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California - SB 658 requires online prices, 2011

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March 15, 2011---A first-in-the nation California bill, SB 658, would require funeral homes to post their price lists online if the funeral home maintains a website. FCA has sent a letter supporting the bill. Online funeral pricing is long overdue; the majority of funeral homes (if they even have a website at all) do not post their prices online. Instead, they rely on website templates, often from casket companies, long on platitudes and short on specifics.

Smith Family Funeral Home's website is sadly typical:

Smith Family Funeral Homes understand that funerals allow us to pay special tribute to a unique life and permit us to preserve the memories of a loved one's impact on our world. We believe that every funeral service deserves to be truly memorable, flawlessly planned and correct to the smallest detail. That's why no detail is too great or too small when it comes to personalizing an appropriate tribute for a loved one.

That sounds very nice indeed, and the Smiths may be a genuinely compassionate family. But there's nary a price to be found on their site, nor any specifics about the multiple options available to families from simple cremation to a full-service wake and funeral. In other words, the site is one big soft-focus ad useless to the online shopper.

We hope California's SB 658 will pass and set an example for the rest of the country. Online price and service comparison is the norm today, and it's time the funeral industry stopped being an anachronism and joined the rest of the online retail world.

Huge hat-tip to Ed Howard, Senior Counsel at the Center for Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego. Mr. Howard convinced a lawmaker to introduce this important bill.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 15 March 2011 20:19 )  
Comments (6)
1 Wednesday, 16 March 2011 07:12
Randy Garner
As a funeral director, I applaud California's attempt to require funeral homes with websites to include pricing. Our website has contained full pricing for several years, and we are starting to see folks come to us from other areas because of it. Vague websites without pricing are worse than not having a website at all. Consumers who are shopping online find the lack of pricing and concrete information irritating and suspicious. Fearing that a neighboring funeral home will have access to your pricing is a poor excuse. To funeral directors reading this, you should know that your competitors can get, and already have your pricing obtained easily through any number of means than a website. Even the template websites will allow a lot of information if they are used correctly with a small dose of imagination. Funeral homes that resist putting their pricing online are going to see customers going elsewhere. The number of hits to our website, and the pricing section in particular, as we watch our calls increase, has proven to us that it's the only way to stay viable with a generation of folks who spend a lot of time researching online. Replace the "Our family serving your family" with real concrete and concise information and the public will reward you for it!! Just do it!!
2 Wednesday, 16 March 2011 08:30
Randy Garner
As consumers, you have a tremendous amount of power to influence this issue locally. If your intended provider has a great website, tell them so! If he or she doesn't, ask them why not? Thirty years of experience in this industry tells me that we funeral directors are not use to receiving much feedback from local consumers, aside from the usual comments about the funeral. Your constructive criticism of their website, or lack there of will be very helpful. As a potential customer, it will carry a lot of weight.
3 Saturday, 26 March 2011 15:14
masha rosenthal
This bill will move California's industry into the future serving families. This is the time.
4 Tuesday, 14 June 2011 23:48
Ed Howard
Thanks to FCA for the tip of the hat and all it support. June 27th is the day the bill will be next heard in a committee -- the Assembly Business & Professions Committee.
5 Friday, 13 January 2012 15:39
Gary
As a funeral director, I applaud California's attempt to require funeral homes with websites to include pricing. Our website has contained full pricing for several years, and we are starting to see folks come to us from other areas because of it. Vague websites without pricing are worse than not having a website at all. Consumers who are shopping online find the lack of pricing and concrete information irritating and suspicious. Fearing that a neighboring funeral home will have access to your pricing is a poor excuse. To funeral directors reading this, you should know that your competitors can get, and already have your pricing obtained easily through any number of means than a website. Even the template websites will allow a lot of information if they are used correctly with a small dose of imagination. Funeral homes that resist putting their pricing online are going to see customers going elsewhere. The number of hits to our website, and the pricing section in particular, as we watch our calls increase, has proven to us that it's the only way to stay viable with a generation of folks who spend a lot of time researching online. Replace the "Our family serving your family" with real concrete and concise information and the public will reward you for it!! Just do it!!
6 Thursday, 23 May 2013 07:10
ben
with real concrete and concise information and the public will reward you for it!! Just do it!! jocuri de gatit

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