Lying About the Law

One woman’s experience with a Los Angeles cemetery keen to sell her a vault.

Sent to us by Frances Cherman of Los Angeles on February 20, 2007:

I called Eden Memorial Park Cemetery (owned by conglomerate Service Corporation International) in Los Angeles today to discuss the cost of burial plots for my mother, who is still alive. Among the many charges he listed was one for a burial container. I asked if that was the 3-sided container (top and 2 sides) or a complete vault. He sounded appalled at the question and said that, of course, it was the complete, sealed enclosure, “which is required by law.”

I said, “Um, actually, the FTC Web site states, ‘Outer burial containers are not required by state law anywhere in the U.S., but many cemeteries require them.'” He feigned surprise and said he’d always been under the impression they were required by law. I offered to give him the URL of the FTC Web page stating this, but he said, “Oh, no–I’ll take your word for it.” Right! As if he wouldn’t be fully aware of the laws regarding this!

Also, after giving me prices in the most confusing way possible, I thanked him and hung up. Less than a minute later, he called me back to say he “forgot” to tell me that they’re having a “sale” (not his word) on single graves through the end of February–$1,000 off. Like heck he forgot; he was obviously “sweetening the plot”–pun intended–because he couldn’t close the deal on the first phone call.

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