NOVEMBER 17, 2014
InvoCare’s brands include White Lady Funerals and Guardian.
AUSTRALIA’S largest operator of funeral homes, cemeteries and crematoriums has been fined more than $100,000 for making false and misleading statements to prepay customers.
In January 2011, InvoCare began requiring customers to buy memorials if they wanted to be buried at their sites.
But several customers who pre-bought burial sites before that date complained to the competition regulator, saying InvoCare had told them they were contractually obliged to buy memorial plaques too.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission became aware of potential misconduct in late 2013 and raised concerns with InvoCare, which has paid a $102,000 fine.
The regulator’s deputy chair Delia Rickard said InvoCare, whose brands include White Lady Funerals and Guardian, had taken advantage of customers.
“The ACCC was particularly concerned about these alleged misrepresentations about the obligation to purchase memorial plaques, as Invocare was dealing with consumers in circumstances where they were particularly vulnerable,” she said in a statement.
“More generally, it is important that businesses do not represent consumers are required to make an additional purchase when this is not the case under the contractual terms which bind the consumer.”
InvoCare has since agreed to refrain for three years from compelling customers to buy a memorial, including under existing contracts which contain such a requirement.
It owns funeral home brands in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.