The ABC News Fixer -- Hidden and other unexpected fees on everything from hotel rooms to cellphone service to concert tickets are getting out of hand and should be fully disclosed to let consumers make better buying decisions, a leading consumer group said.
Some fees, like those for hotel rooms or tickets, show up only on the last page of an online transaction, and by then, many consumers acquiesce and just pay rather than conduct a whole new search.
“After an election campaign in which middle class, consumer pocketbook issues and abuse of corporate power played a big part,” Mark Cooper, the CFA’s director of research, said in a statement, “this is a perfect time for the new administration to start requiring all businesses to include mandatory fees in advertised prices.”
“The undisputed elements of free market competition are comparison shopping and knowing the true cost of goods and services before buyers plunk down their hard earned dollars.”
Among the fees often not disclosed until the consumer is in the final stages of a purchase cited by the National Economic Council in its report:
Hotel resort fees. These mandatory fees pay for hotelwide services such as free coffee or fitness center access and can add up to a significant portion of the total price.
Event ticketing fees. Service, processing or delivery fees and even instant download fees can amount to 20 percent or more of the base price of the ticket and are mandatory for all buyers.
New car fees. Some states regulate the fees that may be added at the dealership; others don’t. These include fees for documentation, floor plan or inventory, dealer preparation, advertising and destination, delivery or processing and can add hundreds of dollars to the final cost. Many consumers assume these are nonnegotiable.
Telecommunications fees. With names like regulatory cost recovery fee or mobility administrative fee, these extra fees sound official but are dollars the companies keep for themselves.
In a separate report on mandatory resort fees in the hotel industry, the FTC acknowledged that by breaking out resort fees from the rest of the bill, hotels are able to lower the commissions paid to travel bookers.
However, consumers are unable to opt out of these fees even if they don’t use the extra services.
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