Customers Tell BBB: Schaefer Monument Co. Took Money, Never Delivered Gravestones

  
     
BBB is alerting consumers to a pattern of complaints against Schaefer Monument Co.
April 04, 2014
Schaefer Monument Victim
Michael Brooks of Phoenix, Ariz., said his family paid for a headstone in August, but Schaefer Monument hasn't delivered it yet.

St. Louis, Mo., April 7, 2014Schaefer Monument Co., a third-generation monument and headstone business that has operated here for more than six decades, is facing complaints from customers who say they paid up to $1,100 for cemetery gravestones that have never been delivered.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises caution when dealing with the company, which has offices at 1830 Lucas and Hunt Road.

A Ferguson woman who said she paid $1,100 last spring for a headstone for her sister’s grave said she has not received the marker and has been unable to reach anyone at the business for several months. “This is important to me; I think about it a lot,” she said.

The business has an “F” rating with BBB, the lowest possible. Customers have filed more than 30 complaints against the company, including seven in the past two months. The company has not responded to several recent complaints.

Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said that any business that deals with grieving families has a special responsibility to treat its customers with respect and fairness.

“Many of these people already are hurting and vulnerable,” Corey said. “To take advantage of them under these circumstances is simply not right.”

Despite phone calls, letters and a visit to the Lucas and Hunt headquarters, BBB has been unable to get a response from the company.

A newspaper story in 1992 quoted then-owner Charles Schaefer as saying his father started the business in 1953. At that time, Charles Schaefer said he took over the business in 1967.

Records with the Missouri secretary of state show Schaefer Monument Co. was owned by RJD Enterprises, Inc. Robert J. Schaefer was listed as president of RJD Enterprises in 1999, the most recent year in which the company filed a report. Records show RJD was dissolved in 2000 for failing to file an annual report for that year.

In a 2012 response to BBB, the company identified Richard Schaefer as president and owner of the company.

A woman from Florissant said her family paid Schaefer Monument $870 for a carved headstone for her brother’s grave in August 2013, but the stone has not been delivered and the family has been unable to get a refund. She said she and another brother have tried to contact the company numerous times without success. She said her father approached a man at the Lucas and Hunt office last month to ask about the stone. She said the man offered her father a $517 refund, but her father rejected the offer.

“This has been difficult for my entire family, especially my dad,” the woman said. “My dad has been going to the cemetery, and all he has is a stick with a number on it.”

A woman from Hazelwood said she paid Schaefer $400 as partial payment for a headstone for her mother’s grave last May. She said a $300 balance would be due on delivery, but Schaefer has never delivered the stone, and the woman cannot reach anyone with the business.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said.

Another woman from Florissant said she paid a $600 deposit for a headstone for her brother’s grave in July, but that stone, too, has not been delivered.

“It’s more heartbreaking than anything else,” she said.

BBB offers the following tips for consumers purchasing cemetery headstones:

  • Do not be rushed into making an emotional decision. Take time to research possible headstone companies. Ask for references and check them out.
  • Ask the cemetery about any company you are considering. The cemetery may be able to tell you whether they have seen problems with a specific business.
  • Read any agreement carefully before signing it. Make sure you understand how long it will take before the stone is placed. Know exactly how much you are expected to pay in advance and how much you will owe once the stone is completed.
  • Pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the charge later.
  • Check a company’s BBB Business Review by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.

Contacts (News Media Only) : Michelle L. Corey, President and CEO, (314) 645-0606, mcorey@stlouisbbb.org; Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, (314) 584-6743 or (314) 681-4719 (cell), communications@stlouisbbb.org; Bill Smith, Investigator, (314) 584-6727, tpc1@stlouisbbb.org

 

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