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Items Of Interest

I’m having an issue with a cemetery or crematory.  How do I file a complaint?

Step One |  Many times issues between a person or family and a cemetery can be resolved by a face to face meeting with the owner or general manager of the cemetery.  Make sure you ask to speak with the person who is really in charge and not just a salesperson or assistant.  Bring all of your documentation and facts with you to the meeting.  Bring as few people as possible (perhaps just you).  Leave any anger or frustration you may feel about the issue out of the meeting.  If a face to face meeting such as the one recommended does not resolve the issue then you may have to proceed to Step Two.

Step Two |  File a formal complaint with the appropriate department. Choose one of the following:

The Texas Department of Banking

The Department of Banking regulates perpetual care cemeteries. (Click HERE to search for a specific perpetual care cemetery to determine if it is regulated by the Texas Department of Banking).  If your issue is with one of these perpetual care cemeteries then continue reading for more information on filing a complaint.

Filing a Complaint with the Department of Banking Regarding a Perpetual Care Cemetery

Click HERE for instructions in filing a complaint with the Texas Department of Banking or follow instructions below.

STEP 1: Determine if the Institution is Regulated by the Department of Banking
Please review the following information to determine what agency has regulatory responsibility for your situation. If you determine your complaint is against a supervised entity of the Banking Department, continue to Step 2.

Insurance Policies and Products - The Texas Department of Insurance regulates all insurance products. A complaint concerning an insurance policy sold in conjunction with a preneed funeral contract should be sent to their offices. The complaint form found in this web site can be used.

Texas Department of Insurance
333 Guadalupe
P.O. Box 149104
Austin, Texas 78714-9104
Toll Free: (800) 252-3439

Funeral Services or Establishments - The Texas Funeral Service Commission regulates and licenses funeral establishments and funeral directors. This agency is responsible for the funeral home facilities, at-need arrangements, funeral services, and funeral director behavior. The complaint form found in this web site can be used to file a complaint with this agency concerning these type items.

Texas Funeral Service Commission
P.O. Box 12217
Austin, Texas 78711
Toll Free: (888) 667-4881

Prepaid Funeral Contract Sellers - Any entity selling prepaid funeral benefit contracts must be licensed by the Banking Department. Any complaints concerning the preneed contract should be directed to our attention.

Cemeteries - The Banking Department regulates only perpetual care cemeteries. Cemeteries that are owned by municipalities, cities, churches, and other non-profit organizations are generally not supervised by the Banking Department. These cemeteries are under the jurisdiction of the State Health Department but only if the cemetery becomes a health hazard. The Texas Cemeteries & Crematories Association also has its own complaint review committee. The address of the committee is:

Texas Cemeteries & Crematories Association
P. O. Box 471457
Fort Worth, Texas 76147-1376
(817) 339-8210

STEP 2: File a Consumer Complaint
Complete the Non-Depository Supervision Consumer Complaint Form or draft a letter of complaint. The complaint should include the name and office location of the entity. It should explain the problem in a simple, chronological narrative, making sure to include names and dates. Be specific and as brief as possible. Make legible photocopies of any documentary evidence which supports your claim and include them with the complaint. Do not send originals.

Mail the complaint to:

Texas Department of Banking
Non-Depository Supervision Division
2601 N. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78705-4294

Toll free: (877) 276-5554

or e-mail the appropriate department:
pfcpcc@dob.texas.gov

STEP 3: Complaint Resolution
If the matter is in litigation or if a court has made a ruling, the Banking Department will not intervene.

Once your complaint is received, a copy of the complaint and any documentation are sent along with a cover letter from the Non-Depository Supervision Division to the appropriate contact person for the supervised entity. The Banking Department allows 30 days from the date the complaint is mailed for the entity to respond.

The entity responds directly to the consumer with a copy to the Banking Department. After a response is received, a determination is made if more information is necessary to effectively resolve the complaint. If necessary, we pursue obtaining such from the entity, the consumer, Banking Department personnel, outside resources, etc.

If the review indicates the entity is violating current statutes, written notice is provided to the entity outlining the Banking Department's conclusions along with a request for corrective action. The entity is provided an additional two weeks to provide more information and review further their records and resolve the situation.

Within 10 days of receipt of the entity's response which provides resolution of the situation in the opinion of Banking Department personnel, a letter is sent to the consumer explaining the entity's response. If the consumer is unsatisfied with the resolution, he/she may seek further assistance from the Banking Department or private legal counsel.

If an issue has been raised which may merit follow-up at an examination, the appropriate examiner will be notified.

 

The Texas Funeral Service Commission

The Texas Funeral Service Commission regulates all Crematories in the state of Texas.

Filing a Complaint with the Texas Funeral Service Commission 

The TFSC licenses and regulates funeral directors, embalmers. funeral homes, commerical embalming facilities, and crematories. Anyone who believes an individual or establishment licensed by the TFSC has violated the Commission’s governing laws or rules may file a complaint by submitting a completed complaint form to the TFSC.

Complaints must be filed within two years of the event giving rise to the complaint. However, the Executive Director is authorized to waive this time limit if good cause is shown by the complainant. By law funeral establishments are only required to keep records for two years. Complaints over two years old may be harder to investigate.

The Complaint Process Resolution chart shows the steps taken between a complaint being filed and final disposition.  Click HERE for Complaint Resolution Chart.

For the Complaint Form and Instructions, please click HERE.

 

A State, a County or a Municipality owning a public cemetery

If your issue is with a public cemetery, then you must contact the State, county or municipality that owns and/or manages that cemetery.

A Church, Religious Society or Denomination owning a cemetery

If your issue is with a church-owned cemetery, then you must contact the church, religious society or denomination that owns and/or manages that cemetery.

I have a relative buried in a cemetery that is in deteriorating condition.  Is there anything I can do? 

There are other avenues to take that may assist in this type of situation:

The Texas Historical Commission  (click HERE for more information) 

Save Texas Cemeteries, Inc. has a webpage stating that its mission is to promote the preservation of historic cemeteries and burial grounds throughout Texas by public education and historic research in order to preserve our rich, multi-cultural heritage. You can find more information about this organization by going to their webpage: Save Texas Cemeteries.

I would like to establish a Family Cemetery on my property.  How do I do that? 

Many people in the State of Texas are interested in establishing a family cemetery on their private property. Please download our guide on establishing a family cemetery:

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Other Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Cemetery Consumer Service Council (CCSC)?

The Cemetery Consumer Service Council (CCSC) is a coalition created in 1979 and is funded by the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, the Cremation Association of North America, the Southern Cemetery and Funeral Association, the Interment Association of California, the Western Cemetery Alliance, and the Illinois Cemetery & Funeral Home Association.

The sole purpose of CCSC is to assist consumers, without charge, in resolving complaints or answering inquiries regarding cemetery services or policies. Participation in the complaint resolution process is voluntary for both the consumer and the cemetery.

Industry members volunteer their time and experience to serve as CCSC representatives in their respective states.Complaints are handled by the state committees, with the national CCSC office in the Washington, D.C. area being the overall coordinator of the project and the central contact point.

Complaints received by the national office are logged in and each is given a file number for tracking purposes. A copy of the complaint is then forwarded to the appropriate state representative for investigation and action. At that point, many complaints are resolved by telephone and the consumer is promptly notified of the results. It is rare for a cemetery to refuse to participate in the CCSC dispute resolution process. Where no state committee exists, CCSC works with the cemetery board or similar government agency to assist the consumer.

The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, various state consumer protection agencies and offices of attorneys general are periodically notified of CCSC activities and are among the major sources for consumer referrals. CCSC is listed in the Consumer’s Resource Handbook, a U.S. government publication that is circulated to public libraries and consumer assistance agencies throughout the nation.

The CCSC is now in its 38th year of operation and continues to improve its effectiveness to assist consumers. An increasing number of calls originate as referrals from the Better Business Bureau and similar organizations. The CCSC also contacts members of Congress to advise them of the assistance and information that the Council can offer their constituents.

Download form to mail or fax in. Download a Complaint Form.

You may also contact CCSC using the Contact Us page, and choose “Consumer Questions and Complaint Resolution Services,” or you can call 800.645.7700.   For more information visit https://iccfa.com/contact/complaint-resolution-services/.

If you have a complaint or need specific information, please contact the Cemetery Manager directly. Our experience as well as that of other groups such as the Better Business Bureaus and government agencies is that problems are often settled promptly when families simply call the cemetery.

 

 

 

 

Do I need a Pesticide License? Yes or No?

The question of whether or not someone at a cemetery should acquire and hold a non-commercial pesticide applicator license is determined by what type of pesticides or herbicides the cemetery uses if someone at the cemetery will be the one applying the chemicals.

The Texas Agricultural Code states:
Sec. 76.105. LICENSE REQUIRED.
(a) Except as provided by Section 76.003(e), a person may not purchase or use a restricted-use or state-limited-use pesticide or regulated herbicide unless the person is:
(1) licensed as a commercial applicator, noncommercial applicator, or private applicator and authorized by the license to purchase or use the restricted-use or state-limited-use pesticide or regulated herbicide in the license use categories covering the proposed pesticide use;
(2) an individual acting under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator, except as provided by Subsection (b) of this section and by Sections 76.003(e) and 76.116(f); or
(3) a certified private applicator as defined in Section 76.112(j) of this code.

Cemeteries are not exempt from this law.

If the cemetery uses general use pesticides that can be purchased and used by the general public, then no applicator license is required.

However, if the cemetery purchases and uses any of the following, then a license is required:

  • Restricted-Use pesticides will state “restricted-use” on the product label as required by the EPA. They may only be purchased and used by certified pesticide applicators or people under their direct supervision.
  • State-Limited-Use pesticides contain certain active ingredients that have the potential to cause adverse effects to nontargeted vegetation and are classified as SLU when distributed in containers larger than one quart liquid or 2 pounds dry or solid. Also includes pesticides or devices for predation control.
  • Regulated Herbicides are designated by the Department of Agriculture. If used as directed or in accordance with widespread and commonly recognized practice, these herbicides require additional restrictions to prevent a hazard to desirable vegetation caused by drift or an uncontrolled application.

Under law only the licensed applicator or a person under the direct supervision of the licensed applicator can purchase or use those pesticides. There are rather onerous reporting regulations that must be followed by a holder of an applicator’s license. Note that even if you are applying a general use pesticide that can be purchased and used by the general public, if you are a licensed applicator, you must still keep the following records of all pesticide and herbicide applications. The reporting requirements are set out below.

The Texas Administrative Code states:
Rule §7.33 RECORDS OF APPLICATION.

(a) The following records of pesticide use shall be maintained for a period of two years:
(1) A person required by the Act to be licensed as a commercial applicator or a noncommercial applicator shall maintain records of each pesticide application regardless of the use classification of the pesticide applied . . . .

(b) The record of each pesticide use required by this section shall contain:
(1) the date of the application;
(2) the beginning time for the application;
(3) the name of the person for whom the application was made;
(4) the location of the land where the application was made stated in a manner that would permit inspection by an authorized party;
(5) for each pesticide applied:
(A) the product name;
(B) the product EPA registration number;
(C) the rate of product per unit;
(D) the total volume of spray mix, dust, granules, or other materials applied per unit;
(E) the name of the pest for which the product was used;

(6) the site treated (e.g., name of crop, kind of animal, etc.);
(7) total acres or volume of area treated (e.g., acre, square feet, number of head, etc.);
(8) wind direction and velocity and air temperature;
(9) the FAA “N” number for aerial application equipment or identification number or decal number for other types of application equipment;
(10) the name and department license number of the applicator responsible for the application and, if different, the name of the person actually making the application; and
(11) the spray permit number for regulated herbicides applied in a regulated county.

Getting an applicator’s license can also be an onerous process with classes, studying, testing and fees involved. Keeping your license, which expires annually and requires continuing education hours as well as annual fees, can also be a yearly headache. So the question comes down simply to whether or not the cemetery upkeep requires the application of those chemicals that are restricted and regulated by statute. If not, then there is no need to acquire and keep the applicator’s license.

Can I bury on my own property?

Yes. Contact your local health department for more information.

Does perpetual care cover markers?

No, in Texas the perpetual care fee only covers the cemetery grounds and mausoleums. Markers are not covered. Cemeteries frequently have a separate care fund for markers but it is not required by statute or regulated by the Department of Banking.

Can I cancel a cemetery contract?

The statutes do not provide for mandatory cancellation provisions. In most instances, the cemetery will not allow the purchaser to cancel a contract and thus no refund options are available.

Are the prices and fees cemeteries charge regulated by the Texas Banking Department?

No, there is no price regulation in the cemetery industry.

Do I have to purchase an outer burial container?

If the cemetery’s rules and regulations require the use of an outer burial container you must have one for burial. It is a decision made by the individual cemetery.

What is a lawn crypt?

A lawn crypt is a subsurface burial container installed in multiple units that has a system for drainage and moisture control. Lawn crypts may only be sold in dedicated lawn crypt gardens.

Are perpetual care cemeteries required to build a mausoleum within a specific time period?

Yes, a perpetual care cemetery must begin construction of a mausoleum on or before a date that is 48 months after the date of the first pre-developed sale and shall complete construction on or before a date that is 60 months after the date of the first pre-developed sale.

[Texas Health & Safety Code §711.061 et seq]

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