By ‘Frank Massey & Son Ltd, Hyde’s oldest established Family Undertakers

It is something that we have been becoming increasingly aware of for many years, but recently a report in The Guardian suggested that there is a growing ‘national scandal’ involving pre-paid funeral plans. Most customers, the report stated, are completely unaware of hidden fees and commissions charged by middlemen that mean when the time comes to use the plan, they could be faced with an unexpected shortfall running into hundreds of pounds!

One consumer body that has investigated the pre-paid funeral sector believes some disreputable companies offering these plans are operating a ‘quasi Ponzi scheme’ where they allegedly use money from new customers to pay current claimants.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme, that is the official safety net for customers of financial firms that go bust, also issued a warning that individuals could lose out if their provider fails.

In far too many cases grieving families discover that they are being hit with unexpected bills at what is a very difficult time, simply because money has been ‘skimmed off’ the original pre-paid figure.

One funeral director quoted in the article was astounded when a customer showed them a £3,420 plan, but on receiving payment from the plan organiser – only £2,535 was provided for the funeral. There was an admin cost of almost £1000!

Apart from the rip-off fees and commissions charged by unscrupulous firms, we are also very concerned by the way that many of these plans are sold. Tactics include cold calling, along with telephone and in-house sales agents who, it appears, can be very forceful and aggressive in their approach. We have even been told of seemingly respectable age related organisations who are now adopting cold calling techniques to sell their funeral plans.

So what can you do?

The first thing to make clear is that not all pre-paid funeral plans fall into this rip-off category. There are many, such as the ‘Golden Charter’ plans that we provide at Frank Massey & Son Ltd, that have been delivering a totally transparent, secure, flexible and fully assured service for many, many years and which are guaranteed to cover the funeral director’s services you agreed on once your plan is paid for. Golden Charter is owned entirely by over 750 independent funeral businesses throughout the UK and surplus funds are used to increase funds available to the funeral director to cover any additional costs.

If you are thinking of purchasing a pre-paid funeral plan then our advice is to speak to your local independent funeral director, who will give you all the advice you require. Always ask how much money from the funeral plan will be paid towards funeral costs. They will also help you to avoid being ripped-off by unscrupulous organisations whose sole motive is to make as much profit as possible.

If you would like to discuss our Golden Charter pre-paid funeral plans please do not hesitate to contact Frank Massey & Son Ltd. You can be confident that as a family owned and run business, helping families in Hyde and surrounding areas for over 100-years, we are perfectly placed to provide all the advice and assistance you need. You can call us on 0161 368 2565, you can visit our website at:, or you can call into our offices at 49 Mottram Road, Hyde SK14 2NN. (We’re right next to Morrisons.)