Appples and Oranges Part II

In my previous post I discussed how to compare funeral service charges. This entry will discuss how to properly compare casket costs. As with the General Price List (see previous post) funeral homes are required to provide consumers with a Casket Price List. But, unlike the General Price List, funeral homes do not have to give their casket price list to anyone for them to keep. Funeral homes only have to show it to people before they make their selection. The Casket Price List must have caskets listed in descending order of price; they must be numbered; they must have the casket name, description, and manufacturer. They should be segregated as to type of casket, such as wood, metal, all wood, or a combination of materials. The Casket Price List is designed so a person can find a particular casket on the list without assistance from the funeral director. With a Casket Price List a person can select a casket based on their own criteria, whether it’s price, construction material, or personal esthetics.

Elsewhere on my website:  I detail the differences in caskets, so I won’t repeat that discussion here. I will only say that caskets are usually made from either wood, metal, or a combination of the two. When trying to compare casket costs, it’s imperative that you compare exact caskets. Comparing a “wood casket” to another “wood casket” simply isn’t enough. You must compare the species of wood, the thickness of the wood, the interior materials, and the quality of construction. For instance, comparing a pine casket to a solid plank mahogany casket is comparing apples to oranges. Similarly, trying to compare the cost of a 20 gauge non-protective metal casket to a 16 gauge protective metal casket is like comparing a minimum Chevy to a fully equipped Cadillac.

Listed on a funeral home’s General Price List the price range of the funeral home’s caskets must be listed. (I offer caskets ranging in price from $495 to $5595 and my General Price List is posted on my website ( There are relatively few casket manufacturers and distributors, so chances are your local funeral homes are getting their caskets from the same places. Even if they don’t carry the exact casket as their competitors, it’s still relatively easy to price compare...if you’re comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Once you decide on the type of casket you want, whether it’s a wood, a metal, or an all wood constructed casket, all funeral homes should have a comparative casket. For instance, if funeral home “A” has a casket called, the “Star,” which is described as an 18 gauge protective metal with a velvet interior, funeral home “B” might not carry the “star,” but I’m sure they have an 18 gauge protective metal casket with a velvet interior, only they call it the “Mojave.” It may or may not be the same color, but I’m sure it will be close. So, it’s important to compare exact types of caskets to one another in order to accurate price shop for a casket.

It is always easier to compare funeral prices before they’re needed. Don’t hesitate to call a few funeral homes to compare their full service charges as well as their casket prices. Just make sure you compare the total “bottom line” costs before making a selection of a funeral director. There are intangible considerations that may cause you to choose a slightly more expensive funeral home. These considerations are what’s known as “added values” and may include the type and location of facilities of the funeral home, how you “feel” you’re being treated as a potential client, and the recommendations of family and friends who have used a particular funeral director in the past.

You shouldn’t buy an apple when you really want an orange!

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