F.T.C. Warns Dozens of Funeral Homes to Provide Accurate Costs to Callers

The agency said an “undercover phone sweep” of more than 250 homes found that 38 failed to provide prices or supplied inconsistent prices in separate calls.

The Federal Trade Commission said its first “undercover phone sweep” of funeral homes across the country had found that dozens didn’t accurately disclose costs for services to callers.

Of the more than 250 funeral businesses F.T.C. employees called, 38 either didn’t answer questions about prices or supplied inconsistent prices for identical services, the commission said. Many homes, it said, provided “materially different” prices for the same services during two separate phone calls.

Another home promised to send an itemized price list, the agency said, but instead sent a list of package prices, which don’t meet disclosure requirements.

The 39 funeral homes received warning letters in January that they had failed to comply with a law known as the Funeral Rule. The F.T.C. enforces the rule, which outlines protections for consumers shopping for funeral services.

“It’s very important that consumers are able to comparison shop,” said Melissa Dickey, an F.T.C. lawyer and a co-coordinator of the Funeral Rule. “Not everyone can go in person to pick up a price list.”

Of the funeral home that sent a list of package options, Ms. Dickey said: “You don’t have to buy a package.” The funeral home must let you buy only the services you want.

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