March 22, 2023

Blumenthal & Whitehouse Introduce Junk Fee Prevention Act to End Unfair Surprise Costs for Consumers

With hidden fees costing consumers billions each year, the new legislation would mandate airline, entertainment, ticketing industry fairness

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced new legislation to eliminate excessive fees and bring transparency to the marketplace as hidden fees cost Americans billions of dollars annually. Today’s introduction of the Junk Fee Prevention Act follows calls from President Joe Biden during his State of the Union address. The legislation would eliminate excessive, hidden, and unnecessary fees imposed on consumers and require full prices of services be provided upfront ensuring transparency in the ticketing, hotel, and entertainment industries, as well as prevent airlines from imposing a fee to seat families together.

“Concealed surprise fees—nickel and diming Americans to distraction—must be stopped,” said Blumenthal. “Airline travel, concert going, common purchases—seemingly almost everywhere— consumers are compelled to pay hidden excessive charges. Our bill will help end this price gouging—forcing full disclosure upfront and restricting abusive fees. It will mandate basic common sense fairness and transparency, which consumers rightly demand and deserve.”

“Consumers are charged hidden fees when purchasing everything from flights to concert tickets,” said Whitehouse. “Our Junk Fee Prevention Act would provide consumers with the transparency they deserve when making a purchase.”

During his State of the Union address on February 7th, President Biden urged Congress to pass legislation eliminating junk fees that cost consumers billions of dollars every year. The Junk Fee Prevention Act is a direct response to President Biden’s call to action and would require the full price of a service to be displayed upfront, prevent excessive fees and ensure transparency, and empower the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission to issue new rules and enforce against violations. It would also require airlines to seat children with an accompanying adult at no extra cost and allows the U.S. Department of Transportation to impose penalties for violations.

The legislation specifically targets excessive online ticket fees, airline family seating fees, exorbitant early termination fees, and surprise resort or destination fees.

The Junk Fee Prevention Act has been endorsed by the Consumer Federation of America, National Consumers League, and Consumer Reports.

“CFA applauds Senators Blumenthal and Whitehouse for once again standing up for consumers and leading the charge to end junk fees by introducing this legislation,” said Erin Witte, Director of Consumer Protection at Consumer Federation of America. “The Junk Fee Prevention Act will crack down on some of the most egregious junk fees in ticket sales, hotel reservations, air travel, and telecommunications, and will level the playing field for consumers and honest businesses.”

“Business models that rely on nickel-and-dining consumers are fundamentally unfair,” said John Breyault, National Consumers League Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud. “Hidden junk fees also harm honest businesses by making their competitors’ products and services look deceptively cheaper. The Junk Fee Prevention Act is a long-overdue solution that will help consumers keep more money in their pockets and promote competition in the marketplace.”

“Consumers are rightfully fed up with the proliferation of junk fees that jack up the price of everything from event tickets and hotels to airline flights and internet services,” said Chuck Bell, advocacy program director for Consumer Reports. “Junk fees can add up to a lot of extra money and pose a real financial strain for families at a time when inflation is already taking a big bite out of their wallets. Congress should protect consumers from these unfair and deceptive charges by passing the Junk Fee Prevention Act.”

The text of the legislation can be found here.

Karolina Wasiniewska (Blumenthal) 202-224-0335

Meaghan McCabe (Whitehouse) 202-228-6291

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921