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Junk fees – those hidden and bogus charges that have found their way into a wide variety of transactions – are on consumers’ minds. Based on what they’ve told us, junk fees are on their last nerve, too. After receiving more than 12,000 comments about how those fees impact consumer spending and affect honest businesses, the FTC announced on October 11, 2023, a proposed Rule on Unfair or Deceptive Fees. As we mentioned then, we’re asking for further feedback – this time about the specifics of how the FTC proposes to address the issue of junk fees.

The online link to file public comments has gone live and we welcome the perspectives of consumers, researchers, business people, and anyone else who wants their voice heard about junk fees. It’s a simple process. Consider the questions the FTC is asking, read the proposed rule, click the COMMENT button, and let us know what’s on your mind. Of course, we invite formal responses with footnotes, citations, and the like – but we particularly welcome your practical, real-world insights about the FTC’s proposal.

File your comments by January 8, 2024.

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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November 14, 2023

The FTC is responsible for American consumers receiving fair and equitable treatment in the marketplace. The removal of junk fees is a good start in the right direction. Removing junk fees provides consumers with additional spending power in managing individual and family finances, with the ability to save or invest in the marketplace.
W. James Bethea, MBA, MPA

Susanne Shedding
November 14, 2023

And when you work on the "junk fees" please address the price of blocking advertising on our
cellular phones. They want $90 a month for most advertising to be blocked and I do not even
pay that much monthly to have the use of the phone!!!

Linda Carol Edwards
November 14, 2023

I hate hiden fees. How can you find out about hidden fees?

Crystal Habib
November 14, 2023

There was a car dealership I had a negative experience with in 2023 that makes a great example on why this rule should be enforced and how I propose it should be done.

Stanley Chevrolet at 5697 W Broadway, McCordsville, IN had the pricing of a 23 Chevrolet Equinox listed at MSRP on their website within my price point. I was interested.

This dealership is an hour away. So, I contacted the dealership ahead of time to ask if there were any additional fees that would be added, and they confirmed the price on the website was the price on the Equinox. I drove the hour to see the vehicle and found they added a sticker addendum that included door guards (which were not on the vehicle yet) for $299 and an "appearance protection" package for $999. They said these sticker addendum items were non-negotiable.

I went back online, and I could not find any information about these added items. No fine print, pricing, or details about these additional fees and why there were non-negotiable.

If they are non-negotiable, why was it not on their website listed in the total cost for the car and why was it not disclosed when I called them ahead of time?

I wasted 2 hours of time driving to see a car that was now out of my price range.

They tried to sell me “appearance protection” for $999 and door guards for $299 and I unfolded what appeared to be a scam or deceptive junk fees.

These were items they said were on the “sticker addendum” and not negotiable. They tried to tell me the appearance protection was a partnership with a local company to protect the paint and interior should there be paint issues or a stain. They guarantee it up to 5 years.

I told them I did not want it and they said it was “already added” and I could not opt out of it. I asked for information about this, and they handed me a brochure. Well, I did some research on this brochure and it’s a literal product from a company in one of the Carolinas. This did not sound right because he said it was a local company, not a product purchased out of state.

I received a follow-up email from the sales rep (after I left) asking if I had any questions. I responded that the brochure he handed me was NOT from a local company and wanted to get more information. He responded saying this company has “local branches” in our area. I then asked for the local branch location and contact information and package details in writing so I can read the fine print.

I immediately get a call from his manager. This manager asked what questions I had, and I straight up told him that this” appearance package” sounded made-up because the brochure is from out of state, and I can’t seem to find any information from the sales agent or their website for the details.

I asked him what local branch they use, etc. He responded that he was able to “only for me” cut that price in half and they will “eat” the other half. He offered this instead of providing additional details. He said he had to get the “owners' approval” from the local company they contract with.

I found it comical as there was no way that this product that could be purchased online for $50 cost them anywhere near the $500 (let alone $999) they wanted to charge. Also, the manufacturer warranties the paint for a year and if I had a stain, I could just spot clean in myself and would not waste a 2-hour drive for that.

I again asked him, send me the details. I asked for the company that provided the service (not the product) and where is the local branch was located.

He could not give me an answer because he lied to me, admittedly. He told me that there is no local branch, that this company from out of state sends representatives to their dealership and trains them on how to clean and repair the paint. So, this $999 warranty appearance package was never provided by an outside vendor. It was just another product/junk fee the dealer added.

It was a cheap product they polished on themselves and called it an "appearance package". They told me they used the product to help protect the cars from bird poop while it sat on the lot. The customer should not be forced pay $999 for a product they used to protect their stock. Especially not $999 mandatory. I had no interest in driving 2 hours for spot cleans or minor paint repairs. And again, I could not buy this car unless I purchased this "package" which was NOT disclosed on their website or included in the price.

I ended the call at that point. I told him I will absolutely not buy from them since it was clear they were not honest and upfront with me.

I propose that all prices and fees be posted online that are non-negotiable when it comes to car dealerships in a clear and conspicuous manner. That this "total price" be the largest and first visible price seen by the customer.

These are material terms that should be disclosed up front. I would not have wasted a 2 hour round trip to see a car that was outside of my price point had I known ahead of time and impacted my decision to buy this car.

There should be digital record of all fees listed into the price and a breakdown of such fees and it should be a total price clear and large and be the first one the customer sees. It should not be only discoverable in person at the dealership. I believe anywhere the car is posted for sale, the total price including fees should be included clear and conspicuously.

For example. MSRP for a car at $25,299 with door guards at $299 and appearance package of $999.

The price online that is the largest and most conspicuous should say:

Price: $226,587*
*MSRP is $25,299 with included features $299 Door Guards and Appearance Package $999. Click here for more details. (And then a link to information about these items, terms and why they are non-negotiable)

This would help the consumer make an educated decision of the car is in their price range, view the additional features, and also deter the dealership from adding bogus fees that are baseless and hold no value to the customer. There should be consequences for breaking this rule and a channel for consumers to report violations.

Julie Engelken
November 14, 2023

The proposal is excellent. I hope that it includes the situation I encountered in which I was buying a ticket to an event (only sold by one company) and after I selected my seats the price changed on the website before I paid. The price had increased significantly, but the website did not show anywhere why the price had gone up and what the additional fees were for. I had only one choice at that point, to buy the ticket and go to the event or not buy the ticket. It was only after I paid for the ticket that it showed a breakdown of the additional fees. The breakdown of the additional fees should be shown in advance of payment to show the taxes, event location fees, and any other fees in addition to the cost of the seats at the event.

November 14, 2023

This should include the idea that tipping should not be a part of a retail transaction and the strange "errors" that have been happening at Walmart. This should also include overdrafts and late fees of more than $5-10 fee - it's over a billion dollars that are taken from poor people this way.

Blanky Bradshaw
November 17, 2023

Thank you for supporting consumers. It is time for the FTC to approve a ban on junk fees. We all have been abused with junk fees coming from everywhere and we felt abandoned and ignored. It's time to stop the abuse of hitting customers with junk fees that have never been explained in detail and to customer satisfaction. Enough is enough and this abuse needs to be stopped ASAP.

November 17, 2023

Hi, I enjoyed reading your article! All of your tips and suggestions are quite helpful. Thanks for sharing!

December 06, 2023

I’m getting charged high interest fees along with security fees every month on my credit card. I thought I was getting a deal on gas and that was scam. Security fees on a chevron credit card seems to be a junk fee. Can anybody look into it?

Jennifer Whyte
December 06, 2023

Will government entities be bound by these new rules as well (i.e. will I still be charged a "convenience" fee to pay my property taxes with a credit card)?

December 13, 2023

Paid $125 dollars to Ticketmaster for two tickets for Nicki Minaj in OKC. These are predatory in nature because you either accept it or run out of time and loose the chance to get your tickets. 600 dollars turned into 850 very quickly and I feel bamboozled.

John Maine
December 15, 2023

Pizza Hut and most delivery pizza restaurants, as well as many other types of restaurants will charge the price of the food, taxes, the desired tip for the driver, and a “delivery fee”. It’s hard to understand the purpose of these fee, if it is not used to pay the driver. If anything, getting the food delivered should be cheaper as we don’t use the location. If this fee os to cover the delivery itself, what is the purpose of requesting a tip for the driver?

January 02, 2024

This practice of hidden fees have unfortunately gone too far in morally questionable territory. As the proposed proposal mentioned, lodging websites(like airbnb) or food delivery services (like grubhub) tag on their fee in the end just before the payment page ensuring it is costly to back out now. Similarly, many online websites charge "convenience fee", "credit card fee" etc which is only disclosed in the end. Infact sometimes it is deceptively combined with with taxes with text as "fees and taxes" so as to trick customers in thinking the fee is being mandatorily charged by government. This practice need to stop.

R Ward
January 08, 2024

My experience is that Ticketmaster usually tacks on 20-30 dollars in fees per ticket. Axs is even worse. Usually around $30 & up with fees.

Today all these tickets are digital so there's no need for all these fees.

It's a huge financial burden & it makes it difficult to purchase tickets because you don't know the actual price until you check out.

Ticketmaster is also allowing bots to buy huge amounts of tickets for in-demand events. This locks out the regular customer and inflates prices even higher.

The fees are excessive and not fair.

L Kub
January 08, 2024

I recently took three of us to an event in Pittsburgh. The tickets were reasonable but, the junk fees added up to almost $100 for the three of us! Junk fees were close to the total of the event ticket prices. Everybody had their hands in the till.

Patrick R. Sharbaugh
January 08, 2024

Not exactly a junk fee, I don't think, but related. We just discovered that a free trial for a service we signed up for in February has charged us over $1000 because we forgot to cancel. We never signed in except the first time, and they certainly could tell we didn't use the service, but they never sent an email asking if we did intend to use the service and just charged us for months.

March 18, 2024

I would also encourage the FTC to look into tax prep software that has so-called “free” versions. After spending an hour importing my info, TurboTax's so-called “free” software told me that I would have to pay $204 to actual file my state and federal taxes, just because interest from an investment account (which I had listed since step 1) exceeded a certain threshold. Very frustrated with the lack of transparency and drip pricing. I would not have filed with TurboTax had I been able to accurately comparison shop tax prep software. These companies know once you’ve sunk precious time into this process that you won’t abandon ship, which makes it a race to the bottom—whichever company can most effectively mislead you will get your business.

Mark Czerwinski
March 29, 2024

I absolutely support a ban on "junk fees" and "drip pricing." These additional fees should be included in the advertised price for a good or service. I should not need a calculator to figure out how much something costs. Also, these hidden costs make it difficult and time consuming to compare prices from different merchants. Especially egregious is the common internet practice of disclosing full cost only after the customer enters a credit card number and other personal information, for example to disclose the shipping and handling costs.

Another practice I find offensive are requests for tips. While in theory tipping is voluntary, in practice it is not due to social pressures. For example, restaurants in many countries include service costs and tax in menu prices, pay their staff a living wage, and somehow world doesn't come to an end.

In summary, I absolutely support the initiative to end junk fees and drip pricing.

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