently under evaluation by Congress, but if passed, it would give legal recourse for consumers to sue funeral parlors.
Thus far, the Bereaved Consumer’s Bill of Rights of 2011 has not been passed as a law. Though Basic Funerals plans for expansion may be dictated by state and provincial laws, the corporation is addressing a segment of the funeral services market overlooked by traditional brick-and-mortal funeral homes – people who prefer to shop online for everything.
Antone Gonsalves. “Basic Funerals Bets Boomers Will Arrange Cremations Online,” Bloomberg.com
112th Congress. “HR 900: Bereaved consumers Bill of Rights Act of 2011,” Govtrack.us.
Teresa Donia. “Basic Funerals and Cremations Choices…Expands Internet Funeral Service…,” PRWEb.com