Funeral directors forced into pricing transparency

Funeral directors need to be more transparent with their pricing. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued a warning to funeral directors and crematorium operators, saying they could face legal action if they do not comply with the requirement to make prices clear.

The warning follows a CMA investigation which found serious concerns about funeral pricing.

Coming into force on 16th September, funeral directors are required to display a standardised list of prices at their premises and on their websites.

Within this standardised price list must be the headline price of a funeral and the individual cost of items making up the funeral and the cost of other products and services.

From today onwards, funeral directors must stop paying to incentivise hospitals, hospices and care homes to refer customers. Funeral directors are also now banned from soliciting for business through coroners and police contacts.

The CMA also requires crematorium operators to display their prices at their premises and on their websites.

Martin Coleman, chairman of the inquiry at the CMA, said:

“Organising a funeral is one of the hardest things that anyone must do, and it is vital that people are treated fairly. Customers need clear information so that they know what they will be charged and are able, if they wish, to compare the prices of different providers.

“We urge funeral directors and crematorium operators to start making these changes now. We will be keeping a close eye on the sector and stand ready to take action if firms don’t follow the rules.”

Last year, the CMA investigation into funeral pricing transparency found several concerns with the sector, including the considerable difference in pricing for similar services between different funeral directors.

The investigation concluded that how pricing information was presented made it hard for grieving families to make comparisons and choose the right combination of services for their loved ones.

As well as bringing these new rules into law, the CMA is recommending the government take further steps to regulate funeral directors.

Jon Levett, Chief Executive of the National Association of Funeral Directors, said:

“Although many funeral firms do publish pricing information online, some don’t and there is a wide range of formats used which can be confusing for bereaved consumers at a difficult time.

“The CMA’s requirements, although extremely complex in places for small businesses to navigate, support the delivery of high standards to funeral consumers and bring consistency to the process of choosing a funeral director.”