Funeral costs differ amid ACCC crackdown

·2-min read

Funeral prices across Australia vary more than $1500 depending on the state, survey results show.

The price comparison comes with Australia's consumer watchdog having launched a crackdown on the industry and fining two funeral homes owned by one of the country's largest operators.

The Finder study found average services in Perth the most expensive, at almost $8300, while those in the cheapest city, Brisbane, were just $6,700.

In Melbourne a funeral costs about $7,500 and Sydney about $6,900.

But Australian Funeral Directors Association (AFDA) president Adrian Barrett says the survey hasn't broken down overall costs and the differences are probably due to interstate variations in cemetery fees.

"That's the biggest variation between the states, whether the crematoriums and cemeteries are state owned," he told AAP.

Funeral director Asha Dooley from Grace Funerals in NSW says funeral costs can vary because some are run by big operators, while others are much smaller.

"I don't think you should choose a funeral director based on cost alone, you should choose people who you are comfortable with," she told AAP.

The ACCC says the industry has long been a source of public complaint and is a concentrated sector where some companies have considerable market power.

Issues include hidden fees and unfair contract terms, with operators taking advantage of consumers at a vulnerable time.

The ACCC says it has received reports of anti-competitive conduct, and began a crackdown on the sector in mid-March, calling on industry whistleblowers to come forward.

The AFDA's Adrian Barrett has welcomed the scrutiny.

"The vast majority of the industry is doing the right thing," he said.

"If there are issues consumers are facing, its important they are on the table."

Ms Dooley is confident there is enough competition in the sector and says the Penrith area, where she operates, has about 10 different funeral businesses.

"It's a really competitive industry, it has almost no barriers to entry," she said.

"Do your homework, find a provider you are comfortable with and make sure they are upfront and transparent because as an industry that's how we should be operating."

Earlier this month the consumer watchdog slapped a fine on a funeral home in Queensland and another in NSW.

The ACCC fined WT Howard Funeral Services in Taree for claiming to be "proudly local and independently owned" and Coventry Funeral Homes for claiming its Townsville funeral home as "locally owned an operated".

They are both owned by publicly-listed Propel Funeral Partners and have each been fined $12,600.

Propel is one of the largest operators in Australia along with InvoCare, which between them cover most of the market.

The ACCC's industry survey is open until 17 April 2021.

AVERAGE FUNERAL COSTS

* Perth $8261

* Hobart $7588

* Melbourne $7581

* Canberra $7032

* Adelaide $6993

* Sydney $6976

* Brisbane $6728.