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Biden calls for passage of a bill to stop 'junk fees' in travel and entertainment

In his State of the Union address, President Biden delivers remarks on tackling what he calls "junk fees," or the unknown added costs that get tacked onto hotel, airline and other bills in the travel and entertainment sectors.
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In his State of the Union address, President Biden delivers remarks on tackling what he calls "junk fees," or the unknown added costs that get tacked onto hotel, airline and other bills in the travel and entertainment sectors.

After a series of high-profile airline debaclesthis winter, President Biden dedicated quite a bit of airtime in his State of the Union address to the Junk Fees Prevention Act, a push to limit hidden fees and surcharges in a number of industries.

The proposed legislation would curtail companies from overcharging on things like extra resort fees at hotels, service fees at concerts and sporting events, and added costs charged by airlines so that family members can sit together.

"For example, we're making airlines show you the full ticket price upfront and refund your money if your flight is canceled or delayed," Biden said.

"Baggage fees are bad enough — they can't just treat your child like a piece of luggage," Biden said. "Americans are tired of being played for suckers."

In October, the White Housereleasedbackground information on its efforts to tamp down on what it calls "junk fees" — efforts that include the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) eliminating billions of dollars in banking fees.

The White House argues that junk fees harm markets.

"These fees can also create an uneven playing field for businesses, making firms that price in a fair and transparent manner seem more expensive than their rivals," the White House said.

The administration also pointed out the racial disparities when it comes to added fees, in that they disproportionately affect people of color.

For example, it cited a CFPB study that showed that Black consumers pay more in credit card late fees compared with other groups. A 2017study also showed that Hispanic car buyers paid more in added fees.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.
Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.