1/10/2010—Cemetery consumers have complained to us for years about the strong-arm tactics they face at the graveyard. Today, we got a letter from Tom Gast, of Gast Monuments in Chicago, confirming once again the need to bring cemeteries under the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule. Gast’s letter is addressed to Congressman Bobby Rush, and it urges Rush push for passage of his bill, HR3655, The Bereaved Consumer’s Protection Act of 2009.
A few highlights from Gast’s letter:
- “The rules and regulations at many cemeteries have become so complex that a consumer could not possibly be expected to know what questions to ask in order to make an informed decision and cemetery personnel are not always forthcoming with all relevant information.”
- “Cemetery offers a grave space, burial vault, opening & closing of the grave, grave marker and foundation at a package price. This package sale plan may offer a convenience to the consumer but does not give the consumer a choice. The plans are aimed to eliminate cemetery’s competition with funeral director’s vault sales and monument company’s selling of markers or monuments. The price is manipulated by higher fees for some items and lower fees for other items such as – a high foundation price and a low grave marker price (below market price). . . . The cemetery’s creative pricing schemes are confusing to the consumer and unfair practice to competing monument companies and funeral homes.”
- “If a consumer wants to prepay [a cemetery], they must purchase, for example, all of the following: the opening and closing of the grave, the grave marker and the vault. This forces a consumer into purchasing merchandise or services now from the cemetery authority that they would otherwise defer and perhaps choose to purchase from a third party vendor.”