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XII. Sample Policy Statements

Policy Statement on Providing Price Lists and Telephone Price Information

Compliance with the amended Funeral Rule is not just a matter of designing price lists that meet the requirements of the Rule. A large part of compliance depends upon a clear understanding on the part of all employees regarding when, where and to whom price information is to be distributed. This includes not only the offering of price lists, but also the conveyance of price information over the telephone.

To assist members in training staff and maintaining compliance with the Rule, NFDA has drafted a Policy Statement on Providing Price Lists and Telephone Price Information. It is suggested that the funeral home formally adopt this Policy Statement and incorporate it into the training of all employees.

Since the primary purpose of the Policy Statement is to educate employees, it is important that the funeral home distribute copies of the Policy Statement to all staff, including non-licensed personnel who have contact with the public. The Policy Statement should also be incorporated into the funeral home's employee handbook if it has one.

By adopting the policy and using it in the training of employees, the funeral home is demonstrating a good faith effort to comply with the Rule. This is an important factor in the event the FTC was to bring a compliance action against the funeral home. Evidence that the funeral home took good faith steps to comply with the Rule constitutes a mitigating factor in the determination of civil penalties under the Rule.

Policy Statement of ________ Funeral Home on Providing Price Lists and Telephone Price Information

In order to ensure compliance with the FTC amended Funeral Rule, all funeral directors and staff of Funeral Home shall comply with the policy set out below when dealing with members of the public either in person or on the telephone.

  1. The General Price List

    The GPL must be physically handed to individuals who inquire in person about funeral goods or services, or the prices offered by the funeral home. Upon the beginning of a face-to-face discussion with a member of the public regarding the overall type of funeral services or dispositions, the selection of specific funeral goods or services, or the prices offered by the funeral home, you must physically hand the GPL to the person for retention. The following points regarding the distribution of the General Price List should be noted:

    1. The GPL must be distributed whether the person arranging the funeral is an individual or represents a partnership, corporation, association, memorial society, government agency or religious entity.

    2. In distributing the GPL, you should physically distribute it to the individual(s) you are discussing the funeral arrangements or funeral prices with. This should be done by handing the GPL to the individual(s); it is not sufficient to simply indicate the list is available. If the person declines to accept the GPL, keep the list readily available for reference during the arrangement conference.

    3. The GPL must be given wherever the face-to-face discussion takes place. Therefore, if you visit the family at a residence, hospital or nursing home to plan arrangements or discuss prices, the GPL must be distributed. The only exception is in those instances when you are requesting permission to embalm during a removal. Provided you orally inform the family that embalming is not required by law except in special circumstances, your request for permission to embalm will not require the distribution of the GPL. Of course, if the family wishes to make any other funeral arrangements at that time, the GPL should be immediately distributed.

    4. The GPL must be distributed when making preneed arrangements just as with at-need arrangements. Whenever prices, arrangements, or specific items, are discussed, even if on a preneed basis, the GPL must be given.

    5. If a person seeks to modify the funeral goods or services purchased under a preneed contract, a GPL must be provided that person upon the beginning of the discussion. For example, if a survivor wishes to upgrade a casket that the decedent has purchased under a preneed contract, that survivor must be given the GPL and the Casket Price List at the commencement of those discussions.

    6. The General Price List is available for retention. Do not request the individual to return the GPL nor impose a charge against any individual who retains the price list.

    7. There may be occasions where you may be in doubt as to whether the GPL must be distributed. In cases of doubt, it is always our practice to distribute the GPL.

  2. Casket and Outer Burial Container Price List

    The Casket Price List and the Outer Burial Container Price List must be given to individuals who inquire in person about these funeral goods or the prices for these goods. It is our policy to distribute each list upon the beginning of any discussions concerning the goods or their prices, but in any event, before showing the individual the caskets or the outer burial containers.

    The following points should be noted by you with regard to the distribution of Casket and Outer Burial Container Price Lists.

    1. As with the GPL, the Casket and Outer Burial Container Price Lists must be distributed to the individual(s) whenever a face-to-face discussion commences. You should hand these lists to the individual(s) with whom you are discussing these products or their prices.

    2. The Casket Price List and the Outer Burial Container Price List need not be given to consumers for their retention. You should request the consumer to return the list after the discussion terminates.

    3. The Casket and Outer Burial Container Price Lists are to be distributed if these goods or their prices are discussed during preneed arrangements. Similarly, if a consumer wishes to upgrade a casket or vault from that specified in a preneed contract, the appropriate list is to be given to the consumer.

  3. Statement of Goods and Services Selected

    It is our policy to provide the consumer for his/her retention a Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected at the conclusion of the discussion of funeral arrangements. All funeral goods, services and cash advanced items purchased must be listed on an itemized basis. If prices of cash advanced items are not known, an estimate must be made.

    If a package is selected in lieu of itemized goods and services, that must be noted on the statement. A description of all goods and services contained in the package must be listed on the statement. In the alternative, you can attach to the statement a description of the package.

    Subtotals for the services purchased, the merchandise purchased and the cash advance items purchased must be filled in. If any cash advance item is marked-up, identify that item in writing on the statement. It is also necessary to list the reasons for embalming and any legal, cemetery or crematory requirements which made any purchase of goods or services mandatory.

    The Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected must be provided at the conclusion of the funeral arrangements conference. Therefore, it will be necessary to write up the statement and provide it to the consumer during the arrangement conference. If the arrangements are made over the telephone, the statement should be promptly sent to the consumer.

  4. Telephone Price Disclosures

    Whenever anyone telephones the funeral home and asks any questions regarding our prices or offerings, you must provide accurate information from the GPL, Casket Price List, Outer Burial Container Price List and any other readily available source of information in order to reasonably answer the questions.

    In meeting this requirement of the amended Funeral Rule, you must be aware of the following points:

    1. If at any time our funeral home uses answering machines or telephone answering services, it is our policy to promptly return calls that request information on the terms, conditions or prices of funeral goods and funeral services.

    2. You should never insist that the caller identify him or herself as a condition to the disclosure of price information over the telephone. Although you may request the caller to provide his or her name, you must provide the requested information even if the caller refused to provide identification.

    3. Funeral home personnel other than funeral directors should become sufficiently acquainted with the various price lists so that they can provide price information over the telephone. In cases where only a funeral director can provide the requested price information, the staff member is to take a message and have a funeral director promptly return the call.