Funeral Consumers Alliance is a grassroots organization, with local affiliates given much authority for establishing their own policies. One matter in which local practice varies is the question of whether a local chapter should focus on securing steep discounts for its own members only or be a voice for all funeral consumers in its area.

Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Piedmont chooses to be a voice for all funeral consumers in the Piedmont Triad. Because of our stance, we do not seek agreements with one or two funeral providers that would benefit our members at the expense of other consumers.

In the past, it made more sense for local funeral consumer groups to seek discounts through member-only arrangements. Before the Funeral Rule was introduced by the Federal Trade Commission in 1984, funeral homes rarely itemized their services individually so that consumers could purchase only those they wanted. The only way to obtain funeral services at a reasonable cost often was through special rates negotiated with one or two suppliers who were willing to give up some of their profits in return for more business.

Today’s picture is changing. Real competition is beginning to occur in the funeral industry, prices continue to rise but not as fast. Any consumer is free, thanks to the Funeral Rule, to visit any funeral home or crematory and obtain a general price list without obligation. Because of disclosure laws, affiliates like ours can create side-by-side comparisons of local price lists that further restrain prices. Meanwhile, choices for final disposition are increasing. Today, it is far more practical to teach consumers how to negotiate a final disposition that meets their particular budgets, needs and preferences than it is to arrange a group package that won’t be appropriate for everyone.

Undoubtedly, some consumers would rather play a passive role and let someone else – such as their local FCA chapter – negotiate a deal on their behalf. However there are significant advantages for a chapter to choose the “consumer advocate” model over the “volume discount” one:

  • Informed consumers are wise consumers. You can learn how to visit a funeral home or crematory, ask the right questions, and compare several price lists. In the process, you can arrive at an affordable solution that is tailored to your specific situation.
  • While discounts might benefit a few, funeral homes and crematories are apt to make up their lost revenue by charging other consumers more.
  • By carefully maintaining our neutrality toward local funeral providers, we are not beholden to any commercial interest. We are more apt to be trusted and perceived as a credible source of unbiased information.
  • Requiring membership fees as a condition of obtaining discounts might violate IRS standards for nonprofits, jeopardizing our right to seek donations and grants as sources of revenue for our work.
Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Piedmont joins with an increasing number of FCA affiliates in its decision to embrace the “consumer advocacy” approach to our work. We invite you to join us in working on behalf of all funeral consumers in our area as we seek to make dignified and meaningful dispositions affordable for everyone.

Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Piedmont
P.O. Box 14214
Greensboro, NC 27415-4214
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A 501(c)(3) organization