Friday, May 9, 2008

Funeral Home News: What is the FTC doing in Pittsburgh?

WTAE from Pittsburgh reports that the FTC followed up the television's investigation into the area's funeral homes compliance with the FTC Funeral Home Rule. Now the strangeness apparently starts:

But the FTC refuses to tell consumers exactly what the funeral homes did that was wrong.


But the FTC refused to make public the nature of the violations at Cooke Funeral Home. Details of the violations are whited out from the documents that Team 4 requested.

All this sounds very ominous until one gets down towards the end of the story:
The FTC took no action against Lanigan, but it did require the other four to enter the Funeral Rule Offenders Program, a three-year educational program operated not by the government but by the funeral home industry itself.

And that's the trade-off for offenders. They agree to enter the FROP program, and the public will never find out what they did wrong.

I have yet to deal with the FROP program - and hope never to do so. See, I agree with one of the other Pittsburgh funeral directors:
East Pittsburgh Funeral Director Pat Lanigan was also visited by undercover FTC agents, who later sent him a compliance letter claiming his business committed "very serious violations of the (funeral) rule." But the details of those violations were erased from the copy of the letter the FTC sent to Team 4.

"In my case, somebody could make up any story in any figment from their imagination about what I did wrong, and we didn't do anything wrong," said Lanigan. "Actually, it was just a misinterpretation by the FTC of our price list."
I think combining a higholy publicized story with a the anonymity of FROP creates a nasty situation implied by Mr. Lanigan.

Luckily, Indiana funeral directors have not had a sweep like this one in Pittsburgh. That does not mean we can assume none loom in the future. Do a good audit of your procedures and make sure that your people get trained thoroughly in the Funeral Home Rule.