Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times – Undercover investigators visited 11 California funeral homes last year to make sure prices charged to grieving families were disclosed upfront, as required by federal law.

Nearly two-thirds flunked the test. This was an eye-opening finding for Bob Achermann, executive director of the California Funeral Directors Assn.

“More than half the homes visited. I can’t believe the number is so high,” Achermann told me. “It’s kind of amazing.” Federal Trade Commission investigators visited 100 funeral homes in six states as part of random inspections conducted annually since 1996.

More than a quarter — 27 facilities — came up short in meeting federal price-disclosure requirements, the FTC disclosed last week.

And funeral homes in California had the worst record of noncompliance. Seven of 11 randomly picked Bakersfield-area funeral homes failed to disclose prices adequately for caskets and other services.

“That was very striking,” said Lois Greisman, associate director of the FTC’s division of marketing practices. “It’s terribly disturbing.”

The agency’s report serves as a reminder that even though funeral homes play a highly sensitive role at a time when many people are at their most vulnerable, not all establishments place the interests of consumers first.

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