9 Investigates: Funeral homes criticized over pricing, transparency

9 Investigates: Funeral homes criticized over pricing, transparency

MIDLAND, N.C. — When Agena Daly's 26-year-old son Michael died suddenly in 2014, planning a funeral was overwhelming enough -- not to mention the cost.

"[The funeral home] said this is the price and so that was that," Daly said.

some text
some text
Content Continues Below

She went to a Mint Hill funeral home and showed Channel 9 an itemized price list she was handed, called the “General Price List.” It would cost $3,995 for direct cremation alone.

She didn't think much of it, until she went to another funeral home last year, which was owned by the same group, 20 miles away. That price list quoted her $1,995 for direct cremation.

some text
some text

"I'm just real curious why I was charged so much more three years earlier than what I was just charged now," said Daly.

Dignity Memorial, the group that runs both of the locations Daly visited, came under fire last month for prices. Two consumer groups, the Funeral Consumer Alliance and Consumer Federation of America, released a report accusing Dignity of higher-than-average prices.

“SCI and our Dignity Memorial locations are dedicated to providing the highest level of service to the families and communities where we operate," a Dignity Memorial spokesperson said in a statement. "SCI routinely evaluates and adjusts pricing as needed to reflect competitive market conditions while still providing the high level of service expected by the families and communities we serve.”

The report claimed Dignity locations charged more than other funeral homes for direct cremation 72 percent of the time.

Channel 9 contacted a spokesperson about the report. A statement read, in part:

"We take the rights of client families, the Funeral Rule, and other industry regulations and requirements seriously. We provide our associates with a comprehensive training program as well as continuing education to ensure all industry requirements and guidelines, including those related to sharing pricing information, are met or exceeded."

(Click PLAY to watch Blake Hanson explain funeral pricing)

A Federal Trade Commission investigation, announced in February, revealed more than one in five funeral homes failing to comply with federal rules for funeral home price disclosure.

"It's not a rule that is hard to comply with," said Dotan Weinman, assistant director for the division of marketing practices at the FTC. "We think overall the rule works but we would like to obviously see better results."