Planning and paying towards your funeral in advance is a smart way to reduce the stress and financial concerns that may impact your family in the future. Age Co Funeral Plans (previously named Age UK Funeral Plans) are designed to help older people put sensible funeral plans in place, giving them the peace of mind that their loved ones will be able to carry out their wishes with ease.
However, there are many funeral providers out there who take advantage of vulnerable people to secure a sale, and simply do not provide an acceptable level of care. Here are some of the warning signs that a provider may not have your best interests at heart:
Do they use pushy sales tactics?
In a survey commissioned by Age UK in 2017**, it was found that one third (33%) of UK respondents aged 65 and over have been contacted by a sales representative at a Funeral Plan provider and that one in ten over 65s felt that the salesperson had been pushy and put pressure on them to take out a plan. A small but important number (6%) said they felt pressurised to buy before seeing any of the product details in writing.
When it comes to making such an important decision as choosing a funeral plan, taking the time to explore your options and carrying out the research to make an informed decision is crucial.
To ensure all funeral plan buyers have had adequate time to understand the range of plans and providers out there and to be confident in their decision to buy an Age Co Funeral Plan, call centre advisors will never sell a plan to anyone who hasn’t received an information pack unless they have thoroughly researched Age Co Funeral Plans online. Instead, an information pack will be sent to first-time callers to read at their leisure, and a follow-up call will be scheduled when the caller is ready to have an informed discussion about whether Age Co Funeral Plans are right for them.
As well as treating all callers with compassion and care, Age UK call centre advisors are fully trained to be mindful towards vulnerable people and will always take the decision to refuse a sale rather than knowingly complete a sale with a vulnerable person.
Doug Strachan, Executive Director of Age Co Funeral Plans, commented; “It’s worrying to hear of the lengths some Funeral Plan providers are going to, in order to make a sale. Preying on elderly and in some cases, vulnerable people, and using pushy and aggressive sales tactics is plain wrong. We worry that more Funeral Plan providers will resort to this practice as their ability to write to customers reduces with new data regulations. Age Co Funeral Plans believe more needs to be done to put a stop to unscrupulous sales tactics for good.”
Do they insist on visiting you at home?
Worryingly, the Age UK 2017 survey also found that seven out of ten (69%) of over 65s said they have been contacted on multiple occasions and via different methods of communication. The findings show the most common form of contact by Funeral Plan providers is by post (68%), followed by phone (37%), then email (27%), and 3% of the over-65s surveyed had even received a visit at home.
Additionally, 5% of over 65s contacted by Funeral Plan providers felt under pressure to agree to a home visit. Home visits can make potential customers feel uncomfortable and under pressure to buy, which is why they are not proactively offered by Age Co Funeral Plans. Advice and questions can be discussed at length with call centre advisors who are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
On the rare occasion that a home visit is requested by callers who are inhibited by illness, disability or mobility constraints, then where possible an Age UK employee will make the visit to ensure the correct information is provided, regardless of whether a sale is made or not.
If you do decide to invite a funeral plan provider into your home, take care that you are never made to feel uncomfortable or under pressure, and don’t be afraid to ask for more time to think things through and to discuss with your family. You may even want to bring someone along as a witness. A high quality funeral plan provider will never resent giving you the time to make the right decision.
Do they seem fake?
Con artists will sometimes try to coerce personal details out of people over the phone by pretending to be a reputable funeral plan provider. As a well-trusted brand, Age Co Funeral Plans have sadly received reports of their name being used by scammers to fake credibility with the people they’re trying to con. All legitimate calls are recorded and logged by the Age UK call centre and so advisors can easily check whether any suspicious calls reported were genuine or not.
Age Co Funeral Plans will never try to sell you a funeral plan without sending you an information pack first or establishing that you have read and understood the online version. If you receive a cold call from someone who claims to be Age Co Funeral Plans and they fail to offer to send you an information pack before asking for your money, it’s safest to end the call.
It doesn’t happen often, but if the information pack doesn’t arrive then another one will be sent via post or email. If you receive a call that doesn’t follow this policy then it may well be a scam.
If you are worried that a call may be illegitimate then you should feel no qualms about hanging up; if it is a mistake then a reputable provider will understand and would rather you ended the call than felt uncomfortable.
If you are unsure or simply want to put your mind at rest then you can try calling the provider directly to ask if they have any records of phoning you, and/or to have a conversation that you can trust is with the real company. We have further information about phone scams available if you are concerned about a phone call you’ve received.
Do they provide care for your family?
While arranging a funeral plan in advance is a thoughtful means of taking some of the stress out of the situation for your family, a good funeral plan provider will understand that nothing can take away the grief and heartache of losing a loved one. And so, as well as being available 24 hours a day to customers, Age Co Funeral Plans also have a 24-hour bereavement advice and counselling service that friends and family can use to support them in their time of need.
News reports of undertrained and inexperienced staff causing unintentional distress to loved ones aren’t unheard of in the funeral industry, and so staff training at every level is taken very seriously to ensure that everyone who interacts with Age Co Funeral Plans and their funeral service provider – Dignity – is treated with respect and compassion. And with 99% of customers’ families who responded to their survey agreeing that Dignity had met or exceeded their expectations^, it certainly seems to have made a big impact.
Are they regulated?
With recent news reports of certain funeral providers treating the bodies in their care with a shocking level of disrespect, including failing to use appropriate mortuary facilities to the point that relatives were denied the right to view the deceased, it is critical that you do your research and pick a provider that you can rely on. Age Co Funeral Plans have created a comparison table to make it easy to compare their funeral plans with other providers and help you make the best decision for you.
All Dignity Funeral Directors work to a code of practise either informed by the National Association of Funeral Directors or the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, and both Age Co Funeral Plans and Dignity are overseen by the Funeral Planning Authority. However, the funeral plan industry is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). While Dignity is leading for a change in this, our teams are held to a high standard of care and our ability to help alleviate the significant concerns around funeral planning is among the reasons why Age Co Funeral Plans were introduced in the first place.
If you’d like to consider Age Co Funeral Plans as one of your options then you can request a free information pack or call on 0800 022 3243*.
** Research commissioned by OnePoll on behalf of Age UK Enterprises between 28/11/2017 and 12/12/2017. Total sample size of 2000 UK adults aged 65+
^ Source: Dignity plc Annual Report & Accounts 2017.