When you visit a funeral home to make funeral arrangements for a family member, within minutes of beginning the conversation, your funeral director will hand you the firm's General Price List (often referred to as a 'GPL'); which details funeral expenses. Sometimes everything is included in this one document, but it's not uncommon for funeral homes to separate casket costs, and prices charged for outer burial containers; into supplemental price lists provided to consumers on a case-by-case basis.
This action, required by the Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule, is intended to protect your consumer rights and ensure a higher degree of pricing transparency. The Rule goes into effect any time someone seeks information about making funeral arrangements–whether done upon the death of a family or as part of funeral pre-need planning. In addition to ensuring pricing transparency, the Funeral Rule prohibits funeral homes and service providers from:
• misrepresenting legal, crematory, and cemetery requirements
• embalming for a fee without permission
• requiring the purchase of a casket for direct cremation
• requiring consumers to buy certain funeral goods or services as a condition for furnishing other funeral goods or services
• engaging in other deceptive or unfair practices
You may like to know the FTC completes undercover inspections each year to ensure compliance with the guidelines outlined in the Funeral Rule.
More about the GPL and Funeral Expenses
A funeral service provider must provide a General Price List to anyone who asks, in person, about funeral goods and services. The inquiry alone demands the funeral professional hand over the firm's GPL; whether it comes from a potential client family, a competing funeral firm, or a representative of religious or consumer group, or a government agency.
According to the Federal Trade Commission's guide, "Complying with the Funeral Rule", the General Price List (GPL) "must contain certain identifying information, itemized prices for the various goods and services (sold), and other vitally-important disclosures." In short, the GPL enables your family to comparison shop, review itemized funeral expenses and, ultimately, to purchase only the goods and services they want.
The Identifying Information required by the Funeral Rule includes the name, address, and telephone number of the funeral provider’s place of business, including (where relevant) the address and telephone number for each branch. In addition, it must feature the phrase "General Price List", and note its effective date (as in "These prices are effective as of October 15, 2014 and are subject to change without notice). If a funeral firm doesn't offer an all-inclusive GPL, the availability of both a Casket Price List and Outer Burial Container Price List must be noted in the opening section of the document.
We believe the most important elements of a funeral firm's General Price List are the following two disclosures:
1. “Consumers may select only the goods and services desired”. Certainly, this disclosure alone empowers consumers, and is really the heart of the federal guidelines collectively known as the Funeral Rule.
2. “A basic services fee will be added to any items purchased". The basic services fee is the only non-declinable fee listed in a firm's General Price List.
Other disclosures of interest note the fact that "embalming is not required by law except in certain special cases" and "alternative containers are available for direct cremation". The General Price List must also include the funeral expenses for the most commonly-offered services and good, including:
• Basic Services Fee
• Embalming Charges
• Fees for Other Preparations of the Body
• Cost of removal and transfer of the body
• Charges for the use of facilities and staff for a viewing, funeral, or memorial service
• Charges for funeral vehicles
• Price for the delivery of the physical remains to another funeral establishment
• Charge for the receipt of remains from another funeral home
• Cost of direct cremation
• Cost of immediate burial
• Fees for the use of staff & equipment for graveside services
Note: Funeral goods are all products sold directly to the public in connection with funeral services. Funeral services are those services used to care for and prepare a body for burial or cremation, as well as any other services used in the arrangement, supervision, or conduct of, the funeral ceremony or disposition of the physical body remains.
Remembering the heart of the Funeral Rule is the disclaimer consumers may select only the goods and services desired; it becomes easier to see how you and your family–in the decisions you make during the funeral arrangement conference–have complete control over the final funeral expenses you incur in caring for a family member. (For an additional look at this subject, we invite you to read Funeral Costs.)
Selection, Choice, and Limiting Funeral Expenses
We've said it before: we know for a fact we serve families best when we offer them a significant number of choices in services, products, facilities and costs. Our role is not to dictate your selection of funeral goods and services; instead, our job is only to present the wide spectrum of choices we offer your family, inform you as to the pertinent details, and advise you (based on what you tell us). We, of all the funeral homes in Detroit, Grosse Pointe, or Warren; take great pride in the diversity of our service offerings; but we're also proud of our ability to guide grieving families through the funeral arrangement process.
Because we're keenly aware of the often not-so-subtle psychological, emotional, social, spiritual and financial forces shaping a family's funeral decisions; we truly believe the diversity in selection options and our willingness to guide you are both essential to the overall well-being of the families we serve.
We promise to work closely with you to find the funeral service and product options of greatest value to those you love, while striving to keep any related funeral expenses within your means. Call us at 313-881-8500 to learn more.