Opinion Editorial

Opinion Editorial submitted by:

Steve Mitchell

March 5th, 2020

Glenn Frey sang a song about me – “The New Kid In Town”. I am the new kid in the periphery of the funeral and cemetery profession, in British Columbia and beyond. And I was told stories. I learned the lore of it. I read a book about it by Thomas PJ Crean. And I found it hard to believe that it could be this predatorial at the sheer expense of grief stricken people.

I have lived with both of my parents passing. In the UK, it was a Family Funeral Home – people cared. In Montreal? A Family owned chain, and I was overcharged, but, it wasn’t too bad. No one really “cared”, but I took charge and it went the way I needed it to.

I watched a series of W5 and Marketplace stories exposing some pretty awful practices by commissioned salespeople. That’s nothing new – commissions drive this kind of thing. But even at that, I didn’t fully “get it”.

I didn’t fully get it until I spoke with a 75 year old local BC woman who, over several calls, told me her stories. It started when I was in Vancouver over Christmas. And our last call was last night; her in BC and me in Quebec.

There is something wrong in this profession; this profession turned industry. When a 75 year old widow is worried about her niches being sold out from under her. When a so-called “Director” of a cemetery responds with, “Well, you bought cheap, you got cheap.” When she has literally spent tens of thousands of dollars with this conglomerate, and in a mocking voice, they hang up the phone while saying, “Yeah – I’ll get right on that” – click goes the phone. He hung up.

Every client is coming to us in their most vulnerable state. We have a duty to respect that; to care about it and to help people through this process. This is why it IS a profession, and not an industry in full pursuit of profit at all costs.

What ever happened to ethics? Is there no decency out there anymore?

That is the question. And that is why we are embarking on a revolutionary new process to vet these professionals throughout North America and refer to them the hundreds of thousands of members we have tapped into in insurance, associations and labour unions.

This profession I am proud to have joined is going to have ethics and decency rewarded. And we will ferret out the crass and cruel profiteers. I can promise you that.

Steve Mitchell

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