You must give consumers who telephone your place of business and ask about your prices or offerings accurate information from your General Price List, Casket Price List, and Outer Burial Container Price List. You must also answer any other questions about your offerings and prices with any readily available information that reasonably answers the question.
Telephone Price Disclosures
You cannot requre callers to give this information before you give them the requested information. You can ask callers to identify themselves, but you still must answer their questions even if they refuse to do so. You cannot require consumers to come to the funeral home in person to get price information.
- You can use an answering machine or answering service to record incoming calls. However, you must respond to the questions from callers on an individual basis.
Names, Address, or Phone Numbers
You may have this person answering your phones who can respond to easier questions regarding your offerings and prices by referring to the printed price lists, but who refers more difficult questions tp you. If you are unavailable when the call comes in, the employee can take a message so that you can return the call later.
You do not have to give price and other information at this time if it is not your normal practice to do so. You can tell consumers who call at this time that you will provide the information during regular business hours. However, if a consumer calls at this time to inquire about an at-need situation, and it is your practice to make funeral arrangements during non-business hours, you should provide price or other information the consumer requests.
After Business Hours
If you are in the middle of one arrangements conference when another family calls about your offerings, you may do this.
Take a Message and Return the Call at a Later Time
- Casket for direct cremation
- Outer burial container
- Legal and cemetery requirements
- Preservative and protective value claims
- Cash advance items
- Other misrepresentations
Misrepresentations Prohibited by the Rule
You cannot tell consumers that state or local law requires embalming if that is not true. If state law does require embalming, you may tell the family that embalming is required due to the specific circumstances.
- If state law requires refridgeration or embalming after a period of time, you must give the choice to the family.
You must tell the consumer in this manner that embalming is not required by law if that's true in your state. You do this by including on your GPL the mandatory embalming disclosure.
- You must make this disclosure to all consumers, even if embalming is necessary.
- When the consumer wants a direct cremation.
- When the consumer wants an immediate burial.
- When refridgeration is available and the consumer wants a closed-casket funeral with no funeral viewing or visitation.
Situations in Which you Cannot Tell Consumers That Embalming is Required for Practical Purposes (Unless State or Local law Requires Embalming)
This does not constitute a formal viewing.
The Request to see the Deceased
If the deceased person does not require embalming, but the family would like to see the deceased (not a formal viewing), you also cannot require this.
For the Family to pay for "Other Preparations of the Body."
You cannot tell consumers that state or local law requires them to buy a casket if they are arranging a direct cremation. You also must tell consumers, in the case of direct cremations, that they must buy a casket for any other reason.
Casket for Direct Cremation
One that occurs without any formal viewing of the remains or any visitation or ceremony with the body present.
If you offer direct cremations, you must make this available and inform consumers that this is available for direct cremations. You do this by including in your GPL the mandatory disclosure about this.
An unfinished wood box or other non-metal receptacle or enclosure, without ornamentation or a fixed interior lining, which is designed for the encasement of human remains. It is made of fiberboard, pressed-wood, composition materials or like materials, without or without an outside covering.
The rule also prohibits these from requiring that a casket be purchased for direct cremation. However, the rule allows these to set standards for the kind of alternative containers that they will accept. For example: this might stipulate that it will accept only rigid containers.
You cannot tell consumers that state or local law requires them to buy an outer burial container, if that is not true. You also must tell consumers that state law does not require them to purchase an outer burial container. You satisfy this obligation by including the mandatory disclosure on the Outer Burial Container Price List. The mandatory disclosure about outer burial containers also tells consumers that grave liners are suitable for meeting any cemetery requirement.
Outer Burial Container
You may not tell consumers that these require an outer burial container, if that is not true. You may want to keep updated rules of local ones to make sure your information is accurate. If the particular one of these does require a container, then you should explain this to the family.
You cannot tell consumers that any federal, state, or local law or a particular cemetery or crematory requires them to buy a particular good or service, if that is not true. If you do tell a consumer that he or she must buy a particular item because of any legal, cemetery, or crematory requirement, you must identify and describe the particular requirement on the Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected.
Legal and Cemetery Requirements
You cannot make any representations to consumers that funeral goods or services will delay the natural decomposition of human remains for a long term or an indefinite time. Although the rule flatly prohibits you from making this representation, the Commission recognizes that it is possible for some funeral goods or services to delay decomposition for a short period.
Preservative and Protective Value Claims
You cannot tell people that these (such as vaskets or vaults) have protective features or will protect the body from gravesite substances when that is not true.
This requires you to make all warranty information available to consumers. Therefore, you must allow the family to read any of the manufacturer's warranties. However, you should indicate that these claims are made by the manufacturer and not by you.
If you mark up the charge on cash advance items or recieve a commission, discount, or rebate that is not passed on to the consumer, you cannot state that the price charged for the cash advance item is the same as your cost. If there is added charge, or if you recieve and keep a rebate, commission, or trade or volume discount, you must tell the consumer that the price is not the same as your cost. You do this by including the mandatory disclosure on your statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected.
Cash Advance Items
The rule does not prevent you from adding this, nor does it require you to disclose the amount of that charge. However, some states may have laws and regulations that prohibit any mark-up on cash advance items.
Though not specifically prohibited by the Funeral Rule, are also illegal. The FTC Act prohibits deceptive acts or practices. Likewise, the consumer protection laws or most states prohibit deceptive practices.
You cannot require consumers to buy these to get the items that they do want. Consumers must be able to choose only the goods and services that they want, with certain limited exceptions.
Unwanted or Unneeded Goods
You cannot condition the furnishing of any funeral good or service to a consumer on the purchase of any other funeral good or service except for this. You cannot refuse to serve a family because they do not purchase one particular item.
You Basic Services Fee and any Items Required by Law
In addition, you cannot include the charge for an _____ ____ of service (such as embalming) in a nondeclinable basic services fee. This would have the effect of making the ____ ____ a required purchase for every customer.
- The basic services of funeral director and staff (the one non-declinable fee allowed by the Rule).
- The funeral goods and servies selected by the consumer
- The funeral goods and services required to be purchased by law (or by the cemetery or crematory), as defined and explained on the itemized statement.
The Rule Expressly Prohibits you From Charging any fee as a Condition of Furnishing any Funeral Goods or Services, Other than the fees for:
You cannot charge an additional fee or surcharge to consumers who do this. Such a fee would not fall within the three categories of allowable charges. This extra "casket handling" fee is simply a hidden penalty for those consumers who exercise the right to do this.
Consumers who Purchase a Casket Elsewhere
You cannot alter your prices based upon the particular selections of each customer. Such a practice also would defeat the purpose of the Rule to give people accurate, _____ price information that affords them the opportunity to select the arrangements they want.
- The one non-declinable services fee
- Items required by law (or by the cemetery or crematory)
- Impossible, impractical or excessively burdensome requests. You do not have to comply with such requests. However, you cannot refuse a request simply because you don't like it or don't approve of it.
The Three Exceptions to the Consumer's General Right to Choose only the Goods and Services Wanted:
If a consumer requests an item that you do not normally offer, you do not have to comply with the request, however:
You are Free to do so
You cannot list any of the 16 items required to be separately itemized on the GPL as "free" or "no charge." Because you recover the cost of the free item in your other prices on the GPL, the customer may not have the choice of rejecting the charge. However, you can offer items not required to be separately itemized on the general price list (such as acknowledgement cards) at "no charge" as long as your state or local laws do not prohibit this practice.
- State or local law requires embalming under the particular circumstances regardless of any wishes the family might have.
- You have obtained prior approval for embalming from a family member or other actualized person.
- Unable to contact a family member, no reason to believe the embalming is not wanted, after embalming, you obtain subsequent approval.
You can Charge a fee for Embalming, Only in one of the Three Circumstances:
If this is the case, you must note on the itemized statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected that embalming was performed because of a legal requirement and briefly explain that requirement.
State or local law requires embalming under the particular circumstances regardless of any wishes the family might have
This does not require embalming under any circumstances.
The Rule does not address the issue of who an "authorized person" to give such approval. That is a matter or state or local law. You must get express permission to embalm; it cannot be implied.
You have obtained prior approval for embalming from a family member or other actualized person
- Specifically ask for and obtain their permission
- Not misrepresent when embalming is required.
In Order to Obtain the Family's Express Consent to Embalm, you Must:
When a person makes this kind of arrangement and gives express approval for embalming at that time, you do not need to get any additional approval to embalm at the time of death.
The Rule does not require you to get the permission in ______, as long as it is express approval. Some states, however, may require this kind of authorization.
On this, you must explain the reason that you charged a fee for embalming. The reason may be that the family requested this service. However, if you tell a customer that embalming is required for a specific reason (viewing or legal requirement), then you should list this specific reason on this. Simply noting "family consent" for embalming does not convey the reason for embalming, only that the family consented.
The Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected
- You are unable to contact a family member or other authorized person after excerising due diligence. In trying to contact the family, you must exhaust all means known, given the time constraints.
- You have no reason to believe that the family does not want embalming performed.
- After embalming the body, you obtain subsequent approval. In seeking approval, you must tell the family that if they select a funeral where embalming would be required (formal viewing), you will charge a fee, but that you will not charge a fee if they select a funeral where embalming would not be necessary (direct cremation with memorial service). If the family then expressly approves embalming or chooses a funeral where embalming is required, you may charge them for the embalming you performed. But, if the family chooses a funeral where embalming would not be required, you cannot charge for the embalming.
3. All of This applies:
You may be required to take more steps to contact the family and to obtain embalming authorization than if this was not available.
If Refridgeration is Available
This will let consumers know that they do not have to pay for embalming if you did not get their prior approval.
The Required Disclosure Regarding Embalming on the Itemized Statement
You must keep price lists for at least one year from the date you list distributed them to customers. You also must keep a copy of each completed Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected for at least one year from the date of the arrangements conference. You must make these documents available for inspection by FTC representatives upon request.
You must make all the required disclosures to consumers in a clear and conspicuous manner. Your goal should be to present the information in a reasonably understandable form. In addition, the disclosures must be legible. The print or type must be large and prominent enough that consumers can easily notice and read the information. Finally, your price lists cannot include any information that alters or contradicts the information the Rule requires you to give in those price lists. You can include other information on your price lists if you wish. But, this should not be done in such a way as to confuse or obscure the required information.
Comprehension of Disclosures
State agencies may apply to the Commission for a statewide exemption from the Funeral Rule. The Commission may grant an exemption if it finds that:
- There is a state requirement in effect that applies to the same transactions that the Funeral Rule covers
- The state requirement provides an overall level of protection that is as great as, or greater than, the protection provided by the Funeral Rule.
State Exemption Provisions
The exemption will be in effect, as specified by the Commission, for as long as the state administers and enforces effectively the state requirement. An application for state exemption can be filed only by a state government agency. Funeral providers and trade associations cannot file for statewide exemption.
If Exemption is Granted
You only need to comply with your state regulations. If the Commission has not granted your state an exemption, you must comply wtih all state regulations, as well as the FTC Funeral Rule. You must comply with your state regulations, even if they are more stringent than the Funeral Rule.
If your State has Obtained such an Exemption