Investigation Finds 15% Of Funeral Homes Still Misleading Consumers



Way back in 1984, the Federal Trade Commission established the Funeral Rule, which is actually a list of requirements for funeral homes to make sure that grieving consumers aren’t hoodwinked into paying too much for services or paying for unnecessary items. Nearly 30 years on, an undercover investigation by the FTC found that a surprising number of funeral homes are not abiding by the Rule.

The investigators went undercover — presumably not as cadavers, though that would be awesome — to check out 102 funeral homes in nine states. The study found 16 businesses with “significant violations” of the Funeral Rule, with another 33 funeral homes with minor violations.

Among other items, the Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to provide consumers with an itemized price list at the start of an in-person discussion of funeral arrangements. They must also provide a list of casket prices before consumers view any caskets. Funeral homes are prohibited from requiring consumers to buy a casket or any other product as a condition of obtaining any other funeral good or service.

The funeral homes found to have significant violations can enter the Funeral Rule Offenders Program (FROP), a training program designed to increase compliance with the Funeral Rule. If they do not, they face an FTC lawsuit with civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation. Funeral homes that participate in FROP make a “voluntary” payment to the U.S. Treasury in place of a civil penalty.

Here’s how the violators broke down by state:

*In Northwest Indiana, one of 12 funeral homes inspected had significant violations;
*In Maui, Hawaii, none of the four funeral homes inspected had significant violations;
*In the New York City area, as well as parts of Connecticut and New Jersey, one of 22 funeral homes inspected had significant violations;
*In Cleveland, Ohio, four of 16 funeral homes inspected had significant violations;
*In Columbia, South Carolina, five significant violations were found in 10 funeral homes inspected;
*In Austin, Texas, four of 19 funeral homes inspected had significant violations; and
*In Richmond and Fredericksburg, Virginia, eight of 19 funeral homes inspected had significant violations.

The 33 funeral homes with minor violations will be required to provide evidence that they are now in compliance.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    Don’t die.

  2. George4478 says:

    My plans involve taxidermy. Does this rule cover me?

    “OK, you want your standard glass eyes, they’ll run you about $15. The glow-in-the-dark ones will, as you can tell by the price sheet, add another $25. But the extra cost it worth it on Halloween.”

    • Spaghettius! says:

      Instead of my original nails, could you maybe use some bear claws? it’s ok if it’s extra.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Michael C. Hall will not be pleased.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      He’s now come to understand that dismemberment and burial at sea in a black plastic trash bag is really a cost-effective method.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    “Funeral homes that participate in FROP make a “voluntary”
    payment to the U.S. Treasury in place of a civil penalty”

    So once again, when the consumer gets screwed it’s
    the government that reaps the benefits of compensation.

  5. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    This is why I want to be buried in a pine box on my own property. Yes, our township allows this.

    • A.Mercer says:

      Make sure that whoever is handling your funeral knows this and is properly briefed on the laws. A trick that some funeral homes will pull is making up laws on the spot. They will tell the family that there is a law that specifies that the coffin has to be made of a certain material or something. Or they will tell the family that embalming is required. Or they will say that only cemetary plots are involved.

      You might have to involve a funeral home in your plans because in some places hospitals and morgues are not allowed to release a body straight to the public. So do some research on the laws in this area and make sure that you document everything and let your personal vice-president know all of the details. Then they can fight back when someone tries to subvert your plans.

  6. icerabbit says:

    Throw the book at them …
    Inspect and re-inspect.
    More violations = bigger fines or risk closing your business.
    Rinse and repeat.

  7. HenryES says:

    Costco sells caskets at what I assume to be a discount, but they won’t ship to VA. I was going to pick up a three pack just to be prepared.

  8. gman863 says:

    I’m all for cremation, so long as the funeral home doesn’t attempt to add a fuel surcharge if the price of natural gas goes up.

  9. AllanG54 says:

    If I’m not mistaken, Hillary Clinton owns a piece of one of the largest funeral home corporations in the U.S. It may be Dignity Chapels. I wonder if they get a pass because she’s Sec’y of State.

  10. somegraphx says:

    Sadly, I was just in a funeral home yesterday, making arrangements for my father. The director did explain everything but did not show me prices before we went into the room that had the caskets. He did charge me 250$ for a cremation box that is for water burials but the entire cremation, box, and 18 death certificates totaled $2200, which, I consider to be pretty reasonable.

    My grandmother prepaid for her cremation–picking out everything and even receiving an 800# that the hospital is to call and the funeral home will pick up her body anywhere in the US.

    I think that my husband and I will do that now that we’ve gone through this. The emotions around this are HUGE and I can see someone feeling their loved one “deserves” a more expensive box in order to prove their love to the deceased. I don’t want my kids arguing over what box to put my ashes in, or fighting over how to pay for the services.

    • DeeKey says:

      You were overcharged, as usual, and I bet they told you they have to put the notice in the local paper and charged for that too. Cremation should not cost more than 1,000$. I was scammed this way too.