Changes could be coming regarding the level of online pricing transparency for funeral homes and cemeteries in the upcoming year. It’s important that owners, managers, and staff alike are on the same page regarding updates happening within the FTC and have the right knowledge to prepare for what could be ahead.
In 1982, the Funeral Rule was introduced to the Federal Trade Commission and went into effect the following April. It had two original goals, to lower barriers to competition regarding pricing in the funeral market and encourage informed consumer choice. It basically ensures that consumers have access to information, aren’t required by law to make a purchase, and that no misrepresentation happens to inform their decision making.
All of those above points are important, and it’s our job as funeral professionals to guide our families in the right direction. However, the FTC has started to realize that technology and our society is changing at a rapid pace. They’re looking to potentially make amendments to the rule to keep up with today’s consumer.
It’s no secret the profession is evolving with today’s family, which is why we need to be at the forefront of knowing what today’s family needs. A study done by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) found that only 16% of funeral homes were posting their general price list online. Just four years later, the FTC conducted their own study and found that number now lives at around 40%. Although that number has grown and has become more widely accepted by those in our profession, is it enough?
The original rule requires funeral homes to provide anyone seeking services with an itemized price information list. However, this rule doesn’t require pricing information to be available online or through any digital channel.
This rule was created over 40 years ago, before the internet was used on a daily basis by consumers. Our way of life has changed, and everyone is doing their shopping online. In fact, just in 2022 alone, here are some statistics to prove just how much consumers are shopping online:
- 25% of Americans make a purchase online once per month.
- 88% of customers want detailed product pages to help their purchasing decisions
- 65% of shoppers compare pricing online before walking into a location
Bottom line: consumers expect visible pricing.
Steps to Modernize
The Federal Trade Commission is exploring how they can make changes to the rule to better align it with the use of consumer technology. Here are a few suggestions they are considering:
- Requiring Funeral Providers to display their General Price List or have a direct link to it present.
- Requiring Funeral Providers to Display their CPLs/OBCPLs on their website or have a direct link to it present.
- Requiring Funeral Providers to maintain their websites and add a section where there’s an option for consumers to request price list(s).
- Requiring Funeral Providers to use social media pages or electronic communication methods to link to pricing.
- Requiring Funeral Providers to send their GPLs, CPLs, or OBCPLs electronically to anyone who might ask within a certain timeframe when a consumer provides their information.
- Requiring Funeral Providers to give electronic copies of their GPLs a the beginning of any arrangement.
- If electronic distribution is required, ensuring that Funeral Providers update their GPLs within a certain time period.
- Requiring Funeral Providers to more timely access to the total cost of funeral arrangements and costs at the beginning of an engagement when arrangements are made online or over the phone.
To learn more about the details within these suggested changes, visit https://www.regulations.gov/document/FTC-2022-0067-0001.
Jake Johnson’s Take on the Matter
We believe in transparency combined with technology. The world has heavily adapted to this technological shift, and people are used to having information shared and readily available, especially upcoming generations. In fact, they really won’t know life without it. The only way companies can have continued success is to adapt to the future. The more transparent and the more you share the more you are trusted.
Funeral businesses are unfortunately known for being behind in the trends when it comes to customer expectations. A real wake up moment for us was during the rise of technology and the pressure applied to using it through covid. It left some funeral businesses with no choice but to adapt.
The bottom line is, pricing is not everything – consumers understand that as well. However, if you aren’t making your pricing readily available and easy to access, that’s a strike against you if your competition has it. How it’s displayed on your website and how you describe your services matters are more important than ever as we head towards this change.
Funeral Results Marketing provides solutions to help you with your digital presence. FRM is the premiere funeral home and arrangement website developer along with Google Ads management.