Funeral homes may be required to post prices online

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Funerals can be expensive, but new federal rules could make it easier for people to manage those costs. The Federal Trade Commission is considering changes to the so-called ‘Burial Rules’, which govern where and how prices are listed.

Saying goodbye to a loved one comes with a cost. The average funeral costs more than $7.00 according to the Consumer Funeral Alliance.

Stephen Brobeck with the Consumer Federation of America says the high prices are partly driven by a lack of transparency in the funeral industry.

“Prices in the industry are simply not competitive, because it is difficult for customers to obtain them,” said Brobeck.

Currently, the FTC’s Funeral Rules only require funeral providers to provide a price list to customers who visit in person. But the FTC is considering changing that rule to require providers to post their price lists online.

“We’re looking for additional comments on whether or not the rule should be updated,” said Melissa Dickey with the Federal Trade Commission.

Grieving families seek closure and comfort from funerals. Chris Famer with the National Funeral Directors Association said potential rule changes could compromise funeral services.

“If you have DC telling everyone across the country how they should shop for something I think that’s a problem,” Farmer said.

Farmer says there is no need for online requirements and that price lists on websites can’t tell consumers everything they need to know about what funeral providers have to offer.

“To reduce the entire experience of saying goodbye for the last time in your life to a loved one a single number on a website, I think it just does not do justice to the service or the consumer,” said Farmer.

Brobeck said it’s a simple modernization of the Funeral Rules that will give consumers more options and save money.

“Prices that represent gouging, taking advantage of ignorant consumers will decrease and consumers will save, every year, billions of dollars,” said Brobeck.

The FTC has yet to make its official decision, so it could be years before customers see funeral prices available online.

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