funeral industry giants slammed BANNER
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CHOICE and Bare create greater price transparency for funeral customers

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  • Mel Buttigieg
  • Writer, Bare
  • August 11, 2020
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We started Bare Cremation with a mission to change the funeral industry, to offer Australians a simpler, more affordable and transparent alternative to traditional funeral providers. And thanks to the amazing support of our community and consumer champion CHOICE, it’s working!

In a “small win” for vulnerable Australians, funeral giant InvoCare was forced to back down on charging a misleading late fee for services billed in advance, according to an investigative report by CHOICE.

The November 2019 investigative report claimed the $352 fee had been noted on invoices from InvoCare’s brands as an administration fee – before the customer was even due to pay – under the guise of an administration fee. InvoCare owns brands including White Lady Funerals and Simplicity.

CHOICE said it was tipped off on the practice by a funeral industry insider, who called it a “complete gouge of customers” in an anonymous quote cited by the consumer body. It made a complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about the way InvoCare portrayed the fee.

“The description is misleading because the fee does not cover any type of service and therefore operates as a pre-emptive penalty,” the ACCC complaint submitted by CHOICE read. “For this reason, it is essential an unfair contract term.”

The investigation drew widespread criticism from industry participants, consumer protection organisations and families impacted by the practice. In a statement to Bare Cremation on June 2, 2020, InvoCare said it has since made changes to its processes concerning the fee.

“We pride ourselves on our transparency and in looking after the welfare of families during a critical time of need,” the statement read. “InvoCare acknowledged the feedback provided by CHOICE and understood there may have been some confusion relating to how the administration fee was applied to invoices.

“A thorough review of our processes was undertaken, including the use of the administration fee. To avoid any potential confusion about the administration fee, InvoCare removed the administration fee from its invoices earlier this year,” InvoCare added.

‘Small win’ for the funeral market

In a follow-up article from February 2020, Amy Pereira, a CHOICE campaigns and policy adviser, said she was pleased to see that InvoCare was moving to remove the pre-emptive late fee from its invoices.

“CHOICE will continue … to make sure that vulnerable people are not further disadvantaged by unconscionable behaviour in the funeral market.

“This represents a small win in a market that is highly concentrated and systemically engages in practices that take advantage of families when they are at their most vulnerable,” Ms Pereira was quoted as saying.

“CHOICE will continue to watch InvoCare closely to make sure that vulnerable people are not further disadvantaged by unconscionable behaviour in the funeral market.”

At Bare, we want to thank CHOICE for its investigation into transparency in the funeral industry.

We encourage Australians to be thoughtful in their choice of funeral director. There are many great ones out there, but do your research and ensure they are transparent and honest in the prices they provide.

For a fully transparent funeral contract, visit the Bare Cremation website, or call 1800 319 568.

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