ECO-FRIENDLY Scots who dream of a green funeral are paying up to £580 for cardboard coffins that cost undertakers as little as £59.
The huge mark up on cardboard coffins by some funeral homes has been described as “profiteering” by critics.
Demand for the environmentally-friendly coffins is soaring and a recent survey suggested three-quarters of Scots would choose a “sustainable” funeral.
But undertakers are being accused of taking advantage of bereaved families by marking up cardboard coffins as much as 10 times.
The industry denies the claims and insists the high charges are necessary because of low overall sales of cardboard coffins.
Gordon & Watson funeral services, Aberdeen, charge £580 for a cardboard coffin – compared with £350 for a standard wooden casket.
Berriedale Funeral Home, also in Aberdeen, charge £395 for cardboard coffins while Brian Smith Funeral Services in the city charge £400.
Anderson Maguire in Glasgow charge £400 while William Purves in Edinburgh charge £300.
The country’s biggest funeral firm, Scotmid Co-operative Funeral Directors, charge £245 for a cardboard coffin. The firm admits to buying them in for around £80 to £100.
Rosie Inman-Cook, manager at The Natural Death Centre charity, said: “It is outrageous – cardboard coffins can be bought for as little as £80, so for funeral directors to be charging £400, £500, or even £600, it is completely bonkers.
She claimed: “They are taking advantage. When people are in a state of shock and grief hits you then the last thing you will do is shop around for the cheapest option. People put their trust in funeral directors.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont accused funeral homes of “profiteering” at the expense of grieving families.
He said: “This seems like a heavily excessive mark-up which would not be tolerated in other industries.
“Grieving families are probably in the worst possible frame of mind to spot this, and that’s perhaps why it happens.
“Funerals are not a cheap occurrence and with profiteering like this, it’s easy to see why.”
Mark Watson, from The Coffin Company, based near Morpeth, Northumberland, said he sells cardboard coffins for as little as £59.
He said he was well aware of the sky high “prices charged by some of the funeral directors” and suggested buying online.
“With death, people become vulnerable and in some ways totally reliant upon dealing with a funeral director they have no doubt never met before giving them advice.
“Not everyone feels comfortable buying funeral products off the internet however we have all seen how web based marketing have developed over the last decade as such I consider the funeral industry to be described as “The Last Closed Shop”.
A spokesman from Scotmid Co-operative Funeral Directors said: “The cardboard coffins that we retail for £245, we buy in for between £80 and £100.
“Then we have other costs, VAT, delivery, we have to engrave the plate, line the interior, then we have to mark up the price as well.
“The cardboard coffins are not popular, we sell very few, and we have to mark the cost up or we wouldn’t be a business.”
A spokesman from Berriedale Funeral home in Aberdeen said: “There is a mark up on all products. With cardboard coffins, there is not such a high demand.”
A spokesman from Brian Smith funeral services, also in Aberdeen, said he had to charge more for cardboard coffins because he sold so few. He added: “We buy them in ten at a time and might only sell three in a year. We have to take that into account when we make our costings.”
A spokesman for William Purves said: “There are various makes and types of cardboard coffins available. We sell the very highest quality and buy it in. Others may not. We could reduce the cost but we would have to buy in much poorer-quality cardboard.”
Despite repeated calls, no-one was available for comment from Gordon & Watson or Anderson Maguire.
For information about buying coffins direct please go to www.coffincompany.co.uk