Author Archives: Steve Pett

Complaints about Prepaid Funeral Plans: It Does Happen: What To Do

funeral plan complaints

Normally, we don’t hear any complaints about funeral plans as they do their job smoothly.

However, there are two areas currently causing concern and keeping us busy trying to help, even though we have no direct involvement.  PLEASE don’t call us when you have problems, but we are always interested to know if you would be kind enough to email us using the form below.   So, the two major problems are:

  1. Funeral Plan Complaints: plans sold by phone.

We do not agree with plans being sold by phone in the first place.  But we are getting lots of calls about companies being slow to repay amounts paid ranging from £50 to £3,000 where the client cancels within the required period which typically ranges from 14 to 30 days.  Perhaps they actually read the Terms and Conditions when they finally arrive and discover the plan is not all the salesperson said it was, or maybe they just realised it was not a decision which should be made in haste.

Anyway, our advice is to phone the company immediately if you want to cancel in the initial period when you can get your money back, and take the name of the person you speak to.  Then follow it immediately with a letter, mentioning the name of the person you spoke too. Keeping a copy of the letter, and ideally, send it recorded delivery. Be aware that the procedure for retrieving cash from Trust Funds or Insurance Funds is not immediate, so as long as your refund request is acknowledged in writing or by email from the actual provider, you may need to be a little patient. It could take as long as 5 weeks or so.

2. Complaints about Funeral Plans affected by Coronavirus.

These are a different kettle of fish: many funerals have been affected, and it has been impossible to deliver the full funeral the deceased had paid for.  Not all funeral plan companies are Regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority, so they can’t help with unregulated ones.  See the providers review which should indicate if they are. We approached the Funeral Planning Authority for a statement, and this is what they said:

“What happens when some element of the plan cannot be delivered? The Funeral Planning Authority has not issued any specific guidance largely because trying to make rules to address the number of different potential situations was likely to lead to more unintended consequences.  However, if there is an element of a plan that cannot be delivered we would expect FPA registered providers to treat their customers fairly and provide an alternative service or an appropriate refund for the element of service not delivered.  For any customer or family with issues, who have plans with FPA registered providers, our advice is to have the conversation with the provider in the first instance. If that doesn’t address their concerns then to raise a formal complaint with the provider and if that is not resolved then complain to us. There is a form on our website that can be completed ( https://funeralplanningauthority.co.uk/contact-us/complaint-form/ ) or email us at info@funeralplanningauthority.co.uk .”

Clearly, not all firms are FPA Regulated, but their recommendations are perfectly reasonable.  Where the firm is unregulated, you might wish to approach the local Trading Standards Office  but you should first have complained about the fact that the funeral plan was not fully fulfilled and no sensible alternative offered, by telephone and  in writing to the provider.  Some funeral directors will actually have dealt with the matter already, by allowing extra flowers, printing or an upgraded urn etc.

We cannot resolve complaints about funeral plans, but we are interested in your experiences, so please let us know about them.

Are Funerals Safe These Days?

Catherine Powell of Pure Cremation

We salute those families who are choosing direct cremation in order to play their part in protecting their communities

LEADING DIRECT CREMATION PROVIDER INCENSED BY MP’S UNHELPFUL AND CARELESS APPEAL TO SENIOR CLERGY FOR RELAXATION OF LOCKDOWN MEASURES FOR FUNERALS

One of the UK’s leading dedicated direct cremation providers has branded MP’s concern that ‘the wishes of the deceased and bereaved are not being fulfilled with a proper committal in the church of their wish’ as being careless and unhelpful when families are already having to make difficult choices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A letter signed by 36 MP’s was this week sent to Lord Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops of the Church of England asking for church doors to reopen suggesting they should ‘consider, most intently, the pain and anguish of those families unable to have a funeral’.

The action follows UK Government regulations which limits those attending funerals to immediate family members, with councils in some areas even banning mourners altogether for a brief time. As a result, the only options available to families are either a direct cremation or very small attended funeral held at the graveside or crematorium.

Catherine Powell, co-founder and Customer Experience Director of Pure Cremation believes that the letter branding direct cremation as a “tragedy” is highly irresponsible and this language only adds to the grief and distress suffered by the bereaved.

Catherine Powell commented: “We salute those families who are choosing direct cremation in order to play their part in protecting their communities. We are proud to be able to give them valuable reassurance and comfort by sharing the inspiring stories from the thousands of families who have deliberately chosen this simple, unattended cremation as a way to break away from tradition and to take control over the farewell events.”

Since the pandemic began, Pure Cremation has been doing its utmost to support families who find themselves arranging a direct cremation even though this wouldn’t have been their first choice for saying goodbye to a loved-one.

Catherine continued: “COVID-19 has essentially stripped families of the opportunity to hold a traditional funeral surrounded by family and friends. As you can’t postpone laying a loved one to rest indefinitely, it makes great sense to hold a simple and respectful cremation without delay and focus on a proper celebration of life or thanksgiving service once the restrictions are lifted.”

Direct cremation has increased in popularity over the last five years as more people look for an alternative to the usual “funeral formula” and this is an escalating trend. Pure Cremation’s growth is evidence of this, with sales of their funeral plan doubling each year, resulting in more than 10,000 active plans in April 2020.

She adds: “Unfortunately the MPs who wrote to the Bishops on this topic seem more interested in raising their profile than considering the impact their words might have on all the bereaved families who have made the difficult decision to separate the two parts of a funeral by arranging a direct cremation.

“They should be supporting their grieving constituents by emphasising the positives – more time to plan the perfect farewell, more time to gather the memories and stories that will make the event a poignant and accurate reflection of the life that has been lived.”

An early pioneer of direct cremation, Pure Cremation is the only dedicated provider with its own crematorium and the only firm operating throughout the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Based in Andover, Hants, the company employs its own specialist team of 61 staff who demonstrate real compassion and care for the families they serve, right from the initial phone call through to the hand delivery of the ashes.

Funeral Plan Use Doubles In 8 Years

Save Money and Upset

In just 8 years, from 2012 to the first half of 2020, the number of plans actually used to provide funerals has doubled, says the Funeral Planning Authority. Over 3,300 families weekly have benefitted from the straightforward single phone call to set the wheels in motion in the first half of 2020. That figure will rocket over the next few years as more people realise the benefits of planning ahead (and getting free Independent Advice from us on 0800 0588 240 9-9 any day.)

In many cases, the cost of a prepaid plan can be substantially less than the cost of exactly the same funeral with the same undertaker.  Late 2019 a friends mother had a standard funeral which cost £4,795.  Had she purchased a prepaid plan even a few weeks earlier, the same funeral would have cost just £3,295. I’ll leave you to work out the saving!

Of course, it doesn’t always work out that well, but the point of a funeral plan is to pre-solve problems for those left behind which may include whose credit card is going to pay, arguments over what the deceased would have wished for.  Worse still the embarrassment of asking for quotes from several undertakers – which is why funeral directors can charge so much for “at-need” cremations and burials.

Even if you can’t afford a funeral plan, why not get in touch and ask for our free planner – at least that way you can reduce the problems surrounding your own death by making your own wishes clear.

There are now over 1.4 million funeral plans in place so there are still plenty of folk who haven’t got round to pre-planning.  With the advent of direct cremations, at least a basic plan is within the reach of pretty much everyone, so why not give us a call – even the call is free, and we have no sales team to push you into something (even though we probably should – for you own good as well as ours!)

Funeral plan use is going to increase dramatically, as costs rise, so the earlier you invest in your plan, the less it will cost and the more the family will save, never mind the emotional benefits.

Who is responsible for arranging your funeral?

Cancel a Funeral Plan

Cancelling a funeral plan is far from ideal, but these comments may help:

  • If it is an Over 50s non-profit whole of life, cancel it and you will get nothing back.
  • If you have just bought a plan and have changed your mind, there are penalties for cancelling unless you do it VERY quickly. Some plans allow only 14 days, others are a bit more generous at 28 to 30 days.  After that, there will usually be a fairly substantial penalty taken off any refund.
  • Some providers will allow you to have a payment holiday, so your finances can recover without being penalised. But ASK them before doing anything.
  • Always advise the company direct, by phone and in writing as well as the agent – who might be on holiday, and the delay could create an unnecessary penalty.
  • If you wish to cancel a plan to get some cash, make sure you will get some and not lose everything BEFORE you request cancellation. Just ring the company and explain the situation.  The best you can get back is what you put in due to the regulations.
  • You can usually cancel a direct debit to get a few days grace before sorting out a new one, but that is not recommended – always talk to the funeral plan company direct before taking any action.  Most will try to help.