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About a quarter of funeral homes violate federal funeral rule, latest inspections show

CasketIn 31 of the 133 funeral homes visited during 2015 and 2016, federal regulators found funeral homes in nine states failed to disclose pricing information to consumers, undercover agents for the Federal Trade Commission found.

Issued in 1984, the funeral rule gives consumers rights when making funeral arrangements. It requires funeral homes to provide consumers with an itemized general price list at the start of a discussion of funeral arrangements, a casket price list before consumers view any caskets, and an outer burial container price list before they view grave liners or vaults. The rule also prohibits funeral homes from requiring consumers to buy any item, such as a casket, as a condition of obtaining other funeral good or service.

The results of the FTC 2015-2016 undercover inspections for price list disclosures are as follows:

  • In Detroit, Warren, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, 10 of the 15 funeral homes inspected in 2015 failed to make a price list disclosure.
  • In St. Louis, Missouri, three of the 16 funeral homes inspected in 2015 failed to make a price list disclosure.
  • In Alamogordo and Roswell, New Mexico, nine of the 14 funeral homes inspected in 2016 failed to make a price list disclosure.
  • In Bismarck, North Dakota, none of the six funeral homes inspected in 2016 failed to make a price list disclosure.
  • In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, four of the 34 funeral homes inspected in 2015 failed to make a price list disclosure.
  • In Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties in Virginia, two of the 17 funeral homes inspected in 2016 failed to make a price list disclosure.
  • In Tacoma, Washington, two of the 11 funeral homes inspected in 2015 failed to make a price list disclosure.
  • In Bakersfield, California, none of the 10 funeral homes inspected in 2016 failed to make a price list disclosure.
  • In Atlanta, Smyrna, and Marietta, Georgia, one of the 10 funeral homes inspected in 2015 failed to make a price list disclosure.

Funeral homes that violate the price list disclosure requirements for the first time can enter the Funeral Rule Offender’s Program, a training program run by the National Funeral Directors Association to increase compliance with the funeral rule. All the homes found in violation during the past two years chose to enter the FROP rather possibly receiving penalties of up to $40,654 per violation. Funeral homes that take part in the program make a voluntary payment to the U.S. Treasury in place of a penalty and pay annual administrative fees to the NFDA.

Since the FROP began in 1996, the FTC has inspected more than 3,000 funeral homes and found 530 homes with violations. In addition, the FTC identified funeral homes, in the nine states, with only minor deficiencies. In these cases, the FTC requires the funeral home to provide evidence that it has corrected the problems.

Copyright 2017, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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