Businesses must provide clear and accurate information
It is against the law for businesses to mislead consumers.
Prices must be clear and accurate
Businesses should be clear and accurate about their prices when communicating with consumers. Businesses may break the law if they mislead consumers. Examples include:
- widely advertising prices that are only available to a small number of consumers
- presenting optional costs as mandatory
- mislabelling late payment fees as ‘estate fees’.
Consumers should be given clear information about what is and isn’t legally required to provide a funeral service. Businesses should also give consumers the contract terms and cost of services.
Pricing information and quotes should:
- be itemised
- include all associated fees and charges
- clearly state the final price, including GST.
Pricing information in a business's promotional materials, processes and templates should:
- state all applicable fees and charges upfront
- identify the geographic areas where any promotion applies.
This information should be clear, accurate and upfront, and not be hidden using fine print or disclaimers.
Claims about business ownership must be truthful
Businesses must not mislead consumers about their ownership. For example, businesses such as subsidiaries of larger corporations must not incorrectly claim to be ‘family owned’, ‘local’ or ‘independent’.
Commissions should be transparent
Some businesses pay commissions for customer referrals from third parties. This might be hospitals, nursing homes and comparison websites.
To avoid misleading consumers, businesses should be transparent about these commercial relationships.
What to ask funeral providers
Consumers have the right to ask funeral providers questions about their service.
- Ask for all information about the options in writing
- Ask if all legal requirements for the funeral are included in the price
- Ask which items are legally required and which are optional items
- Get an itemised quote with each price listed in writing, and ask whether it includes GST
- Ask if the price quoted is the total price, with no extra fees or charges to follow
- Ask for an explanation if not sure what a fee is for, like a professional service fee or an estate fee
- Review the contract terms before signing. If possible, ask someone else to also review the contract terms. Using a community legal service may also be an option.
Businesses must not take advantage of vulnerability
Consumers should not feel pressured into buying a product or service that isn’t right for them.
Businesses must not engage in
unconscionable conduct. This can include acting harshly or taking advantage of the vulnerability experienced by consumers arranging a funeral.
For example, businesses must not:
- pressure vulnerable consumers to buy more expensive products or services, or products or services they don’t need
- charge more than what was agreed.
Funeral businesses need to remain aware of the distress that consumers can be experiencing when arranging a funeral. Businesses should tailor their dealings appropriately. For example, businesses should be cautious about setting sales targets for their staff. This can encourage upselling and pressure sales.