Review: Buying a funeral casket from Costco

Costco casketsWhile Costco is well known among shoppers for its impressive bulk buying experiences, few realize that the outlet chain has also begun selling higher-end niche items, including funeral caskets.

With the move, the traditional (and occasionally somewhat traumatic) selection process for a funeral casket is significantly changed, as well as the cost of the casket itself– funeral homes often marked up the cost of the casket up to 500% over its actual price, and with the big-box giant beginning to offer caskets direct to its members, this could lead to change in how caskets are priced overall, and will also affect the overall cost to a funeral. Let’s take a moment to look at the difference between purchasing a Costco casket and that of a traditional funeral home.

The Experience: Admittedly different

Shopping for a casket at Costco or a traditional casket retailer is admittedly a surreal experience if done from a store itself. One review of a Costco casket display sarcastically noted some of the odd signage surrounding display caskets, such as a sign that says “Non-Emotional”.

When you think about it, however, this is offered by Costco as a benefit, in stark contrast to the usual experience that is associated with picking a casket for the deceased.

Until recently, most casket purchasing was done through a catalog and occasionally with multiple family members before a funeral director at a funeral home, and can be a long, painful experience. Doing it through Costco is radically different: at the risk of sounding tacky, it’s closer to shopping for a car or a large appliance. You can physically examine the casket and decide from actually picturing the physical casket which is the right choice for your departed loved one. Similar with the comfort levels of buying items online, more and more consumers are also buying a casket online direct through manufacturer direct casket retailers as CasketandCoffin.com or from Costco’s website, all with with a similar convenience of purchasing any other item online – review the full selection of imagery or video, confidence in the delivery schedule (typically a funeral casket is needed within 1-3 days) and having the confidence the casket will arrive on-time and in perfect condition.

Obviously one can never take out emotion from the grief process, but choosing a casket based on a realistic comparison of one or another model allows the purchaser to detach a bit from the pain and focus on which model is best.

Quality and Delivery

Costco caskets are currently built by 3-generation family casket manufacturer, which is known for quality casket design, and a quick review of the Costco website reveals that there are a number of models available to choose from a variety of different materials (at least three are available so far: steel, two types of wood, and at the highest end, copper) at a price range from as low as $949 for standard three-day shipping to $2,999 for an expedited next-day casket.

The one down side to ordering from Costco is very simple: you are on your own when it comes to coordinating the casket’s arrival with the funeral home. If there is a mistake in delivery, it can be costly to find a replacement on time. This can be a minute point as it you can have the casket delivered direct from Costco to the funeral home, or rent a moving truck for safe delivery.

Summary

Costco’s entry into the end-of-life market is demonstrably worthy. If only for the reduction of cost related to the purchase of a casket, their contribution has made a quality funeral more accessible for its members at a far lower price. Certainly purchasing a casket from Costco is a very different experience. For those consumers who have the time to visit a Costco that sells funeral caskets, it can be a good option. But for consumers who are under pressure and lack the time for shopping around, direct casket retailers online as CasketandCoffin.com that offers overnight delivery, is a good alternative option to browse and purchase from the comfort of your home, while having the confidence of an on-time delivery direct to your funeral home or choice of delivery destination.

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