The General Price List (GPL) is the keystone of the Funeral Rule. It must contain identifying information, itemized prices for the various goods and services the funeral service provider sells, and other important disclosures. The GPL enables consumers to comparison shop and to purchase, on an itemized basis, only the goods and services they want.
Who Gets a GPL?
Funeral service providers must give the General Price List to anyone who asks, in person, about funeral goods, funeral services, or the prices of such goods or services. They must give the GPL to such individuals to keep. The request for information does not have to come from a consumer or someone who wants to make funeral arrangements now or in the future. They must give a GPL to all persons who inquire about funeral arrangements. This may include competitors, journalists, and representatives of businesses, religious societies, government agencies, or consumer groups.
Note: If someone asks them about the goods and services they sell, funeral service providers must give that person a General Price List. If they are uncertain whether the Rule applies in a particular situation, it would be sensible to provide the list.
When Should the GPL Be Offered?
Funeral service providers do not have to hand out the General Price List as soon as someone walks into their business, but they must offer the price list when they begin to discuss any of the following:
- the type of funeral or disposition they can arrange;
- the specific goods and services they offer;
- the prices of their goods and services.
Before giving a GPL to a bereaved individual, they may offer your condolences and discuss preliminary matters like veteran’s benefits or death certificates.
The triggering event for giving out the GPL is a face-to-face meeting. The face-to-face meeting can occur anywhere, not just at the funeral home. For example, funeral service providers must give out a General Price List even if the discussion of prices or arrangements takes place in the family’s home or while removing the deceased from a hospital or a nursing home. They should instruct their employees to carry extra price lists with them.
Exception: Funeral service providers are not required to offer a General Price List if they remove the deceased for transportation to the funeral home and, at that time, only request the authorization to embalm. When they request authorization to embalm, however, they also must:
- Disclose that embalming is not required by law (except in special cases, if relevant);
- Refrain from further discussion about prices or the selection of funeral goods or services while they remove the deceased. Any further discussion of prices or the selection of goods or services at this time would trigger the requirement to provide a GPL.
What About Phone or Mail Inquiries?
They must give certain information to people who telephone, but the Rule does not require them to send callers a General Price List. Similarly, they do not have to send a GPL in response to mail inquiries about funeral goods and services.
Of course, they are free to send a GPL to someone who calls or writes for information if they wish to do so. However, if a telephone or mail inquiry is followed up by a meeting at the funeral home or elsewhere, they must provide a GPL at that time. Some states require funeral providers to mail a price list upon request. You should check to see what the requirements are in your state.
Does the Rule Require the GPL Be Given to Keep?
A verbal offer of a GPL is not enough to comply with the Rule. Funeral service providers cannot merely tell consumers that a GPL is available for inspection, nor can they show a GPL in a booklet or binder where it appears there's only one copy or that the booklet is solely for the funeral director's use.
They must physically offer consumers a General Price List that they can keep and take home with them. If the consumer does not want to accept or look at the General Price List, the funeral service provider does not have to do anything else. However, they should do nothing to discourage customers from looking at the GPL, such as telling them that it is unnecessary or difficult to understand.
Funeral service providers cannot charge a fee for the price list or place any conditions upon giving consumers information that the Rule requires funeral service providers to give to them. They must give all required information to anyone who asks, free of charge.
What about GPL and Preneed Arrangements?
Funeral service providers must give out a General Price List in all preneed situations. Because they may sell different goods and services on a preneed basis, their preneed GPL may vary from the GPL they use in at-need situations. However, any General Price List used for preneed arrangements must include all required disclosures and offer goods and services on an itemized basis. Funeral service providers cannot offer only package funerals to preneed customers. In addition, funeral service providers must give a GPL to anyone who wishes to modify the funeral goods or services already purchased under a preneed contract or to a survivor who must pay an additional sum because prices have increased since the time the arrangements were pre-planned.
Example: Mr. Stone made preneed arrangements before his death. His wife wants to change the casket and the services that he bought under the preneed contract. The funeral service provider must give Mrs. Stone a General Price List at the beginning of the discussions and show her a Casket Price List before she looks at any caskets.