Funeral Homes could be required to post prices online: FTC

Funeral homes across the nation could soon be required to post their prices online, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The “Funeral Rule” enacted in 1984 was aimed at lowering the barriers to price competition in the funeral industry to ensure consumers weren’t getting taken advantage of and required providers to show a written list of prices in person or share them over the phone.

However, the outdated rule has no mention of the Internet or electronic communication, therefore no requirements for funeral homes to list their prices online.

“One challenge is that the Funeral Rule was crafted before the internet age, so it only applies in person or over the phone,” said Lina M. Khan, Chair of the FTC. “Even though Americans today typically begin their shopping online, funeral providers are not required to list prices on their websites.”

In February 2020, the FTC announced a routine review of the rule, addressing the issue.

Through a website review of 60 U.S. locations of varying population densities, federal staff members found that several of the funeral service providers used their sites to promote their business, with at least 90% using social media platforms to link back to their site or to live stream funeral services.

Despite providing a wide range of information on their websites, the FTC said most people would have a “difficult time” finding the costs or comparing prices with other providers. “People are at their most vulnerable when they’re grieving,” said Khan.

Even the Funeral Consumers Alliance reached out to the FTC, asking them to require funeral homes to post their complete price lists online, along with disclosing their “true and complete” costs for cremation services.

In a 25-page document submitted to the FTC, the National Funeral Directors Association said it supports “voluntary disclosure,” and the amendment should only apply to funeral homes with existing websites. You can read those comments here.

For a world operating on extreme amounts of technology and artificial intelligence, consumers argue the change to the rule is an obvious one.

Story by Kate Newsum
Posted: April 14, 2023
Updated: April 17, 2023

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