BBB: Burr Oak Cemetery has an 'F' Rating

Unsatisfactory for Over Two Years
July 30, 2009

(press release)"Most troubling is the lack of response from representatives of Burr Oak and other cemeteries," says Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the BBB serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Burr Oak and four other cemeteries, including one for pets, all have an "F" rating which is the lowest possible," he adds. "Responding to complaints is one of the most important factors that help determine a businesses rating."

Burr Oak's report shows five complaints filed in the last 36 months, which is our standard reporting period. One of the complaints filed this past May suggests that monies paid had been misappropriated or embezzled by an employee. The grave marker for the person's son was in the holding area awaiting payment of the installation fee. The fee in fact was paid and the consumer had a receipt.

"As we know Burr Oak has some very serious allegations pending," stated Bernas. "But we are equally concerned about the complaints filed against the other cemeteries. The most common complaints are service issues running the gamut from missing grave markers to being unprepared for memorial services."

The time following the death of a loved one is a very difficult period but it is also a time when many decision must be made. The BBB offers the following suggestions when selecting a cemetery:

  • Consider family preferences, but look for a reasonable price. Military cemeteries as well as some connected with a specific place of worship may restrict entry to people who meet specific criteria.
  • Keep in mind that if certain family members want to be buried together, you may save money by purchasing enough plots for all in the same cemetery at one time.
  • Familiarize yourself on the differences between funeral home basic fees for professional services and any fees for additional services.
  • Tour the grounds and ask for a map of available plots. Find out what are the price differences. A mausoleum may cost less than a plot. Be sure to compare the prices of more scenic burial plots with those in less charming locations in the same cemetery. You can save money by forgoing the view.
  • Add up the total cost of the plot. Are there opening and closing fees, and how much are they? How will payments be made? Are there any future maintenance fees?
  • Find out what happens if you change your mind. Can you sell the plot or transfer ownership to someone else?
  • Make sure you understand all contract cancellation and refund terms, as well as your portability options for transferring your contract to other funeral homes.
  • Learn about embalming rules which are governed by state law; embalming is not legally required for direct cremations.
  • "It is sad that there are some businesses that take advantage of people at a difficult time in their lives simply to make exorbitant profits," stated Bernas. "As a consumer, do not allow yourself to be pressured by vendors into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. These decisions are yours and yours alone."

    As with any business transaction, be sure to read all agreements, guarantees, and instructions before signing. Make sure all oral promises are put in writing. Be wary of vaguely worded provisions, exclusions or limitations which could pose a problem later. Never sign a contract with sections left blank.

    For more information on making funeral arrangements go to

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