September 24, 2023

A casket maker in Boston, Massachusetts, is offering a Black Friday bargain of $50 off the cost of one’s future and final resting spot. 

Buying a coffin ahead of your demise will potentially save thousands of dollars for those left behind, as well as spare them emotionally fraught and costly decisions, according to Joshua Siegal, chief operating officer and a co-founder of Titan Casket, an online service that seeks to offer cost transparency in an industry not known for the practice. 

“Consumers end up spending way too much and only have a few options to chose from,” Siegal told CBS MoneyWatch. 

Most large manufacturers only sell caskets to funeral homes, with the products marked up as much as 300%, according to Siegal.

Meanwhile, most Americans are unaware of a federal law enacted in the 1980s that requires funeral homes to accept deliveries of caskets purchased by consumers. 

Siegel had been working in logistics at Amazon when Scott Ginsberg, who had been selling caskets through Amazon since 2016, pitched him on the idea of selling caskets directly to consumers. By 2020, Siegel and his wife joined Ginsberg, adopting a business model akin to Costco. 

People can choose between 1,000 models, including some made specially for military veterans and others custom-wrapped in LGBTQ rainbow flags. Prices start at $500 for a biodegradable cardboard box to $4,000 for a casket made from steel and other decorative finishes. 

Fewer than 40% of funeral provider websites offer prices online, forcing grief-stricken relatives to do their funeral shopping in person, according to a Federal Trade Commission staff report released in October. 

Taylor Swift peeks out of Titan Casket product in a recent music video.

Taylor Swift/YouTube

In addition to its own website and Amazon, Titan’s products are sold at retailers including Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart. 

The company drew an unexpected but welcome marketing boost when one of its caskets appeared in a Taylor Swift video released in October. The video for Swift’s “Anti-Hero” includes a sketch that takes place at Swift’s fictional funeral, in which the singer cracks open the top of the casket and peers out. 

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