Investigators with the Federal Trade Commission found seven funeral homes in the Odessa and Midland area failed to comply with price disclosure requirements.
The FTC, which did not disclose the names of the funeral homes, reported discovering violations during undercover inspections last year of what is known as the Funeral Rule. The rule requires funeral homes to give customers an itemized price list at the beginning of an in-person discussion about funeral arrangements.
The rule also requires funeral homes prices on caskets and outer burial containers before viewing options, and it prohibits funeral homes from requiring families to buy any item, such as a casket, as a condition of obtaining funeral goods or services. The FTC says the rule is designed to enable customers to compare prices and buy only what they want.
In Odessa and Midland seven of the 15 funeral homes inspected failed to comply with a price list disclosure requirement, according to the FTC.
The local violations, discovered as part of an investigation spanning several states, did not lead to penalties for the funeral homes. Instead, they were allowed to enter a training program aimed at ensuring compliance. Civil penalties for funeral homes found to violate the rule can be as high as about $40,000 per violation.
The Better Business Bureau recommends checking out funeral homes online at bbb.org, making sure they are registered with the Texas Funeral Service Commission, demanding a price list and resisting pressure to buy unnecessary goods or services.
“Obviously that’s an emotional time so you want to avoid emotional spending,” said Heather Massey, the BBB’s regional director of the Permian Basin, adding people should make sure “companies are not trying to up-sell you or take advantage on services you don’t need.”