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. (Read more funeral home stories.)