Biden Targets ‘Junk Fees’ Imposed by Businesses, Calls for More Transparency

Biden Targets ‘Junk Fees’ Imposed by Businesses, Calls for More Transparency
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on protecting consumers from hidden junk fees as (L-R) Co-CEO of TickPick Brett Goldberg, CEO of DICE Phil Hutcheon, CEO of xBk Tobi Parks, Director of the National Economic Council Lael Brainard, CFO of Airbnb Dave Stephenson, and President of Live Nation Venues Tom See listen during an event at Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on June 15, 2023. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Emel Akan

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that his campaign to protect consumers from hidden “junk fees” is bearing fruit, with more companies agreeing to provide greater transparency in pricing.

Several companies in the ticketing, lodging, and other industries have pledged to eliminate hidden fees and provide customers with all-in, upfront pricing for their products and services.

“Junk fees are not a matter for the wealthy very much, but they’re a matter for working folks, like the homes I grew up in,” Biden said during a roundtable discussion with company executives at the White House. “And they can add hundreds of dollars a month and make it harder for families to pay their bills. I think it’s just wrong.”

Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation, SeatGeek, xBk, Airbnb, and TickPick are among the companies that have pledged to eliminate hidden fees.

In January, Live Nation angered thousands of Taylor Swift fans, as well as the White House and lawmakers, because of huge swings in ticket prices and platform outages during the pop star’s tour.

Live Nation has committed to launching an upfront, all-in pricing experience in September so that customers attending events at its more than 200 venues and festivals around the country will see a single, transparent price.

SeatGeek, a ticketing platform, said it would roll out product features over the summer to make it easier for its users to purchase tickets based on an all-in price.

These changes, according to Biden, are “a win for consumers” and demonstrate that the fight against hidden fees is gaining momentum. However, he added that there is still work to be done to address the issues in the online ticketing market and to eliminate junk fees across all industries.

Iowa-based venue xBk also said it would implement all-inclusive pricing for tickets. Other companies that have followed suit include the Pablo Center at the Confluence, DICE, and the Newport Festivals Foundation.

“A large body of research has shown that fees charged at the back-end of the buying process, along with other types of junk fees, make it harder to comparison shop, impede competition, and lead to consumers paying more,” according to a White House fact sheet.

In March, Biden called on airlines to stop charging hidden fees to families traveling together. Three major airlines have agreed to waive fees for parents who sit with their young children.

In addition, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed a rule that would force airlines to disclose all their fees, including those for checked bags, wireless internet access, and seat selection upfront to make it easier for passengers to compare rates.

In a statement criticizing the Biden administration, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business organization in the country, claimed that attempts to dictate pricing amount to nothing more than government control.

“Efforts to mandate changes in prices through government action are price controls. Full stop,” said Neil Bradley, the chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer.

“American businesses, consumers, and families know from experience what price controls lead to. Less competition, less innovation, fewer choices, and higher prices,” Bradley added.

Emel Akan is a senior White House correspondent for The Epoch Times, where she covers the Biden administration. Prior to this role, she covered the economic policies of the Trump administration. Previously, she worked in the financial sector as an investment banker at JPMorgan. She graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University.
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