Let Joe Know: Valley woman pays for husband's vet funeral but says business misled her

What do you do if the salesman tells you one thing, but the contract you signed says something else?

One Glendale family let me know about their dying husband and father, and how they felt misled by a business they thought was selling funeral arrangements.

Janice Spears had been married 50 years.

Her husband Bud was now in hospice and Janice wanted to spare her children from dealing with the funeral.

So she answered an ad for U.S. Patriot Services because it appeared to her that they handled funerals for vets.

Bud was an Army veteran and Janice wanted him treated that way.

Janice says the U.S. Patriot salesperson talked of having ties with vets groups.

And, she says, the salesman told her she'd be buying the whole funeral package.

"We asked him do we have to pay anymore money? He said no. He said that's it," Janice recalls.

So she signed a contract, agreeing to pay $9,000 with financing costs, to cover Bud's funeral and hers.

But then she went to check out the funeral home, Avenidas Funeral Chapel, in Avondale that was listed on the agreement.

She says that's when she smelled trouble.

The funeral home owner, Miguel Legaspi, says he knew nothing about an agreement with U.S. Patriot Services.

He says of the family visit: "they kind of stepped back and said well, he told us everything was included in the package."

Turns out, Janice didn't buy two funerals. She just bought two caskets and that's written in the contract.

Janice says she noticed caskets are sold much cheaper at Miguel's funeral home.

And while the U.S. Patriot Services website is full of war veterans' information, they state there is no veteran group connection, as Janice says she was led to believe.

Miguel is a veteran himself and didn't like what he was seeing.

"The end of life of experience she's having with her husband, is turning out to be with such turmoil it's insulting."

The realization was too much for Janice. She broke down during our interview saying she wanted to be spending time with Bud, not worried about a contract.

"He just looks worse everyday. You can just see him melting away, losing weight. They'll tell you he's terminal. He tries to hang on."

Later, we were there when Janice confronted the salesman by phone.

She asked for a refund of the hundreds she had already given the company.

To that, the salesman said, "I can't believe that you would even ask for that, my God woman."

It was a different story when we called Shawna Estrada, listed as General Manager with U.S. Patriots Services.

She defended their casket prices saying that hers are "made in the USA", and include storage for years.

But in a statement, she says "our independent contractors are fully aware that we only sell caskets. We have no other services to offer."

And Estrada says it's the first she'd heard of the issue. If she'd heard it earlier, "our representatives would have resolved this misunderstanding immediately."

The company acted quickly.

They let Janice out of the contract, refunded the money she paid, terminated the salesman and offered the casket for free.

Read U.S. Patriot Services full statement about the Spears situation.

 


Janice didn't accept the casket.

And while she's happy to have her money back, she says she wishes she and her dying husband had been treated better.

"He's a veteran, he fought for his country and it's wrong, it's wrong."

We found that in 2010, Estrada was part of a different casket company, American Veteran KCA.

That business reached an agreement with the Kansas Attorney General's office over claims it had veterans affiliations it didn't have.

They paid a fine and offered refunds.

Estrada denies those allegations and admitted no wrongdoing.

 

Read Shawna Estrada's full statement involving the Kansas City Attorney General's action.

Sadly, Bud Spears did die just a few days after our interview.

But, he did get the full veterans funeral he deserved.

 

If you need help or need to warn others about a consumer problem or scam, let me know at joe@abc15.com or by going to my  "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.


 

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