No other industry is able to get away with such huge price variations
Seattle, WA (PRWEB) October 29, 2009
A comprehensive survey of funeral home prices in Washington State shows that a family can save thousands of dollars on cremation or burial by simply shopping around. In fact, prices may be as much as seven times more expensive at one funeral establishment than another.
The price survey found that the funeral home cost for a complete burial plan with viewing, service and a basic casket ranges from as low as $1,997 in University Place to as high as $8,315 in Bellevue--a difference of over 400%. Even more extreme are cremation prices which range from $549 in University Place to $3,944 in Bellevue--a difference of over 700%. The average price for simple cremation is $1,593 in Washington State and a complete funeral with basic casket averages $4,172, not including cemetery costs. Compared with data from a 1998 price survey by People's Memorial, average cremation and burial prices in Washington State increased by approximately twice the rate of inflation over the eleven-year period.
"No other industry is able to get away with such huge price variations," says John Eric Rolfstad, Executive Director of People's Memorial, who's group conducted the biannual survey. "The funeral industry is able to defy the basic laws of economics because of our society's aversion to dealing with death." Other large purchases, such as appliances or automobiles vary at most by 15-20% in price for the same product because consumers typically price shop for them. However funeral arrangements can vary by as much as 700% in price and most consumers don't even bother to look around!
The reason most people choose a funeral home is either because it is near their home or someone they knew used the same mortuary. Little do they know that they may be choosing the most expensive funeral home around and end up paying thousands of dollars more because they did not compare.
The 2009 Funeral Home Price survey is the largest and most comprehensive ever conducted by the People's Memorial Education Fund. It includes data from 226 funeral homes across the state of Washington and has been divided into eight regions to make it more practical for consumers to compare prices in their area. While King county had the widest overall range in prices, the highest average prices were in northwestern Washington and the lowest average prices were in the counties south of the Seattle/King county area.
The survey consists of prices for three basic types of disposition--Simple Cremation, Direct Burial and a Complete Funeral service with embalming, viewing and services. This gives consumers an idea of the range at these different price points. "In order to make sure that consumers are comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges, we established a methodology which we feel gives consumers a true idea of what their 'out the door' price will be," said Rolfstad.
The reason People's Memorial produces the price survey is to educate consumers about their options and the cost of different choices. "As cremation rates continue to steadily climb, funeral homes have seen their profits evaporate. To compensate for this, many funeral homes are raising cremation prices to equal that of simple burial--It's not driven by supply and demand" says Rolfstad. In addition, they are pushing high-priced urns rather than bronze and copper caskets to compensate for lost profit margins.
The People's Memorial Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which educates consumers regarding their rights and choices for cremation and burial. It is affiliated with People's Memorial Association, a non-profit funeral consumer organization with approximately 80,000 living members in Washington State. Members of People's Memorial Association receive discounted prices on cremation and burial at more than 20 funeral establishments across the state.
Individuals wishing to have a copy of the price survey may download it from the People's Memorial Association website at http://www.peoplesmemorial.org. If you do not have internet access you may call the office at 206-325-0489 and request that a copy be mailed to you.