CFA Survey Finds that Most Dignity Memorial Funeral Homes Recently Began Disclosing Prices Online, but Not Prominently

Federal Trade Commission Consideration of Mandatory Online Price Disclosure Appears to Have Sparked These New Price Disclosures

Washington, D.C. – A recent Consumer Federation of America (CFA) survey has found that most Dignity Memorial funeral homes began posting their price lists on their websites.  However, most of these price lists are difficult for consumers to find.  The survey findings are part of a new CFA report (New Online Price Disclosures by Dignity Memorial Funeral Homes: Are They Adequate?).

“CFA is encouraged that Service Corporation International, the parent company, now allows Dignity Memorial Funeral homes to post prices online but is disappointed that so many of these disclosures are hard to find,” said Stephen Brobeck, a CFA senior fellow.

CFA surveyed the websites of 320 of the some 1,300 Dignity Memorial funeral homes in the United States.  The survey found that three-quarters of the websites posted price lists somewhere yet only about one-third of all surveyed websites included a link to these prices on the home page that could be found with little scrolling down.  In nearly one-third of the surveyed websites, it appears that the funeral homes were trying to hide the price lists.  “Only a very determined or lucky consumer could find these price lists,” noted Brobeck.

CFA believes that the new price disclosures, by a company that in the past apparently refused to allow their funeral homes to post price lists, is related to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) consideration of mandatory online price postings.  The FTC’s 1984 Funeral Rule required funeral homes to maintain a price list of services that is handed to prospective customers.  The basis for this rule is that funeral services are relatively complex and expensive products that are purchased infrequently at times of emotional stress.

“If the Internet had existed in 1984, the FTC would certainly have required online price disclosure for those funeral homes with websites,” said CFA’s Brobeck.  In October 2022, all four FTC commissioners voted in support of an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to update the agency’s price disclosure requirement under the Funeral Rule.

In a sample of 46 cities, the survey found some city and regional differences.  All or almost all funeral homes in a city often disclosed, or did not disclose, prices in the same way.  For example, homes in the Pacific Coast region usually posted their general price lists adequately.  In contrast, a large majority of New England and New York funeral homes, including 18 of 19 in the New York City area, refused to post prices.

CFA urges consumers seeking funeral services to search for price lists online.  “Researching funeral prices online can help consumers not only select the right funeral home but also assist their selection of specific services at that home,” said CFA’s Brobeck.  “We also urge caution in purchasing services from funeral homes that refuse to disclose prices,” Brobeck added.