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Colorado governor to sign bills regulating funeral homes after discovery of 190 rotting bodies Colorado governor to sign bills regulating funeral homes after discovery of 190 rotting bodies

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is set to sign two bills that will overhaul the state’s oversight of the funeral home industry.

Colorado governor to sign bills regulating funeral homes after discovery of 190 rotting bodies

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  • A generation ago, most funeral homes were mom-and-pop places, often in the business for generations; think "6 Feet Under" if you ever watched it.

    Like most other industries, they have now mostly been eaten up by conglomerates that have no connection to the community and only care about the bottom line. Companies like the $10-billion Service Corp Int'l or Assurant, Inc. (which literally sound like 90s TV villains) have wrecked the industry.

    It's an expensive thing that most people will only use once or twice in their lifetime (the family makes the decisions more often that the deceased). It is an area in which most people are ignorant, so they just sort of trust that the people providing the service are doing what they say. If you've never paid for a coffin, you probably have no idea what one costs. You don't know the difference between a good one and a bad one. So imagine an industry where the customer is usually in a mentally vulnerable state, has little to no information, little ability to make a price comparison, is ready to spend thousands of dollars, and will never inspect or verify the product.

    Now add that it is a multibillion dollar industry and you can appreciate how easy and how enticing it is for big companies to drive out the family businesses. Those sort of practices also pressure small operations to operate dishonestly in order to compete, and create room for fraudsters to muscle in.

    I don't care if you are having your ashes spread in the ocean or shot into space, or if you are donating your body or being buried in a cardboard box. Find a local, family owned funeral home, set an appointment. They can help you with whatever your plans are.

    • 15 year funeral director here. I've worked for both "mom and pop" local funeral homes and a corporate funeral home. I can unequivocally tell you the local ones are some of the most corrupt, greedy places I've ever worked for. Charging $15k for funerals, adjusting prices based on what they feel like they can get away with, all while raking in lots of money and paying the staff less than minimum wage after factoring in the expectation of being on call.

      I've watched owners manipulate grieving widows into buying caskets they can't afford "because your husband deserves the best."

      I went two months without a day off, all while trying to take care of a newborn, and when I tried to take a day off because I was so exhausted I couldn't drive safely, I was given tons of grief.

      Everything else you said is completely true though. The entire industry is completely corrupt and needs to be dismantled.

      • Wow, thanks for that. So, what do you recommend about finding a good one?

        I've seen a lot of people put off finding one or just using whoever shows up first on Google - and often they are worse off for it. I've always lived in cities and been involved in the kind of communities where I have a relationship with high quality directors.

        • Reputation is key. As you touched upon, nothing short of hearing from others what they went through helps as much.

          Like you said, a lot of people wait until they need the service before they think about it. This is usually at the worst time in a person's life, so emotions are high. It's best to, at minimum, think about what you would want to have done ahead of time. At the last place I worked, I specialized in helping people pre-arrange services. The whole idea is to put your wishes down so it's one less thing for your family to worry about. I personally preferred it since it was a much lower pressure situation since no one had to purchase anything at the time, unless they chose to pre-pay, which is strictly optional.

          I've always looked for directors that are honest (duh) and forthcoming to families on what things are without pushing higher end items. For example, explain the difference of a sealer casket vs an unsealed casket, without using emotional language like: "you don't want mom drowning in water, right?" Barring not knowing anyone that can give you a recommendation, Google and Yelp are your best friends. It just takes a bit of forethought and looking at what the reviewer is saying. We all have seen the insane reviews that don't have any bearing in reality.