October 15, 2015
JUST RELEASED NATIONAL SURVEY RESULTS:
The Cost of Dying is Variable and Non-Transparent
Press Teleconference Reveals New Data on Costs, Price Disclosures and Laws Which Fail to Protect Bereaved Consumers. The Full Press Release can be found here and is excerpted below.
Washington, D.C. – "Today, the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) and Consumer Federation of America (CFA) released a report based on a national survey of the prices and price disclosures of a representative sample of 150 funeral homes from ten different regions of the country. The survey revealed significant price differences – for example, from $2,580 to $13,800 for a full-service funeral — and the failure of most funeral homes to disclose their prices adequately: Only 38 of the 150 homes (25%) fully disclosed prices on their websites, while 24 (16%) failed to fully disclose prices both on their website and in response to an email and a phone call." The ten areas studied were Atlanta, DC, Philadelphia, Mercer County (NJ), Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Denver, Tucson, Orange County (CA) and Seattle.
Funeral Prices Vary Significantly, Even Within Individual Areas
Three types of service were priced – direct cremation without ceremony, immediate burial without ceremony or the cost of a casket, and full-service funeral including the following items: basic services of the funeral director and staff, transport of the body from place of death to funeral home, embalming, other preparation of the body, viewing or calling hours, funeral ceremony with casket present, hearse to cemetery, sedan or limousine for family, and graveside ceremony. As the table below shows, prices for the same funeral services within individual areas almost always varied by at least 100 percent and often varied by more than 200 percent.
Funeral Price Disclosures Often Incomplete and Difficult to Obtain
Researchers examined whether a complete general price list was included on the website of funeral homes. If the funeral homes did not do so, the researchers sent them an email requesting the price information. If the funeral homes failed to respond or responded inadequately, the researchers called them. Despite these efforts by researchers, some funeral homes did not provide any price information or provided this information only in a personal visit. The table below reveals the extent to which funeral homes in the sample disclosed prices fully and how these prices were obtained.
In sum, the survey found that Funeral Home Prices vary significantly and that funeral homes rarely disclose full pricing information. The FCA and CFA are urging the Federal Trade Commission to change their Funeral Rule which was issued in 1984 and amended in 1994.
In its current state, it only requires funeral homes to provide price information over the phone or a price list to those visiting the home. It however does not require transparent disclosure on funeral home websites. Click here to read the full article.