Know Your Rights
Paying Final Respects: Your Rights When Buying Funeral Goods & Services
When a loved one dies, grieving family members and friends often are confronted with dozens of decisions about the funeral — all of which must be made quickly and often under great emotional stress.
What kind of funeral should it be? What funeral provider should you use? Should you bury or cremate the body, or donate it to science? What are you legally required to buy? What about the availability of environmentally friendly or “green” burials? What other arrangements should you plan? And, practically, how much is it all going to cost?
Each year, people grapple with these and many other questions as they spend billions of dollars arranging funerals for family members and friends. Many funeral providers offer various “packages” of goods and services that make up different kinds of funerals. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that when you arrange for a funeral, you have the right to buy goods and services separately. That is, you do not have to accept a package that may include items you do not want.
If you have a problem concerning funeral matters, it’s best to try to resolve it first with the funeral director. If you are dissatisfied with the funeral services you receive, the Funeral Consumers Alliance offers advice on how best to resolve a problem. In addition, the FEO, the NFDA Help Line, and the ICFA Cemetery Consumer Service Council may be able to provide informal mediation of a complaint. You also can contact your state or local consumer protection agencies. Check the Blue Pages of your telephone directory for the phone number or view a list of state Attorneys General online.
In addition, you can file a complaint with the FTC. Visit the FTC website or call 1-877-382-4357 or use TDD at 1-866-653-4261. Although the Commission cannot resolve individual problems for consumers, it can act against a company if it sees a pattern of possible law violations.