Crackdown to expose funeral industry rip-off merchants

 

Rip-off merchants in the funeral industry have been warned, with the state government and consumer watchdog sharpening their knives over dodgy practices.

Queenslanders have been asked to share their horror stories in dealing with unscrupulous business people who they feel may have preyed on them in their time of vulnerability in a survey open until Friday.

Run by the ACCC, it follows concerns from chair Rod Sims around anti-competitive conduct, deceptive and misleading practices, opaque pricing and unconscionable conduct and appeals by him for whistleblowers to come forward.

The Palaszczuk Government and ACCC have been deeply concerned of reports of unconscionable conduct and price gouging in the funeral industry.
The Palaszczuk Government and ACCC have been deeply concerned of reports of unconscionable conduct and price gouging in the funeral industry.

"By selecting this as a priority, we aim to improve our understanding of the market and undertake targeted action," he said.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman has encouraged all to have their say, with the Palaszczuk Government hoping the results help them focus on their own reforms.

"This survey is the first step for the Palaszczuk Government to hear from consumers and stakeholders on this important issue and to better understand the concerns of the wider community in this space," she said.

Ms Fentiman said the currently unregulated industry needed mandatory price transparency so people making major financial decisions at such a difficult time were protected.

"Because we don't talk about this people aren't aware of what their rights are," she said.

"They should be able to very easily look online and compare prices for packages and it's very important they're provided with that upfront quote so they don't get hit with a big bill at the end of a very emotional and stressful time."

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

Ms Fentiman said she had been shocked by stories of people being hit with thousands of dollars of bills after the fact, sometimes sending them into debt, and described the mark-up on coffins as "extraordinary".

She said she it was "absolutely" possible more problems would be uncovered by the survey that might be examined through the reforms.

She said she wanted to see mandatory rules that meant businesses would be fined if they didn't give fulsome quotes, display prices online and in funeral homes, were honest about unnecessary costs like the fact paying for a funeral director wasn't mandatory, and didn't display the cost of their least expensive package.

The survey is open until Friday at https://consultation.accc.gov.au/enforcement/accc-funeral-services-survey/

Originally published as Crackdown to expose funeral industry rip-off merchants



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