Home Money Co-op gave me my husband’s ashes – but  the box had another man’s name inside: SALLY SORTS IT

Co-op gave me my husband’s ashes – but  the box had another man’s name inside: SALLY SORTS IT

by Elijah
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One reader was surprised to find the wrong name on the box containing her husband's ashes before their planned dispersal.

Last summer, my husband, from whom I was separated, died suddenly. As next of kin, it fell to me to arrange his cremation, which I did through Co-op Funeralcare.

When I opened the box containing the ashes on the day of the planned dispersal, I found a piece of paper with another man’s details. The shock was indescribable.

Whose ashes were they and what hope did he have of making things right? Then.

One reader was surprised to find the wrong name on the box containing her husband’s ashes before their planned dispersal.

Sally Hamilton responds: The full letter you sent me revealed the extent of the upset you and your four grown children have endured following the death of your husband and the gross mistake over his ashes.

You told me that one day you ran into your husband for the first time in a long time in the city and agreed to meet for coffee. When he didn’t show up, instinct told you something was wrong and you went to his apartment where you tragically found him dead, later confirmed to be natural causes.

As the next of kin, you had to clean the floor and deal with debt demands.

In the midst of this stress, you organized his cremation. As she was short on money, the Department for Work and Pensions agreed to pay the £1,195 bill to the local branch of Co-op Funeralcare, with a contribution of just £300 – the balance remaining in her husband’s bank account. her.

Arrangements were delayed because the Co-op told him the bill had not been paid, while the DWP insisted it had. Weeks passed before Co-op confirmed the bill had been paid and the cremation took place in September.

When you collected the ashes, they were supposed to be in a box inside a bag labeled with your husband’s details.

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You made plans to scatter his ashes in the sea, as he wished. It wasn’t until the day of the planned dispersal that you opened the box to remove the bag and discovered the paper with another man’s data.

After a series of calls and texts to Co-op, you asked for a letter confirming whose ashes you had. The branch manager, you said, refused to accept responsibility and asked you to bring the ashes in person.

This involved a 120 mile round trip by car. The staff took the paper with the other man’s information and informed her that the ashes she received were those of her husband.

Not convinced, you left and asked for this confirmation to be made in writing. Some time later he received a letter, unsigned and undated, offering him £200 compensation. You were furious and felt unable to scatter the ashes until you had more certainty.

When we spoke, you had started a complaint through the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), which runs an impartial complaints service. In the meantime, I asked Co-op Funeralcare to tell me their side of the story. He said that the ashes he received were certainly the correct ones and that an administrative error was to blame for the wrong paper ending up inside the box.

A spokesperson said: “We have robust procedures in place for the identification, care and return of ashes.” A thorough investigation has been carried out and from this we have assured the reader that the ashes she received were those of her late husband.

“Robust procedures” involve printing a label from the deceased’s digital records, which is applied to the outside of the incinerator. After cremation, this tag is placed on a biodegradable bag containing the ashes.

A second label with the name of the deceased is then applied to the box in which the bag of ashes is placed. Finally, a cremation certificate is placed inside the box, which also states the name of the deceased. Co-op said it records ashes when they are received and an additional label is generated, which is placed inside the box and only removed once the ashes are collected. It was at this stage that things went horribly wrong in his case, when a Co-op employee inserted the wrong documentation.

The spokesman said: “Due to an administrative error, a label was incorrectly placed inside the box containing her husband’s ashes. We are very sorry for the distress this has caused.”

However, Cooperativa insisted that the ash box contained the three identifying labels with her husband’s name. She added that since you had requested the return of the metals from her husband’s body and her coffin, these were delivered in a separate bag inside the box, marked with her name and cremation number.

You remain dissatisfied even after the NAFD dispute resolution service’s findings accepted Co-op’s explanation. However, for the sake of her mental health, six months after the death of her husband and after my intervention, she has decided to reach an agreement. The Co-op came back with a compensation offer of £750, which you accepted. Now you are planning to scatter the ashes.

I understand why you feel uneasy. There can be no absolute proof that the ashes are his. DNA testing would not resolve your doubts, as it will have been destroyed by the heat of cremation.

Many bereaved families will be concerned by this story and, like me, will hope that the funeral industry is doing everything it can to prevent such confusion from occurring.

It may be little consolation, but the Co-op confirmed that “training and education has been carried out to ensure all necessary lessons have been learnt”.

Can Sally Sorts It help you?

Do you have a consumer problem you need help with? Email Sally Hamilton at sally@dailymail.co.uk; include the phone number, address, and a note addressed to the offending organization giving them permission to speak with Sally Hamilton. Please do not send original documents as we cannot be responsible for them.

The Daily Mail or This is Money cannot accept any legal responsibility for the answers given.

> Read all of Sally Sorts It’s responses to readers

I’m on edge with the NatWest card chaos

On 19 November 2022, my husband used his NatWest debit card at the ChangeGroup ATM in the North Terminal at Gatwick Airport to withdraw £200 from our joint bank account. The outside of the machine said withdrawals were free, but when the prompt to continue appeared, it included a transaction fee. Canceled immediately.

Within a minute his phone rang saying £200 had left our account.

My husband called ChangeGroup and they said they could see an error that would be rectified. It’s been over a year and the money has not returned to our account. Please help.

DL, Castletown, Isle of Man.

Sally Hamilton responds: He turned to his bank, NatWest, to recover the missing cash, but got nowhere and rightly felt at the end of his rope. I asked the bank to intensify its efforts and within a few days an employee contacted you directly.

He apologized profusely and arranged to return her £200.

Interestingly, it was from the fraud department, suggesting that the bank suspected foul play at some point, but gave no further explanation.

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MT, Stamford, Lincs.

Talkmobile partner Vodafone says it has contacted you as per its normal process to remind you of any outstanding payments (in this case £8). But it has removed the default and delinquency markers because of the small amount owed.


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DS, Halifax, York.

The Flights Guru apologizes for any inconvenience caused by the delay. It was because a customer service agent left the organization, so the refund request was not processed. He has now been refunded £76 and offered a £50 credit voucher as a goodwill gesture.


I use a Garmin satnav system and also purchased a lifetime route upgrade. This program asks me to update maps when necessary, but last year an update deleted all my UK maps. Garmin said it couldn’t reinstall the deleted information because my device was old.

RK, by email.

Garmin has sent you a secure digital (SD) card, a type of memory card used in devices like cameras, so you can load maps manually at no additional cost. It will guide you through the installation if you need it.


I had intended to return an unwanted item to Very, but accidentally handed the courier a Next parcel worth £130. I contacted Next immediately and was told Very would resend the package within 14 days, but it did not arrive.

DA, London.

Very has contacted you to apologize for the time taken to resolve this issue, which has now been resolved.

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