Ambassador Susan E. Rice Remarks to White House State Legislative Convening on Combatting Junk Fees
As Prepared For Delivery:
Thank you, Julie. Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining today’s discussion on junk fees.
I also want to thank you for your leadership and partnership to help us root out junk fees.
As you know, junk fees take many forms. They are hidden, mandatory charges that mask the full price of attending a concert or game. They’re surprise fees that show up after a hospital visit. They’re predatory fees—like bank overdraft fees or so-called “early termination fees” from cable contracts—that far exceed the cost of doing business. Sometimes, they’re downright misrepresentations of “no-fee” bank accounts or similar products. Above all, they are a burden on the pocketbooks of the American people.
Our economy works best when consumers have all of the information they need to make informed decisions. When we go to a department store or a supermarket, we expect the full price of our jeans or milk to be on display next to the product, at the time we’re browsing. I know I wouldn’t go back to a store that tried to charge a mysterious “service fee” at the check-out line. Unfortunately, so much of our economy now lacks that basic transparency.
And these fees really add up—to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a year. For example, one government study from 2018 found that junk fees in ticketing were a whopping 27% of the ticket price. I’ve never heard a company promote a “buy 5, get 4” deal!
It’s long past time that we tackle junk fees.
As President Biden said in his State of the Union last month, “Americans are tired of being played for suckers.” He’s committed to doing everything in his power to rein in these fees to give the American people some breathing room. But there is so much good that you all can do, and are doing, at the state level.
So, I thank you for your work to use the power of your legislatures to bring down junk fees. We are lucky to have you all as partners in this effort. Together, we can help out American consumers and make our economy fairer for everyone.
With that, I will turn it over to my colleague, Lael Brainard, Director of the National Economic Council.