The Funeral Rule permits morticians to charge a BASIC SERVICES FEE—for basic mortuary staff services and overhead—which is non-declinable. The consumer must pay this fee in addition to the cost of all funeral goods and services selected unless opting for a Direct Cremation or Immediate Burial, in which case this fee is already included. Here are other facts about the basic services fee, which is usually (but not always) the first item on the GPL:
- It accounts for approximately 40% of all service charges and in our area is roughly 25% higher than that of the national average.
- It is capricious and easily manipulated: a funeral director can lower casket prices to compete with a casket retailer, then recoup by hiking the basic services fee.
- It is inequitable: families selecting minimal funerals must nonetheless pay for overhead expenses related to parking lots or reception rooms.
- It is not consumer-friendly: the FCA has petitioned the FTC to abolish it though to date this has not occurred.
NOTE: Because the basic services fee is the only allowable non-declinable fee, a mortuary may not levy a “casket handling fee”. A fee charged when a casket is purchased outside the funeral home is illegal.