Excerpt from Happier Endings by Erica Brown, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Happier Endings

A Meditation on Life and Death

By Erica Brown

Happier Endings
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2013,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2014,
    416 pages.

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Clearly they know something that we don't. I wanted to know their trade secret, so I called.

"Best Price. Can I help you?"

"I want to know what to say to a funeral home if I order a casket from you."

"Let me put you through to sales." I waited for a long time on hold (but not an eternity!), since I could save thousands—and if we're talking about an eternity then a few more minutes wouldn't really matter. When a saleswoman did pick up, I repeated the question and listened to her answer.

"Ask for an itemized price list and then compare prices. It's like a car dealership. You don't go in there acting like you've got a lot of money. Get the best price while obviously getting what you think your loved one wants. A lot of them [funeral homes] are used to it by now because there are a lot of online dealers. They're losing money. If you get an itemized price list, they can't try to compensate for the loss of the casket fee. They can't overcharge you at that point." In other words, if you do tell a funeral home up front that you're buying a casket elsewhere, they may try to make up the difference in other associated burial fees. The itemized list is the key. The woman in sales closed her presentation with an acknowledgment of the difficulty: "If you've never dealt with it, it can be a really high-pressure sale."

She asked me where I was from and said that they ship to my local airport once a week. "We ship all over the United States. It's no problem getting a casket to you within a day."

I think I'll wait.

Excerpted from Happier Endings by Erica Brown. Copyright © 2013 by Erica Brown. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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