Report on Cremation Services Documents Some Funeral Homes Violate Federal Consumer Protection Rules

some funeral homes fail to accurately disclose options, costs

Report on Cremation Services Documents Some Funeral Homes Violate Federal Consumer Protection Rules
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September 12, 2016

The Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) have released a survey of 142 representative funeral homes showing that more than one-fifth, or 23 percent, fail to tell consumers about their options for simple cremations.

That is in violation of the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) "Funeral Rule," which requires specified price disclosures on a list and verbally, but not on their websites.

The report also found that 22 percent of the surveyed funeral homes are advertising prices for simple cremations that don't include the cremation itself. Consumers will face unexpected fees ranging from $200 to $595 above the advertised cost just for the actual cremation, or "Direct Cremation" as the funeral homes list it.

These anti-consumer practices affect hundreds of thousands of American families each year. The rate of cremation equaled the rate of burial for the first time in 2015. About 1.6 million American families will choose cremation for a loved one who dies this year.

"Since 1984, funeral homes have been required to tell customers they have the right to buy a simple, no-frills cremation, and that they have the right to purchase a container or casket from outside the funeral home," said Joshua Slocum, Executive Director of the FCA. "We found a significant minority of businesses that fail to alert consumers to these options, depriving grieving customers of the ability to control costs through free choice."

In July of 2016, the FCA and the CFA formally requested that the Federal Trade Commission re-open the Funeral Rule for amendments, including a new requirement for funeral homes to publish their complete prices on their websites.

As a result of this report, the FCA and CFA are calling on the FTC again to ensure that funeral homes obey existing law and also expand the law to cover and protect consumers from such outrageous practices, like not even including the price of the actual cremation service.