Report: Local Funeral Homes Not Complying with Federal Laws
Columbia, SC: About 30 percent of Midlands funeral homes are not complying with federal laws that require them to accurately disclose the prices for their services.
So says a recent report by the Funeral Consumers Alliance of South Carolina, a volunteer advocacy board that gathers comparative funeral price data and other information.
A federal law passed 26 years ago requires funeral homes to offer a price list with separate costs for things like embalming, transport, caskets, cremations and other services. The Funeral Consumers Alliance periodically requests these price lists from funeral homes and releases the data and a report.
In 2010, violations at Midlands funeral homes included outdated price lists; not allowing customers to use their own container for remains; not disclosing that embalming is not required by law; and not disclosing that customers are allowed to buy only the items and services they want to buy.
That?s a big problem, according to Gere Burke Fulton, a longtime funeral consumer advocate and professor at the USC School of Medicine. Consumers need clear, accurate data.
?Unlike with other purchases, people don?t have time to shop around,? Fulton says. ?They don?t know what their rights are. Most people have never purchased a funeral before. So you?re basically at the mercy of the funeral director of whatever funeral home you use.?
For example, Fulton says, people often pay for embalming when it?s not necessary ? when the body will be cremated or buried without a viewing, for example. According to the survey, embalming prices in the Midlands range from $300 to $995.
?If you?re not being told that embalming is not required by law, then families automatically assume, ?We have to have this body embalmed,?? he says. And the range of prices troubles him: ?It isn?t like you get a better grade of embalming fluid at the $995. The same amount of blood comes out. It takes the same amount of time.?
But to Ernest Adams, president of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association and the inspector for the South Carolina Board of Funeral Service, the new report isn?t anything serious. Adams says people can still trust funeral homes.
?For the most part, funeral homes are very reputable; just like anything else, you may have a bad apple,? Adams says. ?Most funeral homes have a very substantial investment.
They realize if they break the law, their substantial investment would be nullified.?
Adams also says the 30 percent noncompliance rate for the Midlands found in the Funeral Consumer Alliance report is higher than what he finds in his statewide inspections; he thinks the rate is probably closer to 15 percent.
That?s the opposite of what Fulton says; he suspects that in smaller, isolated towns with part-time funeral directors, there?s even less information available to consumers and less compliance with federal and state rules.
The survey also found a large range of costs for funeral services. The price for ?basic services? ? the only thing funeral homes are allowed to require, as it covers staff time, consulting with the family, document handling, planning and other essential services ? ranged from $700 up to $3,995. Casket prices ranged from $195 to $30,000. Vault prices ran from $195 to $22,230.
Latest posts by CDFuneralNews (see all)
- Preneed Funeral Sales Advisor - August 11, 2017
- Physicians Mutual Celebrates Preneed Anniversary with NFDA Sponsorship - August 9, 2017
- The Only Good Aftercare Program Is A Consistent One - August 7, 2017
You may be interested
Preneed Funeral Sales AdvisorCDFuneralNews - August 11, 2017
Premier Funeral Solutions is currently seeking a Preneed Funeral Sales Advisor . Premier Funeral Solutions offers tools and methodologies developed to help…
12 Benefits of Social Media Every Funeral Home Needs to KnowRyan Thogmartin - August 10, 2017
Social media is 'marketing.' It's not the new marketing, it's the current state of marketing, and funeral homes and death care companies can no longer afford to ignore it. There are so many reasons why death care companies need to get their heads out of the sand and start engaging on the platforms used by over 68% of all Americans.
Six Times Twitter Reminded Us Funerals Don’t Have to be BoringMadison Ashby - August 9, 2017
These six people had funerals on their mind for one reason or another and decided to share with the Twitter world what they were thinking, and I’m pretty glad they did. People can come up with some pretty crazy things if you let them ramble.