Co-op ru­ined my fa­ther’s fu­neral

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - READERS’ LETTERS -

My fa­ther sadly passed away more than two months ago. We had aw­ful, up­set­ting prob­lems with Co-op Funer­al­care. It made nu­mer­ous, in­ex­pli­ca­ble mis­takes, didn’t re­turn phone calls and what we said was not passed on to an­other staff mem­ber. A fu­neral di­rec­tor is there to help the be­reaved, not add to the dis­tress at a time of acute grief. The is­sues from the start were such that we wished to can­cel the whole fu­neral with them. How­ever, once the dates are booked and friends and fam­ily in­vited, that’s not fea­si­ble.

The fu­neral man­ager said, af­ter speak­ing with se­nior man­age­ment, it has agreed to do­nate £500 in mem­ory of my fa­ther and give a re­fund of £500. The fu­neral di­rec­tor said that Co-op Funer­al­care finds this to be fair and rea­son­able and the of­fer is fi­nal. Yet this does not re­flect the in­sen­si­tiv­ity we ex­pe­ri­enced, all the er­rors and the staffing is­sues. DG, MANCH­ESTER

Var­i­ous mis­takes were made, in­clud­ing those in­volv­ing where your fa­ther had been moved to af­ter he died. The stan­dard of care he had and his prepa­ra­tion were very be­low stan­dard.

At one stage you were told things had not been done be­cause you had not re­turned the con­tract and paid the de­posit. This was af­ter hours on a Fri­day and you had not been told about this re­quire­ment. As you live just two min­utes away, had you known, you would have come over and paid at once.

On the Mon­day, when you tried to pay, no one knew about this and there was no ac­cess to a pay­ment ma­chine. Some­one was sup­posed to call you to take the card pay­ment and did not. Mean­while pay­ment was pri­ori­tised over per­sonal mat­ters and prepa­ra­tions on your late fa­ther’s body were de­layed.

When even­tu­ally you did see him, the con­di­tion of the room was poor. Far from giv­ing an im­pres­sion of “a chapel of rest” your mother de­scribed it as a “broom cup­board”. There was dirt and dust on the floor. There were thumb prints on his cof­fin plaque on which the type­face did not ap­peal. A re­place­ment was agreed but it was done with the same font as be­fore.

You both found the way all this was be­ing dealt with highly dis­tress­ing.

You then ar­ranged to have the in­tern­ment done by an­other party.

I ap­proached Co-op Funer­al­care and it now said that what hap­pened is in no way re­flec­tive of its high stan­dards of care. It says any nec­es­sary im­prove­ments will be made.

Co-op Funer­al­care’s ser­vices cost £2,760 and it is now waiv­ing the full amount. The £500 char­ity do­na­tion still stands.

The re­main­ing £1,361 for fees charged by third par­ties, such as for the cre­ma­to­rium, doc­tor’s fee, church and or­gan­ist, are be­ing paid by you.

I stressed to Co-op Funer­al­care that some­one high up needed to visit the Chapel of Rest you were un­happy with and this has hap­pened. The staff there also prob­a­bly need ex­tra train­ing.

Three weeks later you still hadn’t had the £500 de­spite as­sur­ances. I prompted Co-op Funer­al­care and a few hours later some­one came to your house with a cheque. As you say, Co-op Funer­al­care does not seem to have learnt any lessons from this.

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