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Funeral Planning Services Chairman speaks out against cold calling

Chairman of Funeral Planning Services, Graham Williams, has spoken out against nuisance sales calls in the funeral planning industry on the Nick Conrad Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Norfolk. The show, which was dedicated entirely to the topic, also featured SAIF President and Norwich funeral director, Paul Allcock.

Norfolk resident Anne English was horrified after she was contacted by a salesperson from one funeral plan provider selling plans over the phone so she contacted BBC Radio Norfolk. Presenter, Nick Conrad, picked the story up for the theme of his BBC Radio Norfolk Breakfast Show and invited Mrs English to share her experience.

She said: “They were quite abrasive. They asked me if I’d like someone to come and talk to me about it and when I said no, she got very cross. Well it is upsetting. I said I don’t want any more calls as she was being very nosy about my circumstances. Then she started asking about my family and who would be able to help pay for my funeral when I die.”

When she tried to say that she would simply use her local funeral director, whom her family has always used, she was reportedly told by the salesperson: “It’s just a job to these funeral directors, they might suggest a hymn or two but they wouldn’t bother to think of anything you might want (at your funeral).” This prompted her to take the matter further.

Funeral Planning Services Chairman, Graham Williams was invited onto the show to provide an opinion on the matter from the point of view of a plan provider that does not use aggressive sales techniques.

He said told the show: “We are aware of it and it’s happening throughout the UK. We deal with funeral plans and they are very good things for people who want them. We suggest people contact their local funeral director who would not give them any kind of sales pitch but would just explain to them what is involved. Unfortunately this is just another case of people being targeted unnecessarily.

“With your callers this morning it is people who are being targeted by salespeople who are being paid on commission. We certainly wouldn’t (cold call), in fact there is a code of practice at the Funeral Planning Authority that forbids it so people shouldn’t be doing it, but obviously they are.

“My advice to your listeners who have been cold called would be to complain. You can complain to both the Funeral Planning Authority and to the Information Commissioner because people shouldn’t be contacting you out of the blue like this, it’s not right.”

Funeral Planning Services never uses aggressive sales techniques such as cold calling, door-to-door sales or sales agents in public places as a way of attracting customers.

SAIF President and Norwich Funeral Director, Paul Allcock also appeared on the radio show and offered his opinion on how cold calling is affecting the industry: “Sadly its something we have been hearing about for some time,” he said. “The one thing I would always emphasise to people is the importance of saying no in these circumstances, it’s completely inappropriate especially where funerals are concerned.

“Ultimately the one person that is eventually dealing with the at-need time is the only person who knows what’s right for you, certainly not a salesperson over the phone. To have a salesperson trying to sell you something that’s right for you is absolutely ridiculous and totally inappropriate.

“The problem is that salespeople you speak to will tell you invariably that you can choose your funeral director; well you can as long as you are on their list of designated funeral directors. You don’t get freedom of choice of funeral director by going with one of these (national funeral plan) companies. The only way you can do that is by choosing your funeral director in the first instance and by sitting down and talking to them and dealing with them directly.”

The full show is available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04bzcnm

Listen to Graham Williams from 1hr 9mins into the show and Paul Allcock from 1hr 40mins.

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