March 15, 2011—Once again, Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush has introduced a bill that directs the Federal Trade Commission to expand the Funeral Rule to cover cemeteries, crematories, and merchandise retailers. The Funeral Rule, in effect since 1984, gives consumers the right to price quotes by phone, the right to pick and choose only what they want, the right to buy caskets from outside the funeral home, and the right to accurate information about legal requirements. But cemeteries have escaped these modest regulations, leading to consumer abuses and complaints around the country.
HR 900, The Bereaved Consumers Bill of Rights Act of 2011, would finally end the patchwork of lax state cemetery regulations and compel all burial grounds to meet these minimum consumer standards. Funeral Consumers Alliance testified before a Congressional subcommittee in 2009 in support of the bill, delivering two sets of written testimony (here and here). We will continue to push for this important legislation, but we need you!
How You Can Help!
Cemetery associations will be working hard to sink this bill; don’t let them. The more citizens lawmakers hear from, the better chance we have to win. We need co-sponsors for this bill in both the House and the Senate. Please write and call your Representative and Senators to urge them to co-sponsor this important bill.
Your email and phone call don’t need to be wordy or complicated – it’s your voice as a citizen that counts, and numbers make a difference. You can tell your lawmakers why this bill is so important. It would:
- Compel cemeteries to give consumers accurate prices before the sale
- Give cemetery consumers the right to buy only the goods and services they want; families will be able to buy markers, monuments, or grave vaults from less expensive retail vendors rather than being captive to the cemetery’s prices
- Bar cemeteries from forcing families to buy entire packages of goods or services, if the family wants to choose item by item
- Require cemeteries to disclose rules and regulations, and consumer rights, before the purchase
- Require cemeteries to keep accurate records of all burials sold, and where remains are interred, and to make those records available to regulators
- Bar cemeteries from lying about the law – claiming state laws “require” vaults to surround an in-ground casket, for example
Please let us know when you’ve contacted your lawmakers by leaving a comment on this article, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!