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News & Analysis

Funeral startup Bare Cremation falls foul of the consumer watchdog over ‘misleading’ claims

- November 9, 2021 2 MIN READ
Bare Cremation
Bare Cremation co-founders Cale Donovan and Sam McConkey.
Prepaid funerals startup Bare Cremation has fallen foul of consumer watchdog the ACCC just two years after it launched.

The venture has been handed a $13,320 infringement notice for allegedly making a false and misleading representation about the price of its cremation services.

Friends Cale Donovan and Sam McConkey, co-founded of Bare in 2019, pledging to use technology to disrupt and democratise the $1.6 billion Australian funeral care sector. Its backers include Our Innovation Fund.

“Born out of the belief that funeral providers were no longer serving today’s consumers well, Bare gives Australians the choice to celebrate loved ones their way, without the inflated price tag,” the company pitch says.

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission begged to differ, alleged that the funeral prices Bare featured on its website were not a fair representation of the true costs.

The Bare site said price for a ‘Cremation Only Service’ was ‘from $1,299’, while a ‘Bare Memorial Service’ was ‘from $2,199’.

The ACCC alleged that those prices were only available in one of the 17 regions Bare Funeral Group operates in, and that prices for other regions were as high as $2,699 for a ‘Cremation Only Service’ and $3,599 for a ‘Bare Memorial Service’. Tasmania is the most expensive place for a cremation, at $2999.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said the use of ‘from pricing’ appears to be common in the funeral services industry, but the regulator was concerned that it may not be an accurate indication of the final price a consumer will pay.

“Bare Cremation represented that price as the minimum price, even though the ACCC obtained evidence that it was not available to the vast majority of consumers,” she said.

Bare Cremation has now amended the descriptions on its website to more accurately reflect the pricing in different regions following the ACCC’s intervention. The company is also reviewing the customer experience on its website and its processes, to ensure pricing information and other representations are accurate.

“The ACCC welcomes the steps which Bare Cremation has taken to ensure compliance with the Australian Consumer Law,” Rickard said.

“People using funeral services are in a state of grief and have to make high-cost decisions under time pressure, and it is important, and required by law, that they are provided with accurate pricing information.”

Former sports stars, Ian and Greg Chappell and Mark Ella, amongst Bare’s prepaid funeral customers. The business also offers estate planning and estate administration services.

In a statement to Startup Daily, the company said: “In our quest to provide simple, real-time and localised pricing we mistakenly overlooked a proper disclaimer on three generic pricing pages from a total of 100-plus pricing pages. This was an unintentional error and rectified as soon as we were made aware.

“As a young company that prides itself on providing exceptional customer experience, we’ll take these learnings and continue to ensure our communication with customers is clear, simple and transparent.”