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This site is for the Co-operative Funeral Service, which is "the largest UK - owned Funeral Director, but we have grown by thinking and acting locally - backed by the strength and reassurance of a unique, caring organisation".

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      03.08.2001 02:55
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      My elderly parents were divorced and my father lived with his brother. There was ill feeling between my mother and my father's family but I still visited him and on one of these occasions he wanted to discuss his funeral arrangements. He had a stroke, which had left him slightly incapacitated and had affected his speech. In order to give him peace of mind I decided to enquiry about the Co-op Pre-paid Funeral Bond. I made an appointment for both of us to meet with a representative at the nearby Co-operative Funeral Offices. The chap we met was both pleasant and helpful. Because of my father's speech impediment, I had to do most of the talking for him. I could understand him but some found it difficult. We were asked many questions in order that my father would receive exactly the sort of service he wanted. We were asked how many cars we wanted, if we wanted an announcement in the newspapers, if so which ones and what it should say. What sort of service and whether he wanted internment or cremation. This may sound very cold blooded and calculated but at the time it seemed the right thing to do, especially in view of the animosity between the families. My father said he only wanted one car for my family and me, anyone else could make their own way if they wanted to go. He wanted an announcement in the local newspaper and internment. He said although he was a Roman Catholic, he was not a practising Catholic and hadn't been to church for years. He said he did not want a Catholic priest to conduct the service but the chaplain who attended the chapel at the crematorium/cemetery. This surprised me, as religion was a bone of contention between my mother and father. My mother was not a Catholic. I said I wanted to buy the plot and when asked, my father, said he only wanted it to be for one. We were also asked whose name should appear on the Bond. This is the document issued to verify the arrangements. My father said he wanted it t
      o be in my name. He would have a copy and I would have the original. The bill of £800 was settled and the topic was never raised between us again. A few years later I received a telephone call late one evening, from someone I later found out was a cousin. The caller said,"I'm ringing to tell you your father is dead, although the rest of the family didn't want you to know. If you want to know anymore it will be in the paper tomorrow night". Then the line went dead. I was shocked and stunned. I didn't know what to do, all I could think of was to ring the Co-op Funeral Offices to see if what I had just heard was true. I eventually was put through to the wife of the funeral director near to where my father lived. She was very sympathetic, when I started to relate the phone call to her, I began to cry uncontrollably. She told me her husband was out but she would get him to ring me on his return. He did, and it was true, my father had passed away and his funeral was arranged for the two days time. I asked why the Co-op had not informed me as they had been informed about the situation between the families and the Bond was in my name. I was named as next of kin and was to verify arrangements but I would not have known about it if I had not received that phone call. He apologised and said he didn't know how it could have happened and he would look into it the following day. He phoned the next day and said one of my cousin's had contacted them because she had found my father's copy of the Bond and she had said she was next of kin. I told them they knew she wasn't, I had already explained the situation when the Bond was originally arranged and a note was made in the file. I asked what the arrangements were and he said she had asked for the car to go to her house and he told me what time had been arranged for the funeral. Although my father wanted one car for my family and myself and I had paid for th
      e Bond, I wasn't in any state to argue. On the day of the funeral we went to the cemetery and entered the chapel but the service taking place was not for my father but someone else. We waited outside for the hearse to arrive with my father's coffin. Members of his family were standing some way off. When the hearse arrived instead of going to the chapel it went straight to the graveside, where a Catholic priest conducted the service. My father's family stood around the graveside making it impossible for me to get near. After the service, the priest went to all the members of the family and shook their hands but he ignored my family and I. I was upset at what had occurred and was advised by my mother in law to go and see someone from the Co-op Funeral Service. The person I spoke to apologised and said he couldn't understand how this had happened. Neither could I when I had already spoken to someone only 2 days before and explained about the problem between the families. I was too upset to pursue the matter so just left. Sometime later I arranged for a headstone to be erected on my father's grave. The stonemason contacted me and said he had been unable to erect the stone, as the ground was not in my name. Of course it is I said, I paid for it when I paid for my father's funeral. He said he had been told by the parks and cemeteries department at the Council that it was in the name of Mrs ********, my cousin who had originally said she was next of kin. I contacted the Co-op again but this time I wasn't upset, I hadn't just buried my father, I was angry, extremely angry. I was told the ground had been registered in her name because they had been told by her, she was next of kin. The Co-op had passed this information to the council department. I told them they had to get it changed into my name and they said it was impossible to change the name of ownership. They contacted me to say they had arranged to h
      ave the stone erected and would that be okay. I said I wanted the name changed but they refused. I contacted my solicitor who could not believe what had taken place. Hardly any of the arrangements we thought we had made, years earlier, actually materialised. My solicitor contacted the Co-op but was told they would not accept any responsibility for what had occurred. I was told that if I wanted to pursue the case it could prove extremely costly and I might have to pay costs. Of course they were the big sharks and I was only the minnow. I still feel I let my dad down but at the time I couldn't afford to take the risk. The ground my father lies in is in the name of someone he didn't like. I didn't get the opportunity to say goodbye to him and I didn't fight his corner. In all honesty I couldn't recommend the Co-operative Funeral Service to anyone. I do often wonder how many clients have actually received the service they paid for when they have used the Funeral Bond Service. I think this sort of service would be popular with people who live alone and do not have any family to make arrangements for them when their time comes. It is, as I had thought, a peace of mind contract so everything could be arranged beforehand. The dead cannot check up on this. Clients have to believe that their wishes will be carried out, in my father's case they were not and insult was added to injury when they gave ownership of the burial plot to someone else. I still feel very bitter.

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