Phoenix widower gets refund for cremation costs

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PHOENIX -- Robert Matthews is a little more content these days.

“I got more back than I thought I was going to get,” he said.

When he was first profiled in a 3 On Your Side story, he was frustrated because a $1,000 funeral plan he bought 25 years ago didn't cover all of the costs when his wife of 63 years recently passed away.

“That was the love of my life we're talking about so, yeah, it was hard,” Matthews said.

Although he thought his pre-paid funeral preparations would give him more time to grieve, he says the funeral home, now named Valley of the Sun Mortuary, told him he owed an additional $3,000; $1,500 for his wife and $1,500 for him if wanted to keep his plan.

Matthews said he felt pressured to pay so he did.

“When you're in a situation like that, with my wife's remains are there, and what do I say to them when they say it's $3,000 more?” he said. “Do I say, ‘I want my wife back?’”

According to Matthews, his contract paid for everything and he was a little irked he had to pay an additional $3,000, so he contacted 3 On Your Side.

Valley of the Sun Mortuary tells us that the Matthews’ plan only covered cemetery fees and did not cover mortuary costs, which is why there was an extra $3,000 for his and his wife's policy.

But after our report aired, the mortuary actually returned $524, refunding Matthews the cost he initially paid for his plan.

“I was flabbergasted,” he said.

Matthews said he's happy to have at least some money back and is glad he came to 3 On Your Side for help.

“I would have nothing without it, except frustration,” he said. “They had been so adamant in the past and I think when you guys talked to them it might have shook their grate a little bit."

He also says Valley of the Sun Mortuary has transferred his contract to another funeral home.