The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on whether to make changes to its Funeral Rule as part of the agency’s systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides.
The Funeral Rule, enacted in 1982, protects consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the sale of funeral products and services. Consumers in the market for such products or services often are under significant emotional strain and tight time constraints.
The Rule, formally known as the Funeral Industry Practices Rule, requires funeral providers to give consumers itemized price information up front, and to provide additional information about the price of caskets and burial vaults when discussing or showing those items. The Rule also gives consumers the right to buy just the funeral goods and services they want and need from the provider. Funeral providers must allow customers to purchase caskets elsewhere, and cannot charge “handling fees” when customers do so. The Rule also prohibits funeral providers from making certain misrepresentations, such as stating that embalming is required when it is not, and prohibits funeral providers from embalming remains for a fee without authorization from the customer.
In a Federal Register notice, the FTC is seeking comment on a wide range of questions, including:
- whether consumers have benefitted from the Rule;
- whether the Rule imposes any significant costs on funeral providers;
- whether changes in technology or the economy require changes to the Rule;
- whether new unfair or deceptive industry practices exist that could be addressed by changes to the Rule;
- whether providers should be required to post their itemized price lists online; and
- whether itemized price lists should have a standard format to help consumers compare prices between providers and help providers comply with the Rule.
The Commission vote to approve the Federal Register notice was 5-0. Commissioner Rohit Chopra issued a separate statement and Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter issued a concurring statement. The notice has been published in the Federal Register, and the comment period will be open until April 14, 2020. Instructions for filing comments appear in the notice. Comments must be received 60 days after publication and will be posted on regulations.gov.
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