Today, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Ambassador Susan Rice, Assistant to the President and Domestic Policy Advisor, and Lael Brainard, Assistant to the President and National Economic Council Director, convened hundreds of state legislative leaders on state efforts to address junk fees. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra also delivered remarks.
Last year, President Biden announced his commitment to take on “junk fees” – unfair, hidden fees that take real money out of the pockets of American families. During the State of the Union, the President called on Congress to pass the Junk Fee Prevention Act and crack down on some of the most frustrating fees consumers face, including ticket service, early termination, family seating, and resort fees. To date, federal agencies have taken a range of steps to crack down on harmful and deceptive fees, which have spurred additional private sector action, including:
- This week, after the President called upon Congress to ban family seating fees, the Department of Transportation (DOT) published a dashboard of airline policies on family seating, and several major airlines have now already changed their policies. DOT previously published a dashboard on when flights are delayed or cancelled due to issues under the airlines’ control, resulting in up to ten airlines adopting more generous reimbursement policies.
- In February 2023, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a proposed rule to cut most credit card late fees to no more than $8, which would save consumers an estimated $9 billion a year.
- In November 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finalized a rule to require cable and internet providers to list fees and services up front with an easy-to-read consumer friendly label.
- In September 2022, the Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a rule to require airlines and online booking services to show the full price of a plane ticket up front, including baggage and other fees.
- In December 2021, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released reports on the banking industry’s excessive and unfair reliance on banking junk fees. Since then, fifteen of the twenty largest banks have ended fees for bounced checks, and today they issued a new Supervisory Highlights finding that banks the CFPB has examined thus far will refund roughly $30 million to about 170,000 account holders who were assessed surprise overdraft fees.
While President Biden will continue to do everything he can to eliminate junk fees, he knows that state leaders also play a critical role in advancing this effort. To support state leaders, today the White House released a new resource, a “Guide for States: Cracking Down on Junk Fees to Lower Costs for Consumers.” Also today, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge released an open letter to housing providers and state and local governments to encourage them to adopt policies that promote greater fairness and transparency of fees specifically faced by renters.
As part of the convening, state legislators shared steps they are taking to combat junk fees. New York has enacted legislation that requires live event ticket retailers to display “all-in” ticket prices, and legislation has been introduced in the Vermont legislature to prohibit hotels from charging undisclosed resort fees and ensure that accurate and fair descriptions of fees are included prominently up front. Just this week, California legislators introduced a slate of six bills tackling junk fees, including on resort fees, rental housing fees, ticketing fees, and more. White House officials thanked the state leaders for their work and ongoing partnership on behalf of American families.
The White House State Legislative Convening on Combatting Junk Fees can be viewed here.
The following state legislators delivered remarks as part of the convening:
- Vermont Senate Minority Leader Randy Brock (R)
- New York Senator James Skoufis (D)
- California Senator Caroline Menjivar (D)