7/8/2011—California’s Senate Bill 658 would require funeral homes that have a website to either post its general price list online, or at least list the 16 categories of goods and services available and tell visitors that prices are available on request. Why do we need a bill to tell funeral homes to actually describe their services and prices on their websites? Because unlike every other business, most won’t do it on their own. The Orange County Register found out just what consumers go through when trying to get necessary information to price out and plan a funeral:
Using a Funeral Home Directory published by the Orange County Register, the Watchdog randomly selected a half dozen funeral homes to examine in detail, looking to see if there was accurate information available on the Web or over the phone, or if it only could be found on the federally mandated price lists.
For the phone calls, the Watchdog, without identifying himself as a reporter, said he wanted to know the price for a funeral service at a place of worship or the funeral home itself, as well as a graveside service for a potential future funeral for a sick aunt. Nothing more — no visitation, no viewing.
After examining each of the funeral home’s websites and getting price quotes over the phone, Register staff writer Michelle Monroe visited the funeral homes in person to pick up a copy of their price lists. The Watchdog later called and emailed representatives at each funeral home, telling them exactly what he did and asked for comment. Here’s what we found.
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Clicking through Dilday’s sunny website, the Watchdog didn’t find much price information. A section on sympathy gifts explains that you can purchase a Godiva Chocolates Delight Signature Gift Basket for $64.95 or an Infinite Love Pendant for $150.95, but there’s nothing on Dilday’s website about the costs of caskets or funeral services. So the Watchdog called for a price quote and spoke with a funeral director named Susan.
Susan said the cost of a “complete funeral” at Dilday was $4,935. That includes facility and staff for a viewing, staff for church and graveside services, embalming, dressing, transportation of the body and a funeral coach. Without a viewing, the cost is $4,240, she said. Susan said nothing about choosing only the services you wanted. Caskets range from $1,195 to $7,495, she said.
The story goes on in a similar vein, finding most funeral homes didn’t post prices or consumer disclosures online, and that calling for prices often resulted in a pitch for the higher-cost arrangements.