Mail-order caskets — an affordable alternative

Paying for a funeral can be crippling — whether that of a loved one, or pre-paying your own. But for those with limited resource’s, a popular alternative has arrived on the scene — mail-order caskets.

While new to Canada, U.S. consumers have been able to purchase caskets this way since 1994, when the U.S. Federal Trade Commission decided individuals should have the right to buy and supply their own caskets, rather than having to purchase one from a licensed funeral home. Today, there are more than 160 casket shops in the U.S., marketing their products at up to half the price charged by funeral establishments.

In Canada, the funeral industry is provincially regulated, and consumers can purchase a casket from a third party without being charged an additional handling fee — except in Quebec, where funeral directors can legally refuse to do business with anyone insisting on supplying their own casket (but this is under review).

According to Blair Meecham, a licensed funeral director who has established his own mail-order casket company, Caskets Direct, buying a casket is the biggest expense in a funeral — up to 50 per cent of the total bill, in fact. He also cites mark-s of between 200-400 per cent on most models, with luxury models sometimes marked up a whopping 1,600 per cent above wholesale. It’s not hard to see why such high prices are commanded — and paid — when 92 per cent of funeral directors themselves cite emotional over-spending as the number one reason for a funeral’s high cost.

But how does buying a casket by mail-order work? It’s a relatively simple process: The merchandise is pre-selected, and delivered direct to the funeral home when needed. Pre-arrangement plans are available, with money paid placed in trust until the casket’s needed. Alternatively, you can buy a casket now and store it yourself — an interesting conversation piece in any home. And if you’ve already pre-planned your funeral, you’re entitled to a full refund of the cost of the casket without having to change your funeral plans.

For further details, call Caskets Direct at (416) 544-9444