FTC and New York City Inspectors Find Widespread Funeral Home Violations

3/18/2010—Both the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Department of Consumer Affairs released the results of undercover inspections at funeral homes, and the results aren’t pretty. The FTC’s press release on its 2009 undercover investigations found that a full one-third of funeral homes they inspected in eight states had “signficant violations” of the Funeral Rule. The Rule gives consumers the right to printed price lists, the right to choose only what they want, and the right to buy caskets from an outside retailer (funeral homes can’t force you to buy their merchandise): CLICK READ MORE BELOW. . .

  • In Chicago, Illinois, one of 12 funeral homes inspected had significant violations;
  • In Metro Washington, D.C., including parts of Maryland and Virginia, 19 of 59 funeral homes inspected had significant violations;
  • In Cincinnati, Ohio, three significant violations were found among 19 funeral homes inspected;
  • In Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, six of 25 funeral homes inspected had significant violations;
  • In Missoula, Helena, Bozeman and Townsend, Montana, three of 12 funeral homes inspected had significant violations;
  • In El Paso, Texas, six of 12 funeral homes inspected had significant violations;
  • In New Orleans and New Iberia, Louisiana, five of 22 funeral homes inspected had significant violations; and
  • In Nassau County, New York, seven of 14 funeral homes inspected had significant violations.

Of course, since the FTC negotiated a deal with the National Funeral Directors Assocation, they won’t tell you, the consumer, which funeral homes are ripping off grieving families unless you file a formal Freedom of Information Act Request. Funeral Consumers Alliance is on it, but consumers shouldn’t have to jump through these hoops to learn what mortuaries to avoid at a time of grief.

The results from New York City’s inspections are grim too. The New York Times reports 87 of 579 funeral homes inspected over two months were deceiving consumers:

The most common violations: failure to list prices, failure to disclose on the phone the least and most expensive items in a specific category, failure to notify consumers that they may supply their own coffin and failure to display all coffins in the same general manner [New York Rules require funeral homes to display all caskets in the same fashion; hiding the cheap ones in the back room is a no-no].

How to protect yourself? Bone up on your legal rights, and join your local Funeral Consumers Alliance.

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