City Attorney Finds Some LA Funeral Homes May Have Manipulated Grieving Customers into Overpaying

By Cain, Josh | Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), July 17, 2018 | Go to article overview

City Attorney Finds Some LA Funeral Homes May Have Manipulated Grieving Customers into Overpaying


Cain, Josh, Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)


Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer on Tuesday said his office reached a settlement with a South Los Angeles funeral home alleged to have deceived grieving customers with false prices and unnecessary services, including performing embalmings for cremations and closed-casket funerals.

Feuer said Agape Funeral Home Inc. at 4250 S. Central Ave. was one of a handful of funeral homes throughout the city that his office found had failed to follow state and federal law requiring them to post prices online and be transparent about the services they offered.

However, he also said Agape was the only funeral home that did not remedy the deceptive practices after multiple visits from undercover investigators and warning letters.

Beginning in March 2017, investigators from the city attorney’s office visited Agape three times posing as customers. Each time, workers appeared to misrepresent prices for their services, including pushing more expensive funeral packages on the investigators instead of offering caskets and other services a la carte. In at least one instance, a worker also overcharged one of the undercover investigators for one of the packages.

Feuer said he believed this was the first major investigation of deceptive funeral home practices by a Los Angeles city attorney, and he asked members of public who think they’ve been manipulated to contact his office.

“We’re trying to protect consumers in a very vulnerable moment,” he said.

In the settlement, Agape agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty. The funeral home was also placed under an injunction for four years and ordered to comply with all state laws, regulations and rules.

Feuer said that during the probe, investigators found six funeral homes, including Agape, that were engaging in similar deceptive practices.

Officials would not identify the other funeral homes that eventually complied with the city attorney’s office demands. But they said the funeral homes were found in neighborhoods all over the city.

It was unclear how many victims officials beleived were overcharged by funeral homes in Los Angeles — the city attorney’s office has yet to receive an complaint from a funeral home customer alleging their were ripped off.

Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, said the problem was that many of the victims might not even know they were manipulated — Feuer said consumers searching for funeral home services are uniquely vulnerable to deceptive practices like these, because unlike in other shopping experiences, like buying a car or a house, people seeking funeral services are much less likely to shop around. …

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