A Deadly Sales Offer

by admin on January 22, 2013

My elderly father died recently after being on at-home hospice care for almost two years. In addition to his physical diagnosis he suffered from severe dementia, which required that he never be left alone in the house. Because of this, I gave up my job and moved into his house to be his full-time caregiver. It was a tough situation, but I was glad I was able to provide this care and spend his final few years with him.

My immediate family members were very concerned and involved but could not provide much help with his day-to-day care, as my only brother lives out-of-state and my mother, long divorced from my father, is also quite elderly. We kept our extended family updated on his condition but they did not provide or offer any assistance, nor did I ask.

As his condition deteriorated, just over a month before he finally passed away, I received the following e-mail from my first cousin who sells for a financial group:

Hey Cuz,

FYI – for the next 7 days my company is offering 0% interest w/ 10% down on cemetery PRE-NEED services.

Also $750 off pre-planned funeral burial srvcs & $400 off cremation.

Much cheaper than at-need!

IF U KNOW OF ANYONE LET ME KNOW. “

If I “know of anyone”?!! I would have easily dismissed this as just a bulk e-mail send to all of her potential customers, but for the fact that she addressed it to “Cuz.” I guess I missed the part where she expressed any concern at all for her ailing uncle… 0117-13

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

White Lotus January 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm

And I forgot to say, I am sorry for your loss, and hope this didn’t add to your distress.

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babs January 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm

@mpk, my father-in-law was on Hospice for 2 years. As long as they have a terminal diagnosis and qualify for this care, Hospice will stick with them. Wondering if it varies from state to state, but when someone is placed on Hospice, no one can determine how long they will hang on, although most often they are called in when a person is in the last stage of their life. Thankfully I found this out many years before we needed it when we had a visitor in my Sunday School class who worked for Hospice. She told us that it was a misconception that they only kick in at the very last stages, and that some people were on Hospice for 2-3 years. That ended up being the case for our dad, and we are so grateful for the wonderful, caring people who helped us take care of him.

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Kate January 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I don’t think I would ever do business with someone who used multiple exclamation points and text speak in their sales pitch.
I can accept that the cousin may have had good intentions, but the way they’ve gone about it is just beyond tacky. Something like “I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. If you would like some help in arranging funeral services when the time comes, I would be happy to assist, as I know this can be overwhelming” would be a better approach.

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Yvaine January 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm

I find myself hoping the cousin’s email was hacked, because it’s less awful than the alternative.

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VM January 23, 2013 at 12:38 am

Is it possible that she was afraid of looking like a vulture if she referenced your father’s case directly, and thought she could avoid the impression by passing on her offer as breezily and non-pointedly as she could? If so – bad idea, worse execution, but maybe, just maybe not as crassly intentioned as it seems.

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Melalucci January 23, 2013 at 2:32 am

lakey, that’s my last name! Think we’re related? ;)

OP, my condolences. I agree with a lot of other posters: the cousin with the offer worded it terribly.

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Elizabeth January 23, 2013 at 11:22 am

Financial services groups do not sell (or deliver) funerals in the US. This sounds like some form of account that is set-up prior. The problem is that this financial services group is taking a fee out of the funds for setting up and managing this account. Better to deal direct with a funeral home, lock in the price and not owe fees to an external, third-party. In Massachusetts, funeral homes are required to set-up individual accounts for named beneficiaries when a family wishes to plan ahead; when paid in full, all fees are locked for the agreed upon services.

My husband owns a funeral home and it amazes me how many unrelated organizations attempt to involve themselves in this industry. Everyone wants a piece.

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June First January 23, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I had a few ideas for a reply to this email:
1. Polite spine: “Thank you for your concern.”
2. Deliberate misunderstanding: “Oh, no, Cousin. You’re far too generous. We couldn’t possibly allow you to pay for Dad’s burial expenses.”
3. @Yvaine’s idea: “Cousin, just want to let you know someone hacked your email account. We got some really ridiculous spam.”

OP- My condolences.

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