What effect, if any, will online competition have on the funeral business? Will growing online sales of funeral goods and services change the industry in any way?
I think the funeral business has been slowly changing to reflect online competition, and more importantly, the trend towards immediate cremation rather than a traditional funeral, but I do not anticipate any huge change or disruption in the near future.
Funeral providers are already forced to be transparent in their pricing. According to the FTC Funeral Rule, a funeral home is required to provide a written price list. They must accept a casket purchased elsewhere, and are not allowed to apply a markup or service charge to it. Cremation providers already advertise their prices in various publications, and discounting is common in that area.
Regardless, even if consumers purchase their own caskets, they are usually obliged to go to a licensed funeral provider for other services needed, be it embalming, preparation, transportation and burial of remains, etc. So profits have been declining while costs are increasing, but I don’t believe the industry will change drastically. I recommend the best way to save money is for consumers to always price shop before the need arises.
If you have any questions about funerals for either humans or pets, ask the expert! Email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A New York funeral home and its funeral director/owner agreed to pay a $32,000 civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission charges for violating the agency’s Funeral Rule, which requires funeral providers to provide information consumers need to compare prices and buy only the funeral goods and services they want.
The FTC conducts undercover inspections every year to ensure funeral homes are complying with the Funeral Rule, which gives consumers important rights when making funeral arrangements. The Rule, issued in 1984, requires funeral homes to provide consumers with itemized price lists at the start of any in-person discussions of funeral arrangements, caskets, and/or outer burial containers. The Rule also requires funeral homes to provide price information by telephone on request. It 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.
I watched a “60 Minutes Special Edition” report on 5/20/12 hosted by Anderson Cooper on cemetery problems in the United States. It was most interesting and detailed problems within the burial (final disposition) industry.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enacted the Funeral Rule in the 1980’s to help protect consumers nationally when making funeral arrangements at the funeral home level. It is still in effect today. It appears that it is time to consider such a plan for the cemetery industry. The issues pointed out by Mr. Cooper’s report should not be tolerated in that market, as consumers are being hurt at a most vulnerable time in their lives by lax oversight of the cemetery industry. The federal government should step in as it did with the funeral industry and establish rules and regulations to be applied to all cemeteries nationally.
Thank you Mr. Cooper for this most educational and informative report!