Buying a funeral can be one of the most expensive purchases for any family or household. The median cost for a full-service, conventional funeral in 2017 was $7,360. But there are more affordable options for consumers who are willing and able to compare prices and services among different providers.
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Funeral Rule, made effective in 1984, requires funeral homes to disclose prices to consumers on paper and by phone. The funeral industry has a demonstrated record of concealing prices in order to prevent price competition, a practice that continues today.
This fact-sheet summarizes the core consumer protections offered by the Rule, as well as the need to modernize it. Consumer Federation of America and Funeral Consumers Alliance are asking the Federal Trade Commission to require funeral homes to disclose their complete prices online, just as they do today on paper.
The surveys and reports shown below demonstrate the difficulty consumers experience trying to effectively compare funeral prices, and the financial impact of the funeral industry’s refusal to release them online.
National Survey: Funeral Homes Fail to Disclose Prices, Which Vary Widely, Online, October 2015
This study of 150 funeral homes in 10 US cities and metropolitan regions found that only 25 percent of surveyed funeral homes disclosed prices online. The survey also showed a striking price variation between funeral homes for the very same services. This underscores the need to make prices transparent and available. Read Report
Cremation Services: Highly Variable and Misleading Pricing, Lack of Disclosure, and Violation of Federal Rules, October 2016.
This survey of 142 funeral homes found that 20 percent were exploiting a loophole in the Rule in order to hide the actual price of the cremation process by failing to include this additional, third-party fee (averaging $300) in the advertised price for a direct cremation. Read Report
Death with Dignity? A Report on SCI/Dignity Memorial High Prices and Refusal to Disclose These Prices, March 2017.
This study examined the prices at 35 funeral homes owned by Service Corporation International (also known as “Dignity Memorial”), the largest funeral home and cemetery chain the country with nearly 1,500 locations. We compared these prices to those at 103 independently owned funeral homes in the same cities. SCI/Dignity prices were substantially higher, up to 72 percent more than the same services at independent funeral homes.
The study also showed that no SCI funeral homes surveyed disclosed prices on their websites, which appears to be a national corporate policy. Read Report
A Needle in a Haystack: Finding Funeral Prices Online in 26 State Capitals, January 2018.
We surveyed the websites of all funeral homes within a 10-mile radius of 25 capital cities. We found that only 16 percent of funeral homes posted their complete price lists online. The survey compared these results to those in Sacramento, California, the only US state that requires funeral homes to disclose prices online (or, in the absence of posting a complete price list, to describe the services and merchandise offered and note that a price list is available on request). Online price disclosures in Sacramento were found at the much higher rate of 72 percent of funeral homes. Read Report
 National Funeral Directors Association, http://www.nfda.org/news/statistics, link dynamically generated and content is ever-changing. Accessed March 22, 2018