Full Price of Funerals is Sometimes Buried

September 19th, 2012

When a loved one dies, grieving family members and friends are often in a state of despair.  And to make matters worse, they have to plan a funeral, an event that comes with lots of decision-making and lots of expenses.  What better time to deceive people but when they’re emotionally distraught and distracted?

While most funeral providers are upstanding professionals, there are some who take the opportunity to make some extra cash at the expense of their distressed clients.  And some of the corrupt behavior comes in the form of advertisements.

What to watch-out for? 

Two of the most common types of deception in ads for funeral services relate to hidden costs and ownership of the funeral home.

  • Hidden costs:  Because they know you’re at a weak point, some crooked funeral providers don’t list all the actual costs of a funeral in their ads.  They may advertise funeral services for $3,000, but that cost may not account for the casket, the transportation to the cemetery, the flowers, or the obituary services.  And once you catch-on, you’re probably too upset to do anything about it (or you feel guilty nickel and diming over your loved one’s services), so you fork over the extra cash.
  • Ownership of the funeral home:  Many people prefer the comfort of a family-owned funeral home when dealing with the loss of a loved one.  It can add a sense of warmth and assurance to a somber situation.  Fully aware of this preference, some chains will fraudulently bill themselves as family-owned or family-operated.  Similarly, some funeral homes will tell you they’ve been in business for 50 years, when, in reality, they opened their doors 5 years ago.

How to avoid the traps?

Plan ahead.  Though not always possible, it’s helpful to start making decisions about funeral services before they’re actually needed.  This way, you’ll be thinking with a clear mind and will be freer to ask questions and compare costs.

Know your rights under the Funeral Rule, which requires funeral providers to give consumers accurate, itemized price information and various other disclosures about funeral goods and services.

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