Business

InvoCare accused of billing irregularities

 

Australia’s largest purveyor of death care services, InvoCare, has been accused by some of irregularities in the way that it handles its invoicing.  According to this article from Choice.com,  InvoCare routinely includes a $320, plus taxes, “administration fee” on invoices.

Again, according to the Choice.com article, the administration fee functions somewhat as a “late fee”.  For instance, if you pay the invoice in full within 21 days you can then deduct the administration fee.  However, when you pay the invoice, within those 21 days,  it would be up to the consumer, or the funeral home employee at the time, to deduct the fee.  The assumption is that many consumers don’t notice this and pay the billing within the 21 days and still pay the fee.

The article from Choice.com believes that this practice really instills a “late fee masquerading as an administrative fee”.  They also believe that the “administration fee” is actually a “late fee” that is billed in advance of being late.  The fee issue has been forwarded to the Australian Competition and Commerce Commission (ACCC) with an argument that InvoCare is breaching consumer law.

A representative from InvoCare says in the article that listing the late fee is, “so all families are aware of the fee and also the balance payable if paid within 21 days”.  The company contends that all families are told of the fee at the time of arrangements.

According to the article, InvoCare operates more than 250 funeral homes and conducts almost 36,000 services annually and is believed to have a market share of almost 33% in the Australian metropolitan markets.  You can see their web-site here.

Funeral Director Daily take:  The above article from Choice.com is a good article to read to get the issues brought out to you.  It actually portrays an invoice to show the reader how this is done by InvoCare.  The invoice on a funeral or cremation in Australia is in itself something that I found interesting to look at, regardless of this issue.

Now, I don’t purport to know the laws on this type of issue. . .especially in Australia.  However, when you are the “Big guy” and do something that is out of the ordinary you should expect to have it scrutinized.   And, when you do get scrutinized, you should expect this negative publicity and know that it is coming.

Like many businesses that do something new and different, if InvoCare is found to be in compliance they will probably still have to make a decision if they want the negative publicity that this practice seems to carry as they move forward.

RelatedHere is another story from Australia’s The Guardian on the subject.  And, here is another story on the subject from the Sydney Morning Herald.

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