Tiff over funeral expenses in Philly shows costs vary greatly

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 (Image courtesy of David Lambie/Philadelphia Funeral Directors Association)

(Image courtesy of David Lambie/Philadelphia Funeral Directors Association)

Philadelphia funeral directors are sparring with the company that’s now managing cemeteries for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The two sides have dueling newspaper ads, fighting over prospective customers.

Lawrence Miller of StoneMor Partners, which has a lease to run the archdiocese cemeteries, said the company is not in direct competition with funeral directors.

“All we are operating today are the cemeteries,” he said. “We’re not opening Catholic funeral homes or going into direct competition with them. I think you will find … that many of the funeral directors in Pennsylvania don’t like ‘pre-need’ sales.”

“Pre-need” describes making arrangements while you’re still alive.

David Lambie, who heads the Philadelphia Funeral Directors Association, disagreed. He said StoneMor’s salespeople are hawking everything, including caskets and the vaults that hold the casket below ground. Because prices vary greatly, he advises comparison shopping before making a final decision.

“I have seen their caskets, and their caskets start at $2,495,” he said. “Just for example, my funeral home caskets that are very similar, same colors, different manufacturer start at $1,395. So there’s an $1,100 difference.”

Even Costco sells caskets, so StoneMor isn’t the only new source of competition.

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