By John McPhaul
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO by its Spanish acronym) has recently issued 23 notices of infringement for non-compliance with the provisions of the law and the regulations to regulate funeral services in Puerto Rico, DACO Secretary Edan Rivera Rodríguez announced Wednesday, stressing the importance of knowing one’s rights when contracting for such services.
“The core purpose of our regulations on the issue is that the state of vulnerability of those who require this type of service does not serve as an excuse to disrespect their rights as consumers, but, on the contrary, ensures dignified treatment by the industry,” Rivera Rodríguez emphasized in a written statement.
DACO regulations require that pricing information for any funeral product or service be provided by telephone, if requested by the person. If the service is sought in person, a written and duly detailed list of all costs must be provided. Such lists should include any aspect that should be known to the consumer; for example, the availability of the product or service, differences between the various options, and materials.
“A central element in the dignified treatment of every person who requires some type of service of this nature is the right to be informed, in a clear and adequate manner, especially about all costs that are involved, and that the mourner is not put in the painful situation of having to be making inquiries on his or her own; or, much less, to find hidden costs that were not properly explained,” Rivera Rodríguez said.
Funeral homes are also obliged to deliver, in writing, any requirement that the cemetery or crematorium with which it works has that imposes any obligation on the consumer to buy a particular funeral product or service. Meanwhile, if cremation services are offered, the possibility of using an “alternative container” should be indicated. Under no circumstances may the consumer be compelled to purchase a coffin or urn to provide a funeral service.
So far this year, DACO inspectors have issued a total of 113 notices of infringement to funeral service businesses in Puerto Rico. Most of the infractions have been detected in the western region of the island.
“We urge anyone who is denied pricing information, or against whom a charge is imposed for services not offered, or that are not subject to any charge, to contact us,” the secretary stressed.
As indicated, to report tips on the subject, citizens must write to the firstname.lastname@example.org email, to the Internet page www.daco.pr.gov, or to the message box of the Facebook page Daco a Tu Favor.