A concerned funeral director has claimed dozens of Australians are being lied to by funeral parlours and ripped off with fake coffins.
Speaking on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair on Thursday night, Jeff Boyle detailed the dodgy business that is reportedly going on behind closed doors in the Australian funeral industry and leaving Aussies out of pocket.
Boyle, who owns three funeral homes in central Queensland, claimed many facilities are using fake coffin tops to cover cheap cardboard coffins used for cremations.
According to the funeral director, funeral homes in Queensland must use a sealed coffin for cremation and any violation of this practice is illegal. However, there is no mention of coffin, casket or receptacle requirements in either the Queensland Cremations Act 2003 or Cremations Regulations 2003.
“There is no way you would want to know your loved one is simply wrapped in plastic and tied to a board for a cremation,” Boyle told A Current Affair.
The funeral director said he discovered the devious methods used at some funeral homes through a number of his current staff members who were exposed to the dodgy business at a previous employer
The funeral home’s customers reportedly had no idea the facility was using cardboard coffins, which are known as Petersons in the industry, paying exorbitant amounts for the cheap knockoffs. While the Petersons should only cost about $70 to purchase, one of the funeral homes in question is apparently charging clients around $1,300.
“All they see is the glossy fake top which is later removed,” Cameron Ferguson, who now works for Boyle, explained. “They’d be horrified to know what really happens. I used to try and talk them out of it if I could.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first instance of “coffin swapping” in Australia with a Queensland family last year accusing a funeral home of swapping their grandmother’s oak coffin for a cheaper version for her cremation.
Read more: Anger over ‘coffin swapping’ claim
Janice Valigura, 74, died on New Year’s Eve in 2017 and was laid to rest in Rockhampton shortly after. Her family told the ABC at the time a mourner at the funeral noticed Janice’s silky oak coffin looked different when they arrived at the crematorium. The family confronted the undertaker but were told swapping the expensive coffin for a cheaper version was “common practice”.
While the undertaker in question appeared not to see any issue with the coffin swap, Queensland Funeral Directors Association President Anton Brown described it as “disgraceful”.
“It’s like buying a Mercedes and getting a Toyota Corolla, that’s not common practice,” he told the ABC at the time.
“When people choose a funeral director they put a lot of trust in the person. This person who has done this to the family has broken their trust.”
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