Attorney General Karl A. Racine today called on six funeral homes throughout the District to fully comply with the District’s emergency COVID-19 law, which requires funeral homes to include pricing information about funeral goods and services on their websites.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic raged in 2020, my office proposed, and the Council approved, emergency legislation requiring D.C. funeral homes to display their pricing in a clear and transparent manner. This requirement ensured that consumers confronting the death of loved ones would not have to navigate the complex and ambiguous pricing associated with end of life services. This was the right thing then and is the right thing whenever consumers have to navigate the purchase of these necessary services during their most emotionally challenging time," said AG Racine. “Simply put, decency requires that consumers who need to make arrangements for funeral services deserve to know exactly how much it will cost them. I’m proud we enacted a strong law at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure that funeral homes are transparent about their pricing and make that information easily accessible to consumers. With the emergency law expiring this week, we are working to push funeral homes to not only comply with it, but continue to treat consumers fairly and honestly. I respectfully urge the Council to make these protections permanent."
AG Racine specifically warned the six funeral homes to follow the law and be transparent about their prices by clearly and visibly posting their pricing information on their websites—including their general price list, their casket price list, and their outer burial container price list. He also warned that the funeral homes must clearly and visibly post the Funeral Bill of Rights on their websites.
In May 2020, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alerted District residents about the new Funeral Services Consumer Protections which required funeral homes to post their prices online for the first time. These consumer protections were included in the District’s COVID-19 emergency legislation that became law and is still in effect. The provision aimed to protect consumers and increase transparency in the funeral industry during the pandemic. It also required funeral businesses to notify consumers of their rights — including the right to choose individual goods and services rather than purchasing a preselected set of goods and services. It also gave consumers the right to purchase less expensive caskets from sources other than funeral homes. OAG proposed many of these protections following a 2017 investigation into the funeral industry that revealed a lack of price transparency and alleged violations of consumer protection law.
A copy of the letter AG Racine sent today to the six District funeral homes is available here and the full text is below.
Dear Funeral Director:
I am writing concerning your failure to comply with the “COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020,” the requirements of which have been renewed in the “Coronavirus Support Temporary Amendment Act of 2021.” When this measure was passed by the DC Council last year, this office wrote to you to inform you about the requirements of the legislation.
Specifically, the Act requires you to clearly and conspicuously post the following information on your website:
- your General Price List,
- your Casket Price List,
- your Outer Burial Container Price List, and
- the Funeral Bill of Rights.
The legislation also requires funeral homes to provide the above listed documents during the initial meeting with consumers to discuss or make arrangements for the purchase of funeral goods or services, to provide consumers with receipts for amounts advanced or paid to third parties, and to keep and retain records documenting these required disclosures.
We have reviewed your website and you have posted none of the required documents on your website.
Please update your website as soon as possible. For your convenience, I am including a link to the Funeral Bill of Rights: Consumer Bill of Rights for Funeral Home Establishments | dcra.