Date: Tue, Aug 17, 1999 10:15 PM
Subject: Funeral Rule Review
Federal Trade Commission
I have been in the funeral business for over 35 years in the Chicago area. For a number of years I was part owner and President of Blake-Lamb Funeral Homes, one of the largest family-owned groups of funeral homes in the Midwest. Almost twelve years ago, my brother and I sold the business to Service Corporation International.
Last year my wife and I opened a new funeral service business, Richard Lamb Funeral Service and Resource Center (www.richardlamb.com) with the specific goal of creating a new, more accessible way for consumers to arrange for funeral and cremation products and services.
Our experience has been that consumers still have very little information on funeral prices and have a poor understanding on how to obtain information to make better decisions.
One hindrance to that process is the reluctance of funeral homes to divulge casket and outer burial container information to consumers. Our own surveys of better than 100 funeral homes in the area indicate that very few will mail CPL or OBC price lists to families. Indeed most are reluctant to give anything but the most scant description of caskets over the phone. I believe that the rule requiring funeral providers to offer General Price Lists to consumers should be extended to Casket and Outer Burial Container Price Lists as well. Furthermore they should be required to mail these to those who request them.
In the Chicago area some providers are using sham 'package' deals to force consumers to purchase caskets there or pay a huge penalty. This is an obvious circumvention of the funeral rule and should be stopped.
I further believe that the rule should be extended to all who sell funeral products and services.