Customer views on abuses in the informal funeral parlour market in South Africa

Customer views on abuses in the informal funeral parlour market in South Africa

April 19, 2016    

Funeral parlours and burial societies deliver value to consumers by meeting essential functional needs, but also by meeting social and cultural needs. Funeral parlours have a powerful position in the funeral value chain. This exposes consumers to abuse. Such abuses are common and cut across different spheres, such as health services, labour practices and the financial services rendered.

Consumers are largely unaware of their rights and have limited effective recourse options. This is especially so in a time of mourning, when they do not have the emotional capacity for complaints against poor or sub-standard service. The research confirms that there is a strong imperative for regulatory and supervisory action as well as the formalisation of funeral insurance, but it is clear that there is no easy solution.

This report investigates the nature of abuse in the informal funeral parlour market by talking to the consumers themselves. It applied a multi-pronged qualitative methodology including focus group discussions, in-depth interviews with burial society management and intercept interviews with various community members (such as police officers and pastors) in four locations across three provinces, to get to the bottom of what abuses consumers are exposed to and what options they have to respond to abusive practices.

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