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History of the Funeral Rule

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HISTORY OF THE FUNERAL RULE

The roots of the Funeral Rule are found in two books that were published in the late 60’s - - Unsafe At Any Speed by Ralph Nader and The American Way of Death by Jessica Midford. In the late 1960’s, the FTC was a paper tiger. Ralph Nader, who began the consumer protection movement in this country with the publication of Unsafe At Any Speed, was a sharp critic of the Federal Trade Commission for its lack of consumer protection. Specifically, the FTC was criticized because it relied too heavily on consumer complaints and brought enforcement actions only on a case-by-case basis. The consumer protection movement wanted the FTC to proceed against entire industries rather than individual businesses. The Federal Trade Commission felt it did not have the power to regulate an entire industry. So Congress in the late 60’s and early 70’s gave the FTC trade regulation rulemaking powers. This enabled the FTC to enact regulations that would bind an entire industry. With this power, the FTC set out to transform itself as the nation’s consumer protection watchdog. It hired a group of liberal young lawyers and charged them with identifying industries that were ripe for regulation. Using this power, the FTC enacted trade regulation rules on hearing aids, used cars, eyeglasses, vocational schools, children’s advertising, and funeral service. In early 1972, during an FTC Staff meeting, it was suggested by a staffer who had read Jessica Midford’s book, The American Way of Death, that the FTC should proceed against the funeral industry. In December of 1972, the FTC Funeral Rule investigation started. The FTC Staff gathered material on the funeral industry and did a price survey of local funeral homes in the District of Columbia. After reviewing that data, the Federal Trade Commission decided to conduct a full rulemaking procedure. The...

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