Package Pricing 2012 (Oppose)

The sole justification for the Funeral Package Pricing bills A08132 (Weprin) and S5627 (O’Mara) 
is to maximize the profits of large funeral providers. Service Corporation International (SCI), the largest provider of funeral services in North America, stated in its 2003 annual report: 

“On a burial funeral, Dignity packaged sales generate on average approximately $2,800 more than non-Dignity sales. On a cremation service, Dignity packaged sales generate approximately $1,700 more 
than non-Dignity sales.”

Additionally, in their 2006, 10 K Filing, SCI reported another increase in average revenue per funeral service 
of $283 and other increases in the intervening years. So-called Dignity packages contain pricey gimmicks  
such as a twenty-four-hour Compassion Hotline, Internet Memorial Archive, Bereavement Travel Program, 
Aftercare Planner, and something mysteriously called Signature Memories. These raise profits but may be 
of little, if any, value to most consumers. Package pricing also threatens small neighborhood businesses, 
such as florists who cater to the needs of grieving families. Large providers tend to buy their flowers in bulk
outside the neighborhood, thus taking money out of the community. By allowing the bundling of goods and services, these bills would gut important consumer protections put in place twenty years ago to prevent pressuring grieving families to purchase unnecessary goods and services. Whereas today anyone can compare prices of items and services by telephoning a funeral home, comparing prices of packages that contain different goods and services would be very difficult. Federal Trade Commission regulations require that all funeral homes must offer an itemized list to customers, but such lists can be presented as complicated and tedious, so that the high priced packages seem the simpler choice. Current New York law requires that the customer receive an itemized statement. This is the status quo, and it works well. The bills propose a one-year study by the Consumers Protection Board (CPB), but this agency does not have jurisdiction over funeral home complaints. In a letter dated March 17, 2009, responding to an inquiry from the Funeral Consumers Alliance of L.I./NYC, the CPB acknowledged that it had received six complaints about funeral homes in three years, but noted that it does not have jurisdiction in such cases. The Bureau of Funeral Directing of the Health Department does. It appears that the bills assign the study to the wrong agency. Further, the bills are unfunded. Who pays for enforcement?