Are funeral homes taking advantage of families in mourning by overcharging for goods and services?
Maybe, according to recent charges by the Federal Trade Commission.
On Thursday, the FTC sued a funeral home in Harrison, New York for failing to disclose prices to people in mourning, according to a press release. The government agency is seeking $80,000 in penalties.
Harrison Funeral Home is being charged with violating the FTC's Funeral Rule, which was established to help grieving customers compare prices and avoid paying for things that are unnecessary.
Key provisions of the Rule require funeral homes to provide consumers with an itemized price list at the start of an in-person discussion of funeral arrangements, as well as a casket price list before consumers view any caskets. The Rule also prohibits funeral homes from requiring consumers to buy any item, such as a casket, as a condition of obtaining any other funeral good or service
The FTC alleges that the Harrison Funeral Home home did not provide itemized price lists to mourners before discussing funeral arrangements and showing them caskets and outer burial containers.
Just last Thursday, the Blair-Mazzarella Funeral Home in New York City agreed to settle FTC charges that it had not provided a casket price list before showing caskets to mourners. The funeral home will pay $7,000 in penalties. Another $25,000 in penalties is being waived because of the home's inability to pay. The FTC discovered the violations by going undercover, which it does every year to investigate whether or not funeral homes comply with the Funeral Rule.
The FTC recently found that 4 out of 16 funeral homes in Cleveland failed to provide price information to mourners, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
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