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FTC Official Disputes Local Funeral Home Depictions Of Violations

Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home sign
Scott Pohl
Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home in Lansing was one of seven Lansing area businesses cited by the FTC for pricing violations.

WKAR recently reported on local funeral homes that have faced Federal Trade Commission sanctions over the pricing information that’s required to be delivered to customers. An official of the FTC now is contesting what two funeral homes told us about their violations.

The Federal Trade Commission sent undercover shoppers into 15 Lansing-area funeral homes last year, citing seven of them for pricing violations. The operators of two of those homes, Skinner Funeral Home and Paradise Funeral Chapel, told WKAR that their sanctions were spurred in part by failing to promptly provide a price list.

FTC Funeral Rule Coordinator Craig Tregillus says if anything, their investigators are lax in how quickly they get price lists including for caskets and burial vaults.

Nathan Skinner of the Skinner Funeral Home in Lansing said he got a violation for missing a comma and other minor changes to the language in his pricing document, leading to a choice between entering the Funeral Rule Offenders Program or "fight the federal government," and probably going out of business.

The FTC’s Craig Tregillus says WKAR was “sold a bill of goods” there. "If all that they have done is messed up the language of one of the obligatory disclosures on the price list," Tregillus explains, "all we do is ask them to fix it and send us their revised price list showing they’ve corrected that problem.”

In lieu of a civil penalty, Tregillus says the FTC requires a payment by violating funeral homes to the U.S. Treasury using a formula that averages $6,000. And, he says, violators should expect undercover shoppers to stop by again. “There is, indeed, that likelihood," concludes Tregillus, "and that’s something we try to do every year around the country because our shops are nationwide and so far as we can, we do re-visit homes that have previously been subject to the program.”

Lansing area funeral homes cited by the Federal Trade Commission for pricing information violations in 2017:

Skinner Funeral Home, Lansing

Paradise Funeral Chapel and Arrangement Services, Lansing

Gorsline Runciman, East Lansing

Nelson-House, Owosso

Keck-Coleman, St. Johns

Holihan-Atkin Barclay, Grand Ledge

Peters and Murray, Grand Ledge

All have entered the Funeral Rule Offenders Program.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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