FOR RELEASE: JULY 2, 1992
FTC CHARGES CHICAGO-AREA FUNERAL HOME VIOLATED FUNERAL RULE; SETTLEMENT INCLUDES CIVIL PENALTY AND CONSUMER REDRESS
The Federal Trade Commission has charged Elliston Funeral Home and its owner, Edward Olenec, both of Hinsdale, Illinois, with violating the FTC's Funeral Rule and the FTC Act by failing to provide price lists and other information to consumers. Under a proposed consent decree filed in federal court to settle the charges, Elliston would pay a $50,000 civil penalty and $13,000 in redress, and would be prohibited from violating the Funeral Rule in the future. The FTC adopted the Funeral Rule in 1984 to help consumers obtain price and other information about funeral services, and to make it easier for them to compare prices and to purchase only the goods and services they want. For example, the rule requires a funeral home to give consumers who inquire in person about its services a copy of a general price list that includes additional information, such as a disclosure that a casket is not required for direct cremation.
According to the FTC's complaint, Elliston allegedly violated the Funeral Rule by, among other things:
- failing to give consumers the general price, casket price, or outer burial container price lists at the time or in the form required;
- failing to provide written itemized state- ments of funeral goods and services selected, as required; and
- embalming for a fee without obtaining express prior approval, as required.
- more - Elliston Funeral Home--07/02/92)
In addition, Elliston was alleged to have routinely required consumers to pay a "vault installation fee," telling consumers that cemeteries required such a fee, when no such fee was charged by the cemetery. Also, Elliston allegedly charged consumers for funeral goods and services that were not provided.
The consent decree, which is subject to court approval, would prohibit Elliston from:
- future violations of the FTC's Funeral Rule;
- charging a fee to consumers for goods or services not actually provided; and
- misrepresenting to consumers that any fee has been imposed by a third party, when that is not the case.
The consent decree also would require Elliston to pay a civil penalty of $50,000 and $13,000 in redress. The redress would go to consumers who were required to pay a vault installa- tion fee where the cemetary did not require such a fee, and to those consumers who paid for an outer burial container and were given a less expensive model without their consent or knowledge.
At the request of the FTC, the Department of Justice filed the complaint and proposed consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Chicaga, on July 1.
The FTC's Chicago Regional Office handled the investigation.
NOTE: A consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission of a law violation. Consent decrees take effect when signed by the judge, and have the force of law.
Copies of the complaint and consent decree will be available shortly from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th & Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY 1-866-653-4261. # # # MEDIA CONTACT: Brenda A. Mack, Office of Public Afairs 202-326-2182
STAFF CONTACT: C. Steven Baker, Chicago Regional Office 55 East Monroe Street, Suite 1437 Chicago, Illinois 60603 312-353-8156 (FTC File No. 892-3027) (Civil Action No. 92-C-4294) (Elliston)