Death bed for rip-offs
Funeral industry in crosshairs
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.