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Atty. Harvey I. Lapin Bio

Atty. Harvey I. Lapin's blog

FTC Rule Update

Posted by Atty. Harvey I. Lapin on December 1, 2016

  The author has never understood why some funeral providers do not want to immediately provide a possible customer entering their premises with the required FTC Funeral Rule General Price List, Casket and Vault Price Lists. There had been numerous situations over the years since the enactment of the FTC Funeral Rule where the FTC or even state Attorney General’s Offices have fined funeral providers for not complying with the requirements.

  Occasionally the FTC staff issues Advisory Opinions clarifying the FTC’s position on new issues in response to questions by third parties. On June 29, 2015 the FTC Staff issued an opinion (15-1) that bringing a customer to a casket display room to wait for a funeral director without providing a casket price list to the consumer violated the FTC Funeral Rule. The staff’s position was based on the concept that not all of the provider’s caskets would be on display and therefore the consumer would not know all of caskets that would be available.

  On June 16, 2016 the FTC Staff issued a clarification opinion (16-1) responding to a second request on this issue. The clarification request dealt with the FTC Staff’s position on the requirements for providing a casket price list to consumers in connection with: “certain marketing venues for funeral goods and services, including storefront facilities in strip malls, shopping mall stores, and mall carts and kiosks. In those venues, providers may choose to show selected caskets and vaults, or pictures or models of them, in locations where consumers cannot avoid viewing them immediately upon entering the store or approaching the display.”

  The FTC Staff’s seemed to be of the view that the Funeral Rule required that all consumers should receive a casket price list when they were walking by a special venue. However, recognizing that this was not practical the opinion stated:

  “Given the unique circumstances of the venues at issue, and in the interest of enhancing competition and innovation, staff will exercise its enforcement discretion not to take action against providers of funeral goods and services operating out of strip mall storefronts and shopping mall stores, carts, or kiosks, that show caskets or pictures or models of them, if they display and make available copies of their CPL clearly and conspicuously at prominent locations in such venues. The CPL display must be located immediately inside each store entry, or on all sides of a cart or kiosk display, and must include clear and conspicuous signage inviting consumers to take a readily available copy.”

  It should be noted that the FTC Staff is stating it will not be enforcing the Funeral Rule if the funeral provider provides the CPL as indicated. Funeral providers that have these special venues should be very careful to comply with making the CPL available as indicated, as it is probable the FTC Staff or others will be checking on them.

  The FTC Staff did end the opinion with the usual disclaimer that the views expressed are those of the staff that while they have not been reviewed, approved or adopted by the Commission, they do represent the views of the FTC Staff charged with enforcement of the Funeral Rule. The opinion letter also noted that Staff Funeral Rule opinions are routinely posted on the FTC website at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/funerals/staffopinions.shtm. Accordingly, any reader that wishes to view the full opinions can do so at that location.

  This article is for the information of subscribers and does not constitute legal advice about this subject. All subscribers should accordingly consult with their own attorney to make sure they are in compliance with the laws in their state.


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