Duggan's Mortuary responds to 7 On Your Side report

March 29, 2011 7:25:27 PM PDT
We recently aired a 7 On Your Side report about a funeral for a San Francisco man that raised some eyebrows and here's the follow up. The report was about funeral and cremation services. We would like to clarify the story and put it in proper context.

Our report focused on the concerns of Hellmund Wong upon the death of his brother. Born just 13 months apart, they had been inseparable.

"We went to school together, we were in scouts together, we did everything together almost, were very close and I didn't expect this at all. He just passed away," said Wong.

The family decided to keep the arraignments simple and had Duggan's Serra Mortuary take care of things.

Here is the price list called for by Federal Trade Commission regulations. There at the bottom is the package that was chosen: "Direct cremation or burial package (no services, no ceremony or obituary) without a viewing -- $1,220.00."

"The family originally came in and opted for the simplest direct cremation without any preparation or viewing or really anything... just the simplest direct cremation," said Daniel Duggan.

Later the family decided to add a short viewing and that's where hurt feelings come in. We reported Duggan's charged $200 for the family to say "good-bye" and it did.

Look at the price list, the charge is listed right there: "With brief (30 minute) family only I.D. viewing in chapel -- $1,420.00."

It was 200 more. However Duggan's believe our report left the impression the mortuary didn't do much for that money, that it was almost a ransom.

"This $200 fee was painted as if the family wanted to see their loved one it was going to cost you $200. That wasn't it at all," said Duggan.

Duggan is president of Duggan's and son of its founders. Still a family business, Duggan's has been providing services at this Daly City location for decades. Money, he says, is not the focus here.

"The money thing really bothered us. That really bothered us, because we are not that way. We don't emphasis that," said Duggan.

And in fact there was much to do before the viewing. This room was set aside, staff assigned. There had been an autopsy so the remains were not in pristine shape. There was work to do to make things presentable.

"We put a great emphasis on the final viewing, if a family wants to see their loved one. We want it to be a very positive, beautiful experience. It is the last time they get to say good-bye and they're going to live with that memory for the rest of their lives," said Duggan.

The earlier story also stated that other providers don't charge for viewing the body, but that depends on the provider and the services requested. Families should check the price list carefully before selecting the services they want and ask questions if they are not sure what is covered. That really is the key -- ask questions and make sure you understand the answers.

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