Tue, Oct 09, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Consumer watchdog sets guidelines for urn spots

PURCHASING POWER:As more and more people opt for urn vaults, officials have devised a contract that protects consumers when buying urn niches

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Consumer Protection Commission yesterday announced the creation of a standard contract for the purchase of columbaria — a niche in a vault where cremated remains are stored — which protects consumers’ rights to cancel a contract and decide where their urn is placed.

The commission said most Taiwanese place considerable importance on making good funeral arrangements for their parents, so more people are buying columbaria in columbariums.

However, there have been many contractual disputes over columbaria purchases in recent years, such as the seller requesting a large compensation for breach of contract, or the buyer being unable to choose where the urn will be placed, it added.

In effort to solve these disputes, the commission has reviewed and approved a standard contract proposed by the Ministry of Interior that requires columbarium management to make clear their management and operation fees so consumers can be properly informed.

In addition, the standard contract allows consumers to terminate the purchase before the columbaria is used. It further stipulates that the provider may only charge a limited compensation for breach of contract that is determined at an accelerating ratio — a full refund if the contract is broken 14 days after signing, less than 10 percent of the charged price if the breach is between 15 days and three months after signing and a maximum of 40 percent of the price if the contract is terminated after three years.

Commission official Chen Hsing-hung (陳星宏) said that given the custom of selecting a location for urns according to fengshui (風水), columbarium management should allow consumers to choose their location. Providers also cannot define the contents of their service items as “for reference only.”

The standard contract may be enacted as early as next month and providers who do not comply with its terms may face a fine between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000, he said.

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