Junk fees cost consumers tens of billions annually, according to the White House
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a reception celebrating Nowruz in the East Room at the White House in Washington, March 20, 2023.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Fees on concert tickets, air fares, hotels and other so-called junk fees cost Americans tens of billions of dollars every year, often obscuring the full price of purchases from consumers, top economic experts will say at the White House on Tuesday.
“They take real money out of the pockets of families, and they can distort competition in many markets,” Lael Brainard, director of the National Economic Council, said in comments prepared for delivery at a panel discussion spotlighting President Joe Biden’s call on industries and regulators to cut junk fees.
Biden is pushing Congress to enact the Junk Fees Prevention Act — a first step in cracking down on extraneous surcharges attached to purchases like concert tickets, vehicle rentals and hotel reservations. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is leading the charge in the charge against the fees, released an updated list of potentially illegal fees earlier this month.
Representatives from 16 federal agencies, including the Department of Transportation, the CFPB and the Federal Trade Commission, will attend the panel that’s scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET.
The eradication of junk fees is also a bipartisan issue with positive benefits for the economy, Brainard will say.
Brainard says recent surveys show 75% of consumers support cutting junk fees, “with strong support across party lines.”
“As an economist, I know that regulating junk fees has a strong foundation in decades of scholarship. Junk fees weaken the forces of market competition, penalize honest businesses, and hit the most vulnerable Americans the hardest,” she says in prepared remarks released ahead of the panel discussion.