Complaints SAIF Consumer Protection Scheme

Note during the national pandemic: our Professional Standards Team are all full-time practicing funeral directors and as such are fully engaged presently supporting clients, preparations and operations with Local Government, HM Coroner Services and the NHS to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is currently gripping our country.

To ensure our focus remains on supporting the public response to this virus, SAIF has temporarily suspended the detailed investigation into complaints until further notice. However, we will review your complaint and all complaints will be logged. We will be in contact with you again following this review to advise if an investigation into your complaint will be opened or not.

Please note that investigations can take many months to complete and we may not be able to begin for 4-6 months until after this crisis has passed.

We only have one chance to get a funeral right. But on the rare occasion when things do go wrong, it’s important that families have access to a system of redress they can trust.

Any complaint made against a SAIF member is taken extremely seriously, both by the member and by the Society.

Thankfully, bereaved people who use the services of SAIF members are able to benefit from added consumer protection under the Society’s comprehensive complaints resolution scheme.

Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR)

Working in conjunction with the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), we are delighted to offer the SAIF Consumer Protection Scheme – a robust set of procedures aimed at bringing complaints against funeral directors to a satisfactory outcome for both the client and the funeral director.

The SAIF Consumer Protection Scheme has been designed to complement SAIF members’ own complaints processes, as outlined in the SAIF Code of Practice, and the SAIF Standards Committee complaints review system. It means clients who find themselves dissatisfied with a funeral director’s in-house procedures and Standards Committee findings are able to elevate the issue to an independent conciliation process and if that fails, go to arbitration in which a legally-binding award can be made against a funeral director. 

All SAIF members are automatically registered with this scheme and are able to display a window sticker on their premises, providing reassurance to their clients that they care about standards.

We have also balanced the need to protect consumers with the small but real risk of people using arbitration for financial benefit, so often seen with the insurance claims culture.

As such, funeral director clients taking a SAIF member to conciliation will have to pay a fee of £100 and for arbitration will have to pay a fee of £200 which will be returned if their claim is successful. This will protect our members against malicious claims motivated solely by money.

How does conciliation work?

Conciliation is a private and structured form of negotiation assisted by a trained mediator who has been accredited by CEDR. If a settlement is reached the mediator can draw up an agreement that can then become a legally binding contract if signed by both parties. This process is conducted by several means of communication including telephone, Skype or by email.

How does arbitration work?

Arbitration is a formal and legally binding process where the dispute is resolved by the decision of a nominated third party called an arbitrator. Once the arbitrator issues their award it is legally binding and can only be appealed in the courts in very rare occasions. This process is conducted entirely in writing.

Complaints Procedure

  • In the first instance, please contact your funeral director to discuss the complaint.
  • If the funeral director can not resolve the dispute to your satisfaction, please follow SAIF’s Complaints Procedure, outlined in the document below.
  • The first step is to complete a Complaints Form to give us the relevant background information to investigate the situation:

If you are not satisfied with SAIF’s Complaints Procedure, you may wish to pursue your case with an external, independent organisation. Our consumer protection scheme is run in conjunction with the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution. 

A client taking a SAIF member to conciliation will have to pay a fee of £100 and for arbitration will have to pay a fee of £200 which will be returned if their claim is successful. This is to protect our members against malicious claims motivated solely by money.

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