InvoCare agrees payment of infringement notice and provides undertaking to ACCC.
InvoCare Limited and InvoCare Australia Pty Limited (together “InvoCare”), the largest private funeral, cemetery and crematorium operator in the Asia Pacific region announced today that it has paid an infringement notice issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and provided an undertaking in relation to InvoCare’s future conduct.
The ACCC raised concerns with InvoCare in early 2014 after receiving complaints from consumers who had purchased burial sites from InvoCare at the Pinegrove and Castlebrook Memorial Parks. The complaints alleged InvoCare was not honouring certain terms of the contracts those customers had entered into years before and that InvoCare was instead suggesting those customers were bound by a more recent form of contract (2011 Contract). The 2011 Contract required customers to purchase a memorial from InvoCare.
Once contacted by the ACCC InvoCare immediately commenced a detailed investigation, in cooperation with the ACCC, which identified that potentially misleading representations about the terms of contracts had been made to a total of four customers. InvoCare has since provided redress and apologised to each of these customers.
Importantly, InvoCare has taken significant steps to ensure the conduct in question is not repeated. This has included additional training for staff in the Cemeteries & Crematoria division. A new contract for the sale of burial sites has also been created which contains no obligation for a customer to purchase a memorial.
The undertaking provided to the ACCC commits InvoCare to establish and maintain an updated compliance program for three years. The program will set a framework for enhanced consumer protection compliance standards, including an annual compliance review, improved reporting processes and additional staff training across all customerfacing divisions. To ensure any queries and complaints are responded to quickly and fairly, InvoCare has also updated its complaints handling system. The websites of every cemetery and crematorium owned by InvoCare have been updated to include a customer feedback facility which enables families and friends to contact InvoCare by email, telephone or mail.
InvoCare has also agreed to waive the obligation contained in the 2011 Contract for customers to purchase a bronze plaque memorial from InvoCare. This waiver will be conditional on a customer agreeing to InvoCare’s current contractual terms in relation to Memorials and Ornamentation.
Commenting on the agreement reached with the ACCC and the steps taken by InvoCare, its Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Smith, said:
“We are committed to communicating clearly with our customers and treating them fairly at all times. When we became aware that some customers had not received the care and respect they deserve we took immediate action to address their concerns.
Tens of thousands of families place their trust in InvoCare each year and assisting with their personal needs is the most important element in everything we do.”
InvoCare is pleased to have resolved this matter with its customers and the ACCC.
Media enquiries to: Karl Wolfenden InvoCare Communications Manager, on 0400 327 864