A Colorado cremation and funeral services company is in hot water with the FTC after misleading customers, charging "hidden" fees, and withholding cremated remains to coerce customers to pay.
The US Federal Trade Commission just brought a lawsuit against Legacy Cremation Services, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, at 9800 Mount Pyramid Court.
The company also used various other business names, including:
- Legacy Funeral Services
- Heritage Cremation Provider
- Evergreen Funeral Home and Crematory, and
- Carolina Central Crematory
According to the lawsuit, Legacy Cremation Services routinely charged their customers "substantially higher prices than advertised."
For example, the company would run ads for their cremation services that led customers to believe that the cost for their "all-inclusive" service was $695. However, when customers received their bill, they noticed dozens of additional fees added to the "all-inclusive" price quote.
Practices like this violate the "Funeral Rule" that has been on the books since 1984.
When customers tried to dispute the additional charges that had not been discussed beforehand, the company withheld the cremated remains of their loved ones until they paid the added fees.
In other cases, the company would withhold death certificates needed for insurance claims until the client paid the hidden charges.
According to the FTC's complaint, Legacy Cremation Services also advertised their business as "a local cremation provider." However, it was later discovered that they often acted as a middle man, shipping the bodies of loved ones to be cremated by another provider, sometimes hours from the town they advertised in.
Some customers complained that they weren't given a straight answer when they asked the company where their loved one's remains were located. Furthermore, it was discovered that the company instructed their employees to keep the location of the deceased's remains a secret until the client's bill had been paid.
This case is currently being prosecuted in federal court.
Follow Kristen Walters for updates as this case moves forward.