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 )  
Comments (5)
1 Sunday, 02 March 2014 08:44
Terry Zimmer
I called on your list of casket suppliers and found out that almost all are either out of business (number out of service or rings to another unrelated business), or rings to a funeral home.

Almost all cities do not have a casket store now. All are almost gone because people can buy an 18-gauge metal casket online delivered for $1000 and that same casket at the local casket store goes for $1800. The only cities I could find functioning casket stores by calling your contacts are Chicago, LA, Orlando, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and a few others. Casket stores are a thing of the past and have been replaced by online stores that can fly a casket in and courier it to the funeral home door in less than 24 hours for almost half the price with 20 times bigger selection. Unfortunately the small casket store is like the small mom + pop retail store, they cannot compete with the bigger can stores which have everything. You ought to at least call on your casket store list and remove the 80% that are no longer in business.
2 Tuesday, 04 March 2014 15:42
Josh Slocum, FCA exec. director
Hi Terry,

Thanks for leaving this comment. You're exactly right. We've been talking about issues with our casket page for a while, and this tipped us in favor of taking it down and replacing it with some simple tips for consumers. There's just no way to keep the list up to date, and consumers are better off doing a Google search for themselves at this point.
3 Wednesday, 02 July 2014 09:49
Robert M. Rabb
According to the 2012 Indianapolis Yellow pages there seems to be a casket retailer on East 31st. I am not sure of the name or the phone number. Do not confuse this with the address for Aurora caskets in the Indianapolis phone books. I am sure that is only a number for undertakers to contact. Robert Rabb, 340 Ontario Ct. Apt. F Noblesville, IN 46060
4 Saturday, 06 September 2014 10:18
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