Have you ever been charged a $17 “service fee” when buying a concert ticket online? What about a $30 “destination fee” while you’re on vacation? With the introduction of the Junk Fee Protection Act, President Joe Biden wants to do away with predatory fees like these.
These fees have been in the spotlight lately, with ticket sellers like Ticketmaster and Live Nation (LYV) coming under fire for exorbitant and opaque pricing.
The proposal aims to eliminate four different types of junk and hidden fees across multiple industries. President Biden claims these fees “drain hundreds of dollars a year from the pockets of hardworking American families, especially folks who are already struggling to make ends meet.”
The Junk Fee Protection Act will target four types of fees:
1. Excessive online ticket fees attached to things like concerts and sports games.
2. Airline fees for picking seats, which sometimes charge parents to sit with their kids.
3. Early termination fees, accrued from canceling TV, wifi, or cell plans.
4. Resort fees, which drive up total prices for vacations or hotel stays.
The proposed legislation also addresses pricing transparency. Many of these fees are not shown until late in the checkout process. For example, you might book a hotel that looks affordable, only to get hit with an extra $50 per night “resort fee” at the end of an extensive reservation process. By then, you’re more likely to sigh and accept it than to compare it with potentially misleading prices at other locations.
Another common cost the bill aims to eliminate are credit card late fees. Biden hopes to reduce the standard fee from $30 to $8, calling it “a junk fee if there ever was one.”
Calling on Congress
The Junk Fee Protection Act has only been introduced by President Biden, not yet passed. Now the ball is in Congress’s court to sign it into law. Specifically, Biden has urged Congress to eliminate excessive fees, require that all fees are disclosed in the initial price, and stop the practice of holding back tickets to artificially reduce supply.
If these changes do indeed come to fruition, consumers stand to benefit immensely. In the short term, Americans could collectively save millions in fees. In the long term, these measures would help to make our markets more fair, transparent, and competitive.
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