WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and his Presidential Competition Council presented ideas to increase economic competition and lower everyday costs for Americans at their Wednesday meeting, targeting a variety of “junk fees” in the travel and entertainment industries.
Biden formed the council in July 2021 to “address overconcentration, monopolization, and unfair competition.” In his executive order, he attributed rising prices in health care and the telecommunications industry, among others, to weakening competition after years of consolidation.
The Junk Fee Protection Act would ban what Biden said were “four of the most frustrating charges Americans face.” These charges include the hidden resort fees that come after booking a hotel stay; service fees companies like Ticketmaster charge for concerts and sporting events; switching fees for internet, cable and cellular plans; and the hidden fees some airlines charge to select a seat.
“The bottom line is this, these unfair fees add up,” Biden said. “It’s a basic question of fairness. With the help of the folks in this room, we’re going to keep building an economy that’s fair, an economy that’s competitive and an economy that works for everyone.”
Rohit Chopra, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, outlined another initiative to lower credit card late fees. He said late fees have gone from being insignificant to costing Americans about $12 billion each year.
“We took a look at the law and the rules and we found a legal loophole that credit card companies have been exploiting to charge billions of extra dollars way beyond their costs and way unjustified to deter late payments,” Chopra said. “We have launched a process to cut those fees down from $12 billion and we project [this] will save people $9 billion a year.”
Biden said the council has also succeeded in requiring internet providers to list all fees upfront, convinced major airlines to provide free rebookings for cancellation flights and encouraged banks to eliminate surprise overdraft and bounced check fees in the last few months.