A Northern Irish funeral director has been reprimanded by the ASA after calling himself “Northern Ireland’s most qualified funeral director”, despite the regulator finding that he was “unable to show that their competitors did not hold the same level of qualifications”.
Stephen McCosh Funeral Directors, used a regional press advert which displayed the post-nominal letters “Dip.F.D. Dip.F.S. M.B.I.F.D” followed by text which claimed McCosh was “Northern Ireland’s most qualified funeral director”. Funeral direction chain, Dignity Funerals challenged that the statement was “misleading and could be substantiated”.
McCosh said that in the funeral industry there were two formally recognised qualifications – the Diploma in Funeral Services (Dip.F.S.) certified by the British Institute of Funeral Directors, and the Diploma in Funeral Directors (Dip.F.D.) certified by the National Association of Funeral Directors.
The funeral director said the former was the highest level of diploma, and added that some funeral directors in Northern Ireland held one of those qualifications, but he was the only person to hold both.
McCosh’s claims were understood by the ASA to mean that he “had more advanced qualifications than any other funeral director in Northern Ireland”, adding that it had not received evidence that he was the only person in the country to hold both diplomas.
The regulator also said that while McCosh held both certificates “an individual who held both would not necessarily have been more qualified than an individual who held just the level 4 DipFS qualification”.
For that reason, and because Stephen McCosh Funeral Directors had been unable to show that their competitors did not hold the same level of qualifications as McCosh, the ASA concluded that the claim had “not been substantiated and was misleading”.
Stephen McCosh Funeral Directors was told “the ad must not appear again in its current form”, and told the company “not to claim that Stephen McCosh was more qualified than all other funeral directors in Northern Ireland unless they could demonstrate that was the case”.