Dealing With the High Cost of Dying

103407746-gettyimages-471349769-1910x1000Let’s face it. No one enjoys discussing death or dying, much less planning a funeral for a loved one or even for themselves.

However uncomfortable the subject may be, if you don’t plan in advance, it could cost you both financially and emotionally.

Shopping around for the most suitable and affordable funeral goods and services is an important step in the right direction.  However, with so many funeral homes and services to choose from, it can be a daunting process.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, which licenses, regulates, and investigates complaints against California funeral establishments and nearly 200 fraternal and private cemeteries in the State, offers a booklet titled, “Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases,” which contains information that will help consumers make informed decisions throughout the process.  It provides extensive information on the legal requirements involving disposition arrangements such as home death care, retail casket sellers, embalming and cremation, as well as coroner fees and a host of other important and useful information.

consumer-guide-coverThe “Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases” is available online in both English and Spanish at the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau’s Web site, www.cfb.ca.gov.

Additional help for consumers may also be on the way. Two groups, the Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Consumer Federation of America, recently filed a petition with the FTC seeking requirements for  funeral homes to fully disclose their prices for burial products and services online. Some establishments currently list pricing for services online; others do not.

If the requirements are approved, the change would update a 1984 FTC rule that currently requires price disclosure, but only in person or over the phone. Many consumer advocates maintain the new online guidelines—if implemented—would make planning for funerals much easier and convenient for consumers who could access funeral information with the click of a mouse and in the comfort of their homes.

Remember, once you’ve decided on a funeral home and arrangements have been made,  you’re entitled by law to get an itemized statement with the final cost so there are no surprises and you know exactly what you’re paying for.

Most importantly, the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau recommends consumers make sure that the funeral establishment, funeral director, crematory, crematory manager, or cemetery they choose are licensed by the State and in good standing.  You can verify the license online on the Bureau’s website at http://www.cfb.ca.gov/consumer/lookup.shtml

(NOTE: The State does not license cemeteries operated by religious organizations; cities, counties, or cemetery districts; the military; Native American tribal organizations; or other groups. If you don’t know who regulates the cemetery you’re interested in, ask the cemetery manager.)

If you need help with a cemetery or funeral issue, visit the Bureau’s Web site at www.cfb.ca.gov or call the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210 or the Bureau directly at (916) 574-7870.

 

 

 

 

 

DCA Complaint Resolution Program Comes to an End

DCALogo_small 2007After processing more than 201,395 complaints and recovering $32.4 million for consumers, DCA’s Complaint Resolution Program (CRP) will close its doors on
June 30, 2016.

Established in 1994 and originally called the Complaint Mediation Division, CRP was created to consolidate and streamline consumer complaint processing. CRP staff review complaints and act as a neutral third party between the complainant and the licensee/
business to settle disputes. The CRP representative can propose terms to settle disputes but does not decide how they should be resolved.

CRP processes all consumer complaints filed against California businesses that are regulated by these bureaus: Cemetery and Funeral; Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation; Security and Investigative Services; and Private Postsecondary Education.

Fewer incoming complaints than in years past and fewer bureaus participating in the program led to the closure.

After June 30, consumers who have complaints related to the bureaus that were previously under the CRP’s jurisdiction can contact the bureaus directly or call DCA’s Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210.

Cemeteries Adhere to Drought Water Restrictions

Governor Brown’s Executive Order in April calling for a mandatory a 25 percent cut in potable water use through February 2016 means belt-tightening not only for residents and municipalities, but for commercial and industrial properties as well.

That directive includes California’s cemeteries.

The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau (Bureau) wants to alert consumers that their local cemetery may not look as green and lush as it normally does because of the dire nature of California’s drought status. The Bureau’s latest brochure, “Cemetery Maintenance During Drought,” offers information to consumers on what they can expect from the Bureau and from cemeteries and to cemeteries on how to maintain their grounds and inform consumers about their drought-related practices. You can access the brochure online at http://www.cfb.ca.gov/consumer/drought.pdfPages from 15_244_CemFun_Drought_R1

Not all cemeteries are affected by the Governor’s Executive Order. Those that use recycled or reclaimed water are not restricted. Cemeteries with a self-sufficient water supply, such as a well, are required to reduce water use by 25 percent or limit outdoor irrigation with potable water to no more than two days per week. Cemeteries that receive their water from another source (an urban water supplier or a water utility regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission) must comply with efficiency measures implemented by their water provider.

Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations section 2333 (b)(3) states that cemeteries shall “provide a sufficient supply of water to keep cemetery grass and plants as green as seasonably possible in accordance with natural terrain, availability of water, and local or county ordinances regarding water use.”

The Bureau will continue to monitor cemeteries for compliance with State regulations, considering the watering restrictions applicable to the cemetery. The Bureau is dedicated to working with individual cemeteries based on any applicable watering restrictions for their property.

Consumers should keep in mind that the State does not license cemeteries operated by religious organizations; cities, counties, or cemetery districts; the military; Native American tribal organizations; or other groups. If you don’t know who regulates the cemetery you visit, ask the manager of the property.

For more information, visit the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau website or call the Bureau at (916) 574-7870.

Cemetery and Funeral Bureau Holds Roundtable Discussion on Impact of Drought on Cemeteries

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The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau on Wednesday hosted a roundtable discussion to discuss the impact of the California drought on cemeteries and to brainstorm ideas for coping with water use reductions.

“Everyone needs to do their part to save water during the drought,” said Lisa Moore, Chief of the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau. “We want to help our licensed cemeteries achieve a balance between their responsibilities to reduce water use while being sensitive to families who have loved ones interred in those cemeteries.”

The Bureau invited all licensed cemeteries to participate in the roundtable and addressed issues facing cemeteries in the current drought. In addition to discussing the issues cemeteries face because of the drought, solutions and alternatives were explored to help cemeteries adapt. Some of the topics discussed in the meeting were:

  • Best practices at cemeteries for effectively implementing water restrictions
  • Water efficiency measures currently in use by cemeteries
  • Conformance with State/Local watering restrictions
  • Potential impacts on business
  • Informing consumers about water restrictions

The Bureau will solicit additional input through the end of this month and then create a consumer information fact sheet to educate consumers about the California drought and the water restrictions under which cemeteries must operate. That fact sheet will be available on the Bureau’s web site.

By reducing their water use, cemeteries will help achieve the reductions called for in Governor Brown’s Executive Order.

The Cemetery and Funeral Bureau licenses and regulates cemeteries, with the exception of cemeteries operated by religious organizations, cities, counties, cemetery districts, the military and Native American tribal organizations.

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The Department of Consumer Affairs promotes and protects the interests of California Consumers. Consumers can file complaints against licensees by contacting the Department of Consumer Affairs at (800) 952-5210 or www.dca.ca.gov.

Cemetery and Funeral Bureau Revokes Licenses For Beloved Care Funeral Service

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SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau has revoked the licenses associated with the Beloved Care Funeral Service in Bakersfield.

An investigation into Beloved Care and its owner James Otis Gamble, Jr., uncovered fraud, misrepresentation and unprofessional conduct. As a result, the funeral establishment license, funeral director license and embalmer license were revoked effective today. Consumers should be aware neither the funeral home nor Mr. Gamble may operate legally in California.

Consumers who have questions or concerns about Beloved Care Funeral Service should contact the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau at (800) 952-5210.

Consumers should always verify the license of a funeral establishment before doing business with it. To verify a license or to file a complaint, visit www.cfb.ca.gov or call us toll free at (800) 952-5210.

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The Cemetery and Funeral Bureau advocates consumer protection and licensee compliance through proactive education and enforcement of laws and regulations of the death care industry.

Cemetery and Funeral Bureau revokes Delano Funeral Establishment and Funeral Director licenses

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SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau has revoked the licenses associated with the Lane Family Funeral Home in Delano.

The licenses of the funeral home, and of Funeral Director Padraic C. Lane, were revoked as the result of an investigation which found fraud, misrepresentation, false and misleading advertising, and failure to provide printed price lists.

As a result, Lane Family Funeral home does not have the valid licenses required by the state to conduct business. All activity was ordered to cease as of December 16, 2013. Consumers should be aware that neither the funeral home nor Mr. Lane may operate legally in California as of that date.

Consumers who have questions or concerns about Mr. Lane or the Lane Family Funeral Home should contact the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau at (800) 952-5210.

Consumers should always verify the license of a funeral establishment before doing business with it. To verify a license or to file a complaint, visit www.cfb.ca.gov or call us toll free at (800) 952-5210.

The Cemetery and Funeral Bureau advocates consumer protection and licensee compliance through proactive education and enforcement of laws and regulations of the death care industry.