Companies Agree to Provide Millions of Consumers with the Full Price Up Front, Eliminating Hidden Costs and Saving Families Money
Today, four months after he called out junk fees in his State of the Union and nine months after he first called for action to crack down on hidden fees to lower costs for consumers, President Biden is convening a meeting of private sector companies who have committed to end surprise fees by fully disclosing fees to consumers upfront. Together, these companies service millions of consumers each year, all of whom will receive a better shopping experience without surprise fees imposed at check-out.
Junk fees — hidden, surprise fees that companies sneak onto customer bills — are a pervasive problem in industries across the economy. That’s why the President has been calling on federal agencies, Congress, and private companies to take action to address these fees and provide consumers with honest, transparent pricing. 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.
Today, the President is announcing actions by several companies in answer to that call. President Biden will be joined by representatives from Live Nation, SeatGeek, xBk, Airbnb, the Pablo Center at the Confluence, TickPick, DICE, and the Newport Festivals Foundation — companies large and small that currently provide all-in pricing or are announcing a new commitment to do so in the coming months.
In total, the companies that are making new commitments today will improve the purchasing experience for tens of millions of customers annually. These commitments are in response to the President’s call to action on junk fees in his State of the Union. For example, shortly after the State of the Union, Live Nation expressed interest to the Administration in announcing a commitment to offer all-in upfront pricing through its Ticketmaster platform. Today, Live Nation is committing to roll out an upfront all-in pricing experience in September showing just one clear, total price for more than 30 million fans who attend shows at the more than 200 Live Nation-owned venues and festivals across the country. Ticketmaster will also add a feature to give consumers the option to receive all-in upfront pricing for all other tickets sold on the platform.
Additional commitments include:
- SeatGeek, a ticketing platform that serves both the primary and secondary market, will roll-out product features over the course of the summer to make it easier for its millions of customers to shop on the basis of all-in price.
- xBk, a Des Moines, Iowa-based venue and board member for the National Independent Venue Association, will introduce all-in pricing for over 15,000 tickets sold to over 100 events hosted at the venue.
These actions follow those that have been taken by other companies since the President first called for a crackdown on hidden fees in September:
- Last December, Airbnb introduced a new total price display tool that allows US consumers to see all fees before taxes. Since then, more than 8 million visitors have taken advantage of the tool to view fee-inclusive pricing.
- The Pablo Center at the Confluence from Eau Claire, Wisconsin will discuss the all-in pricing it implemented this April for the 90,000 tickets it sells each year for events at its venue. Since implementing this policy, the Pablo Center reports that it has experienced a 15% uptick in ticket sales, illustrating how venues can provide consumers with a transparent purchasing experience without hurting their business.
In addition, the President will be joined by representatives from companies that have long featured all-in pricing as part of their business models:
- TickPick, a ticketing platform, has been displaying up-front, all-in pricing since its inception in 2011 for the more than 17 million users and 10 million tickets it sells per year.
- DICE, a global independent music ticketing company, has been displaying upfront, all-in pricing since it was founded in 2014 for the more than 34 million fans attending over 40,000 events every year.
- Newport Festivals Foundation, host of the long running Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival, and has been displaying all-in pricing for the all 65,000 fans that attend their events each year since 2017.
The private sector actions recognized today are the latest progress in the President’s efforts to crackdown on junk fees.
- Within weeks of the President’s State of the Union address and his call to ban family seating fees on airlines, American, Alaska, and Frontier Airlines changed their policies to guarantee fee-free family seating and United Airlines took some preliminary steps to address those fees as well.
The Administration has also taken a number of administrative actions to address junk fees in every sector of the economy, including:
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) increased supervision of bank reliance on junk fees and issued guidance on illegal bounce check and overdraft fees, helping drive more than $5 billion in annual savings to consumers. Since the CFPB increased attention to these fees, 15 of the 20 biggest banks have committed to ending bounced check fees entirely. In addition, earlier this year the CFPB proposed a rule that is projected to cut credit card late fees by 75%, from $30 to $8, saving Americans up to $9 billion a year.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on junk fees across the economy, as well as a proposed a new rule called “Click to Cancel,” which would require companies to make it as easy to cancel a subscription as it is to sign up.
- The Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed a rule that would require airlines to disclose all of their fees, from baggage fees to wireless internet to seat changing fees, up front when you’re first comparing prices. In addition, last month DOT announced they will propose a rule later this year mandating airlines cover expenses and compensate stranded passengers they are at fault for a flight cancellation or delay. DOT also published a dashboard of airline policies for when flights are delayed or cancelled due to issues under the airlines’ control, leading 9 airlines to change policies to guarantee coverage of hotels and 10 airlines to guarantee coverage of meals, none of which was guaranteed before.
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released new rules that will go into effect next year to require broadband providers to use “nutrition labels”—similar to those used for food products—to convey key information to consumers about internet service options in an accessible format. The information featured will include prices, speeds, data allowances, and any additional fees charged. In addition, earlier this year the FCC proposed a new rule that would require cable provides to show all in pricing for cable and satellite services.
Today’s voluntary actions demonstrate that companies both big and small recognize the importance of providing consumers with honest, up-front all-in pricing, rather than tricking them with surprise fees at the end of checkout. It is also just a first step towards addressing junk fees in the economy. The President continues to call on Congress to pass legislation that mandates up-front all-in pricing for all ticket sellers, bans surprise “resort fees,” eliminates early termination fees charged by cable, internet, and cellphone companies, and bans family seating fees.