TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates & Flush Marker Misconceptions

Posted: November 26, 2013 in Uncategorized
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TLC’S EXTREME CHEAPSKATES & FLUSH MARKER MISCONCEPTIONS

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Have you seen the TLC show “Extreme Cheapskates”?

I had never watched it until I received a phone call from a client last week. They had recently purchased a flush marker from us online and we shipped it to their cemetery in Washington State, who then completed the foundation and installed the marker. When this client first contacted me, they were interested in purchasing a large single upright monument for their father who had recently passed away. After searching through our inventory, she chose a beautiful Blue Pearl upright monument. This monument was just what she wanted and she knew that her father would have chosen it for himself were he still with us. When working on an online sale, we always make sure to ask the client if they have contacted the cemetery to verify the restrictions and regulations and to find out their installation process. This is where one of the difference between online and local sales comes in. We have a database which contains all the information we could possibly need to know about the every cemetery within a 3 hour radius of our main office. This allows us to look up the information on the cemetery at the time of the sale to ensure that the client is purchasing something which is permitted in the cemetery. With online sales, we do not have this information on the cemetery unless we have shipped a monument to them in the past. Typically, with an online sale, it is the client’s responsibility to contact the cemetery to verify their delivery, approval and installation process. While we will work with the cemetery directly if they need a preview of the monument for approval or to provide the measurements of the monument, we normally ask that the client work directly with the cemetery throughout the installation process.

This client contacted the cemetery to ensure that they would allow the Blue Pearl upright, only to discover that the particular cemetery that they had chosen to bury their father in, only allowed flush markers. You would not believe how often this happens. Some people think nothing of the fact that there are only flush markers surrounding them during a burial service, as they are devastated by the loss of their loved one and don’t really take notice. Often, the cemetery will not mention any limitations on the monuments they allow throughout the entire sale process of the plot. However, if you look closely, the restrictions are most certainly mentioned in the contracts you must sign at the time of purchase, which most people do not thoroughly read because, as with all the processes involved in the funeral services of a loved one, they are grieving so intensely during the time in which they are forced to make all of these important decisions. Even if there are no limitations listed at the time of purchase, the cemetery has a right to require the monument design be submitted to them prior to installation, for their approval. The cemeteries typically have the right to alter their restrictions and requirements without prior notice to the families who have purchased a plot but have not yet placed a monument. (If you have not yet read it, head over to my blog on what to ask when purchasing a plot.) In any case, there are more than a few cemeteries who only allow flush markers.

However, we sell flush markers to clients every day and it is not only those clients who are restricted by the cemetery to purchase a flush marker who are interested in purchasing one. There are several reasons that a client may wish to purchase a flush marker instead of an upright, slant or bevel marker. (To learn the difference between all of these, please read my blog “What is the Difference in a Flush Marker and an Upright Monument?”)

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One of the biggest factors for those who decide to purchase a flush marker, even when it is not the only type of monument allowed by the cemetery, is cost. A monument is priced not only on the amount of granite being used, but the color of the granite as well. The larger the monument is, the higher the cost will be. And, the colored granite is more expensive than gray granite. Typically, gray granite is the least expensive, followed by our black granite, then the pink and finally Blue Pearl, which we refer to as the “Cadillac of Granite”.  The prices increase as the rarity of the colors increases. Gray granite can be quarried in several locations throughout the world. But Blue Pearl is a very specialized granite which can only be quarried in Norway. While some clients could afford to purchase a grey upright, they are only interested in a monument that is say, pink, because that was their loved one’s favorite color. Due to the higher cost of the product, this customer may choose to purchase a pink flush marker rather than only being able to purchase a gray upright. We have also had clients who are purchasing a monument for a loved one who had expressed through a will or during their lifetime that they did not want an upright monument, they simply wanted a flush marker with their name and dates on it. It is not uncommon for a client who is purchasing a monument for themselves as a pre-need (purchased prior to their passing) to choose a simple flush marker, with only their basic information.

Even when a cemetery allows upright monuments, a client may still choose to go with a flush marker for any number of reasons. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether a clients chooses to purchase a flush marker, a bevel marker, a slant or an upright. Our graphic artists will work our hardest to ensure that the final product is exactly what they are picturing in their head. We know that this monument is the last gift our clients are able to give their loved one. Keeping this in mind as we work on the design allows us to create something that is beautiful and unique, no matter what shape and size it is. .

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During the October 30, 2013 airing of “Extreme Cheapskates”, we meet a couple named Karissa and Rick. They go to extremes to save money, even sharing a Q-tip, toothbrush and razor. Karissa and Rick inform us that they are interested in saving money even after they have passed away. They have created a plan which will allow whoever was buried first to be exhumed and the second person to pass away placed in the coffin with the first. This will allow them to only purchase one casket and one burial plot. After they finalize this arrangement, Karissa and Rick head over to a local monument dealer and we meet the owner, Mr. Brook Bolton. I did some research and discovered that the monument company they visited on the show is Robert-Shields Memorials out of Marietta, Georgia. During their visit to Robert-Shields Memorials, Mr. Bolton informs our couple that a flush marker is typically only used at the foot of a plot, when an upright monument is at the head. This is the statement which has upset our client.

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I wanted to contact Mr. Bolton, as I understand that a television show may not show an entire conversation as it takes place. I felt that this may have been the case with this statement, and I am happy to report that I was right. When I spoke with Mr. Bolton over the phone, (after informing him why I was asking so many strange questions J), he advised that viewers need to keep in mind that the statements made during his conversation were meant for this specific couple and their specific circumstances.  It is not possible to base the type of monument you would or should purchase off of the conversation that Mr. Bolton had with Karissa and Rick because it all depends on not only your situation, but more importantly, your location.

The cemeteries in the Metro Atlanta area that Robert-Shields Memorials typically services, normally allow an upright monument at the head of the grave and a flush marker at the foot of the grave. This is why when discussing the possibility of using a flush marker with Karissa and Rick, Mr. Bolton advised them that this was the typical set up. However, he agreed with me when I stated that there is no way to make a statement which will apply to every cemetery across the book. Mr. Bolton said “I don’t think that clients understand just how many rules and regulations cemeteries have. And, one cemetery can have several different areas which all have different requirements.”  In the area around Mike’s Laser Etching/Sartin Memorials main office in St. George’s, Delaware, we have some cemeteries which only allow flush markers, while a cemetery just down the road requires an upright. Basically, there is no way to make a blanket statement, which will apply to every single cemetery and every single client. The statement that flush markers are not typically used at the head of a plot was referring to the cemeteries in which Karissa and Rick were considering purchasing their plot. So, this statement was intended for their specific case only.

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Flush markers can be just as beautiful and personalized as any other type of monument. With the technology that is available to us today, the graphic artists at Mike’s Laser Etching can ensure that everything the client would like included on the monument is featured on the flush marker. Designs can still be laser etched or sandblasted, a picture of the person who the monument is for can still be featured via a porcelain portrait or a laser etched portrait inlay on the flush markers which do not permit laser etching directly on them due to their light color, a vase- whether a stationary or a drop down- can still be included in the design and, although there may be some limitations due to available space, full name(s), dates, epitaphs and poems can also be included on a flush marker. 

No matter the reason behind the decision to purchase a flush marker, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with having a flush marker at the head of a burial plot rather than a bevel, slant or upright. I always tell my clients that as long as you feel at peace when you visit your loved one at their resting place, that’s ALL that matters.

 

To Learn More About “Extreme Cheapskates”, visit TLC’s website at: http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/extreme-cheapskates

You can watch the full episode featuring Karissa, Rick and Mr. Bolton on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GCJHMOU/ref=atv_feed_catalog?tag=imdb-amazonvideo-20

Thank you to Mr. Brook Bolton from Robert-Shield Memorials for speaking with me and answering all of my questions. I know it must have been very strange and out of the blue! To learn more about Robert-Shields Memorials, visit their website at: http://www.rsmemorial.com/index.htm

If you would like to order a flush marker or have questions about what type of monument would be best for you, please feel free to contact us at info@mikeslaseretching.com or visit our website at www.mikeslaseretching.com.

 

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