Special Report: Local families concerned over tombstone troubles

Byby Heather Grubola & Nydia Han WPVI logo
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
VIDEO:  Local families complain about tombstone troubles
A number of families have contacted the Action News Troubleshooters about a local memorial company.

A number of families have contacted the Action News Troubleshooters about a local memorial company, a business that promises to provide headstones and engravings.

On Tuesday, we learned the Pennsylvania Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit names Lifestone by Stefan, LLC, and Stefan Memorials, Inc. as well as its president.

The complaint alleges "failure to timely deliver cemetery markers and other similar items"... "confusing and unclear solicitation" ... "supplying goods of a lesser quality"... and "refusing to provide timely refunds."

The Action News Troubleshooters have been warning viewers about this company since the beginning of the year. But the complaints have continued to come into our newsroom and Call for Action.

The families, many grieving the loss of a loved one, wanted the Action News Troubleshooters' help getting the headstones that they had already paid for in full. They also wanted to warn others about the business.

It's run by owners Greg Stefan, Jr., and Greg Stefan, Sr., and goes by more than a dozen different names with offices all over the Delaware Valley.

49-year-old Beth Anne Peterdozzi passed away unexpectedly seven years ago. Her daughter said the family spent years getting the money together for her headstone.

"It was about $6,100. We made the last payment in March 2015 and that's when all the delays started happening," said Julia Peterdozzi of Royersford, Pa.

She said Lifestone by Stefan told her the headstone would be installed about a month or two after that last payment. But six months later, there was still no headstone.

"You're grasping for anything for closure and this is one big piece, being able to visit your loved one," Peterdozzi said.

Peterdozzi said the week after the Action News Troubleshooters stepped in on her behalf, her mom's headstone was installed.

"I just hate to think how my mom would have felt this all happened. So I'm glad that it's over with and I know she's happy, too," she said.

To plan for the eventuality of her own passing, Peg Smith of Drexel Hill paid Greg Stefan Sr. for a headstone but had yet to receive hers either.

"I truly don't trust him," Smith said. "I am very, very, very upset. Very upset."

The Troubleshooters also asked the Stefans to resolve Smith's situation.

"He promised me the full amount refund of my check and he was going to give me the stone free," Smith said.

A few days later, Smith got the check and the Stefans had the other memorials on the Smith family plot cleaned.

"I just appreciate Channel 6 so much I can't tell you how much," Smith said.

Lifestone by Stefan blamed the Peterdozzi delay on the "uniqueness of the granite" among other issues.

It blamed the Smith delay on "unique finishes."

But those consumers aren't the only ones complaining.

Action News spoke with Greg Stefan, Sr.

We asked, "What about all the other people who have complaints against your business?"

He responded, "We've had two tough winters."

"That's all you have to say?" we asked.

"We're doing the best we can. We're trying every day," he said.

Action News also tracked down Greg Stefan, Jr.

We asked him, "Can you just answer the question? Why do you have so many complaints against your business? We've counted up to 36 complaints just into our station."

He said, "Nydia, we've responded to your questions and you don't have permission to film me. I'd appreciate it if you don't film me."

Off-camera, the company gave the following response "...we are taking proactive steps to improve our customer service processes and are working day and night to reach out to all customers with outstanding orders..."

Peterdozzi offers one piece of advice.

"Beware if they're operating under different names like this company was," she said.

It is confusing. For instance, if you drive by Lifestone by Stefan's address you will see a sign for Cartledge Memorials. Peg also wrote her second check to Cartledge. And if you do an internet search for Lifestone by Stefan the first link is TombstonesandHeadstones.com. It makes no mention of Stefan but has the same address, the same founding date, and the Cartledge connection.

The company did provide us the contact information for three customers who tell us their experiences were very positive. And off-camera, Lifestone by Stefan also stated, "As a family-owned business founded in 1843, we have always strived to provide the best possible customer service experience.... At a time when families are grieving, we understand how important it is to provide peace of mind, and sincerely apologize for the inconveniences..."