Funeral homes could soon be required to list prices of their services on the web

The Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 last week, signaling its intention to modernize a rule from 1984 that required funeral homes to divulge their pricing over the phone.

News 12 Staff

Oct 29, 2022, 12:14 AM

Updated 569 days ago

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Funeral homes across the country could soon be required to post a list of their prices online.
The requirement could be possible for an industry that has been almost completely unregulated.
The Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 last week, signaling its intention to modernize a rule from 1984 that required funeral homes to divulge their pricing over the phone. Now they could soon be required to have their prices up on their websites as well.
But will this have the intended effect of greater transparency in the industry?
Not really, says Tatyana Haldki, of Ballard-Durand Funeral and Cremation Services in White Plains.
"You'll be able to read through what every single item at the funeral home costs, understanding what of those itemized prices is going to be pulled in to make your funeral service. However, you're envisioning it, it's hard for someone who's not in the industry to know," Haldki explains.
Essentially, there are so many decisions to make and options to choose from that it's hard to get an exact amount right from the get-go. But that's not all.
The general price list will not include cash advances or third-party costs.
"For a burial, let's say you're doing it at a church, you're going to need pallbearers. There's a cost that comes along with that. Are you going to have a full Catholic funeral Mass? Which means you need to pay an organist or a soloist. And the biggest expense is the cemetery property itself. Well, most people think, 'well, I've purchased my cemetery property.' But when the death occurs and there's a full burial of a casket, there's something called an opening and closing charge and that's not on our end, that's on the cemetery's end," Haldki says.
The average open and closing cost for a cemetery in Westchester County is about $2,000.
"There are other costs that are not hidden but additional, that the funeral home would not even be able to tell you," says Michael Pappas, who buried his mother this past summer.
"For instance, Matt had asked me, 'did you want to go in the limo?' So, he said, 'did you want him to pick you up there? Pick you up at the house and drop you back off?' So things couldn't be listed in a price list, you know? You can put 'limo' but what does that include?" Pappas says.
What can one do in this situation to prevent overspending?
"I implore people if they can, to plan ahead. If you haven't had that conversation early on and haven't started looking at other funeral homes early on, and shopping around, and asking these questions. That's when I think consumers make decisions that are emotionally driven and they can be taken advantage of," Haldki says.


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