Funeral Consumers Alliance releases annual price comparison chart

  • The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Massachusetts meets in Greenfield in March. From left are Sandy Ward of Holyoke, Jim Couchon of Springfield and Joan Pillsbury of Gill. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/5/2022 2:21:01 PM
Modified: 10/5/2022 2:16:43 PM

The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Massachusetts recently released its annual price comparison chart, a tool created to help consumers navigate funeral and cremation options in the wake of a loved one’s death.

“When people are not prepared, they often go with, ‘Oh, the family’s always gone this way, so I’ll go to this place,” said President Cecile Richard. “Oftentimes, it’s more expensive than they can afford, and they use whatever means to pay for a funeral … and go into debt sometimes, even.”

The price comparison chart provides consumers with a resource for funeral and cremation services in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties. This year, the nonprofit — which was originally called the Springfield Memorial Society before changing its name in 2001 — garnered an 81% response rate from businesses.

According to a Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Massachusetts, businesses often offer service packages with different options, making direct comparisons difficult. To provide a more straightforward comparison, the nonprofit compares immediate burial and direct cremation.

Immediate burial prices from businesses surveyed range from $1,670 to $5,245 without casket or cemetery fees, according to the alliance. Direct cremation prices range from $1,185 to $4,759 without a crematory fee ($250 to $600) or medical examiner’s fee ($200). Both options include a prorated basic services fee.

“(The chart) is to make them aware there are vast price ranges depending on what funeral home you choose,” she said.

Richard said some businesses readily provide consumers with this information, while others make it more difficult to access. According to the alliance, only four western Massachusetts funeral homes — out of a possible 82 — post their prices online.

“Those price lists are only if a person shows up in person, or they can ask for a specific service, but (consumers) may not know all the services that are involved,” she said.

Although the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which regulates the funeral industry, does not require pricing to be provided online, the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Massachusetts, based in Greenfield, is joining with many other consumer organizations in lobbying the commission to make online price lists mandatory.

“Our parent organization, the Funeral Consumers Alliance, has been working on trying to get FTC to require (the general price list) to be online,” Richard said.

Overall, Richard said the alliance hopes to show consumers the variation in prices for different services from place to place. The price comparison chart can be found on the organization’s website at funeralconsumerswmass.org/price-comparisons.


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