A Washington, DC, funeral home and its owners will pay a $25,000 civil penalty to resolve charges that they violated the Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule, which helps to ensure that people have the information they need to compare prices and buy only the funeral services and goods they want.
In May 2011, at the FTC's request, the U.S. Department of Justice charged B.K. Henry Funeral Chapel Inc., Brian K. Henry, and Lisa Henry with failing to provide consumers with a casket price list, as required by law. The Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to show consumers a casket price list before they view any caskets.
The FTC's complaint was based on inspections by FTC staff posing as consumers seeking to make funeral arrangements. The FTC conducts undercover inspections every year to ensure that funeral homes are complying with the Funeral Rule.
In addition to the civil penalty, the proposed settlement permanently prohibits the defendants from failing to show consumers their casket price list and from violating other Rule requirements.
The Funeral Rule, issued in 1984, gives consumers important rights when making funeral arrangements. Key provisions of the Rule require funeral homes to give consumers a general price list itemizing the prices of the funeral goods and services they offer at the start of a discussion of funeral arrangements, show consumers casket and vault price lists before they view caskets or vaults, and provide price information by telephone on request.
The FTC educates consumers in English and Spanish about their rights under the Funeral Rule, and provides guidance to businesses in how to comply. For more information read Paying Final Respects: Your Rights When Buying Funeral Goods & Services (Rindiendo Honores: Sus Derechos al Momento de Comprar Artículos y Servicios para Funerales), Funerals: A Consumer Guide (Funerales: Guía para el Consumidor), and Complying with the Funeral Rule.
The Commission vote approving the proposed consent order was 5-0. It is subject to court approval. The DOJ filed the proposed consent order on the FTC's behalf in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
NOTE: This consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants that the law has been violated. Consent decrees have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.