||When a loved one dies, demanding, quick and
often times costly decisions about a funeral have to be made. These decisions,
frequently made under great emotional distress, sometimes are not in your
best interest. Before deciding, you may want to speak to an experienced
friend or a clergyman who may help you to objectively evaluate the merchandise
and services available. Before entering into a contract for services, consider
TIPS FOR CONSUMERS
- A casket, or coffin, is often the most expensive funeral
item you will purchase. A casket, however, is not required for a direct
cremation or immediate burial. Caskets vary extensively in price and style.
Generally sold for their visual appeal, caskets are made of metal, wood,
fiberglass or plastic.
- Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers
- The Board and the Florida Department of Business and
Professional Regulation regulate funeral directors and embalmers, pursuant
to Chapter 470, Florida Statutes (1995). The board can be reached by calling
(904) 488-8690. To check licensing status call the Department at (904)
487-1395. To file a complaint, call the Department at (800) 342-7940.
- Burial Vaults and Grave Liners
- Cemeteries often require a burial vault or a grave liner
to enclose the casket in a grave. The vault or liner is used to prevent
the ground from caving in as the casket deteriorates. Burial vaults are
considerably more expensive than liners.
- Board of Funeral and Cemetery Services
- The Board and the Florida Department of Banking and Finance
regulate cemeteries and cemetery companies, pursuant to Chapter 497, Florida
Statutes (1995). The Board and the Department may be contacted at (904)
487-2583 and (800) 848-3792.
- Preservative and Protective Claims
- The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Funeral Rule and
the above-mentioned statutes prohibit funeral providers from making false
or deceptive durability claims. Insupportable claims regarding a products
ability to resist water, dirt or other substances are prohibited.
- Pre-Planning Funerals
- You may choose to prearrange a funeral instead of waiting
until a later date. If so, make sure to inquire about all types of merchandise
and services available to you. Also, scrutinize any claims made by the
manufacturers of funeral products and ask for substantiation.
- Disclosure of Information and Itemization Required
- You should also be aware that the FTC Funeral Rule and
the above-mentioned statutes require funeral directors and cemeteries to
provide you with detailed retail price information over the phone, if requested.
This will assist you in comparing prices. In addition, prior to the selection
of any merchandise, you are entitled to a detailed written itemization
of the retail prices for all items regularly offered for sale. Lastly,
you should be presented with a written agreement/contract, for your retention,
upon your final selection of funeral and burial merchandise and services.
Make sure that you are clearly advised of your cancellation and refund
- Additional Information
- The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
may be contacted in the event that you desire to file a complaint against
a particular company, or if you want to know if other complaints have been
files against a particular company. They can be reached at (904) 488-2221
and (800) 435- 7352.
You may also choose to check with your nearest FTC office.
If the company is out-of-state, you may wish to call the appropriate agencies
and authorities in the state where the company maintains its headquarters.
The Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program in Des Plaines, Illinois,
is available to assist consumers and funeral directors in resolving disagreements
about funeral service contracts. They may be reached at (800) 662-7666.
To learn more about the FTC's Funeral Rule, write to: Funerals: A Consumer
Guide, Public Reference, FTC, Washington, DC 20580. Also, the American
Association of Retired Persons (AARP) publishes Funeral Goods and Services
and Pre-Paying Your Funeral? To request free copies of both publications,
write to: AARP Fulfillment, 601 E Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20049.
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Source: Originally developed by the Florida Attorney