FCA recognizes that the dissemination of individual experiences, the reporting of public information, and linking to other sites can help further our mission of educating the public on their funeral rights and options. However, FCA's limited resources and the nature of the Internet make it impossible to verify the content of personal experiences that are supplied by others or to verify the content of linked sites. FCA accepts no responsibility for these. Comments on the contents of personal reports and linked websites should be directed to the author(s).
October 6, 2008 - The Federal Trade Commission has issued an advisory opinion that crematories that do business directly with the public have to abide by the Funeral Rule, just like funeral homes do. The Funeral Rule gives consumers important rights when shopping for after-death services, such as the right to pick and choose only what they want to buy, and the right to clear, accurate price information in writing before finalizing arrangements.
The ruling came in response to a request from the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service. The NCBFS had been advising independent crematories that they did not have to comply with the Funeral Rule. FCA volunteers at the FCA of the Piedmont in Greensboro discovered this after finding serious violations of consumer protection rules on the price lists provided by some crematories. If you live in the Greensboro, NC area, be sure to check out the funeral price survey just put out by your local FCA chapter (and consider donating to their nonprofit, volunteer work!).
Bottomline for funeral consumers: You have the right to a printed, itemized price list from a crematory, even if it doesn't offer the full services of a funeral home. Be sure to bone up on your rights under the Funeral Rule, whether you do business with a full-service mortuary or a cremation-only firm.
COURT TOSSES FUNERAL DIRECTOR LAWSUIT; UPHOLDS FREE SPEECH FOR CONSUMER ADVOCATES
The US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan threw out prominent funeral director Thomas Lynch’s libel and defamation suit against Funeral Consumers Alliance and two other defendants. On July 31, Judge Robert H. Cleland granted summary judgment for the defendants, ruling that Lynch had no case for libel or defamation.
“We’re delighted the court has upheld FCA’s right to free speech,” said Joshua Slocum, Executive Director. “The Constitution protects Americans’ right to engage in vigorous public debate, and that includes criticizing the words and deeds of public figures like Mr. Lynch. Simply because the target of that criticism does not enjoy it does not make such critique illegal. FCA will continue commenting on matters of importance to funeral consumers, and that commentary may take the form of critiquing the writing or statements of prominent funeral directors. We expect this ruling will discourage any disgruntled funeral industry figures from attempting in the future to intimidate and silence consumer organizations through legal bullying.”
I posted my commentary on NFDA's Green Burial Idemnification form to a funeral director's email discussion list. I wanted to know what the members thought of the issue. The split in the responses has been fascinating. Several funeral directors offered thoughtful, considered, and pro-consumer positions. This alone made the post worth it. Despite what some undertakers think, I actually like meeting thoughtful industry people to put on my electronic Rolodex. If I didn't have a group of trustworthy, honest people in the business to consult with and learn from, I couldn't do my job effectively.
But whoah, nelly, did the conversation take a wrong turn. I started a brief discussion about the practice of mandating that customers do an "identification viewing" of a dead body, and a funeral director who calls herself "Morticia" went apoplectic. I'm still wondering what I said that got her formaldehyde boiling over. See if you can figure it out. I've pasted the good, the bad, and the ugly below. Comments welcome and encouraged. . ..
- Posted by Josh Slocum, Executive Director, Funeral Consumers Alliance
I was delighted to see the latest issue of your magazine, The Director, staring at me with its inviting cover. "The Growth of Green" leaped out. NFDA is getting behind green funeral options? Great! FCA hears from so many consumers who want an ecologically friendly send-off, and the more mainstream funeral businesses that get on board, the easier it will be for us to help them.
As usual, Chris Raymond's editorial was spot-on:
Whether you're aware of it or not, presently strive to offer green options or just hope the whole thing will go away, I urge you not to dismiss growing consumer consciousness of the burden of their "ecological footprint" will have on future generations as a mere fad . . . .jump on the green bandwagon by making sure your firm offers a variety of green products/services at a range of prices and advertise this fact to your community.
Click "read more" for our dissection of the unfounded nonsense NFDA has published about green burial. . .
FCA is on the air! Listen to this hour-long interview with FCA Executive Director Joshua Slocum on Utah's KRCL Radio. Slocum joins casket-maker and consumer activist Dave Robles from Bannock Pride, and FCA of Utah President Joyce Mitchell to discuss consumer rights, funeral industry scams, and the pernicious influence of the funeral industry lobby.
TO LISTEN: Just click the button on the player, and it will stream to your speakers.
TO DOWNLOAD TO YOUR MP3 PLAYER OR COMPUTER: Right-click this link and choose "save as."