|The FTC Funeral Rule|
|Letter to the FTC|
|ICFA Whining (letter)|
|FCA Comments: Trade Regulation Rule on Funeral Industry Practices|
|Sudden Boycott: A letter to the FTC|
FTC Loopholes!A 1994 amendment to the FTC's Funeral Rule now allows mortuaries to add all overhead to a nondeclineable basic charge for planning the funeral. With no limits on this fee, it has effectively become a guaranteed income for funeral directors, a situation that invites consumer abuse, especially in areas where there are far more funeral homes than can be supported by the death rate. In just a few years, this fee has risen to $1,000 or $2,000 or more at many mortuaries, with all other costs such as the casket and funeral service being added to that.
Some funeral homes have justified the size of this fee by saying that this fee includes: "Complying with government regulations." To which Jessica Mitford had a delightful retort: "Imagine that! They're going to charge you for not breaking the law."
When the nondeclineable fee is grossly inflated, it limits the options of a price-sensitive consumer. Furthermore, someone selecting a simple grave-side service uses far less of the funeral home's overhead, yet will be paying to maintain portions of a fancy establishment that won't be needed. This is in direct conflict with the intent of the original Funeral Rule.
Another loophole? Yes. A 1994 directive from the FTC—again in conflict with the original Rule—indicates that the price of cremation does not need to be included in the price for an immediate cremation if the funeral home doesn't own the crematory. Such cost would then be considered a "cash advance" item. How can one have an "immediate cremation" without cremation? Confusing to consumers who wouldn't think to ask if cremation were included? You bet! Even when the same people own the crematory and funeral home, there may be a different corporation running each. So you'd better ask what the total price will be including cremation, if that's your choice. Otherwise, there may be an unexpected $200 or $300 added to your total cost.
Although consumer groups pressed the FTC to include cemeteries under the provisions of the original Rule, this was not done. Consequently, the portion of your funeral arrangements that involve a cemetery may be fraught with pitfalls. FAMSA is seeking to bring cemeteries and all funeral-related vendors under the Funeral Rule this time.