Real Life

When crematoriums charge clients for their memorials

Can crematoriums charge clients for their memorials?
When crematoriums charge clients for their memorials

My husband and I moved permanently to New Zealand after my father died in England five years ago. After his funeral, we paid for a small brass plaque to go in the rose garden at the crematorium where his ashes were spread over. We have recently heard from the crematorium that if we don’t pay a further amount of money for another five years, the plaque will be uplifted and the brass recycled. I was upset and astonished. It turns out that if my dad is to have a lasting memorial we will have to keep paying every five years, forever. Is this legal and does it happen in New Zealand?

I have heard of this happening in Britain and I expect that it is legal there. The authorities say it’s all about the shortage of land for burials, but I expect in your case it’s more about cost cutting or even profit making. If you still have your contract with the crematorium you’ll probably find it’s covered in the small print. I agree with you. The idea you cannot give your father a memorial in perpetuity without you or your children constantly having to renew payment is highly unsatisfactory. At least you know where your father’s ashes are spread and can always go there, even if there isn’t a plaque. But that’s little consolation. As for this practice occurring at New Zealand crematoria, my understanding is that all plaques here once paid for are in perpetuity. If they tried to charge on a regular ongoing basis, I reckon there would be howls of protest. Finally, don’t let them melt down your dad’s plaque. If you don’t want to keep up the payments, ask that it be sent to you. You may be charged postage, but you’ve paid for the plaque. Surely it’s yours to keep.

Do you have a consumer question for Kevin? Email [email protected], or post to Weekly Consumer, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.

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