FTC Issues Opinion Letter on Everest Price Inquiries
In an FTC staff opinion letter issued today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) addressed inquiries submitted by Everest Funeral Package, LLC. As many funeral professionals already know, Everest obtains price information from funeral homes and sells it to clients who use its comparative price information to select funeral homes in their area. Everest employs third-party call centers to contact funeral homes to obtain price information on funeral services and merchandise.
The FTC Staff Advisory Opinion mirrors the advice that NFDA has long-provided to its members regarding price inquiries from Everest. Even though Everest is not a ?consumer,? funeral homes may not refuse to provide price information over the telephone. As pointed out by the staff advisory letter, the telephone price-disclosure requirements of the Funeral Rule require funeral providers to give the information to all persons ? not just consumers.
In its letter, the FTC staff emphasized that telephone price information must be given out even if a business will make a profit by compiling the information. A funeral provider may not require the business to ask for the price information in person or in writing. Additionally, the funeral provider cannot refuse to provide the information even though the caller does not identify himself or herself or disclose what they intend to do with the price information.
The FTC staff advisory letter did indicate, however, that funeral providers need only respond to price inquiries received during normal business hours. If calls are made outside of normal business hours, the funeral home may decline to provide the information, as long as a funeral director promptly returns the call during normal business hours. Moreover, if a funeral director is unavailable during normal business hours, the funeral director should call back promptly when he or she becomes available and provide the price information.
Although not addressed by the FTC staff advisory letter, funeral homes are not required by the Funeral Rule to fax, email or mail price lists to Everest or anyone else who telephones a funeral home and asks for the lists; however, provided that the Everest representative agrees, the funeral home may offer to fax or mail the price lists instead of providing the information over the telephone.
If NFDA members have questions regarding their responsibilities under the FTC Funeral Rule, they may contact NFDA General Counsel Scott Gilligan at 513-871-6332 or [email protected].
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