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Mass GPL Sweep

Good for the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation having their Division of Professional Licensure test FHs to see if they offer a GPL. They deserve particular praise for publishing the results (unlike the FTC). I don’t believe the Board of Registration in Embalming and Funeral Directing had much to do with it. If the Division now tries to penalize the violators they may have a problem. Unless the test shoppers explicitly requested the GPL and were then refused a copy the FH didn’t violate the MA regulations. The Board deliberately didn’t incorporate the whole FTC Funeral Rule by reference. The regulations instead say that “No person who is registered with the Board, nor any person who holds an ownership interest in or is employed by any funeral establishment licensed by the Board, shall fail or refuse to give a general price list containing all information required by 15 CFR Part 453 to any person who requests one in person.” So you have to ask for a GPL and it is the duty of any employee to give it to you. To fail to give the requested GPL is an offense by the individual, not by the funeral establishment, so the establishment name won’t even appear in any disciplinary records. But the news release says that 18 of the tested FHs “employed unlicensed personnel – and not a licensed funeral director – to handle discussions with the undercover inspectors.” A “licensed funeral director” is one a narrow sub-class of “registered funeral director,” one who holds at least 10% voting interest (but not necessarily any economic interest) in the funeral establishment. They say that the employee who must give you a GPL if you ask for it must not discuss it with you or answer any questions unless he is a “licensed funeral director.” That is really ridiculous! The complaint forms also allege that some of the FH representatives failed to “furnish a business card.” Wow! So the real benefit of the sweeps was in the publicity given to the alleged violations. Historically the Division has published only Final Decisions and Consent Agreements. Byron Blanchard [email protected]

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