The AFCCA as well as the Arizona State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers has spoke/written on this topic in the past, but I feel that a reminder is necessary. This group has resurfaced recently and we want to make sure everyone is absolutely clear that it is NOT in your best interest to work with these people.
Below is a statement from Judith Stapley, Executive Director of the Arizona State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, from July 2017:
I would like to provide an update with an ongoing situation that is plaguing the funeral industry across the nation. I have been receiving feedback from various members of the funeral industry in our state and felt I needed to relay the information I have. Some of my information was graciously provided by Steven Palmer who, coincidentally just wrote an article on this topic that will be published in the August 1st edition of Nomis Funeral & Cemetery News. Although many of you may have heard of or even had an encounter with a business called “Heritage or Legacy Cremation”, you may not be aware of some recent events. Please, understand when I am making reference to, “Heritage/Legacy”, I am NOT in any way referring to the establishments we currently have, by the same names, which are licensed in this state.
Heritage Cremation Provider, LLC and its affiliated company, Legacy Funeral Services, LLC masquerade as a “local, family-owned and operated, low cost cremation service”. The problem is this particular Heritage/Legacy is not licensed in this state or other states they are advertising in. They advertise on the internet as a low cost cremation service that appears to be a local business. Then they attempt to contract with a local funeral home to provide the removal from place of death as well as the cremation. Again, this firm is not licensed to do business in Arizona or the other states they advertise in. The owners of this firm have a long list of charges against them including, running an illegal crematorium, supplying bodies without permission to a mortuary school in Florida, and being banned 10 years for operating without a license.
Many states have run into problems with this firm resulting in legal actions including orders to “cease and desist”. They have been ordered to stop doing business in Georgia and Florida. This firm is now under fire in Wisconsin as several Wisconsin funeral homes have not been paid by Heritage. In March of this year Tennessee fined the business $8000 and ordered it to cease from engaging in unlicensed activity. Minnesota Department of Health investigated and ordered this firm to “cease providing licensed activities in Minnesota”. The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado reports that Heritage Cremation Providers, LLC currently has an “F” rating. The Colorado office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration have suspended the registration of this firm effective June 6, 2017 after concluding the business, “is guilty of multiple deliberate and willful violations of the Mortuary Science Code”. Massachusetts has identified them as illegally operating in their state. Ohio Funeral Directors issued an alert, authored by the National Funeral Directors Association (“NFDA”) General Counsel, Scott Gilligan warning of dealing with Heritage. The NFDA also issued this warning to its national membership. North Carolina Board of Funeral Services filed an injunction against Heritage, warning its members that providing services for Heritage “would constitute aiding and abetting the unlicensed practices of funeral service”. Oregon’s Mortuary and Cemetery Board stated their website’s claims “constitutes a sales presentation or practice that conceals or misstates a material fact”.
This firm will contract with families, take their payment, and then searches out a local funeral home to contract services with. One of the problems is that families are left not knowing where their deceased loved one is being held or cremated because they contracted via the internet and have no physical contract identifying locations. This firm actually refuses to tell families where their loved one is at any given time, most likely because they do not know. Often time they are also demanding more money for services than originally quoted.
An incident in our state was recently reported to me by a funeral home outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area. A consumer came into the funeral home asking about the services they had contracted for. Of course the funeral director had no idea what they were referring to, knowing this family had not entered into any contract with his establishment. The consumer said that, Heritage Cremation Provider had instructed them that this locally owned funeral home would take care of their funeral arrangements. The funeral director explained that he was in no way affiliated with Heritage Cremation Provider and had never spoken to them on any occasion. Fortunately, for the consumer, no money had been exchanged or contract signed with Heritage. The consumer then went on to make funeral arrangements with the legitimate, licensed funeral home. A short time later the funeral director received a phone call from an individual claiming to work for Heritage Cremation and demanding a “finders or referral fee” for sending a family to them.
I realize this was a lengthy explanation but I feel it is extremely important for those dedicated individuals who are licensed to practice in the funeral industry to be aware of those who would prey on the uninformed. To sum up I will borrow the eloquent words of Mr. Steven Palmer as he asks, “Why did you enter funeral service? If it was to fulfill what Heritage had hoped for, then it is not funeral service, it is commodity disposition. This problem is ours to solve; remain true to your calling. It is truly better to have fewer calls, letting the price shoppers find the foils, but to maintain your integrity, and your income, as the funeral director you want to be. Eventually, the public will discover the difference.”