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Can Funeral Directors charge a ‘Corkage’ fee?

Can Funeral Directors charge a 'Corkage' fee?

Very recently we had a customer who contacted us to help her design and a specific coffin for her – Let’s call her Janet

Janet wanted to arrange for her own very specific designed unique coffin and gave us real challenge. Additionally Janet wants to put in place a funeral plan to cover the cost of the funeral itself. I suggested that she gets several quotations.

There are several ways to get a funeral plan price, either go to your local funeral director, or contact the national funeral plan providers. People like the CoOp and Dignity both offer plan through their network, and then there are various insurance backed schemes – please like Golden Leaves. (N.B. other providers have a different provider but just re-badged, for example Age UK plan is actually provided by Dignity)    

The key to this is to get several quotes so you can make sure you get good value.

So Janet went to her local CoOp Funeral Care branch – They provided her with a quote for her plan, but given the fact Janet has already design and arranged her own coffin, she didn’t want them to supply a coffin with her plan. The woman dealing with Janet then stated that she would have to pay an additional £200 to supply her own coffin as they would need to test it.

Janet then told Steven Mitchell of Comparethecoffin.com this story and he advised checking their terms conditions to see if there is something listed on there to explain this fee as it was a new one on him. Steven checked the CoOp website themselves and couldn’t find anything that described this fee.

Janet contacted the CoOp head office.

“I cannot see in your brochure that an additional charge of £200 is payable when a coffin is bought elsewhere, other than at the time of completing a plan. I would appreciate clarification, as it was mentioned in discussion at one of your branches recently.”

Head Office Replied;

With our set funeral plans they include a list of pre-paid services and arrangements including a coffin from the Co-Op. If you were to use your own coffin it would either have to be paid for at the time of the funeral or one that you had already purchased separately. We do not charge a standard rate for using a different coffin as it is paid for at the time of the funeral and prices vary massively depending on which coffin is purchased.

If you have any further queries feel free to contact us here. 

Obviously this hasn’t answered Janet’s question!

Thank you for your patience. I have spoken to my colleague and can confirm that you would indeed be able to purchase your own coffin from elsewhere and add that into your special wishes for your funeral plan with ourselves. 

This still needed additional clarification!

There is no extra charge to the funeral director for using another coffin. You would just have to pay out for the purchase of the coffin as it would not be one of ours but no extra charge to the funeral director.

Kind regards,
Customer Service Executive
coop.co.uk

This clearly should never have happened and the staff member concerned clearly made up the charge. They didn’t count on Janet’s determined efforts to investigate and not be turned over. If something like this happens to you always ask to see were in the standard pricing and terms and conditions these charges are??

This is not the first time a funeral director had tried to charge family for using a coffin they have ordered from Comparethecoffin.com and the rules are very simple. No Funeral Director can refuse to use a coffin that you have order yourself or make a charge for doing so – i.e. charge a ‘corkage’ fee.

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