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Shopping Tips for Memorials

Ideas for staying strong against tough sales pitches

Shopping for memorials can be a daunting experience. This is especially true for customers shopping shortly after a death (or just before a death), when they are most vulnerable to sales pitches that are not necessarily in their best interest.

So, our first tip, obviously, is to buy early. "Pre-planning," as buying early is known in the memorial industry, can certainly help you avoid buying on emotion rather than need. If a salesman says something like, "You want nothing but the best for Making arrangements for a memorial before the time of need can be very beneficialyour mother’s memory is important, right?" when you are buying early, you will be more likely to recognize that as a sales pitch aimed at tacking on a few hundred dollars to your order. Buying early also helps you avoid extra costs (for expedited shipping and rush engraving) that sometimes can mount up when customers try to organize a memorial service in a few days. It also, of course, leads to peace of mind for everyone - from the deceased to the family members.

But, buying early can have its drawbacks if you do not use our second tip (which applies whether you are buying early or just in the nick of time): shop around.

You may ruffle a few feathers of some funeral directors or cemetery managers when you insist on checking with their competition. But do not let that stop you. Just beware that, like the typical auto dealer, sales people in the memorial industry are not keen on customers saying, "we’re just browsing today." They typically operate on the principal that, if you visit their location and leave without signing a contract, chances are slim that you will come back. Now, of course, they will not tell you that they are thinking like this, but, well, they are. Quite often salespeople are under great pressure from their bosses to make sales quickly, and the sales people who are good Shopping around for memorial needs could save a family hundredsat that are rewarded handsomely for their "skills." There is usually no need to be rude to aggressive sales people that you will certainly find in the memorial industry. But there is also no need to fall prey to their tactics. Always remember that you are the boss who is looking for people to hire for your memorial. Do not let the sales representative sway you from that mentality, and you will come up with a good deal on your memorial.

Our third tip is to avoid buying from one establishment: a typical funeral home will be happy to arrange everything for you. But, from a consumer’s perspective, this is rarely a good idea. Buying, for example, a casket, a headstone or even an urn from a funeral home is usually a good way to waste hundreds of dollars. Funeral homes and cemeteries are required by federal law (and most states, too) to work with memorial products that you have purchased elsewhere. And, thanks to the internet, most of the products that funeral homes offer are available elsewhere for substantially lower prices. Yes, it may be a little extra work coordinating your memorial purchases with several different companies, but most online retailers of funeral, cremation and cemetery products have no problem shipping directly to your funeral home or cemetery, so it’s probably not as much work as you may think. And a little extra time might save you hundreds - or even thousands - of dollars. Funeral homes specialize in organizing funerals not making urns and caskets. And cemeteries specialize in maintaining their grounds not building headstones. For other memorial services and products, it is best to buy from a company that specializes in what you need.

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