Consumer Guide

The death of a loved one presents the grieving family with an almost endless litany of challenges. Beyond the obvious pain & emotional anguish, a funeral requires a substantial investment in time, energy & money. Trying to make rational, informed decisions while grappling with intense emotions can be a recipe for frustration & potential disaster.

Managing funeral costs is extremely difficult under these circumstances. The average cost of a funeral is approximately $6000 - this excludes costly extras (flowers, limousines, notices & acknowledgments, etc.) that often bring the cost to over $10,000. One question that many consumers are unwilling to ask: are all of these costs justified?

Most people have difficulty restraining themselves when it comes to funeral expenses. Some are preoccupied with grief and unable to comparison shop or negotiate pricing. Others feel that spending money equates to displaying their love for the deceased. In any case, the result is that the overwhelming majority of funeral consumers pay far more than they should.

Express Casket wants to help you successfully manage your funeral costs. Please review this consumer guide, which focuses on four crucial factors:

Pre-Planning a Funeral

Thinking about a death before you absolutely have to might not be appealing, but pre-planning a funeral gives you a real advantage when it comes to moderating costs:

  • Remove time constraints - Pre-planning allows you to comparison shop without pressure or time constraints. When you have time to make decisions, they are more likely to be informed.
  • Remove emotional considerations - Pre-planning removes grief from the equation... you are far more likely to make effective, rational decisions when you are not burdened with a swirl of raw emotions.
  • Examine a range of options - You have time to talk with funeral homes, funeral planning agencies, and memorial societies about the full range of funeral options available to you.
  • Choose a location - Pre-planning means there is no rush to purchase a cemetery plot. You have time to visit potential grave sites, talk with friends & family, and make the right choice.

As a final note, make certain you have all pre-planned funeral details in writing, and send copies to close family or friends (or your attorney). Do not put these details in your will or a safe deposit box - family & friends might not be able to access these prior to the funeral.

Funeral Home Tips

Funeral consumers are protected by the United States Federal Trade Commission's 'Funeral Rule'. This set of guidelines ensures fair trade and protection for consumers - take some time to review the Funeral Rule prior to shopping for funeral services & products.

Some additional tips can help you when dealing with funeral homes. Keeping these tips in mind ensures that you will be able to make decisions fully supported by your rights as a consumer:

  • Be familiar with local funeral & burial laws. Laws vary from state to state - funeral homes must specify any services or expenses required by local laws.
  • Use our General Price List to compare prices between at least two funeral homes.
  • Exercise your right to negotiate - you can often get a better price if you bargain.
  • Let funeral homes know that you are comparison shopping, and ask for an itemized list of fees & expenses.
  • If you are purchasing a casket from Express Casket, do not reveal that to the funeral home until AFTER they have put all of their pricing in writing, including the cost of one of their caskets.
  • The Funeral Rule explicitly states that you do not have to buy into costly funeral packages - purchase only the products & services you want.
  • Do not purchase a 'Death Insurance Financial Contract' (or at least take a good hard look at the policy offered). This is often a way for funeral homes or cemeteries to pad their profits by claiming a referral fee from the insurance company. Funeral Rule guidelines do not cover this area.
  • If the costs of the funeral are being covered by insurance benefits, do not reveal this to the funeral home - they will often know the amount covered, and will adjust costs upwards to claim the entire amount.
  • Make certain that all details & billing items are finalized and in writing prior to the funeral home's receipt of the body - some funeral homes may take this as an opportunity to raise their prices or add fees.

Helpful Tips to Save Money on Funeral Expenses

Keep these tips in mind as you consider your funeral purchases, they will help you avoid unnecessary expenses:

  • Shopping for funeral products & services is no different than shopping for any other big purchase - do not let your emotions override common sense. Easier said than done at a tough time in your life, but remember that spending lavishly on an elaborate casket or over-the-top funeral is not the best measure of your feelings for a loved one.
  • Limit the viewing time to a day or an hour prior to burial - do not pay for an extended viewing.
  • If you eliminate the viewing, you do not need to pay for embalming and other costly body preparation services. If state law requires embalming, the funeral home must disclose that fact in writing.
  • Your loved one's favorite outfit or suit is perfectly appropriate to use as burial clothing - you do not need to purchase a special outfit.
  • You do not have to purchase a casket from the funeral home. By federal law, funeral homes are obligated to use any funeral supplies that you have purchased elsewhere.
  • Many states allow your church, other religious groups, or family to conduct funeral services - you may not need to pay for a funeral home to conduct them.

Purchasing a Casket

The most important thing for you to know is that when it comes to purchasing a casket, you now have choices available... and having choices means you have the ability to save money and control your funeral costs.

Express Casket lets you purchase a casket online, in comfort & privacy and away from the pressure-sales tactics employed by some funeral products vendors. You can take your time browsing the available models, easily compare caskets based on features or price, and even ask trusted family & friends for their opinions.

Express Casket also delivers outstanding prices, often just a fraction of what you might pay at a funeral home. We only sell caskets - we do not inflate prices with a laundry list of additional services or unwanted extras. Our singular focus allows us to offer the very highest quality caskets for bargain prices, and every day we pass along thousands of dollars in savings to our customers.

Purchasing a casket from Express Casket is simple:

  • Shop our extensive listings
  • Choose the casket that is right for your needs
  • Compare your savings versus a purchase from somewhere else
  • Purchase your casket & arrange delivery

We have a huge selection of caskets available, for all budgets & tastes. Express Casket is sure to have what you are looking for: 18- and 20-gauge steel models, genuine hardwoods, veneers, and more.

Customer service is our specialty. We guarantee next-day delivery if needed, and can often accommodate same-day orders (call us for details). We accept several forms of payment for your convenience, and our customer service department never sleeps - we're on-duty 24-hours a day at, or call 888-448-4001.

A Brief Word About Choosing a Casket

First things first - you are under no obligation to purchase a casket from a funeral home. And why would you want to, when there are lower-cost, better value options available? Express Casket has helped thousands of people say goodbye to their loved ones respectfully, in style, and for a price that makes sense.

  • We offer an outstanding selection of the best caskets & incredible customer service.
  • Natural wood caskets, steel, laminates & more. Top-of-the-line models, cheap caskets for every budget, and everything in between.
  • Next day delivery is guaranteed. Same-day & weekend delivery is possible in most cases - call for details.
  • We accept all major credit cards, personal checks, money orders, and online payment via PayPal. There's no sales tax (except on orders from Texas).

Choosing a casket for a loved one is a very personal decision. When deciding, keep the following in mind:

  • Do you want a wood or metal casket? This choice does not affect the function of the casket in any way.
  • What is your budget? If you want to spend lavishly on a casket then please do so, but if you have a smaller budget there is also a wide range of options available.
  • Now all your choices are based on personal preference. Consider your loved one's favorite colors. Think about their personality - reserved or more flamboyant & expressive? Consider their life - some caskets are made specially with veterans in mind, or mothers, or may have unique artwork & embellishments.

Think about your loved one and the family & friends left behind and you will be able to find the perfect casket to honor them... that is the only consideration that really matters.

Learning More About Funeral Homes

The funeral home industry is extremely large and very profitable. There are over 20,000 funeral homes in the United States and collectively the industry generates over $25 billion in annual revenue. Fees for services are extravagant and markups on products are substantial. So just how do funeral homes continue to charge high costs without delivering equivalent value?

Three corporations dominate the funeral home industry: SCI, Stewart, and Loewen Group, which together account for about 15% of the funeral business in the United States. Your compassionate neighborhood funeral home could owned by one of these corporate giants - they typically buy small funeral homes and operate them under the previous name, to retain the appearance of a small, family-owned business. This allows the funeral homes to set prices as they see fit, without fear of effective competition.

The federal government has stepped in to regulate the industry and some states and local jurisdictions provide additional guidelines to help alleviate the worst abuses, but consumers remain at a disadvantage when planning a funeral due to the unique emotional nature of the process. Funeral homes are notorious for using scare tactics, and we have compiled several of the most common ways that they prey upon the fragile emotions of consumers:

"Don't you want your mother looking her best when she sees your Dad in Heaven?" - Do not be pressured into spending lavishly on burial clothing - dress your loved one as you see fit, and however makes you most happy.

"Of course you want a sealed casket... don't you?" - All caskets for sale are designed to be sealed, do not be scared into purchasing a casket with expensive features you don't need.

"You don't need a casket list... let me show you our floor selection." - Funeral homes rarely put cheap caskets on their showroom floor. Insist on receiving a complete list of all their offerings before viewing models.

"This list is just a guideline - let's talk about our funeral packages." - Packages often contain a laundry of services & products that you either do not need or could purchase much cheaper elsewhere, including the casket. Having a General Price List allows you to track charges for each item and remove those you do not want.

These are just a few of the most common tactics. Be wary, use common sense, and know that your rights as a consumer are protected by law - you are in charge of the funeral, not the funeral home!

A Guide to Discount Caskets

A casket is a major purchase - the average cost is in the neighborhood of $2000, and some extravagant models top $10,000. Accordingly, you should approach purchasing a casket as you would any other expensive item: do some research, shop around, compare prices, and buy from the vendor that gives you the best price & value.

But there are several unique barriers that prevent most people from getting the deal they deserve on a casket purchase. Grief is one of many powerful emotions that buyers must cope with. Spending a lot of money may be used as a measure of love for the departed. There can also be pressure to act quickly. All of these, and more factors, combine to make it easy to overspend on a casket.

So how can you avoid overpaying for a casket? A casket wholesaler or discounter is your best chance at paying a fair price. Some important considerations every consumer should know about purchasing cheap caskets from a discounter:

  • Keep your emotions in check
    Try to put grief aside when shopping for a casket. Do not view looking for a deal as a slight against your loved one who has passed away. Use common sense and be diligent, just as you would when making any other major purchase.
  • If you have the time, use it
    If you are not facing any exceptional time constraints, use the extra time to shop around and compare prices. Get a price from the funeral home, and see how much lower the prices are at a casket wholesaler.
  • The selection is the same
    Discount casket dealers offer the exact same caskets as any funeral home does - this applies to ordering online and in person. Same caskets for sale, same quality, same features, but for much better prices.
  • Ask about specials
    Older models are often offered at even deeper discounts - they are still great caskets, but wholesalers need to make room for new stock. You may also realize solid value from newer models, which might be offered at a discount in order to spur sales.

Funeral Planning Checklist

Planning a funeral is a difficult and emotional task, and the burden of arranging details while coping with grief can be exhausting. We cannot relieve the emotional stress you must be feeling, but we can help you keep track of the many details that could otherwise prove overwhelming.

Here is a thorough checklist of tasks and things to remember when you are planning a funeral:

  • Gather personal information needed for the obituary.
  • Choose a funeral home.
  • Decide if the deceased will be buried or cremated.
  • Select a casket or cremation container.
  • Choose the funeral location and type of funeral service.
  • Apply for required documentation, including death certificate and burial permit.
  • Arrange all details of the visitation - location, schedule, guest list.
  • Choose burial outfit, including jewelry & mementos (not necessary for cremation).
  • Select music and flower arrangements for the funeral service, and select literature to be read.
  • Arrange for funeral transportation (funeral coach, limousine, clergy car, private transport).
  • Choose the clergy or the officiator.
  • Choose & notify the pallbearers.
  • Select which family member or friend is going to perform the eulogy. Additional speakers should be selected, if necessary.
  • Choose a cemetery (if not already chosen by the deceased).
  • Choose a burial or cremation plot (if not already chosen by the deceased).
  • Submit obituary to the appropriate newspapers or publications.

Some additional important considerations:

Pre-planning - If the death was anticipated, many or all of these details may have been pre-arranged. A sudden or unexpected death typically requires more planning.

Accommodating guests - Out-of-towners will appreciate recommendations for places to stay, particularly locations that are close to the service and reception. If you have time for additional planning and you anticipate a large number of visiting guests, you may want to contact a hotel regarding a discounted group rate.

Delegating planning - The details involved in planning a funeral can be overwhelming for just one person. If possible, delegate parts of the planning to a trusted friend or family member, particularly those details that are time or labor-intensive.

The most important thing is to stay composed and remember that planning a funeral should be invested with the same care and diligence that you would in any other circumstance that requires communication, organization, and attention to detail.

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