Excerpts from this blog post about the experiences of a former cemetery salesperson:
(I could summarize, but her words are so much more real and powerful. You need to know this goes on. You need to realize this truth, and that this is why I want you to start thinking ahead, planning, asking the questions and doing research NOW.)
The truth of her role:
When I got the job, I thought I was going to be helping families and individuals plan their burial. What I found out was that I was hired for a sales position. I remember vividly the day I was referred to as a sales person at the cemetery by my boss; I realized then that my job was not to get the families what they wanted, but to make a good sale. I had been trained that my goal was to serve the families, but was reprimanded when I sold a family what they wanted, a modest place to bury their loved one.
My experience was that we were not trained in law and family rights, but on how to make the sale and “serve the family”, which I think was to get families to buy something they had not thought of as necessary. Since federal law does not regulate cemeteries, you must know what rights you have, and rely on your gut instincts when looking for products and services. Cemeteries are more “buyer beware” than funeral homes.
Ask for prices!
Ask to see a price list in a cemetery. This might be a tricky thing, but think about what it would be like going to the grocery store and having to ask to buy an orange and the sales crew would present you with the orange they thought would be perfect for you. It just might be the most expensive orange in the store. You might not be allowed to see the GPL (general price list.). We were trained to not let consumers see our pricelist.
And still more to ask about–clearly, they’re not giving up information easily, eh?
Ask to see a variety of products at different price points. Make sure that you know what kinds of markers are acceptable in their “memorial park” or cemetery. Ask about vaults. More importantly, ask about their minimum requirement for a vault…If you are doing cremation, ask about their policy on cremation vaults. Ask about the open and close price.
Are all cemeteries as painfully profit-driven as the author experienced? Perhaps not, probably not, but you’ll never know which one is right for you if you don’t go out and research it ahead of time. If you think you might want use of a cemetery, plan now. Consider buying your plot ahead of time if the numbers make sense, although realize that it can be tough to get rid of a plot if your plans or wishes end up changing.
Most of all, as the author so wisely states:
Feel free to shop around and leave any establishment, cemetery or funeral home that you do not want to work with. You know it when something does not feel right. Trust yourself to know what it is that you want.