INFORMATION ON PROCEDURES CONCERNING CONSUMER COMPLAINTS
CONSUMER COMPLAINT FORM
The North Carolina General Assembly has declared that because the practice of funeral service affects the public health, safety and welfare it is subject to regulation by the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service. The Board of Funeral Service regulates funeral homes, funeral directors, funeral service licensees, embalmers, crematories and crematory operators, mutual burial associations, and the sale of preneed contracts and the personnel associated with those sales.
One means by which the Board carries out its duties is through investigating consumer complaints. Each complaint is carefully considered and investigated fully. The Board has the authority to suspend or revoke the license of any of its licensees if they are convicted of a wrongdoing. These wrongdoings include, but are not limited to, fraud, false advertising, soliciting bodies, gross immorality, refusing to give up custody of a body, embezzlement and misapplication of preneed funds, and aiding and abetting the funeral practice of those not licensed to do so. Any evidence of criminal wrongdoing will be presented to the local district attorney. The Board conducts its own hearings and in some instances disciplinary matters are heard by a North Carolina Administrative Law Judge.
Consumers should be aware of the following:
1. Funeral homes shall not accept a body from an institution, hospital, nursing home or physician without first asking about the next of kin’s choice of a funeral home. If the funeral home violates this prohibition, it shall make no charge for any services which it rendered before it obtained proper authority.
2. Funeral homes are required to have a card or brochure with each item of merchandise offered for sale. If the price includes services, those services must be described.
3. At the time funeral arrangements are made, and before the services are rendered and the merchandise is provided, the funeral director shall give a signed statement to the person making the arrangements showing what was purchased and the prices. (The Federal Trade Commission has additional requirements for price disclosures, both before and after the sale.)
4. Preneed contracts, whether funded by trust deposits or insurance, can be sold by firms and individuals licensed by the Board to sell preneed and only Board-approved forms may be used. The Board also maintains a recovery fund from which purchasers, as a last resort, may be entitled to draw reimbursements of losses caused by seller’s improper conduct or business failures.
5. Except in limited circumstances, the North Carolina public records law requires that copies of complaints and responses must be made available to anyone who requests them.
Please be aware that a consumer’s legitimate dispute with a firm or individual sometimes will not involve an act or omission that would give the Board the authority to intervene. Sometimes, a legal dispute arises, financial or otherwise, which does not involve a violation of one of the legal duties of funeral service practitioners as licensees. In such cases, you may need to contact your own attorney to advise you.
Thank you for your complaint and for your help in our efforts to assure that the funeral service profession in North Carolina merits the utmost confidence of the public.
PRIOR TO DOWNLOADING THE COMPLAINT FORM, PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING:
This form is available in an Adobe Acrobat® (.PDF) format that allows users to complete information fields while viewing the form on the website or download a blank copy of the form to their own computer. In order to access this feature users MUST have:
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TO COMPLETE FORMS ONLINE:
Once the Adobe program is installed and web browser settings adjusted if necessary follow the link below to the complaint form, type in information required in the respective fields and then print. Users will notice a slight grey tint to the areas that can be completed online. These will also show on the printed form. Areas requiring signature or initials will also show with a grey tint however users will not have the capability to fill in these areas. IF YOU ARE HAVING TROUBLE OR THE FORMS ARE NOT PRINTING THE INFORMATION YOU ENTERED, PLEASE CHECK TO MAKE CERTAIN YOU HAVE THE REQUIRED VERSION OF ADOBE READER®.
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Users may also simply print the form and complete by hand or typewriter.