As discussed in our prior post, the FTC’s rulemaking notice for amending the Funeral Rule requests public comment on 40 Issues. Those 40 issues are grouped by the FTC in the following 7 categories of potential amendments:
- Electronic price disclosure – whether and how funeral providers should be required to display or distribute price information online or through electronic media
- Cremation-related fees disclosure – whether funeral providers should be required to disclose on the general price list third party crematory or other fees
- Limited exceptions to the basic service fee – whether the Rule’s requirements regarding reduced basic services fees should be amended
- New alternative disposal methods – whether the Rule should be amended to account for new forms of disposition
- Amendment of the mandatory embalming disclosure – whether the Rule’s embalming disclosure requirements should be amended
- Improvement of price list readability – whether the Rule should be changed to improve the readability of the price lists
- Effect on historically underserved communities – whether changes should be made to the Rule to avoid negatively impacting underserved communities.
With regard to the category “Electronic Price Disclosures”, the FTC dedicates the attached 15 Issues. For purposes of this post, we want to focus on the issue of whether the Funeral Rule should require funeral providers to post their general price list on their website, or provide their GPL by some other electronic means.
The FTC acknowledges that not all funeral homes maintain a website. Some rely upon other forms of social media like Facebook. The FTC seems to be expressing concern that funeral homes may eliminate their website if the Funeral Rule would force the posting of GPLs. The FTC also acknowledges that some forms of social media do not lend themselves to the posting of GLPs. So, the FTC is asking in the various Issues whether funeral homes should be required to provide their GPL by electronic means such as by Fax or Email. A Consumer Federation of America case study suggests that California funeral homes were found to be very responsive to requests for GPLs by email.
It would not seem burdensome on the industry if the Funeral Rule required funeral homes to email the GPL within 24 hours of a request by any person residing within the service area. The request should identify the person, include a representation that he/she (or the person for whom services are sought) resides in the funeral homes service area, and provides a valid email address.