Stopping hidden junk fees: Biden joins forces with businesses to take stand for upfront pricing

Samantha Kummerer Image
BySamantha Kummerer WTVD logo
Thursday, June 15, 2023
Stopping hidden junk fees: The push for upfront pricing
President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that many major private companies are taking a step to eliminate junk fees.

President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that many major private companies are taking a step to eliminate junk fees.

Junk fees or hidden fees usually sneak up on consumers when they near the checkout. These fees impact everything from plane tickets, concert tickets, hotel bookings and more. These hidden fees also impact consumers' banking services and internet bills.

"It's annoying to get the baggage fees and overhead charges and all that sort of stuff," said traveler Matt Murphy.

Murphy is one of the millions of Americans frustrated and financially impacted by hidden fees across industries.

"You get a little bit frustrated for sure," Murphy said.

While Biden and companies are not doing away with the fees, they hope to reduce the surprise of the fees.

"This is real transparency which leads to more competition, brings down costs for working Americans, keeps growing our economy," Biden said on Thursday.

As part of Thursday's announcement, Live Nation is pledging to roll out "upfront all-in" pricing starting in September.

Biden was joined Thursday by representatives from Live Nation, SeatGeek, xBk, Airbnb, the Pablo Center at the Confluence, TickPick, DICE, and the Newport Festivals Foundation -- the companies joining the effort to reduce junk fees. Live Nation plans on beginning upfront pricing in September. Similarly, SeatGeek is rolling out new pricing practices this summer. Airbnb introduced a new tool to see fee-inclusive pricing back in December.

Officials hope if more companies disclose these additional fees upfront it will help consumers compare prices, increase competition and save consumers money.

"It's so hard for the consumer to compare because you might see an airline flight for $50, but then when you click through and they charge you for printing your boarding pass and for the seat and for a bag, it really does add up," said Lauren Doyle, who runs the Raleigh-based travel agency The Travel Mechanic.

She said she regularly runs into the issue of hidden fees and hears from confused consumers.

"Consumers come to me with so much confusion. So hopefully having more transparency in booking fees and things like that will help them feel a little more confident," Doyle said.

Biden has been vowing to tackle hidden fees since his State of the Union address four months ago. Since then, the federal government has reduced fees on bounced checks and over drafting which it estimates will save Americans $9 billion a year.

"This is a win for consumers in my view and a proof that our crackdown on junk fees has real momentum but there is more to do," Biden said.

The actions on Thursday expressed by the companies are just voluntary. Biden is still pushing for Congress to pass a law that would mandate upfront pricing.