PIRG Education Fund remarks supporting new FTC rules on junk fees

Fees sometimes are added on at the last minute, aren't disclosed at all or are charged for things that offer no real value. Think concert tickets, hotels, cellphone bills and bank fees.

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Consumers and businesses often find junk fees on products and services.

The Federal Trade Commission on Oct. 20 voted to explore new rules on junk fees, which cost consumers and businesses billions of dollars a year.

Before it adopts new rules, the FTC said it wants to hear from the public on the effects of junk fees and the “unfair or deceptive” ways such fees are imposed.

Junk fees include ones added without the customer’s knowledge, or represented as a mandatory fee when it’s not, or one that offers little if any value. Examples are fees added to hotel rooms or event tickets, fees stuffed on cable or cellphone bills, or concocted fees, as we often see with banks.

After the notice of the intention to produce new rules has been published in the Federal Register, consumers can submit comments electronically. Consumers also may submit comments in writing by following the instructions in the “Supplementary Information” section of the Federal Register notice.

Here’s a link to remarks made by Consumer Watchdog Teresa Murray during the Oct. 20 hearing.

 

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Teresa Murray

Consumer Watchdog, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Teresa directs the Consumer Watchdog office, which looks out for consumers' health, safety and financial security. Prior to her current role, she worked as a journalist and columnist covering consumer issues and personal finance for two decades for Ohio's largest daily newspaper. She is the recipient of dozens of state and national journalism awards, including Best Columnist in Ohio, Best Business Writer in Ohio, and National Headliner Award for coverage of the 2008-09 financial crisis. Among the accomplishments she’s most proud of is receiving a journalism public service award for exposing improper billing practices by Verizon that affected at least 15 million customers nationwide. Her work caused Verizon to reach an $80 million settlement with the FCC, the largest ever imposed at that time. Teresa and her husband live in Greater Cleveland and have two sons and a dog. She enjoys biking, house projects and music, and serves on her church missions team and stewardship board.

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