WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Funerals can be pricey, but a new federal rule could make it easier for people to manage those costs. The Federal Trade Commission is considering changes to the so-called ‘Funeral Rule’, which controls where and how prices are listed.
Stephen Brobeck with the Consumer Federation of America says in part the high prices are driven by a lack of transparency in the funeral industry.
“The prices in the industry are simply not competitive, because it’s difficult for consumers to obtain them,” Brobeck said.
Right now the FTC’s Funeral Rule only requires funeral providers to give price lists to customers who visit in person. But the FTC is considering changing that rule to require providers to put their price lists online.
“We’re seeking additional comment about whether the rule should be updated or not,” Melissa Dickey with the Federal Trade Commission said.
Grieving families are looking for closure and comfort from a funeral. Chris Famer with the National Funeral Director’s Association says the potential rule changes could compromise funeral services.
“If you have DC telling everyone else across the country how they’re supposed to shop for something I think that’s a problem,” Farmer.
Farmer argues there’s no need for the online requirements and that price lists on websites can’t tell consumers everything they need to know about what funeral providers are offering.
“To reduce the entire experience of saying goodbye for the last time in your life to a loved one to a single number on a website, I think just doesn’t do justice to the service or the consumer,” Farmer said.
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Brobeck says it’s a simple modernization of the Funeral Rule that would give customers more choices and save them money.
“Prices that represent gouging, taking advantage of ignorant consumers will decline and consumers will save, every year, billions of dollars,” Brobeck said.
The FTC hasn’t made its official decision yet, so it could be years before customers see funeral prices available online.