*In Response to the /60 Minutes/ Segment
"Final Resting Places"*
ICCFA statement in response to the CBS /60 Minutes/ segment, "Final
Resting Places," broadcast on Sunday, May 20, 2012, and accessible on
the /60 Minutes/ website:
The ICCFA understands that a 12-minute television segment does not
permit much detail or nuances. However, since /60 Minutes/ chose to
relate the atrocities that occurred at Burr Oak Cemetery in 2009, we
believe that it had a journalistic responsibility to also report that
the cemetery staff involved were prosecuted and are now serving prison
terms. No mention was made of this.
More troubling, there are several misstatements of fact, especially by
the consumer advocate, Mr. Slocum. For example, he states that the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not regulate cemeteries. This is
incorrect: Section 5 of the FTC Act prohibits misleading and unfair
sales practices and there exists no exemption or exclusion for
cemeteries, funeral homes or crematories. References to the FTC
Funeral Rule not covering cemeteries ignores the fact the Rule is
mainly a price disclosure requirement and the problems highlighted at
Burr Oak and other cemeteries are not addressed, prevented or remedied
even if cemeteries were covered under the Funeral Rule.
More significant, unsubstantiated claims were made of "a wild west out
there" in terms of the lack of cemetery regulations and oversight. The
segment made no reference to the December 2011 report by the U.S.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) of State Funeral/Cemetery Laws
that found specific regulations for cemeteries at 88 percent, up from
77 percent in 2003, based on responses from 42 states. Also,
references to the proposed Bereaved Consumers Bill of Rights Act (H.R.
900) made no mention that the bill addresses none of the issues at
Burr Oak Cemetery with the exception of recordkeeping.
Unsubstantiated claims of the volume of cemetery complaints should
have been questioned, especially since the FTC reported earlier this
year that out of a total of 1.8 million consumer complaints filed
during 2011, including reports from all North American Better Business
Bureaus, funeral-related complaints tallied at 1,228 or 0.07% of the
Again, the ICCFA understands that the limited nature of television
restrict an extended exploration of the issues. However, extravagant
claims should be subject to increased scrutiny, especially given the
recent and publicly available reports from the FTC and the GAO. The
fact is that out of the daily 5,000 to 6,000 funerals, burials,
cremations and related services, there are a remarkably low number of
problems and complaints. The ICCFA believes that even one complaint is
one too many but it is important to place such issues into context to
avoid misleading the public.
The ICCFA Government and Legal Affairs Committee has developed a set
of 28 model guidelines for state laws and regulations, which have been
approved by the Board of Directors. The guidelines combine a
sensitivity to consumer protection issues with the need for all
industry members, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, cemeteries,
funeral homes, retail monument dealers or crematories, to conduct
their operations according to sound business principles.
Founded in 1887, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral
Association is the only international trade association representing
all segments of the cemetery, cremation, funeral and memorialization
profession. It's membership is composed of more than 7,500 cemeteries,
funeral homes, memorial designers, crematories and related businesses