Investigators working undercover in eight states found that in 32 of the 124 funeral homes they visited during 2013 the funeral homes failed to disclose pricing information to consumers as required by the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule. That’s about 25 percent.
This list shows how many funeral homes by region failed to make the disclosure:
- In Palm Springs, Calif., one of eight.
- In Southern Connecticut and Northern New Jersey, two of 19.
- In Monroe, La., eight of 17.
- In Baltimore, Md., two of 19.
- In Dayton, Ohio, five of 15.
- In Portland, Ore., two of 14.
- In Amarillo, Texas, six of 19.
- In Milwaukee, Wis., four of 18.
The FTC conducts undercover inspections each year to make sure that funeral homes are complying with the agency’s Funeral Rule. The rule, issued in 1984, gives consumers rights when making funeral arrangements.
Key provisions of the rule require funeral homes to give consumers an itemized general price list at the start of the discussion of funeral arrangements, as well price lists before consumers view caskets and outer burial containers.
The rule also prohibits funeral homes from requiring consumers to buy any item, such as a casket, as a condition of obtaining any other funeral goods or services. By requiring itemized prices, the Funeral Rule allows consumers to compare prices and buy only the goods and services they want.
Funeral homes with price list disclosure violations can enter a training program to increase compliance with the Funeral Rule.
All but two of the funeral homes with the price list disclosure violations listed above agreed to enter the program.
The three-year program, the Funeral Rule Offenders Program, is an alternative to a FTC lawsuit that could result in penalties of up to $16,000 per violation.
Run by the National Funeral Directors Association, the program offers training, testing, and monitoring for compliance with the rule. In addition, funeral homes that participate make a voluntary payment to the U.S. Treasury in place of a civil penalty and pay annual administrative fees to the association.
The names of homes that have entered program aren’t released, and the FTC doesn’t identify businesses under investigation.
Since the compliance program began in 1996, the FTC has inspected more than 2,800 funeral homes, 459 of which have agreed to enter the program.
In addition to the funeral homes that failed to provide a general price list, the FTC found homes in the eight states with minor compliance issues. In these cases, the FTC contacts the funeral home and requires it to provide evidence that it has corrected the problems.
For more information, see “Paying Final Respects: Your Rights When Buying Funeral Goods & Services,” “Shopping for Funeral Services,” and “Complying with the Funeral Rule.”