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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).

FCA calls foul on FTC logic SCI/Stewart merger

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Surprisingly, the Federal Trade Commission accepted some truly bizarre funeral industry assertions when deciding which properties funeral giant Service Corporation International (brand name: "Dignity Memorial") has to sell off in order to merge with its competitor, Stewart Enterprises. Industry experts push the line that consumers don't choose cremation over burial because of price, but because of "personal" or "religious" reasons. This is plain nonsense; price is one of the top factors consumers cite when they pick cremation over burial. 

Somehow the FTC found this "logic" persuasive, and it affected how they decided which funeral businesses SCI has to divest. From the FTC's consent order:

“Funeral services do not include cremation services because consumers do not substitute cremation services for burial services based upon price, and the competitive conditions for cremation
services are substantially different than other funeral services. Since consumers primarily choose their final disposition on their personal or religious views, consumers generally do not view cremation services as a viable substitute for funeral services.”

This is remarkable. It completely contradicts the experience of consumers and consumer advocates like FCA. We have to wonder whether the Federal Trade Commission has any idea at all what choices the average American family has to make when death comes, and how tight budgets affect those. Americans do not have unlimited money to spend on funerals, and huge numbers of people have switched to cremation for its affordability as compared to casketed cemetery burial. 

FCANT President Jim Bates examines this in more detail in commentary submitted to the FTC, reproduced below.

Last Updated ( Monday, 31 March 2014 16:17 ) Read more...

Jewish funeral activists ask FTC to change course

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A press release from the Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington:

December 30, 2013

For the Jewish Funeral Practices Committee of Greater Washington

Contacts:  Bob Hausman, 202-966-1545

David Balto, 202-577-5424

The Jewish Funeral Practices Committee (JFPC) of Greater Washington cautiously welcomes the Federal Trade Commission's proposed agreement with Service Corporation International (SCI) requiring them to divest Edward Sagel Funeral Directions in Rockville as a condition of allowing SCI to acquire the nation's second largest funeral services provider, Stewart Enterprises.  The FTC clearly accepted the Jewish community’s argument that there was a competitive problem in the DC/MD Jewish funeral home market.

Unfortunately, the FTC proposed decision to require the divestiture of Sagel is the wrong remedy. The Commission should have required the divestiture of Hines Rinaldi because it is an effective competitor and Sagel is not. Sagel is basically a modest storefront, does not have a chapel or facilities to handle bodies, and its market share has fallen from 25% to about 11% in the past three years.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 January 2014 16:10 ) Read more...

SCI Buys Stewart Enterprises

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To no one's surprise, the Federal Trade Commission approved the merger of the two largest funeral home and cemetery chains, Service Corporation International (SCI, also known as "Dignity Memorial") and Stewart Enterprises. While the feds are requiring SCI to sell of 91 locations (53 funeral homes and 38 cemeteries) in various parts of the country, the consolidation of the two biggest funeral chains under the banner of SCI is not good news for consumers. SCI has long been one of the biggest sources of consumer complaints—deceptive sales pitches, violating consumer protection rules on the right to choose funeral goods and services, and more. 

The funeral homes and cemeteries SCI and Stewart will be required to sell off:

Last Updated ( Monday, 31 March 2014 16:18 ) Read more...

Home Funerals-WBUR

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Boston public radio's WBUR has written the best piece on the emotional and practical realities of do it yourself home funeral care we've seen. You can also watch video of one young couple talk about caring for their infant daughter at home after death. Hats off to Rachel Zimmerman, the editor, and to the home funeral guides and families who took part!

Death remains a topic that many of us would rather avoid. And when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of caring for the dead, most of us tend to think it's best — and furthermore, required by law — to let professional funeral arrangers handle the arrangements.

Well, it turns out that in most states it's perfectly legal to care for your own dead. And, with new momentum to shatter longstanding taboos and stop tip-toeing around death — from "death with dignity" measures sweeping the country to projects promoting kitchen table "conversations"about our deepest end-of-life wishes — a re-energized DIY death movement is emerging.

Find the whole story here

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 31 December 2013 14:16 )

Before You Go!

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Don’t take your last wishes to the grave. bigcoverwebversionbigcoverwebversion

Our popular funeral planner is brand-new and expanded for 2013!

Before you go, they should know. . .

• Your funeral plans
• Where your important papers are
• Who should take care of your pets and how
• Who to call when the time comes
That you love them enough to get it together with. . .

Before I Go, You Should Know®, the comprehensive end-of-life planner. Featuring illustrations by Edward Gorey, BIG has more than 30 pages to record everything from your preference for burial or cremation to how to close down  your social media accounts and online life.


Two free chapters from the book Final Rights with consumer funeral and burial rights and rules specific to your state. 
—A survivor’s checklist of important but often overlooked tasks when death occurs.
—A place to record all the biographical information your family will need for an obituary, funeral, or memorial service 


Before I Go makes a great stocking stuffer!

Last Updated ( Thursday, 07 November 2013 15:08 )

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