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‘Grieving families in the dark’: Funeral provider blasted over practice

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CHOICE Campaigner Amy Pereira. Image: CHOICE
CHOICE Campaigner Amy Pereira. Image: CHOICE

Funeral company InvoCare has been slammed for failing to provide pricing information to grieving customers in all states bar NSW.

InvoCare, which owns White Lady Funerals and Simplicity Funerals among some 40 businesses, provides itemised price lists for services in NSW and ACT after the state government introduced laws requiring the disclosures. However, customers in other states don’t receive the same information, consumer advocacy group CHOICE said.

CHOICE awarded InvoCare a Shonky award for this practice, which recognises products that take advantage of their consumers.

“InvoCare is profiting from keeping grieving families in the dark," CHOICE campaigner Amy Pereira said on Tuesday.

"Companies like InvoCare have done the bare minimum, leaving grieving families in the rest of Australia behind. InvoCare needs to be upfront with all Australians and provide itemised costs.”

She said providing itemised prices is a “bare-minimum expectation” that the broader funeral industry fails to meet, noting that it’s difficult for grieving families to compare funeral options.

She called on the other state and territory governments to make transparent funeral pricing the norm.

CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland echoed Pereira, noting that in 2020’s economic crisis, it’s more important than ever that Australians aren’t ripped off.

In a statement, InvoCare said its purpose is to support families in their darkest hours.

“We care deeply about the experience they have with our brands and we are continuously improving our customer experience. Our high standard of service is reflected in the willingness of our customers to recommend our brands,” the statement read.

It said it supports transparency in pricing and was among the first groups to meet NSW’s Fair Work Trading industry standards.

“As part of our commitment to industry best practice, these standards are being rolled out nationally.”

Who else is in the hall of shame?

The consumer group also blasted whitegoods giant Harvey Norman for its “toxic partnership” with Latitude Finance.

Under the partnership, CHOICE said Harvey Norman is pushing a credit card with a 22.74 per cent interest rate.

“On this Harvey Norman Latitude Mastercard GO card, a purchase of $5000 at 22.74 per cent would leave someone making the minimum repayments paying back $17,909 over 29 years. With Latitude, Harvey Norman is selling one of the most expensive credit cards on the market and it needs to end now,” Kirkland said.

CHOICE dubbed it as the “finance industry’s dirty secret”, saying customers will walk in for a purchase and “walk out with crippling debt”.

However, a Latitude spokesperson refuted the claims.

“Latitude Go and Latitude Gem enable customers to shop interest free for up to 60 months on promotional offers at participating retailers. The vast majority of customers who purchase interest free using these cards pay off what they owe within the promotional period and therefore pay no interest whatsoever,” the spokesperson said.

“Latitude undertakes a rigorous credit check and capacity assessment of every credit applicant, in full compliance with laws including responsible lending obligations.”

Coles and Bunnings floor cleaners were also slammed as having a worse performance than water.

Kirkland said three cleaners, including brands sold at Coles (Coles Ultra Floor Cleaner) and Bunnings (Long Life All Purpose Cleaner) barely work, and will do little more than make a floor smell nice.

“If you want your floors clean you can just use a plain old bucket of hot water. Save your money," said CHOICE testing expert Ash Iredale.

"We tested these floor cleaners in a scientific setting against typical soils that you're likely to find in your own home. We found that, despite how expensive they are compared with water, they didn't perform any better."

Greentech air purifiers were classed as delivering “pathetic purification”. Kirkland noted that purifiers have been marketed to Australians as both a solution to bushfire smoke and airborne viruses.

But Greentech’s Pure Air 500 product came last in CHOICE tests.

“In fact, our labs could barely find any difference in the quality of air when they tested the Greentech purifier."

Revitalife received a Shonky for using a survey to sell beds.

“This company promises to help customers with their health needs but then sells them expensive beds with dubious health claims. Revitalife makes huge claims about the benefits of their beds based on a single clinical trial of six people,” Kirkland said.

“This just isn't good enough. Revitalife is targeting older Australians through a shonky sales scheme and selling sleep remedies that aren't supported by credible evidence.”

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