CONSUMER protection against over-priced funerals in NSW is what is called pricing transparency. If you need to organise a funeral or want to buy a pre-paid funeral, you can get three quotes, so the regulator’s thinking goes. Competition between funeral providers will keep prices at reasonable levels.
But this ignores the fact that you generally look for a funeral provider who is local, so that even in metropolitan areas there may be few to choose from. Funeral directors can keep fees and charges high by simply keeping tabs on their two or three local competitors.
Recently, the NSW regulator introduced new rules about what pricing information funeral directors must publish online and display in their office. The requirement is for extensive pricing information as well as the price of the cheapest funeral package they offer.
These rules came into effect early this year, but compliance appears to be patchy, with the large funeral chains being fully compliant while stand-alone funeral directors in regional areas, for example, generally are not complying.
CPSA surveyed the pricing information of fifteen funeral directors in five regional NSW towns.
Only four out of fifteen funeral directors obeyed the new rules.
More than half were completely non-compliant, with Godfrey Smith Funerals Bathurst defiantly so, explicitly stating it is not publishing pricing information at all.
Citizens of the NSW towns of Bathurst and Dubbo won’t be able to find published funeral pricing information at all, while Broken Hill, Griffith and Wagga Wagga funeral directors were overwhelmingly non-compliant, making it impossible to compare their prices.
All seven funeral directors who published pricing information (limited or complete) advertised direct cremation as their lowest-priced package, rather than a package including at least a remembrance service. This is not in the spirit of the new rules.
Direct cremation is a funeral without a service and no attendance at the crematorium.
Even though making funeral directors publish their pricing information on their website is an improvement (if they actually comply), it does not make for easy comparison. This could be fixed by the regulator developing and maintaining a comparison website such as www.gatheredhere.com.au and by making participation by funeral directors mandatory.
CPSA has reported the findings of its survey to the NSW regulator for action.
Broken Hill Pricing information
Fred J Potter No info: non-compliant
Curtis Family Limited info: non-compliant
Shaun Hamilton Limited info: non-compliant
J P Walsh No info: non-compliant
Burke & Douglas Complete info: compliant
Griffith Regional Limited info: non-complaint
Griffith & District No info: non-compliant
Collier Trennery No info: non-compliant
Daniel Woods No info: non-compliant
Alan Harris McDonald No info: non-compliant
John Bance & Son Complete info: compliant
Abbey Funeral Home No info: non-compliant
Larcombe & Bean Complete info: compliant
Shakespeare Complete info: compliant
Renshaw’s No info: non-compliant
Godfrey Smith No info: non-compliant