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FTC Funeral Rule Demands Cost Transparency

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) inspected funeral homes in five states to test compliance. Seventeen of 90 funeral homes failed inspection. The FTC Funeral Rule was established to protect consumers  shopping for end-of-life services and merchandise.

The FTC Funeral Rule was enacted on April 30, 1984 and was revised in 1994. It mandates that funeral homes and providers give accurate and itemized prices to consumers so they have the information needed to make informed purchasing decisions.

Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium has not only been compliant with the FTC Funeral Rule, but we’ve been transparent about our cost for services and merchandise for decades. Price transparency is the right thing to do, and it immediately offers families a sense of trust when they are making service plans or purchases during a time of great stress.

Here are the results of the FTC’s funeral home compliance inspection.  

According to the FTC, the Funeral Law “makes it possible for you to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay only for those you select, whether you are making arrangements when a death occurs or in advance. The Rule allows you to compare prices among funeral homes, and makes it possible for you to select the funeral arrangements you want at the home you use.”

Your rights under the FTC Funeral Rule

Buy only the funeral arrangements you want. You have the right to buy separate goods (such as caskets) and services (such as embalming or a memorial service). You do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.

Get price information on the telephone. Funeral directors must give you price information on the telephone if you ask for it. You don’t have to give them your name, address, or telephone number first. Although they are not required to do so, many funeral homes mail their price lists, and some post them online.

Get a written, itemized price list when you visit a funeral home. The funeral home must give you a General Price List (GPL) that is yours to keep. It lists all the items and services the home offers, and the cost of each one.

See a written casket price list before you see the actual caskets. Sometimes, detailed casket price information is included on the funeral home’s GPL. More often,  it’s provided on a separate casket price list. Get the price information before you see the caskets, so you know all your options beyond what is on display.

See a written outer burial container price list. Outer burial containers are not required by state law anywhere in the U.S., but many cemeteries require them to prevent the grave from caving in. If the funeral home sells containers, but doesn’t list their prices on the GPL, you have the right to look at a separate container price list before you see the containers. If you don’t see the lower-priced containers listed, ask about them.

Receive a written statement after you decide what you want, and before you pay. The statement should show exactly what you are buying and the cost of each item. The funeral home must give you a statement listing every good and service you have selected, the price of each, and the total cost immediately after you make the arrangements.

Get an explanation from the funeral home that describes any legal cemetery or crematory requirement so you know what  funeral goods or services are required.

Use an “alternative container” instead of a casket for cremation. No state or local law requires the use of a casket for cremation. A funeral home that offers cremations must tell you that alternative containers are available, and must make them available. They might be made of unfinished wood, pressed wood, fiberboard, or cardboard.

Provide the funeral home with a casket or urn you buy elsewhere. The funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought online, at a local casket store, or somewhere else—or charge you a fee to do it. The funeral home also cannot require you to be there when the casket or urn is delivered to them.

Make funeral arrangements without embalming. No state law requires routine embalming for every death. Some states require embalming or refrigeration if the body is not buried or cremated within a certain time, but not all. In most cases, refrigeration is an acceptable alternative. In addition, you may choose services like direct cremation and immediate burial, which don’t require any form of preservation. Many funeral homes have a policy requiring embalming if the body is to be publicly viewed, but this is not required by law in most states. Ask if the funeral home offers private family viewing without embalming. If some form of preservation is a practical necessity, ask the funeral home if refrigeration is available.

Aside from it being the law, here are reasons why we believe pricing should be transparent:

Price transparency provides options

It’s important for people searching for cremation services to have the ability to make the best possible decision based on their needs, wants and budgets. The best way to make an educated decision is by comparing pricing between  providers . In addition, it’s important to provide pricing for individual items, in addition to package pricing, so that people have flexibility to craft  the specific services that are meaningful to them and their families.

Transparency makes the process easier

When a loved one passes, we are often left with many decisions, such as where to make the final arrangements, how to choose appropriate services and more. This is a time when people are typically in a heightened emotional state, which can make it more difficult to make these decisions. By making  our  pricing clear and simple to understand, it helps those seeking services to easily make the right choices for their families and their deceased loved one.

The following questions are answered in this post:

What is the FTC Funeral Rule?

The FTC Funeral Rule was enacted on April 30, 1984 and was revised in 1994. It mandates that funeral homes and providers give accurate and itemized prices to consumers so they have the information needed to make informed purchasing decisions.

What is not a FTC Funeral Rule?

Companies that only sell funeral-related merchandise and do not offer any funeral-related services do not need to comply to the FTC Funeral Rule.

Can you provide your own casket?

Yes. The funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought online, at a local casket store, or somewhere else—or charge you a fee to do it. The funeral home also cannot require you to be there when the casket or urn is delivered to them.

You Can Easily Start Planning Now.

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