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Getting Funeral Pricing Information Is Difficult, Consumer Surveys Show
- August 11th, 2021
If you've lost a loved one, the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time researching funeral homes to find the best prices. Unfortunately, funeral homes do not make it easy to figure out how much a funeral will cost. Recent surveys by two consumer groups reveal that getting pricing information from funeral homes is difficult, particularly online, while prices between funeral homes vary widely.
Over the past several years, the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) have teamed up to conduct surveys of funeral homes' pricing policies. In 2015, they surveyed 150 funeral homes from different regions of the United States. Researchers started by looking at the homes' websites for pricing information. If prices were not disclosed on a home's website, the researchers emailed and then phoned the funeral home. The survey found that only 38 (one-quarter) of the 150 funeral homes surveyed disclosed their prices on their website and 24 (16 percent) failed to disclose pricing on their website or in response to an email and a phone call, in violation of federal law.
The survey also demonstrated how important it is for consumers to be able to shop around. The researchers priced three different funeral options: direct cremation without burial, immediate burial without ceremony or cost of casket, and a full-service funeral. The survey found that prices among funeral homes in the same region varied by as much as 200 percent. For example, in Atlanta the cost of a full-service funeral could be as low as $3,370 at one funeral home and as high as $11,050 at another.
A 2018 follow-up survey found little had changed. This time, the FCA and CFA surveyed 211 funeral homes in small-and medium-sized capital cities. Of 193 funeral homes with websites, only 16 percent posted their price information on the site.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to give consumers price information over the phone and an itemized price list to people who visit the home, but a 2020 survey found that only 25 percent of consumers are aware of this consumer protection. The FCA and CFA say that requiring online posting of prices would heighten consumers' awareness of their rights and help them shop around. While California requires funeral homes to post their General Price Lists online, the two consumer groups are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to make this a federal rule applicable to funeral homes nationwide.
“Online prices could be easily compared, obviating the need to visit a number of funeral homes to collect price lists,” said Josh Slocum, FCA’s Executive Director. “One cannot expect a recently bereaved family under pressure to make quick decisions to take the time and effort to visit several funeral homes.”
To better inform consumers about their funeral rights and take control of their funeral choices, FCA and CFA have published a free pamphlet titled, Planning a Funeral: 5 Key Tips.
For an article on "The 10 Facts Funeral Directors Don't Want You to Know," click here.
Last Modified: 08/11/2021