Junk fees. Hidden fees. Surprise processing, resort, convenience or service fees. No matter their name – they are wrong

A new proposal in Colorado would stop these hidden fees that get tacked onto everything from hotels to tickets. You can help make it law.

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Processing fees, service fees, administrative fees - oh my. These hidden fees are everywhere.

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They go by many names –  “service” fee, “environmental” fee, “resort” fee, “administrative” fee, “processing” fee and the frustratingly named “convenience” fee. 

And we’re seeing more and more of them, often tacked on to our purchases after we’ve shopped around and are in the process of checking out.

What are these surprise, junk fees and why are they wrong?

If a company advertises that something is $29.99 but then charges a $20 fee that we have to pay no matter what color, make, model, or version we choose, the price is really $49.99.

Hiding the price, by tacking on this surprise, junk fee when you check out is wrong. 

Surprise fees allow companies to hide the true price of what they are selling, undermining transparency in the market and hurting the companies that accurately advertise what their products or services cost. 

It also undermines our ability to compare the costs of products and services when we shop around, further incentivizing more “convenience” and “processing” fees to pop up. 

What we can do to stop surprise fees?

Colorado should require companies to disclose any mandatory fees when they advertise the price of their products, goods or service. That’s what a state bill – HB24-1151 – will do. 

Help us get this bill across the finish line

The bill focuses on mandatory and non discretionary fees – fees that are tacked on no matter what we, as a consumer, choose. If a company knows we’ll need to pay the fee, no matter what product we buy, that fee should be disclosed up front, with the price.   

The best way for companies to comply with this bill is to eliminate these surprise mandatory “processing,” “resort,” “convenience,” or whatever named fees. 

Let the price be right.  

If they choose to continue to use these fees, they would need to disclose the fees when they are advertising the price of their stuff.  $29.99 + $20 fee. Or $49.99. 

Not only will this disclosure help us shop around but it should also help eliminate these fees in the first place.

The price should be the price. Tell your legislator.  

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Authors

Danny Katz

Executive Director, CoPIRG

Danny has been the director of CoPIRG for over a decade. Danny co-authored a groundbreaking report on the state’s transit, walking and biking needs and is a co-author of the annual “State of Recycling” report. He also helped write a 2016 Denver initiative to create a public matching campaign finance program and led the early effort to eliminate predatory payday loans in Colorado. Danny serves on the Colorado Department of Transportation's (CDOT) Efficiency and Accountability Committee, CDOT's Transit and Rail Advisory Committee, RTD's Reimagine Advisory Committee, the Denver Moves Everyone Think Tank, and the I-70 Collaborative Effort. Danny lobbies federal, state and local elected officials on transportation electrification, multimodal transportation, zero waste, consumer protection and public health issues. He appears frequently in local media outlets and is active in a number of coalitions. He resides in Denver with his family, where he enjoys biking and skiing, the neighborhood food scene and raising chickens.

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