No one likes hidden fees. Unfortunately, they’re everywhere. From hotel rooms, cell phone services, concert tickets, and much more, many can agree that hidden and other unexpected fees are getting out of control. In fact, some consumer groups, like the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), believe that hidden and unexpected fees should “be fully disclosed to let consumers make better buying decisions.” Because of this, the group is citing recent reports conducted by the White House’s National Economic Council and Federal Trade Group to pressure Trump to tackle the issue as soon as he’s in office.
But what exactly what does the consumer group want? Well, for starters, they want “pocket-picking fees on goods and services to be included in ads and website pricing so consumers can comparison shop knowing total prices.” Why? Well, in some cases, hidden fees for hotel rooms or concert tickets don’t make themselves known until a customer gets to the last page of an online transaction. By then, “many consumers acquiesce and just pay rather than conduct a whole new search.” The group also wants Trump to take action because “at a minimum, hidden mandatory fees make prices unclear and hinder buying decisions. At worse, they can be fraudulent.” Tactics and fees like these aren’t fair to consumers and can cost them a lot of money they weren’t planning on spending.
But why now? Well, considering the fact that many who voted for Trump are middle-class consumers, tackling an issue that directly impacts them would be a great way for Trump to begin his presidency. According to the CFA’s Director of Research, Mark Cooper, “this is a perfect time for the new administration to start requiring all businesses to include mandatory fees in advertised prices.” He added, “the undisputed elements of free market competition are comparison shopping and knowing the true cost of goods and services before buyers plunk down their hard-earned dollars.”
Unfortunately, there are many types of purchases known for hidden fees. Some of these fees include the following from a recent report by the National Economic Council:
- Hotel Resort Fees: These are often mandatory fees that go towards paying for services like the free coffee or fitness center access that many hotel guests use. It can actually add up to “a significant portion of the total price.”
- Event Ticketing Fees: These mandatory fees are often associated with the service, processing, or delivery of a ticket, and can even include instant download fees.
- New Car Fees: While many states regulate new car fees that are often added at the dealership, some don’t. Unfortunately for new cars, there are a lot of added fees that many consumers may not be aware of, including fees for “documentation, floor plan or inventory, dealer preparation, advertising and destination, delivery or processing.” These fees can actually add hundreds of dollars to the cost of the car.
- Airline Baggage and Change Fees: Though new laws have been implemented requiring airlines to provide information like taxes, fuel surcharges, and facility charges on the price of a ticket, advertising, websites, and e-ticket confirmations, other things like hidden fees for luggage or ticket changes are not immediately disclosed.
The problem with many of these hidden fees is that consumers aren’t able to opt out of the if they choose not to use the services. Clearly more needs to be done to protect consumers, so it will be interesting to see how President-elect Trump handles this issue.