The Co-operative Funeralcare has reportedly paid out £170,000 in compensation to 1,000 people after branches in Staffordshire, Newcastle and Crewe failed to embalm the bodies of 1,700 deceased.
Following an audit, families expressed their shock at finding that their loved ones were not embalmed as first thought, but that a charge for the service had been levied.
The bereaved have now received compensation, with some receiving goodwill gestures of £100 in addition to the refunds. It is believed that the problem dates back at least five years.
Emma Dainty, who used the Co-operative Funeralcare in Crewe when her father and then-granddad passed away, was reimbursed £65 and £100 after it was found that her granddad, who died in 2009, was not embalmed.
Dainty said: “With my father, they requested some clothes we wanted him to be buried in. They didn’t do that with my granddad.
“Then we wanted to go to see him in the Chapel of Rest, we had three messages from the Co-op saying ‘don’t come to see him, he’s not in a good state’. They said because of the medication he had been on, his body had decomposed faster than normal.”
The Co-operative Group said: “Following investigations by our Funeralcare business, we discovered that a number of families in two areas had been charged for the service of embalming but that this service was not carried out.”
It added: “As a result, three members of staff have left the business. We deeply regret this failure to uphold the high standards which we set ourselves and we have reimbursed the families affected.”