Federal Trade Commission Findings

The Federal Trade Commission conducted a nation-wide survey and found that "the emotional trauma of bereavement, the lack of information, and time pressures, place the consumer at an enormous disadvantage in making funeral arrangements." Based on its findings, the Commission created a set of rules to regulate the funeral industry.

Some of the reports to the FTC that prompted regulation against questionable practices were:

  • Many undertakers refused to give price information over the phone, making it extremely difficult for the consumer to compare prices upon the death of a loved one. And once the body was sent to a mortuary, few next-of-kin were willing to move it if the price was higher then expected.

  • Funerals were usually sold as a package, rather than on an item-by-item basis that would permit the consumer to eliminate the cost of unwanted materials or services.

  • Morticians frequently advanced payments — to florists, pallbearers, and clergy — for which the consumer was billed at an increased cost.

  • Consumers often were given clearly inaccurate information: that embalming was required by law, or that the qualities of a "sealed" casket would preserve the body forever.

  • Low-price coffins were kept out of sight or in out-of-the-way places in a funeral establishment, or displayed in colors which would discourage their selection. In other cases, the funeral director might refer to simple services as "disposals," implying that the remains were to be treated as refuse.

Information is a funeral consumer's best self-defense against manipulation by less-than-ethical undertakers.

Copyright © FAMSA~FCA 1996

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