WHEELING, IL — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) unanimously voted to retain the Funeral Industry Practices Rule and issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking during a virtual open meeting on Thursday, October 20, 2022. Members of the public were given two minutes to share their comments, and Cremation Association of North America (CANA) Executive Director Barbara Kemmis took advantage of the opportunity to weigh in. The event was recorded, and the webcast and related comments are available on the FTC website here.
The FTC is now seeking comment on potential updates to modernize the rule, including but not limited to improvements to the public accessibility of funeral home price information and requiring online posting of price information. The Commission also voted to issue a staff report summarizing the results of their review of almost 200 funeral provider websites.
A Call to Action
CANA is calling for funeral industry professionals to act quickly to make sure their voices are heard. Additional information about revisions to the Funeral Rule should be published in the Federal Register in the next two to four weeks, opening up a comment period. CANA will alert you to the opportunity to share your comments with the FTC at that time.
A Summary of CANA’s Comments on the Funeral Rule Revision from June 2020:
CANA maintains that the current Funeral Rule is adequate and funeral industry professionals are accustomed to working within it. No new regulations are required, as the market and regulatory landscapes have changed since 1983 in favor of consumer protection.
- State regulations are more stringent and go beyond pricing to encompass a full range of consumer protections and the regulation of business practices.
- CANA has developed and routinely updates a model law used by industry and state regulatory agencies to revise and update their cremation laws and develops and promotes best practices through its education programs.
- The market is more competitive, and consumers are savvier and more informed. Pricing information is more available than ever before through the internet, third-party price comparison websites, and funeral providers themselves. As the aversion to discussing death dissipates, consumers are planning ahead and proactively seeking information.
- Pricing disclosures should and must adhere to FTC rules. Whether pricing is posted online or not, it should be a business decision.
- Any funeral provider completing sales via online arrangements must present pricing information in compliance with the Funeral Rule, even though the Rule predates the Internet.
- FTC fines for non-compliance are incredibly high given that the vast majority of funeral homes are small independently-owned businesses. Compliance is a serious matter, but violations are too often levied on a discretionary basis for arbitrary errors in timing or wording not clearly defined in the Funeral Rule. The current fines for violating the Funeral Rule can actually put a small firm out of business.
Every business is unique. Some may sell online and advertise on price. Others may offer traditional funeral home services such as catering or visitation and never post pricing online, but rather prefer to sit down with the family to plan the event. The individual businesses should determine how they market their services and promote their brand.
The FTC Funeral Rule works and should not be changed. States have enacted stringent protections and it is their job to enforce them. Prices are disclosed consistently upon request per the Funeral Rule, whether online or in person. There has never been an issue of transparency in communicating and delivering pricing to consumers. It has been and should continue to be a business decision to post pricing online.
Founded in 1913, the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) is an international organization of over 3,500 members, composed of funeral homes, cemeteries, crematories, industry suppliers, and consultants. CANA members believe that cremation is preparation for memorialization.