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Consumer Updates

BBB tips for navigating the funeral process

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Better Business Bureau
April 24, 2012 | 23,009 views | Post a comment

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- At an average cost of $8,000, funerals are one of the more expensive purchases made by consumers. During this emotionally charged time, when decisions must be made quickly, and often under great emotional stress, it can be easy to spend more than might be necessary. Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to take their time, ask a lot of questions and consider several providers before buying or paying for funeral services.

In a recent press release issued by the Federal Trade Commission, undercover investigations of funeral homes conducted in nine states discovered significant violations of FTC consumer protection requirements. While the exact violations are not given, any funeral home found with significant violations has the option to enter into a training program -- called the Funeral Rule Offenders Program, which is designed to increase compliance with the FTC’s Funeral Rule -- as an alternative to an FTC lawsuit.

The FTC’s Funeral Rule gives consumers a number of rights, including the right to receive written price lists, explanations of cemetery or legal requirements and the choice of using a container other than a casket for cremation. Some cemeteries have their own requirements, which must be explained fully before you make a purchase.

Every family is different, and not everyone wants the same type of funeral. The type of funeral you’ll have -- elaborate or simple, public or private, religious of secular -- can be influenced by religious and cultural traditions, costs and personal preferences.

BBB recommends the following advice for navigating the funeral process.

· Check with BBB. Utilize BBB’s free servicesto find a trustworthy funeral establishment. A company’s BBB Business Review will show any past history of complaints and how those complaints were addressed by the company.

· Check operating licenses. Check that any funeral establishment you are considering has been licensed and is registered by the Texas Funeral Service Commission.

· Visit the establishment. Before making any final decisions, visit the funeral establishment and gravesite in person to examine the facilities and meet the funeral director.

· Compare costs. Consult at least three different firms to compare costs and services available. By law, any establishment you enter is required to provide a price list, which you can keep, itemizing the costs of funeral services and the merchandise for sale.

· Get a copy of the funeral purchase agreement. Funeral directors are required to provide you with a signed copy of the funeral purchase agreement, which lists out all the items you selected and the price.

To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit
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