In response to the pernicious story which appeared in the Courier Mail / News Mail relating to alleged inappropriate business practices carried on by F. C. Brown & Co and the Bundaberg Crematorium, I would like to set the record straight.
The major cost components in funeral expenses include cemetery or cremation fees, professional fees to provide expertise, proper facilities and staffing, funeral notice in the News Mail (now averaging around $400 or more) and the coffin.
Several years ago, as many will remember, Bundaberg had more than its share of economic woes and for many people, to find four to five thousand dollars to pay for a funeral was an impost on their already beleaguered personal finances. I introduced the option of a hire coffin for cremation ceremonies to keep costs down for our client families and I believe this concept was and still is unique in Queensland, although an accepted practice in the USA.
In Australia, some funeral homes may offer lower professional fees but high priced coffins to improve their bottom line. Of course the onus for spending more is then on the customer. At F. C. Brown & Co. our professional fees have been carefully calculated to allow for genuine service rendered. The selection of whichever coffin then becomes immaterial and eliminates the need for forceful salesmanship and perceived pressure on families. If by this we can save our client families a substantial amount of money by selecting a rental coffin, which reduces our costs as well, then that is a win-win result.
Mr Anton Brown, spokesperson for the Queensland Funeral Directors Association, stated from his office in Brisbane, that hiring coffins was “unethical” and “bloody ridiculous”. We are curious as to why he might say that, but we disagree ….and by the response of our client families who choose this option, so do they.
Therefore we will continue to offer this low cost option and it’s my guess, that pretty soon, so will the others.
In any organisation, directors rely heavily on the integrity of their support team. Equally, families rely on the ethics and confidentiality of the funeral consultant when making individual and private decisions. This confidential agreement made between families and the funeral director they speak with will remain so within the confines of F. C. Brown & Co. The cremation staff are instructed which coffins have been selected by family to be cremated and which have been hired, without further discussion.
In as much as Browns have operated the Bundaberg Crematorium since 1992, I do not directly supervise cremations. However I shall scrutinize more closely procedures so that company policies are carried out to the letter to safeguard the good faith of those who put their trust in us.
If you would like to see our arranging documents for yourself, feel able to visit our office. At the same time you may choose to take a pre-arrangement booklet home in order to make your own informed decisions. This can then be filed with us to lessen the stress on your family in the future. In any case you will also experience that spirit of friendly helpfulness, the hallmark of our firm, which has seen us grow from strength to strength over the past 140 years.
We would also like to thank each and every person who has shown their continuing support of us.
Michael Brown
F.C. Brown & Co are accredited members of the National authority, The Australian Funeral Directors Association.