Feb 8, 2023
Biden Wants to Ban ‘Junk Fees.’ Here’s What That Means
(Bloomberg) -- In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Joe Biden touted his administration’s efforts to crack down on so-called “junk fees,” or charges that raise the prices of items like concert tickets, hotel rooms and internet service.
“Americans are tired of being played for suckers,” Biden said.
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He urged Congress to require online ticket sellers to disclose the full costs upfront, eliminate cancellation penalties for phone and web services and ban fees that airlines charge for families to sit together and that hotels tack on for being resorts. Biden also said his administration will require airlines to disclose full ticket prices upfront and push banks to reduce “excessive” credit card late fees.
“Junk fees may not matter to the very wealthy, but they matter to most folks in homes like the one I grew up in,” Biden said. “They add up to hundreds of dollars a month.”
He pointed to the Junk Fee Prevention Act, a proposal he wants Congress to pass that would crack down on four types of the practice:
These are the service charges, processing fees, delivery fees and facility fees that online ticket sellers charge, which often add significant expense to the cost to attend events. In a nod to the public outcry over the botched sale of Taylor Swift concert tickets, Biden’s proposal notes a lack of competition in the industry leading to companies charging fees with impunity. It urges Congress to ban excessive fees, require charges to be disclosed in the ticket price and mandate sellers disclose any ticket holdbacks that reduce the available supply.
No airline guarantees free family seating. To bring transparency to families faced with unexpected fees to sit with their children, the Department of Transportation will publish a dashboard of the charges and work to ban them. The proposal asks Congress to fast-track the prohibition process.
Charges for ending mobile phone, wireless or cable TV services undermine competition in the market, Biden said. His administration called for the Federal Communications Commission to limit these fees in 2021, and now urges Congress to eliminate them in the name of “economic dynamism.”
The Biden administration wants hotels to include the surprise fees they charge for being resorts in the room rates so vacationers can budget more accurately. “These fees can cost you up to $90 a night at hotels that aren’t even resorts,” Biden said.
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