Funeral homes are currently only required to provide pricing information in face-to-face and telephone interactions
A funeral can be an enormous expense at a trying time, so the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) are working to make the process easier.
The two organizations have petitioned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to revise the "Funeral Rule" so consumers can obtain vital price information on the Internet. A nationwide survey by FCA and CFA released last October revealed that very few funeral homes fully disclosed prices on line.
The Funeral Rule has protected consumers for over 30 years by requiring funeral homes to disclose price information in a meaningful fashion. The statute was enacted to provide basic price information for vulnerable consumers purchasing funeral services. However, these protections are limited to face-to-face or telephone disclosures, leaving online information conspicuously absent.
"The Federal Trade Commission should update antiquated disclosure rules developed in the pre-Internet 1980s," said Josh Slocum, Executive Director of FCA, in a written statement. "Almost all funeral home websites feature stories on how the funeral home has been providing caring, compassionate service since the days of the horse and buggy but nothing about how much it actually costs."
The Funeral Rule currently mandates that any person who asks for a general price list, an itemized list of funeral products and services, be furnished with complete and accurate price information. Requiring this information to be available online will allow consumers to comparison shop, potentially resulting in huge savings.
"In the 1980s, consumers were prepared to comparison shop by phone and even to visit funeral homes to collect price information, but commerce has been revolutionized because of the Internet. In almost every other market information is just a click away and that intensifies competition, drives down prices and improves services," said Stephen Brobeck, in a written statement. Brobeck is the Executive Director of the CFA. "Especially for such an expensive purchase by vulnerable consumers, quick access to price information is vital. Consumers expect to get information online, which is why we undertook this survey and are urging the FTC to update the rule."