Funeral firm piles naked bodies up in grim warehouse
Britain’s biggest funeral firm has been accused of treating the dead with disrespect and stacking bodies at industrial-scale storage units.
Instead of being kept in a chapel before burial or cremation, the dead are kept among ‘rack upon rack of bodies’ in a warehouse-style ‘hub,’ according to an undercover investigation by England’s Channel 4 program.
Overworked staffs of Co-operative Funeralcare were “treating bodies like luggage” as some of the bodies were uncovered, being slid in and out of racks just centimeters apart in a refrigerated mortuary.
“I had no idea they’re treating people as if they’re stacking television sets really,” said Professor Geoffrey Woodroffe, a former funeral ombudsman. “I’d hate to think that a member of my family would have been treated in that way. I find it shocking.”
In another incident, the lid was taken off an elderly woman’s coffin so all four bodies could fit in the same van for transportation.
The woman’s nose was almost touching the shelf above but when the body was unloaded in view of an apartment, a member of staff held the lid over the coffin to “preserve some dignity.”
The company, which has 900 funeral homes across England and last year made a profit of over £52million, has apologized for bad practices revealed in Channel 4’s Dispatches program, Undercover Undertaker, and has launched an internal inquiry.
“It’s not right. I’m very sorry about that,” said George Tinning, managing director of Co-operative Funeralcare, admitting the woman’s body should not have been transported without a coffin lid.
Tinning, however, defended the company’s hubs for storing bodies, saying it is not industrial and that the premises are fitted to a high standard.
There was also criticism of sales methods at a branch in Hayes, West London, where trainees were told not to offer the basic £2,010 package to customers.
“The bottom line is we’re a business and we need to make money,” said the area manager.
Tinning also apologized for high-pressure selling and promised to address it.
“I’m very proud of the operation I run, but equally I’m shocked and disappointed by the things that you’ve uncovered,” he told Dispatches.
The firm was also criticized three years ago by bringing a wrong body to a crematorium, followed 30 minutes later by the correct body. (Daily Mail)