Funeral Homes Accused of Keeping Prices Secret

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently conducted an "undercover phone sweep" investigating 250 funeral homes across the United States to examine price disclosure. Of these, 38 funeral homes were found to have inadequately disclosed pricing for services or provided inconsistent pricing information.

The recent investigation stems from a larger trend of undercover operations conducted by the FTC, which has increased in recent years. The purpose of these operations is to encourage price transparency and inform consumers of their rights.

In the past, similar operations have led to lawsuits and settlements forcing companies to disclose hidden fees and provide upfront pricing information.

Richard Holober, the executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, praised the FTC's operation, stating that "too many funeral homes bury consumers in confusing and misleading pricing."

The investigation comes as lawmakers are proposing legislation to increase price transparency, including requiring funeral homes to provide pricing information online. Currently, funeral homes are required to provide pricing information to customers who inquire in person, over the phone, or through other forms of correspondence.

Funeral industry practices have been scrutinized in recent years as costs have risen, leaving many families struggling to afford services. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a funeral with cremation was $6,000 in 2019 (the most recent data available).

Those in support of increased price transparency argue that it empowers consumers to make informed decisions and holds businesses accountable for hidden or inflated costs.

The FTC's investigation is ongoing, and any further action, such as legal proceedings, will be determined once the investigation is completed.

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