A hidden camera investigation showed cases of upselling and rule-breaking by some funeral home staff, just two years after the Marketplace exposed the common-placed aggressive sales tactics occurring at the largest funeral home chain in Canada.
The subject of the 2017 investigation was Arbor Memorial. The investigation revealed confusing charges, huge markups, and forceful tactics employed by sales staff on commission at Ontario branches.
Owing to the investigation, the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO), the body in charge of regulating the funeral industry in the province, initiated new protections that made the common practices in the marketplace illegal.
Carey Smith, BAO registrar noted that Arbor management approached him after the investigation and promised to modify their practice. He mentioned that he took action right away. BAO particularly took action on two specific policies which include charging a handling fee when customers purchase a casket from another provider and refusal of some staff to make less costly caskets available to funeral services.
One of the new rules was not always followed when the Marketplace returned to five Arbor funeral homes in Ontario in early 2018. A salesperson refused to sell the cheapest casket to undercover producers who were asking for a simple service alongside cremation. “It is not for visitation and not for your funeral service”, the salesperson said.
Smith noted that the casket was in the showroom and should be available for sale. He added that he is disappointed and could not believe that that sort of conduct could ever happen.
Salespeople in Arbor Memorial get a commission for products they sell; this means that they will get greater compensation on a more expensive casket. When the Marketplace visited two other Arbor Memorial locations, the salesperson allowed them to purchase any casket of their choice but tried to divert their attention away from the least expensive ones at $890 and towards caskets closer to the $2,000 price range.
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