President Biden has gradually been making strides to improve the inflated economy that’s impacting millions of households across the country. In February, Biden proposed legislation around the Junk Fee Protection Act and recently convened a roundtable to help protect consumers from the exorbitant hidden fees that pop up at checkout.
What is the Junk Fee Protection Act?
The Junk Fee Protection Act, introduced by Representatives Ruben Gallego and Jeff Jackson, was proposed in partnership with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to keep hard-working Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, from having to pay hundreds of dollars a year from additional hidden fees that pop up at checkout.
The Act would target four types of excessive fees to include:
- Online concerts and entertainment, and sporting events
- Airline fees
- Early termination fees for TV, phone, and internet service
- Resort destination fees
“The Taylor Swift” Bill?
You may remember the recent debacle over Taylor Swift tickets for the Eras Tour that left many people without tickets or paying way too much for tickets. In some instances, 40% – 50% of fees were added to the base ticket prices.
Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, blamed bots for the fiasco. However, this chaotic scene of events opened up essential discussions that also unveiled the monopoly within the industry, especially when it comes to ticket sales. Taylor Swift fans quickly organized a public campaign against Ticketmaster, with more than two dozen fans filing a class-action lawsuit accusing Live Nation of fraud, price discrimination, misrepresentation, and more.
Consumers paid the price in the end, and that experience left a mark on the sitting President that demanded a need for change. A previously pending FTC rule on regulating added fees was also brought forward in this case.
All-in Pricing for Entertainment
President Biden is proposing a solution of ‘all-in pricing’ to address the war on hidden fees. With this solution, “companies will fully disclose their fees upfront when you start shopping, so you’re not surprised at the end when you check out,” said Biden. This will increase transparency and eliminate excessive fees costing Americans billions of dollars yearly.
The recent roundtable included participants from major players in the entertainment, resort, and airline industries which included Live Nation, Seat Geek, xBk, Airbnb, the Pablo Center at the Confluence, TickPick, DICE, and the Newport Festivals Foundation. These companies have either already agreed to provide their customers the ‘all-in pricing’ solution in the upcoming months or already do. The President is asking that their competitors follow suit.
Live Nation, the company at the head of the Taylor Swift ticket debacle, has already pledged to ensure that tickets sold through Ticketmaster will list all prices up front, starting in September. With more than 200 of its venues, Live Nation’s promise will benefit more than 30 million customers.
All-in Pricing for Travel
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has also already taken steps to reduce hidden fees from airline and travel sites in hopes of lightening families’ budgets. Many airlines made a practice of charging families additional fees to select a seat in advance to sit with their young children. They would either need to pay the fee or risk being seated away from their small child. President Biden felt that no parent should have to pay extra to sit with their small children. Children are not extra baggage; they’re part of the family and should be treated as such.
While not all airlines are currently on board, consumers will now know up front which airlines will charge them extra to be seated as a family. However, DOT is urging all airlines to guarantee family seating.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve been a victim of unnecessary, excessive fees at checkout that caused you to pay more than expected, you’ll soon be able to kiss that practice goodbye. The Junk Fee Protection Act now exists to alleviate or eliminate hidden fees many industries have put on us for years. As early as September, you may notice a change at the checkout due to careful scrutiny by the current Administration.