Posted on July 29, 2014 by Cindy Phan
Before The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s Funeral Rule went into effect in the year 1984, prices within the funeral industry were extremely foggy to consumers. Funeral homes often showed consumers packages that forced the consumers to purchase everything that was offered, even if some of those items or services within a package were unnecessary to certain families or situations. The cost of the casket, service cost of the funeral, embalming, viewing, ceremony, graveside service, hearses and limousines were frequently bundled together in these packages. Even if a customer were to deny any of the services listed under the package, the overall price wouldn’t exactly shrink. In response, the FTC enforced the General Price List (GPL) as a part of the Funeral Rule to govern the sales of funeral-related goods and services.
A General Price List, or GPL, is an itemized list of prices for various goods and services provided by the funeral home to consumers. The purpose of the GPL is to allow customers to comparison shop and to purchase only what they want for the funeral and not be forced into spending money on anything they deem unnecessary.
With the GPL, funeral homes are still allowed to offer packages of services, but services must also be offered à-la-carte for the consumer’s choosing. Under the Funeral Rule, the funeral director must provide you with a physical copy of the GPL to keep. As an option, you may even ask them to leave the room so you can discuss the prices of the GPL in private without their influence.
You may also take the list home to your family members to discuss it and compare it to other funeral homes, if time allows, to make a well-informed and thought-out decision. The funeral home does not necessarily have to give out a General Price List to anyone who walks in the door, but by the FTC’s Funeral Rule, they must give a GPL “to anyone who asks, in person, about funeral goods, funeral services, or the prices of such goods or services.” Note that this also applies if the conversation takes place outside the funeral home, for example if the funeral director comes to your home for a consultation.
The Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to itemize prices for certain goods and services so consumers may choose only those that they want to purchase. The following 16 specified items are generically required on the GPL, along with the price for each item. Depending on the funeral home and the different services they offer, they may add more.
Forwarding of remains to another funeral home
Receiving remains from another funeral home
Basic services of funeral director and staff, and overhead
Transfer of remains to funeral home
Other preparation of the body
Use of facilities and staff for viewing
Use of facilities and staff for funeral ceremony
Use of facilities and staff for memorial service
Use of equipment and staff for graveside service
Either individual casket prices or the range of casket prices that appear on the Casket Price List
Either individual outer burial container prices or the range of outer burial container prices that appear on the Outer Burial Container Price List
Many funeral homes nowadays may devote a significant portion of the GPL to funeral packages that they offer including a variety of funeral goods and services at a discounted price. These packages may vary in cost and expanse but are generally bundle purchases of what was individually listed in the itemized list of the GPL. Often times, the package deals can be found in the front of the GPL.
Four items that The Funeral Rule require all funeral homes to list are:
forwarding of remains
Unlike the other goods and services found in package deals and itemized list of the GPL, these four items must also include the charge of the funeral home’s basic service fee in the listed price.
An optional list of cash advance items may also be included with a GPL. Cash advance items are items purchased through a third party from the funeral home in representation of the consumer. You can read more about cash advance items here.