StoneMor Corporation Cashing In On Catholic Cemeteries

In Greater Philadelphia,
StoneMor Partners is planning to cash in on the consecrated grounds of the Catholic cemeteries. After purchasing the management rights to 13 Catholic cemeteries, with an initial payment of $53 million for 60-year contract, StoneMor is intent on commercializing the sacred grounds of remembrance for faithful Catholics, while disguised behind the robes of the church.

 

“We actually felt that for marketing it was better to have the church still perceived [as the owner].”

~ Ray Smith, V.P. Marketing, StoneMor*

 

StoneMor is the second-largest owner and operator of cemeteries in the U.S. Like any publicly traded corporation, their stockholders demand high returns on their. The company’s sales force uses cemetery records to contact families and subject them to high-pressure sales tactics that maximize company profits. In some cases, families are confronted about purchasing funeral merchandise for other family members while they are making arrangements for the burial of a loved one.

"These cemeteries have for the most part never sold the merchandise or the other services. And there is – we don’t know exactly, but somewhere between 60,000, 70,000, 80,000 living members of the Catholic community in Philadelphia that own their vault, they don’t own their marker, they don’t own their casket and they don’t own the opening and closing. So there is going to be the enormous opportunity for the company to market just to their own lot owners…"

~ Ray Smith, V.P. Marketing, StoneMor*

*Transcript from Investor’s Day Conference, November 18, 2013.

Unfortunately, not everyone believes in treating customers with the same respect. For some profit-driven corporations, a casket or a cemetery plot is just another sale and making the quota is more important than building relationships with families.

“The true story of StoneMor, however, is even more troubling… This story adds skewed incentives, deception, greed, and unethical behavior by a management team that engaged in precisely such behavior with a prior company.”

~ Seeking Alpha – Value Sleuth
The Impending Implosion of
StoneMor Partners

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Question To Ask & Things
To Do – To Protect Yourself

  • Ask all salespersons to identify themselves, the company they represent and what services they are selling.
  • Find out what exactly is covered. Even if you buy a casket or cemetery lot, you will still need the services of a local funeral director.
  • Make certain that everything that is promised is put in writing and attached to the contract, including your right to cancel.
  • Ask whether 100% of the funds are protected and transferable.
  • Find out the name of the bank or insurance company that is acting as the trustee of your pre-arrangements.
  • When purchasing a pre-need plan, a licensed funeral director is usually the best source. Ask to see the professional license of the person you are dealing with.

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