Require funeral homes to disclose prices online
As president of the Greater Buffalo Memorial Society, a local funeral consumers alliance, I would like to comment on the article in The News business section regarding funeral homes placing prices online.
Few consumers are aware that funeral overhead charges are lumped into the arrangements charge. Therefore, consumers must pay for services they do not use. Prices for direct cremation and direct burial vary greatly among funeral homes, and they go to great lengths to conceal their prices.
This system is foolproof because most people have not arranged a cremation beforehand and they do not know how much a cremation should cost. The lack of price information is unfortunate given the high cost and the reluctance of consumers to comparison shop. These price ranges indicate the funeral markets lack effective competition.
The federal Trade Commission funeral rule requires all funeral homes to disclose their prices upfront when a consumer asks for a general price list, however, the rules should be updated to require all funeral homes to disclose all prices clearly and completely on their websites.
When consumers learn how much cremation should cost, they can avoid high-priced firms. This disclosure would greatly increase consumer search for fair price information.
Thaddeus V. Bieniek