Local FCA of Greater Philadelphia board member Rachel Zeldin wrote a compelling, pithy column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Why the heck are Philly funeral homes so cagey about cost?
To this day in Philadelphia, you are lucky to find a funeral home with a decent website and even less likely to find one that posts its prices online.
In 2015, the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Greater Philadelphia collected price lists from 86 of the 137 Philadelphia funeral homes through a yearlong effort of calls, emails, and follow-ups. Shockingly, what we learned is that the price of direct cremation ranges from $700 to $4,465 – for the same thing. Embalming ranges from $293 to $3,000. (Of course, the skills of embalmers vary, but those skills are not tied to the prices they’re charging.) The average non-declinable basic service fee is $1,876; that is just the base cost of doing business with a funeral home when you haven’t even purchased any actual services or products yet. (The full survey results are at FCAPhilly.org.)
In a nationally publicized 2015 report by the Funeral Consumers Alliance and Consumer Federation of America assessing ease of access to funeral pricing information, Philadelphia funeral homes proved to be the worst in the nation. Only nine of the 15 surveyed had websites, none had prices online, and three refused to provide prices at all – a violation of federal law. Worse, to obtain a copy of these price lists, it took a minimum of three calls before the information was sent over – by fax.