Grieving families overcharged? FTC cracks down

ConsumerAffairs

Here's a list of the funeral homes called out by regulators

There are 39 funeral homes across the U.S. that probably wish they’d paid attention a year ago when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) went after two major funeral home groups for violating the “Funeral Rule.”

The FTC had an inkling that funeral homes hadn’t paid attention to the law, and that the violations they were making were so severe, that it conducted the agency’s first undercover phone sweep to try and stop the flimflam once and for all.

The Funeral Rule is all about consumers who are already in a tough spot,  having to plan a funeral for a loved one. The rule gives consumers important rights when making funeral arrangements, including specifying that a funeral home has to “tell persons who ask by telephone about the funeral provider’s offerings or prices from [their] price lists…. and any other readily available information that reasonably answers the question[s].” 

Investigators went far and wide, placing undercover calls to more than 250 funeral homes from across the country to try to obtain price information.

In 38 of the 39 instances, funeral homes either refused to answer questions about pricing at all or provided inconsistent pricing for identical services. On other calls, funeral homes also erred by misrepresenting things like local embalming-related health codes and sending one of the undercover agents a list of package prices that didn’t meet the Funeral Home requirements, when it promised the agent that it would.

And if a funeral home doesn’t change its tune, there’s a price to pay. Failure to comply with the rule results in penalties of up to $51,744 per violation.

Who are these funeral homes and where are they?

The FTC’s list of the funeral homes it contacted regarding these violations and where they are is as follows (sorted by state):

FUNERAL HOME

STATE

Messinger Indian School Mortuary

Arizona

Ruby MemorialShadow Mountain Mortuary

Arizona

Stephens Funeral Home

Arkansas

Benito & Azzaro Gardens Chapel

California

Dae Han Mortuary    

California

McCormick and Son Mortuary

California

Todd Memorial Chapel

California

Byles-MacDougall Funeral Home

Connecticut

Woyasz & Son Funeral Service

Connecticut

Morris Funerals & Cremation Services  L.L.C.

District of Columbia

Ferdinand Funeral Homes & Crematory

Florida

McWhite’s Funeral Home

Florida

Airport Mortuary & Shipping Services

Georgia

Lester C. Litesey Funeral Home

Georgia

Plummer Funeral Home

Maine

Staples Funeral Home & Cremation Care

Maine

Davis Funeral Home

Massachusetts

A. J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors

Michigan

O.H. Pye III Funeral Home

Michigan

Walton's Funerals & Cremation - Chapel of the Valley

Nevada

Wimberg Funeral Home

New Jersey

Lynch Funeral Home Inc.

New York

Kearns Memorial LLC

North Carolina

Gresser Funeral Home

Ohio

Burns Funeral Home Inc.

Pennsylvania

Edward Hugh McBride Funeral Home    

Pennsylvania

King of Prussia Crematory d/b/a Bacchi Funeral Home & Crematory

Pennsylvania

Laurel Hill Funeral Home

Pennsylvania

Monti Rago Funeral Home Inc.

Pennsylvania

A Psalm of Life

Texas

Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors

Texas

SCI Texas Funeral Services, L.L.C. d/b/a Forest Park Westheimer Funeral Home & Cemetery

Texas

Joe Jackson Heights Funeral Chapel

Texas

Nieto Funerals & Cremations

Texas

West-Hurtt Funeral Home

Texas

Burch-Messier Walnut Street Chapel

Virginia

Heritage Funeral Service and Crematory

Virginia

Mountain View Funeral Home and Crematory

Washington

How to avoid a funeral home’s traps

Any family – no matter where they live – should be presented with the full terms of the funeral home’s charges, both in person and on the phone. 

If you’re inquiring about funeral arrangements by phone, here are some things you’ll want to ask — and that the law requires the provider to answer:

  • What type of services do you offer?

  • How much does the service cost and what’s included?

  • Will there be other costs, like for transportation, death certificates, or obituaries?

If a funeral provider doesn’t want to give you information about prices, services, and merchandise over the phone, the FTC suggests you say “Thank you very much” and then take your business elsewhere. 

The need to make funeral arrangements comes at the most unexpected times. This action by the FTC might be a reason to check out what other reviewers have to say about specific funeral homes and services, about what questions to ask. and your rights when shopping for funeral services.

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