Thursday, July 18, 2013
The Funeral Consumers Alliance recently warned the FTC that Houston-based Service Corporation International’s $1.4 billion acquisition of Stewart Enterprises would give it control over more than 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries nationwide, making it the largest of such operators and presumably leading to diminished competition, higher prices, and deteriorating service.
The average full-service funeral costs over $7,000, and the alliance worries SCI will only increase prices now that it faces even less competition. The alliance also notes SCI has a poor track record of customer abuse, from “lying about options in order to boost the funeral bill, to digging up graves to re-sell them to another unsuspecting family, to denying the legal rights of LGBT people to make funeral arrangements for their partners.” SCI also recently spent $100 million to settle a grave-desecration class action.
See David Lee, Funeral Chain Merger Draws Consumer Protest, Courthouse News Service, July 15, 2013.