Budget is a big item for most in planning a funeral. One of the major reasons cremation is Becoming the American Way(OC Register article 8-8-17) is that it is so less expensive than a graveside burial service. Space for a burial is becoming a premium and the actual beauty of a burial-at-sea compared to the ‘norm’ is becoming very desirable.
I think the biggest difficulty in selecting a company to perform the Scattering-of-Ashes service is unfamiliarity. Most people have never seen or experienced such an event. So, where do you start?
- Due diligence: Make your calls, shop around, talk to various companies, and review their web sites. You will get a ‘feel’ for each company. Obviously choose the one that ‘feels’ right for you. But be wise! By this I mean, be careful not be fooled by such things as price. This is a very special occasion, one that needs your close attention as to what is right compared to what is wrong. The best price, for example, may be that way for very specific reasons that have nothing to do with what would be best for you. I will give you some insight into this as I have been in this business for a long time and will tell you about the ‘Red Flags’ to watch out for. As you learn more, you will know the questions to ask so that you will become truly informed in making your decision.
- Cost: A For-Profit Organization being less expensive than a Non-Profit Organization. How could that be? This should be your first Red Flag. Something suspicious has to being going on for the simple reason that they operate as a business by making a profit. Since we operate at a loss, how could they be less expensive? Doing things illegally and not with the USCG or State’s or City’s approval are the main reasons. How would you know? Questions to ask:
- Are you USCG certified? USCG certification costs a lot of money and is for one purpose and one purpose only: your safety. Do not place your safety as an insignificant factor!
- What is your CRD number? (Cremated Remains Disposer license required by the State of California) Proper licensing by the State is also an expense for any company.
- Where will you be picking us up? The City of Long Beach does not allow for passengers to be picked up at public docks such as Marina Pacifica, Ballast Point, or Rainbow Harbor! For a company to operate legally is more costly for that company and is an important factor in planning a dignified, respectable, and loving funeral. Do you want to cut corners and do things illegally for your loved one?
- What license does your Captain have? Many do not carry the proper credentials required by the USCG.
- Are there any additional costs? If so, why? There should not be any!
- Web Site: This is extremely important! Transparency begins with the business website. The United State Coast Guard reviews web sites daily looking for illegal charters. If the business does not have a web site another red flag should have gone up for they are hiding!
- Hidden costs: This is just another sad example of greed. Companies routinely charge you more for a weekend or holiday. Also, the amenities of food, flowers, drinks, photography, audio and visual systems are always put on your back as additional expenses. We have been told several times that companies make up costs such as Taxes, Harbor fees, Docking fees. These items simply do not exist and are not your burden. So, what is the real coat? I believe that during this emotional time, you should not be charged for any of these items. With us, everything is free!
Ask yourself this: Why would I charge you more for a weekend or holiday? Did my insurance go up? No! Did the cost of the Captain or fuel go up? No! Just greed by these other companies because they know that weekends and holidays are more often chosen over weekdays. Also, why would I charge you for a Coca Cola, music, food, or flowers? What could it have cost me? The answer is: Practically nothing!
- Convenience: Watch closely for this! Most companies will tell you when they go out. Why? Simply because they make it convenient for them, not you. We ask you when you want to go out, what will be convenient for you and your guests based upon traffic, travel, conflicting plans. We go out every day of the week, any time of day based upon our discussions on what is convenient for you. Most importantly, it is your day, not ours.
- A licensed Captain operating the vessel. A licensed Captain for the specific number of passengers is required by the USCG. It is a fact that some companies operate without a Captain or a Captain that is not licensed for the number of passengers on board. Ask if the Captain is certified as a ‘Six Pack’ or as a Master Captain. A Captain with a Six Pack License is only allowed to take 6 passengers Maximum!
I strongly believe that you should shop, but shop wisely. Do you really want to go with the cheapest company out there just to save some money in the burial of your Mom? Doesn’t she deserve better than that? Chose not to live with that knowledge that you only cared about the cost, not what was right.
Recently, I chose to give back to a family $1,000 because everything they were planning to do was illegal. I simply walked away and told them that I felt ii was disrespectful and dishonorable for their father and wanted no association with it. It’s hard to turn down a $1,000 donation, but I would have to live with that.
And always remember: Going for cheap could also be very dangerous. Your safety and that of your family and friends are at stake. Laws and regulations are there for a reason. Especially on the ocean which isn’t the safest place in the world. The USCG enforcing regulations and policing of illegal charters is a good thing. They are there for you. Even though it may cost the company a bit more money, it should certainly be worth it for your peace of mind and your safety! Unfortunately, the legal and safe companies will naturally be a little more expensive.
Please call us to discuss cost and any of these issues. I will tell you all of the ways you can save, not the ways you could spend unnecessarily. Several factors determine cost: Number of passengers, departure port, location you may want to go to. I will discuss with you several cost saving alternatives. In addition to the things we give to you free which I have mentioned, I can also provide you with a free urn if you need one. For the Military funerals, I can help arrange with you a full Honor Guard Ceremony.
We do not make a profit or draw a salary or receive compensation of any kind. The monies that come as donations to our foundation cover our operational costs only. Anything above that is greatly appreciated with all donations going directly to helping other Military families.