The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule exists to make sure that funeral homes don’t charge their customers extra if they choose to get some of the key services elsewhere, like ordering a casket from Costco or from Amazon. In the decades since that rule was implemented, some funeral homes have figured out new ways to effectively penalize customers for trying to save money.
For example, MarketWatch explains, while requiring customers to buy caskets isn’t allowed, a federal court concluded that it is legal for funeral homes to charge more for other services if you buy a casket from someplace other than the funeral home.
Before the Funeral Rule, families were welcome to bring their own caskets, but only if they paid a handling fee to the funeral home. Such fees are banned now, but funeral homes can still have a bundled services fee that customers are required to pay.
This fee has increased 35% on average over the last 10 years, while the price of a low-end casket has gone up only 15%.
That’s why, even though it may seem morbid, it’s a good idea to comparison-shop local funeral homes and plan services while you’re still alive. This arrangement also lets you pay in advance, giving your survivors one less thing to argue about.
Local chapters of the Funeral Consumers Alliance can help out here: Check with them to find out whether they have detailed price lists so you don’t have to call around, or information about local funeral homes that don’t charge extra if you bring in an outside casket or opt out of services like embalming.