We’re Giving Dignity a Helping Hand 5

James and Sharon Dunn uploading Dignity prices

Here at Beyond, we believe everyone has a right to an affordable funeral. We also believe that before we can make that right a reality, there needs to be price transparency in the funeral industry. It’s why we do what we do: help people compare funeral director costs for free, online, with no obligation.

It’s also why, when we heard that that Dignity Plc (the UK’s second largest funeral chain) made a commitment in January 2017 to make their prices available online by January 2019 – that is, two years later  – we decided to step in.

We don’t believe a company with Dignity’s resources should need two years to put prices online. So, we’ve done the work for them.

What exactly have we done?

We spent the last few months of 2017 gathering and collating prices from 764 Dignity-owned funeral homes. And, as of today, we’re including all of them on our funeral director comparison tool – alongside the 1,000+ independents who have already chosen to be transparent with their pricing.

Visitors to our site will now be able to see where Dignity branches are, what name the branch is using, and (most importantly) how much they charge compared to the independents in the same area. It looks something like this:

Funeral Prices in Glasgow - screenshot from www.beyond.life
Funeral Prices in Glasgow – screenshot from www.beyond.life

Or, to put it another way:

How much does a funeral cost in the UK? Dignity vs Independents
Cost of a Funeral – Dignity vs Independents

As a bonus, here are a few interesting facts about those prices:

  • The average cost of a Dignity-arranged ‘traditional’ funeral, with funeral director expenses, a hearse, one limousine and a wood veneer coffin is £4,659 – that’s not including third party costs, like the cost of the burial or cremation.
  • This is more than double the average for an equivalent funeral arranged by the independent funeral directors on Beyond, £2,087.
  • The most expensive branch we found was Jonathan Harvey in Glasgow, which charges £5,300 for a funeral with a hearse, one limousine and a wood veneer coffin (again, excluding third party costs).
  • The least expensive location we found was W Williams & Son in the leafy Cheshire village of Tarvin, which came in at £2,195 for the same funeral.
  • That’s a difference of £3,105 between inner-city Glasgow and a Cheshire village.
  • Our data also revealed some odd pricing structures. For example: in Newcastle, if you go into R S Johnson & Sons you will pay £4,850 for the package above. But if you drive 10 minutes down the road (just 2 miles) to Peter Johnson Funerals, you’ll save yourself £1,800 and pay only £3,050.

James and Sharon Dunn uploading Dignity pricesWhere does this price information come from?

The horse’s mouth. From July  to December last year, our intrepid team of volunteers gathered price sheets from 764 of the 814 Dignity-owned funeral homes in the UK. Fuelled by mince pies and justice, our co-founder James Dunn then teamed up with his mum Sharon to painstakingly enter every detail into our system over the Christmas break. It was very festive.

We warmly invite Dignity to send us any new or revised pricing whenever available – we’d be very happy to update our site and analysis accordingly (and give Sharon a welcome break).

How do the independent funeral directors on Beyond compare?

Over 1,000 independent funeral directors have chosen to list their costs on Beyond. On average, they’re 36% cheaper than the national average funeral cost, and 123% cheaper than Dignity funeral chains in particular. And like us, they believe that people have a right to arrange the funeral their loved one deserves, without worrying about finances.

For this reason and others, we remain committed to championing the amazing work these independent funeral directors do – and we’re confident that they will continue to flourish.

UPDATE: Dignity have recently responded to our research by questioning our methodology. You can check out our reply and find out more about how we collect and compare accurate prices here.

Want to find out more? Explore our funeral director comparison tool here, or contact the Beyond team at [email protected] for further details.

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5 Comments

  1. This is a brilliant tool to help families see where real transparency Liz found! Not in gimmicks and PR stunts of the corporate funeral provider.

  2. Well done! It’s about time someone did this. Opaque pricing in the industry has been a big issue since the big guys tried to monopolize the market. Well done Beyond!

  3. Excellent work. At last people can actually see the true difference between the conglomerates and the independents, allowing them to make an informed decision with regard to the costs.

  4. The prices you’ve quoted for Dignity are VERY misleading. A lot of the charges are what every funeral director would have to pay (Cremation Fee £884, Doctors £164, Celebrant £180). Even with a limousine (£175), a wooden ashes urn (£88) and a 4 ft spray for top of coffin (£85), the total charges would be approximately £3700.
    I’ve worked for Dignity for 2 years and the facilities we have are first class. That can’t be said for some of the independents I’ve had dealings with, some who don’t have any proper storage facilities.
    And we have no hidden charges. I know someone who was charged £100 for an independent funeral director to dress their loved one and £25 for each chapel visit!! Dignity do NOT charge for these services.

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Campaign: Let’s Talk About Death 0

Lets talk about death

So, these adverts are a tad … edgier.

And that’s deliberate.

You see, we’re all going to die. Yet in the UK, few people like to talk about it.

When something is taboo, as with death, it creates an environment where bad actors can operate.

And our fear of engaging on the subject – creating that shared code of silence – allows predators to rip us off.

We pay too much for funerals, funeral plans and wills because we don’t feel able to shop around.

Companies can charge us exorbitant fees because we don’t compare, we don’t negotiate, we don’t feel empowered to take control.

When a loved one dies, we just head down to the very nearest funeral director, who may or may not be a corporation in disguise, who may or may not charge too much, who may or may not provide a good service.

Ask yourself, would you choose a babysitter merely based on proximity?

And still most of us end up with cookie-cutter funerals – the dark cars, the suits, the grim 18th century tolling of the bell, because of our refusal to acknowledge that death is inevitable, to discuss it with friends and family, to plan for it, to shop around and get a good deal.

The most galling aspect of all this is that it’s completely unnecessary…

Dying Matters survey revealed that the majority of the British Public feel “that they…and people they know are comfortable discussing these issues”.

However, and here’s the crux – those same people also feel “that the British public as a whole is still not comfortable discussing dying and death”.

In short, most of us are totally fine discussing mortality, but we’re scared to death of what everyone else might think.

It’s akin to the Victorian treatment of sex. Apparently, no-one ever ‘did it’, but somehow babies kept appearing.

So, we’ve decided to take the first step in opening up the conversation about death.

We’re placing after-life services* into adverts which mimic the way that other products are marketed.

We’re stripping away the emperor’s clothes, the over-reverence assigned to what is after all, an inevitable conclusion, an inescapable purchase.

Using humour.

We’re turning up the volume to ten, in the hope it paves the way for everyone else to at least make it to five.

Planting a flag and saying, “Here’s permission to talk about death.”

Let’s get that conversation started and make the consumer experience better for all of us.

Best, Ian

*”death services” – see we’re not immune either

 

Here are the ads. You’re welcome to use them anywhere, so long as you link to us.

Direct Cremation
Don't get ripped off
Compare funeral plans
Make a free will
Direct Cremation 1920x1280
Compare funeral directors 1920x1280
Compare funeral plans 1920x1280
Make a free will online 1920x1280

Campaign: Hello World 1

Beyond mascot

Hi,

Next week we launch an ATL (above the line) advertising campaign, running in the London Underground on TCPs (Tube Car Panels) and some 48-sheets (those big landscape format posters across the tracks).

Turns out that it takes a week to get all the posters up (who knew?) so some of them have started appearing today.

It’s our first ATL campaign, and as such, it’s designed to introduce ourselves, our lovely new branding and our product range to the public.

We created four different adverts, for comparing funeral directors, funeral plans, free will writing and our direct cremation service.

Now, I don’t recall seeing a lot of advertising for death or after life services on the Underground before.

Perhaps some worthy ‘Co-op’ funeral plan ads with old peoples’ faces, smiling as they run through fields of wheat … half Gladiator, half Teresa May … but I may well be imagining that.

So, it should be interesting to see how people react.

Anyway, due to various behind the scenes issues with our original advert creative (more on that next week), we found ourselves in a slightly challenging situation.

We were left with a mere 30 mins to come up with entirely new adverts, then just a handful of hours to get them designed and over to TFL.

So, it wasn’t ideal.

But in some ways, that time challenge ensured that we had to force ourselves to very quickly and clearly define the benefits of our products.

Sometimes you can be too clever. And perhaps in this instance, simply introducing our brand, our mascot and stating clearly and succinctly what it is that we do, was the best route to take.

It may be post-purchase rationalisation at its finest … however, I’m going with the line that these ads won’t win any awards, but they might just do the best job that we need them to.

We do what it says on the tin.

Until next week.

Best, Ian

Here are the ads. You’re welcome to use them anywhere, so long as you link to us.

Compare Funeral Plans

4

Direct Cremation

3

Free Online Will Writing

2

Compare Funeral Directors

1