NEW RULES for the funeral industry, which will make it easier for people to access price information when planning a funeral, have been announced by the NSW Government.
Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the new regulation will provide greater price clarity for consumers at a time often considered one of the most difficult, and would allow them to compare like-for-like services across the funeral industry.
"Planning a funeral is an emotional and stressful time. During the consultation, customers told us they wanted to be able to make informed decisions quickly and as accurately as possible by having greater price transparency online where they can consider their options in private.
Under the new regulations, when planning a funeral for a loved one, you can spend less time worrying about the fees and charges and more time working with your chosen funeral director to create a service that allows family and friends to be supported in their grief."
The new regulation includes an expanded funeral goods and services information standard which will enable consumers to easily compare prices for like products and services. A price list must disclose whether mortuary or crematorium services are managed by an external supplier.
The new information standard will begin on February 1, 2020 to allow businesses the opportunity to transition over to the new requirements.
Consumer group CHOICE says the changes are a good start and the funeral industry must be held to account across the country.
The new rules will force funeral providers to list costs of services at their place of business and website and provide price details before entering into an agreement.
The announcement follows a recent CHOICE investigation that found many funeral homes are charging inflated prices and profiting from a lack of price transparency.
"Families are being taken advantage of when they're at their most vulnerable. Our investigation found an industry where manipulation, overcharging and misinformation were the norm," said CHOICE investigative journalist Saimi Jeong.
"It's important that Governments and regulators, like the NSW Government in this case, act on manipulative markets. The funeral industry must be held to account across the country."
CHOICE's investigation found many funeral businesses flouting existing laws and the consumer advocate says monitoring and enforcement will be key.
"Arranging a funeral can be an emotional and time-sensitive process. When coping with grief and arranging a funeral, we're almost always reliant on funeral suppliers and are limited in our ability to shop around. The new rules are a step in the right direction and will make it easier for people to find options that are fair, affordable and appropriate. It's important that the industry is monitored and these new rules are enforced effectively."
CHOICE's submission to NSW Fair Trading is available here