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Funeral homes should put costs online, consumer groups say

Only 38 of 150 funeral homes examined in 10 U.S. markets by the Funeral Consumers Alliance and Consumer Federation of America fully disclosed prices on their websites.
Only 38 of 150 funeral homes examined in 10 U.S. markets by the Funeral Consumers Alliance and Consumer Federation of America fully disclosed prices on their websites. TNS

If a loved one dies and the funeral planning falls to you, it’s often difficult to get answers about the costs, even at a time when comparison shopping in so many other industries is a breeze, according to a study released this month.

Only 38 of 150 funeral homes examined in 10 U.S. markets by the Funeral Consumers Alliance and Consumer Federation of America fully disclosed prices on their websites.

Twenty-four did not disclose prices either on their websites or in response to emails and phone calls, the survey said.

Prices for cremation, immediate burials and full-service funerals vary greatly even in the same city, the groups said. In Washington, for example, the price of a full-service funeral can range from $3,770 to $13,800, the study found.

“The Federal Trade Commission should update antiquated disclosure rules developed in the pre-Internet 1980s,” Josh Slocum, Funeral Consumers Alliance executive director, said in a statement.

According to the FTC’s website, funeral directors must give you price information on the telephone if you ask for it. “You don’t have to give them your name, address or telephone number first,” the FTC said. “Although they are not required to do so, many funeral homes mail their price lists, and some post them online.”

The FTC’s website also says you have the right to get a written, itemized price list when you visit a funeral home. The price list is yours to keep, should list all the items and services the home offers, and the cost of each one.

You also have the right to see a written casket price list before you see the caskets, the FTC website says.

Slocum of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, however, said the FTC should “require funeral homes to disclose prices clearly and completely on their websites.”

“This disclosure will greatly increase consumer search for price information,” he said.

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