CPSA has been heard on non-compliant funeral homes
ON 13 April the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) published its draft report Competition, costs and pricing in the NSW Funeral Industry. In a media release, IPART called for more transparency about prices in the funeral industry, after public consultation with stakeholders including CPSA.
IPART’s Acting Chair, Deborah Cope said that only two thirds of funeral providers in NSW had any price information on their websites and less than half publish the information they are required to.
Organising a funeral can be a stressful and confusing ordeal so it is only fair that funeral homes should clearly outline the costs involved with services so people can make clear comparisons and make informed choices.
In a previous article in THE VOICE, it was reported that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) fined two funeral homes for making false and misleading representation about their ownership. CPSA suggested that the Better Regulation Division of the NSW Department of Customer Service should follow the ACCC’s lead and fine non-compliant funeral homes that IPART was referring to above.
Ask and thou shalt receive.
On 15 April, two days after IPART’s media release, the NSW Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation announced a “funeral home blitz”.
The NSW Government is putting “unscrupulous funeral home operators” on notice. Funeral operators that do not clearly display the costs of goods and services on their website or in their physical places of business can be fined up to $5,500. In order to comply funeral operators must advertise the lowest cost options for the burial or cremation of a body.
Although it is great to see the NSW Government taking a stand on funeral operators willing to break the law and exploit grieving family members for financial gain, more can be done to simplify the funeral planning process.
In CPSA’s submission to IPART’s review of the NSW funeral industry recommended the NSW Government develop and operate a comparison website for the funeral industry containing the information that operators are required to publish. Participation by operators should be mandatory.
This should be the next step in the NSW Government’s blitz on funeral home operators.