The Courier-Mail

Death bed for rip-offs

Funeral industry in crosshairs

- JESSICA MARSZALEK THE SURVEY IS OPEN UNTIL FRIDAY AT CONSULTATI­ON.ACCC.GOV.AU/ENFORCEMEN­T/ACCC-FUNERAL-SERVICES-SURVEY/

RIP-OFF merchants in the funeral industry are in the spotlight over their 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 a survey open until Friday.

Run by the Australian Competitio­n and Consumer Commission (ACCC), it follows concerns from chair Rod Sims about anti-competitiv­e conduct, deceptive and misleading practices, opaque pricing and unconscion­able conduct and appeals by him for whistleblo­wers to come forward. “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 people 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 unregulate­d industry needed mandatory price transparen­cy so people making major financial decisions at such a difficult time were protected. “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.”

Ms Fentiman said she had been shocked by stories of people being hit with thousands of dollars of bills after the fact. She described the mark-up on coffins as “extraordin­ary”. It was “absolutely” possible more problems would be uncovered by the survey that might be examined through reforms.

She said she wanted to see mandatory rules so businesses would be fined if they didn’t give fulsome quotes, display prices online and in funeral homes, and were not honest about unnecessar­y costs such as the fact paying for a funeral director wasn’t mandatory.

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