Price Survey: General Price Lists
What is a General Price List (GPL) and who determines the content of a GPL?
Every funeral home must maintain a General Price List (GPL) and provide a copy of it to anyone who asks for one, and to every customer. The GPL must describe in specific ways the services and merchandise offered for sale and be constructed so that a customer can order only what he or she wants.
These practices are prescribed by the State of New York and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in its “Funeral Rule.” This dual set of regulations leads to repetitious disclosure statements and a few redundant price items on GPLs. A typical GPL in New York State has several statements that begin with “FTC,” which indicates federally-mandated wording. We believe that New York ought to use the FTC wording in state regulations that duplicate the intent of federal regulations.
A proper reading of a GPL to estimate costs requires close attention to details.
The GPLs examined in the 2019 price survey were all in substantial compliance with the Federal Trade Commission's "Funeral Rule" and with the similar requirements of the New York State Department of Health, but this does not mean that all the GPLs look alike. The lists varied in format, some being customized for individual businesses, so the appearance of a GPL varies with the funeral home, in spite of the fact that they all contain a common core of information. Based on our past experience with GPLs from throughout our service area we advise the reader to approach the problem by first paying attention to the major headings in the GPL, from which we derived the column headings in our survey tables.
Sometimes one has to combine prices listed separately in a GPL to determine the cost of a single service. This is particularly true for ceremonies (viewing, funeral service, graveside service, memorial service) where the cost of using the facilities of a funeral home may be listed separately from the costs of staff supervision.
The FTC Funeral Rule specifies that one price including both supervision and use of facilities should be set for each of these ceremonial services offered by the funeral home, while New York State requires separate pricing for supervision and for facilities/equipment for each of these listings. The Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Finger Lakes asserts that the New York State requirement for separate pricing of supervision and facilities/equipment for viewings, visitations, and ceremonies adds unjustifiable complexity to General Price Lists.
Travel (transportation) costs are another item that may require calculations, using mileage charges and vehicular charges listed separately in a GPL.
Vaults are not required for all burials. They are sold by funeral homes, but any requirement for a vault is generated by a cemetery. The FTC requires that the following disclosure be added to a price list for vaults: “In most areas of the country, state or local law does not require that you buy a container to surround the casket in the grave. However, many cemeteries require that you have such a container so that the grave will not sink in over time. Either a grave liner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements.”