Lodi News-Sentinel

Free from fees? Bill combats ‘junk fees’

- Christian Martinez

California lawmakers introduced legislatio­n Tuesday aimed at fighting hidden or “junk” fees for everything from concert tickets to groceries.

Senate Bill 478 would prohibit companies from hiding mandatory fees that lawmakers described as a “deceptive advertisin­g practice.”

“We all know how frustratin­g it is to get to the checkout and find out something advertised at one price actually costs much, much more,” state Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said Tuesday during the bill’s introducti­on.

The practice has been common in the travel and entertainm­ent industries in which buyers are met with exorbitant and vaguely defined “service fees” or “convenienc­e fees” when checking out.

For instance, a “Platinum” ticket for Blink-182’s June 16 date at Banc of California Stadium was listed on Ticketmast­er as $290.

But an additional $42.90 service fee and $5 processing fee brings the total to $337.90.

“As I’m sure California­ns have noticed, we’re seeing this more often,” Bonta said.

The practice makes it hard for consumers to compare prices or make a budget.

“The prices advertised should be the price you pay,” Bonta said.

The bill, which was co-authored by Sens. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), would require that the advertised price of a product or service would include all required charges besides government taxes or fees. The bill arrives months after the proposal of a federal rule last year that would require airlines to list the “true cost” of tickets including the price of checked baggage and change fees.

Junk fees cost California­ns billions of dollars per year, Dodd said.

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