The ACCC has accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from Western Australian funeral services provider Bowra & O’Dea Pty Ltd, in which Bowra & O’Dea admitted that it advertised prices for its funeral and cremation services which did not include all unavoidable costs and acknowledged that it entered into contracts containing alleged unfair contract terms.
Bowra & O’Dea has also paid penalties of $26,640 after the ACCC issued it with two infringement notices for allegedly advertising prices for two of its funeral and cremation services that did not include unavoidable costs.
Between at least September and December 2020, Bowra & O’Dea published prices on its website for funeral and cremation services that allegedly failed to include certain unavoidable costs.
The published price for the ‘Premium Dual Service’ did not include cemetery fees or the cost of a casket or coffin, and the published price for its ‘Essential Goodbye Service’ did not include cremation or burial fees or cremation permit fees.
Bowra & O’Dea has now amended its website to ensure all unavoidable costs are included in any advertised price for its funeral and cremation services.
“We were concerned that Bowra & O’Dea was advertising prices that may have misled consumers by including only part of the price and failing to include costs that are unavoidable for a funeral, such as the cremation or burial fee,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.
“Failing to display accurate pricing information for funeral and cremation services appears to be a widespread issue in the industry. Funeral businesses need to do better and make sure they give complete and accurate information to their customers.”
The ACCC was also concerned about contract terms which allowed Bowra & O’Dea to vary the price of the contract without seeking the consumer’s consent and with no right for the consumer to terminate the contract, and to charge consumers who did not pay invoices on time both an interest rate on the unpaid amount and a late payment fee.
“Funeral businesses should not charge consumers for costs they have not agreed to, or excessive interest or late payment fees,” Mr Keogh said.
Bowra & O’Dea has undertaken to remove these terms from its contracts and to establish and maintain a consumer law compliance program.
A copy of the undertaking is available on the public register at: Bowra & O'Dea Pty Ltd
Bowra & O’Dea operates 12 funeral homes in and around Perth, providing cremation and funeral services, and sells caskets, urns and coffins.
The ACCC has previously taken action against funeral services providers Coventry Funeral Homes, WT Howard Funeral Services, Alex Gow Funerals, Bare Cremation and Parkside Funerals.
Note to editors
The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law, which also sets the penalty amount.
The ACCC can issue an infringement notice when it has reasonable grounds to believe a person or business has contravened certain consumer protection provisions in the Australian Consumer Law.
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