Biggest US Funeral Company Grows Despite Fears, Protests
Services Corporation International already owns 1,800 funeral homes
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2013 4:50 PM CST

(Newser) – Vladimir Belostotsky was bowled over by the bill for his mom's funeral: $9,000. Luckily a lawyer helped him cut the fee by more than half, but he's still resentful that the Maryland funeral home overcharged him. "They take advantage of people in need," he said. That home was one of 1,800 already owned by Services Corporation International, the nation's biggest funeral company—which is aiming to acquire its largest competitor despite fears that funeral prices will spike nationwide, reports Al Jazeera America. And as past customers know, you're hardly in a position to negotiate when you're grieving a lost loved one.

Members of the Jewish community in Washington, DC, are among those concerned about the merger and protesting outside the FTC's headquarters this week. "Our community’s funeral home is being taken over by this giant conglomerate," said a woman who helps with her synagogue's burial society. But SCI insists its customers are almost always satisfied when they design their funeral ahead of time. "All the things that you hear about SCI can be easily dismissed if a smart consumer makes a plan early," said an SCI rep. But what about people like Belostotsky, whose mom died unexpectedly? SCI refused to comment on his claims.

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Lou Bernardo
Dec 2, 2013 6:34 PM CST
The funeral racket has always gyped and cheated. Read the book by Jessica Midford "The American Way of Death" and you'll be amazed at how this business rips off americans at a time someone in the families goes belly up. They rip off people on the price of coffins, the stuffing and mounting process, grave sites and the tricks are endless. Now they are becoming a monoply they can do virtually anything for the buck and you have few choices where to go to have your carcass buried or baked.
Dec 1, 2013 4:17 PM CST
I have arranged to be buried with my butt sticking out of the ground. That way my mourners will have a place to park their bike. (groan... bddrrrooom chh)
Ezekiel 25:17
Dec 1, 2013 8:10 AM CST
Some buddies work for funeral homes under various capacities. Mostly its coach and limo drivers. I had to learn they call the hearse a coach. I'm guessing when I get as old as dirt they expect me to join them. Hey, its serious pay as they make around $150 per funeral which averages three to four hours of work. This is one are where your rural life helps you. First of all, we have a cemetery coop just like a farm coop. You pay a yearly fee to pay based on amount of sites you need. It averages $30 per grave site. Its optional but if you need a space and are not a member, you have to come up with $500 for a space. The nice thing about rural cemeteries is the opening is usually included. Rural funeral homes are also way cheaper. I had to take care of the affairs of a friend who died with no family. The funeral home provided everything at cost and no labor charges. We did that whole funeral for right at $700. That was casket, transport to church, transport to veterans cemetery and death certificate. On the day of the funeral, a long lost family member flew in and wanted to help out. She covered those expenses so the VFW didn't have to raise the funds.