I MAKE reference to the letter by the operations manager of Vineyard Funeral Assurance, “Funeral parlour responds”, (Zimbabwe Independent, December 2).
I have not
seen the original letter that was being responded to. However, I can infer that the person who wrote this letter was bitter about service by this funeral parlour.I am also a very disappointed customer. I manage funerals for my employer’s 3 000-plus employees and their dependants.
It would be prudent for Vineyard to acknowledge that they are not conducting their business properly and several people that I spoke to confirmed this. If the management is receptive to criticism rather than inclined to face-saving rebuttals, they will find the following points instructive:
They should review their relationship with the hospital authorities and the police. In all situations that I dealt with them, all the bereaved clearly explained that they did not make the choice to call Vineyard. The scenario is always the same and smacks of an “unholy alliance” with the police and hospital authorities. First, pressure is exerted on the bereaved to remove the body from the hospital premises at once.
Then Vineyard is called in either by the police or the hospital authorities. The bereaved, most of whom have no knowledge of how to handle funerals, have to agree to conditions that they regret soon after.
In all the instances that I have handled, Vineyard did not release the bodies until payments were made in full. This is the point where the rude staff comes in.
Most people cannot afford burials by funeral parlours. At most, the service they require is body removal and mortuary services. Therefore, for every removal authorisation, Vineyard should quote the full service fee for these basics to avoid the rude shocks they have been subjecting the bereaved to. It is a fact that Vineyard is pricey and most people get frustrated when they are required to part with money that could fund a full service for just an overnight stay.
The rudeness is really a horrific experience at Vineyard and if the operations manager wants to mislead readers to believe that this is a one-off incident, then we should read more into the operations of this company. I personally have complained four times to the lady boss I was referred to, but it appears the problem is an entrenched culture that will not go away.
Despite Vineyard’s rebuttal in your paper, I will never deal with Vineyard willingly.