Since working in and leaving the industry, I have done my fair share of funeral shopping. I must say that I enjoy it. I love finding out who gives good service and who is lacking. According to the Funeral Rule, consumers are supposed to be given prices over the phone. One time, while looking around for funeral information, I made an email inquiry of a funeral home that was recommended by a national funeral group. They would not respond by email and wanted me to either call or come in and have a chat. I found that off-putting. I was looking for information for personal and professional use, and that just made me not want to work with them. Back in 1984 when the Funeral Rule was passed, most people either went to the place of business or called the business to ask about the services they provided. We did not have the Internet. The Internet has so changed the way we live our lives. I know it’s wishful thinking, but I think the Funeral Rule should be updated to reflect the way business is done in the first part of the Twenty-First Century and require funeral directors to answer inquiries by email. Some funeral homes do and some do not. Baring a change to the Funeral Rule, I am hoping that the market place will put pressure in funeral providers to change the way they do business. Maybe then, more the industry will move toward a more modern approach to business, and offer full disclosure through electronic means. In the meantime, they are not required to give information through email or provide a full GPL (general price list) on their webpages.
As with many things, change in the death care industry will happen when people face the unpleasant nature of death. We need to start acting like everyone does die, then maybe the industry can change and there will be more openness about price and services. Everywhere, people are afraid to talk about death. It’s still the number one killer of conversations I know of. Still, I write on. As stated above, Cemeteries are not under the Funeral Rule. They do not need to give you a pricelist when you walk in. They do not need to show you all the options and do not need to disclose the cheaper options they might offer. We have a long way to go when it comes to consumer’s rights when making final plans. The only idea I can offer when dealing with the cemetery is to be direct with the family service counselor about what you want and about price point. If you do not feel comfortable with any service provider, leave the office. You should not work with people you do not feel comfortable with. Only you know what is right for you and your family.