A woman typing on a computer


Written by Ann Carrns, The New York Times


Even as consumers increasingly shop and compare prices on the web, one group of businesses remains slow to put cost information online: funeral homes.


The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires, among other things, that funeral homes give prices over the phone and provide detailed, written price lists to customers visiting in person. But the rule, which took effect in 1984 and predates the internet, doesn’t require disclosure online.


A new analysis from the Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Consumer Federation of America, which looked at more than 200 funeral homes in small and midsize state capitals, found that just 16 percent of homes with websites included their full price lists online. About a quarter posted some pricing information — typically information about packaged services rather than an itemized list.


“Few funeral homes are disclosing meaningful price information online,” Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the consumer federation, said on a call this past week about the study.


Providing information online, he said, would help consumers comparison shop. A full-service funeral typically costs more than $7,000, excluding costs for cemetery plots and other related fees, but prices vary widely. Consumers are often at a disadvantage, Mr. Brobeck said, because they are usually in mourning when they shop for services and may not feel capable of being assertive about seeking price information.


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