• Report: #584285

Complaint Review: Smart Cremation - Jerry Norman - Jill Larson

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  • Submitted: Mon, March 22, 2010
  • Updated: Tue, November 12, 2013

  • Reported By: Anonymous — United States of America
Smart Cremation - Jerry Norman - Jill Larson
Seattle, Washington Internet United States of America

Smart Cremation - Jerry Norman - Jill Larson Pre-Planned Cremation Scam - Ponzi Scheme - They take the money away, dont trust the funds. Internet

*Consumer Comment: BBB Exposed in Ponzi Scheme in 2010

*General Comment: Consumers beware of Smart Cremations and their subsidiary ACCUCARE and their Crematory Gateway!

*UPDATE Employee: Please Check Your Facts

*Consumer Suggestion: Do NOT trust the BBB ratings

*General Comment: Better Business Bureau

*Consumer Comment: As Always, Read the Contract

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A friend bought this plan for $1599 and cancelled it 2 months later and got only $500 back!!! total ripoff scheme. THey did it before under another company name. Ba aware. This is my investigation.

I recently received a mailer from Smart Cremation and a call from one of their telemarketers. I agreed to a meeting with them and I was prepared to meet with this lady who actually was very angry because I questioned the integrity of Smart cremation based on the research I made prior to the meeting.

Smart Cremation was started in 2008 by Jerry Norman (CEO), who was the CEO of Neptune Society where he was fired. Neptune Society was sued by the state of Colorado for not putting enough money in the trust accounts and misleding the consumers. They finally settled the lawsuit in 2009 and agreed under a new management to revert the mistakes that Mr Norman did under his supervision of the company. This gentleman started Smart cremation with the same concept and he is repeating the same ponzi scheme he got Neeptune Society in trouble in CO. Smart Cremation only trusts less than 30% of the money you give them!!!

http://www.funerals.org/newsandalerts/consumer-alerts/89-all-about-neptune

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjMyyCuCzSQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5AIZldXCf4

I asked this lady to give me the details of how the funds would be distributed and how money went to trust and she got very agitated to which she responded "we trust enough". I challenged how can you guaranteed the price is the same for the next 10 years as you dont own any crematory and she explained that they were in the process of acquiring crematories everywhere and also that I shouldnt be worried as the future funds for the cremation would come from future customers that sign up on their smart plan (yeah, right)... it sounds to me something like Social Security or a Ponzi scheme to pay older people with the money from the new people!!!

She kept emphasizing that Smart Creamation was the "Old Neptune Society" but better to which I brought up the past history of issues with Neptune while this guy was CEO there where he was fired and she couldn't really articulate why "now" it is better and how she could ensure this guy will not do the same with this company to what he did to Neptune.

So she left my house very angry and even cursing that I made her loose her time. She didnt even leave a business card.

I kept researching online (thanks to Google!) and I found that Neptune Society sued Mr Norman for stealing all the business model and people to found Smart Cremation.

I just want to bring this to some other old folks out there as some of my friends at the club have been receiving these mailers, a couple bought the so called smart plan and one of them tried cancelling his contract for 2 months and he finally got the money back... but only $500 of the $1599 he originally paid!!! Smart response was that the rest of the money was the "merchandise" which is a cheap wood urn which they sell for $1000. That's how they get you screwed.!!

Be aware. Report this people to the regulators or BBB.

Be inform before you meet with these scammers. (by the way keep the $25 gas gift card that they offer to go to your house!)


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/22/2010 09:09 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Smart-Cremation-Jerry-Norman-Jill-Larson/internet/Smart-Cremation-Jerry-Norman-Jill-Larson-Pre-Planned-Cremation-Scam-Ponzi-Scheme-T-584285. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

BBB Exposed in Ponzi Scheme in 2010

AUTHOR: Treat Me Fairly - (USA)

During 2010, an ABC expose about the BBB uncoverd a ponzi scheme whereby if you paid the BBB, you got good ratings and if you didn't, it went the other way.  The BBB President, while being interviewed,  abruptly terminated the interview and left the room.  There are many good quality sites, like Ripoff Report, which provide user generated, unbiased information.

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#2 General Comment

Consumers beware of Smart Cremations and their subsidiary ACCUCARE and their Crematory Gateway!

AUTHOR: William - (USA)

Consumers beware of Smart Cremations and their subsidiary ACCUCARE and their Crematory Gateway!

Jill Larson, lets get the story straight to the consumer before the State of California Cemetery and Funeral bureau finally investigates your claims.

Lets begin with some history.

Jerry Norman who got fired from Neptune Society, and who allegedly got sued for breach of confidentiality is the head of the snake of this snafu like the ones that run SCI, Service  Corporation International, one the largest conglomerate mortuary holding companies in America. That is another story.

Jerry Norman convinced the poor saps at Northstar Memorial Group:
Home Office:
1900 St. James Place
Suite 200
Houston, TX 77056
Phone:
(832) 308-2790 www.nsmg-ext.com
that he and his team could build his idea of a Neptune Society lookalike into a money machine by taking advantage of the pre-need scam and relying on the ignorance of the consumer and take advantage of mortuary ethics.

Mark Hamilton, President of Northstar memorial group sunk allot of money into this sinking ship called Smart Cremations, promoting green earth friendly when in fact after careful diligence from sources inside the industry found out that those statement are in fact not true.

Who certifies GREEN, EARTH FRIENDLY?
 
Again, taking advantage of the ignorance of the consumer and their loved one that died or will eventually.
 
They (smart cremations) do not own several crematories as indicated by Jill. In fact they (smart cremations) bought a crematory/mortuary from a Steven Strung then owner of Accucare cremations/Gateway crematorythis is strange. Why do we have Smart Cremations, Accucare, and Gateway Crematory under the same roof?

They are servicing other mortuaries that offer cremations and full service burial? Conflict or greed? Accucare 1410 S Acacia Ave # D, Fullerton - (714) 535-5306, 2562 State St # E, Carlsbad - (760) 729-8766. Wait a minute, it gets better, Smart Cremation owns Accucare and Gateway Crematory, owned in part by Northstar Memorial group. I already said that. Oops.

After checking with themvery rude and pushy, different prices for different services I can either pay $1500 for Smart Cremations or $589.50 at the same location from Accucare Cremations, or you can find out which other mortuaries they service under the same roof at Gateway Crematory and get prices from them, so which is it?

I drove by the location and found it not so clean and green! In fact the back garage door was open and you can visibly see them cremating bodies. Boy, what a shock that was. Vans pulling in and out with the doors open for all to see! You cant see the bodies only the boxes the bodies are inbut still, what is that?

Same crematory 2 mortuaries competing for the same business, not GREEN if you go and look at the crematory, not the largest crematory in California (misleading).  Oh yes, Accucare and Smart Cremation are in the same building as well in San Diego, CA, just different rooms, to fool the State of California Cemetery and Funeral  Bureau. (Check the internet folks)

The poor consumer like myself seems to be in a confused state. Why should we do business with greedy manipulative people who wish to corner the market with 2 mortuaries in the same place? And where is the loyalty cremating the remains for other mortuaries? Do these people care that they are cremating with their competitor? Now that is weird!
 
What are these people thinking in Orange County CA? Something needs to done to straighten this all out!

I did check with the Omega Society in Santa Ana CA2800 S Main St # A, Santa Ana, CA
(714) 754-7781 and guess what folks$495 plus $90.00 for transportation in Orange County CA...$585.00

Now what about that? Also found out from their staff that they were using the Gateway crematory owned by Smart Cremations/Northstar/Accucare, but then they dont anymoremaybe too many mortuaries in the same house. Now that was a Smart move by Omega Society. Boy what a mess this is. All of these cremation groups under one roof! If Smart Cremations is Green that means that Omega Society was GREEN (not now) and even ACCUCARE and others since they all use the same crematory, right? NO. No one is GREEN and the State of California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, http://www.cfb.ca.gov/ should investigate this type of selling practice to the consumer.

Folks, we need to watch our money and not be taken advantage of by these carpet baggers who take advantage of us when we have a death in our family.

This is very interesting folks, after trolling the internet I found so many other cremation services. My advice, stay away from the gimmicks and focus on quality of service, price, and the overall business practice of the mortuary.

My opinion is that Smart Cremation and Accucare should be investigated for fraud and other misleading business practices. North Star Memorial Group should get rid of this group and take a loss. NorthStar is a hard working honest Mortuary.

Those people got duped. If in Texas or any other state they are in I would recommend them for your funeral needs, they are honest and caring, and pricing is ok, they are first class. 

For Orange County CA (OMEGA SOCIETY), (they are the only one that I called that day) or any other part of the state of California, I would recommend you do your homework, check prices and crematories on the internet.

Neptune Society and Smart Cremations are one of the same, just owned by different groups.

There are other cremation societies that are very good in price and service, http://www.infinitycremationsociety.com/
http://www.allcaliforniacremation.com/index.php  http://www.accordcremationandburial.com/
 
I have lost multiple family members and friends over the years and I have spent thousands of dollars burying and cremating members of my family, my son, my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, and many others. So I have quite a bit of experience with death. I live in Southern California have used several cremation and mortuaries, but did not do my homework until I lost my wife of many loving years not too long ago. I loved my wife so much! Ok, let me focus... I then went on a quest to find the best service and price, which I did. I miss my wife; she was the one that would do this kind of thing.

I plead with you the consumer, do your background check and Mr. Hamilton, get rid of Smart Cremation/Accucare or fire everyone and start over. These people are bad for business.  Jerry Norman sold you a box of rocks. In fact I am a TEXAN who moved to California to be closer to my dying son and sister. I dont like to see a fellow Texan Mr. Hamilton of Northstar be taken advantage of. I will be coming home to TEXAS soon.

Jill Larson, I sure hope you know what you are doing. Get out now while you still can.
God Bless all of you who have loss someone you love.
 
I hope what I have written helps at least someone and gets rid of the ones who are evil.

God Bless America!
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#3 UPDATE Employee

Please Check Your Facts

AUTHOR: Jill Larson - (United States of America)

It's too bad this report is anonymous and there is no accountability. Consumers are smart. I encourage anyone reading this to check with credible sources if you have questions about our company.

We are in good standing with the Better Business Bureau in all our markets. We have no complaints or problems with any state Funeral Board, FTD or regulator of any kind. The  money that customers spend on pre-need is highly regulated and we follow the letter of the law.

We offer a 30 day money back guarantee, and then go out of our way to ensure that our customers are happy if they have a specific need or request.

We own several crematory and holding facility locations, including the largest crematory in Southern California. They are all very clean, use video surveillance, and run by professionals whom we value.

Our executive team has been in the funeral industry for decades and we love what we do. We have unfortunately had to use our own cremation services for family and friends. It's hard to lose someone, but when we do, we feel confident that our own people do an outstanding job!

If you have further questions, you are welcome to call us at 1-800-700-2203.

Sincerely,

Jill Larson
Senior Vice President
Smart Cremation
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#4 Consumer Suggestion

Do NOT trust the BBB ratings

AUTHOR: Geoffhazel - (U.S.A.)

BBB are bought and paid for by the companies that subscribe to them. Classic case of fox guarding the henhouse.  I have filed reports that have been closed as "business resolved" without ever actually resolving anything. 
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#5 General Comment

Better Business Bureau

AUTHOR: ORFranP86 - (United States of America)

I happened across this article and did my own research.  This company has an A- rating with the Better BUsiness Bureau.  There are only two issues filed with BBB and only one was not totally closed and that was only not closed because the consumer did not respond to repeated requests by BBB.  Do further checking and not only this site.
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#6 Consumer Comment

As Always, Read the Contract

AUTHOR: DMc - (USA)

It never occurred to me that people would buy cremation contracts to lock in prices. My situation is more pressing. I'm only concerned with making sure my widow needs only make one phone call. At a time when things were on a down turn a letter from Simple Cremations showed up.

It seemed like a good time to get it out of the way. The person who came to my home did seem a bit pushy. Kept reminding me that there was a price increase on the way. I wasn't up to trying to read everything on the contract that day. Much less trying to understand what it meant. What I did notice was an important statement on the first page.

It stated that the consumer could back out of the contract any time within thirty days and get all of their money refunded. The State of California is pretty strict about this from what I've heard over the years. That, and if the price is displayed on an item, it must be sold for that price. Important things for Californians to know. So I went ahead and signed up. Paid the full amount by check, just so if things went sour in the next week or two, everything would be taken care of.

I told the salesman I didn't want any box, low end price or not. He kept insisting that he had to give it to me. Kept saying it was a State requirement that I take the box. This seemed a bit strange, but most California laws are strange. Later on, this insistence that I take the box was to make more sense. But for a different reason. Finally, to make him happy I took a box from him. (Okay, if somebody wants to mess with a Smart Cremations salesperson, sign the contract, but absolutely refuse to take any box from them. It would be fun to see what they would do. You'll understand why later.)

After a couple of weeks things had improved enough for me to start to check around and see how the price compared. A nearby funeral home quoted about $2,000. Not an improvement. Another cremation society looked like their total would come out a few hundred cheaper. But there were a lot of very confusing selections to make. Part of what attracted me to Smart Cremations was that it was one price, one phone call to handle everything.

The Omega Society that my father signed up with many years ago looked like it might win the price contest. So, having a couple of possible choices that might be enough (several hundred dollars cheaper, if the difference was just one or two hundred, I wasn't going to bother) cheaper I went back to check the Smart Cremations contract to compare the details and check how much time I had left on my thirty days.

First, the thirty days was coming up fast. Second in looking over the separate items making up the costs I spotted the "hook." The minimum "box" they sold was charged as $500. My wife thought it was really nice. But no little wooden box mass produced overseas no matter how nice is a $500 box. And I was willing to bet that if sometime later you changed your mind they would refund all the cremation related fees. After all, you won't be using them. But that box you bought is yours. Once the thirty days have passed, it's yours. Pretty cute, if anybody is jerking your chain, saying they want your services and later saying never mind, they'll pay $500 for the privilege.

At this point I'm sweating whether they'll honor the contract as written. I check online, something I should have done first, and see Google offering up not just "Smart Cremations," but also offering "Smart Cremations Reviews." Checking the "Reviews" is what brought me here. Well I gather up the box, which I have perfectly put back in its packing so you can't even tell I'd opened it. I have all the paperwork and am loaded for bear. I have a small digital voice recorder with me and phoned ahead saying I'm coming in for a refund. And if there's any funny business I'd be happy to contact all of the local media consumer advocates and suggest them for a feature.

Considering how suspicious I was acting towards them, they were quite polite. I said in all fairness, if I got my money back, I would report that online. Same as I would if it went the other way. Well, a full refund check in just a few days, and yes, it cleared the bank.

So now I understand the salesperson's insistence that I take the box. It wasn't as I seemed to understand it that the State said you couldn't buy a cremation contract in advance without a box being included. But rather that SC always included a box in the pricing for the reasons given. It made sure they would get their "box fee" if the customer waited longer than thirty days to change their mind. And once they took your money for a box...they had to be sure you received it. Otherwise they wouldn't be keeping their part of the contract.

As to whether they actually provide the service, one phone call to handle all the needs of the deceased's family...I have no way of knowing. If there is something being done wrong there, that would be truly bad intentions. But I can only speak to what happened with me. A moderately pushy salesperson. But not the worst I've met, I'm sorry to say. A somewhat sneaky contract. Once again, not the worst I've seen. But they were honest about honoring the agreed upon contract.

From something I've read, at one time SC was charging $1,000 for the box. If they keep dropping the price and get it to $250, and just consider it their profit margin, they might get to be a company with a future.

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