When Judy Wood’s sister, Diana Parent, died at age 56, the family knew what she wanted: a simple cremation and a celebration.
But when Wood went to Victoria Greenlawn funeral home in Windsor, Ont., to finalize arrangements Parent had prepaid before her death, she was surprised to find her sister’s planning didn’t cover any funeral services, just the cremation, urn and a burial spot.
“We were shocked,” Wood says.
Staff at the funeral home, a branch of Toronto-based Arbor Memorial Inc., recommended a funeral package they said included everything Wood needed.
Once they finished going through all the services included in the package, the bill was close to $10,000, on top of the $4,000 Parent had already prepaid to an Arbor funeral home.
“I didn’t want to seem like I was asking a lot of questions about money,” Wood says.
Wood and her family looked at the bill and tried to keep costs down, cancelling items like memorial cards and a catered reception. But the funeral still ended up costing them an additional $4,300.
An investigation by CBC’s Marketplace and the Toronto Star has found that Wood’s experience is indicative of a pattern of assertive sales tactics and upselling taking place at some funeral homes run by Arbor Memorial, the largest Canadian provider of funeral and cemetery services.