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The FTC Funeral Rule - Letter to the FTC

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Letter to the FTC

September 24, 1997

Donald Clark, Secretary, Federal Trade Commission
Pennsylvania and 6th
Washington, DC 20580

Dear Mr. Clark:

Under the rights spelled out in FTC law and on behalf of the FAMSA Board of Directors and affiliated consumer organizations, I am requesting that the "notice and comment" review of the Funeral Rule scheduled for 1999 be moved to an earlier date. In addition, we are requesting that any such review process include public hearings; we feel that hearings will provide the best vehicle by which consumers can gain the needed changes.

The increase in funeral costs since the inception of the Rule is alarming and has continued at a rate far faster than inflation. Any delay in review will result in serious harm to consumers because of the widespread pricing abuse we have documented.

We will be seeking the following amendments and additions to the Rule:

  • Elimination of any nondeclinable fee. Something that is nondeclinable by its very nature takes away consumer choice.
  • We would like to see four items added to the required options on the General Price List (GPL)—private viewing without embalming, body donation to a medical school, the cost for the cremation process, and rental caskets.
  • The cost of the cremation process should be included in the charge for an immediate or "direct cremation." How can one have an immediate cremation without cremation? The services and merchandise included in both immediate disposition options should be standardized for easy "shopping."
  • Any mark-up on Cash Advance items should be disclosed with the actual amount to be charged. The tepid "We charge you for our services in obtaining. . . " is NOT an adequate disclosure.
  • Cemeteries, monument dealers, and casket sellers should also come under the Funeral Rule. Given the mounting abuse, there is a need to protect a consumer's rights for all funeral-related purchases.
We will appreciate your prompt attention to this request and look forward to hearing from the FTC soon.

Sincerely,

Lisa Carlson, Executive Director


While it took a while, the FTC has finally moved in the right direction. To read the FTC request for comments issued April 30, 1999, click here. And for the issues and questions that will be addressed, click here.

To their credit, many industry groups supports these changes. Only one is complaining,  ICFA (letter follows).



Last Updated ( Monday, 25 August 2008 13:47 )  
Comments (15)
1 Sunday, 12 October 2008 16:36
I work for a local Hospice. We have a patient who will have her funeral and burial in Alabama, but she is currently living with her son in Michigan. Her son wants to know if he can transport the casket from Michigan to Alabama himself in his pick up truck. I would assume the answer is no, but I have not been able to find any information on this. He has a quote of $5000 to prepare the body and transport across the states. Thank you for your help. Juanita L. Signs, ACSW, LCSW, LMSW
2 Monday, 13 October 2008 07:54
Juanita,

I hope you know that you left a comment on the site, that you didn't write to us directly and provide an email address that we could write back to you with.

The family can transport the casket, but they'll have to get a funeral director's signature on the death cert. in Michigan. I can give you all the details, but it would be much easier in an email exchange with you. Please write to me directly at josh@funerals.org.

Josh Slocum
3 Wednesday, 05 August 2009 15:18
Rev. James Monk
I am writing from personal experience and from observations of funerals I have performed as a minister.
I rememeber my Grandmother spening over $10,000 dollars to bury her hysband years ago, because they talked to her alone and told her all kind of lies. She was a poor person of age. I have preached many funerals where I have seen families spend 5 and 6 times what was needed because the funeral home told them it was the only way to protect their love one from bad thing in the grave.
I know of funeral homes in Oakdale, louisiana and other towns around that will not use the cheaper wood or box funerals. I know of some that would refuse and transfer the body to another funeral home because they could not make the amont of money they wanted.
Something needs to be done in Louisiana to stop poor people from being taken advantage of in these ways. It breaks my heart to preach a funeral where I see how the family is treated so badly. I know they must make money, but not what they make today. They sell 6 or 8 thousand dollar funerals thet cost them less then $1200.00, this is terrible. If you can have any effect on Louisiana funeral homes please use every bit of your authority to do so.
4 Wednesday, 05 January 2011 13:48
Tim Trahan
I hold an embalmer/funeral director license in Louisiana, and have previously been licensed in Texas since 1992. I am no longer active in the funeral scam,...I mean business. The FTC's regulations regarding funeral homes are regularly circumvented in the most obvious ways. At David Funeral Homes in New Iberia and surrounding areas, customers are not charged more for providing a casket from outside the funeral home, but they are charged less for purchasing their casket from the funeral home. What's the difference?
Also, the owner of Warren Meadows Funeral Home in Many, LA makes a practice of telling customers that a casket made of copper or bronze (obviously more expensive) will preserve human remains longer than will steel or wood caskets. His one word explanation ("AIR") defies logic and all ethical concerns.
Until these firms are forced to stick to the letter and intent of the law, consumers will continue to be ripped off by unsound practices.
5 Thursday, 24 March 2011 20:38
shirley maulden
is there a federal law that says we must move to another state before we can receive a refund on the casket and vault, we are moving to another state and our cemetery people have told us we cant be re imbursed for these things until we move out of this state we need the finances now so we can move, could give me and answer on this soon we would like to move in July
6 Thursday, 24 March 2011 21:36
Josh Slocum, FCA exec. director
Hi Shirley,

There is no such federal law preventing you from getting a refund unless you move out of state. If you want to email me directly with the details (including your location, etc.), send it to josh@funerals.org and I'll try to help you work it out.
7 Sunday, 19 June 2011 11:41
Dianne
Josh - Do you know of any way to prepare or insure a loved one for return home after death? My grandmother is moving to Texas from Arkansas for her last years, but wants to be returned and buried next to my grandfather. Her expenses there are all pre-paid, but we're concerned about being able to take care of this aspect.

Thanks.
8 Thursday, 15 September 2011 11:44
FD USA
Now that the market is/has changed to cremation, will the FTC FORCE the funeral homes to accept urns to??? The funeral home is the one that bares the high overhead operating cost. This rule should go away!!!

FD USA
9 Thursday, 15 September 2011 22:30
Josh Slocum, Executive Director
Funeral homes already have to accept urns - the FTC Rule applies to all merchandise, not just caskets. I'd hate to think you didn't already know this, and that you've told families they have to buy an urn from you.
10 Monday, 23 July 2012 10:54
Maggie
I recently attended a funeral in Nebraska. We returned to the cemetery a couple hours after the burial. We found the grave still open and no one was at the cemetery. The vault was sealed, but no dirt had been filled in to cover the vault. We thought this was very disrectful? Was it also against the law? Is this a common practice?
11 Monday, 23 July 2012 11:26
Josh Slocum, FCA Exec. Director
Hi there,

No, there is no law that says a grave has to be immediately filled in. It's not uncommon for the job to wait a few hours as the cemetery staff may have other graves to fill in (they also could have been taking a break-I don't know what time of day it was). Since the vault lid was placed the casket wasn't exposed for anyone to see. I'm sorry that you found it upsetting, but it doesn't appear to me that anyone did anything negligent or wrong.
12 Wednesday, 05 September 2012 16:26
Vanessa
Can I be buried on my own rural land?
13 Friday, 07 September 2012 15:17
MMassey
If a party wants to be cremated, is it possible to rent a casket for viewing for one
day, and then the body be placed into a travel container to go to the
cremation location for handling. It seems like such a waste in this date and time to pay for a casket in the thousands that is suposed to be burned, I have my doubt that even happens. Do you have advise for this process, or laws that
protect the public from paying for a casket that could be returned to the
funernal palo for re-sale.
14 Friday, 07 September 2012 15:36
Josh Slocum, FCA Exec. Director
Yes, you can certainly rent a casket and then just use the cardboard box to transport to the crematory. Rental caskets are expensive, though, upwards of $900. A real rip off. It's often cheaper to go with the cardboard box and drape it with a lovely quilt or cloth.
15 Monday, 17 September 2012 13:36
That Guy
Sup

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