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Policy Impacts

Protecting Consumers From Hidden Fees

Our advocacy has prompted government action to address hidden fees in consumer transactions. In a 2021 petition, we asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban “drip pricing”— sellers’ use of deceptively low sticker prices only to reveal additional, mandatory fees at purchase. Max Sarinsky discussed how the FTC could address the problem in a New York Times essay. In 2022, the FTC responded, formally granting our petition and issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Junk Fees. Legal fellow Laura Figueroa provided comments at an FTC meeting to encourage the Commission to ban the practice. 

In October 2023, the FTC released a proposed rule that bans the use of hidden fees in transactions including hotel reservations, vehicle rentals, and event ticket purchases. If finalized, it would require sellers to present full prices upfront and disclose whether any fees are refundable. The proposed rule references Policy Integrity and our work more than a dozen times, including both our petition and our 2023 comment letter supporting the FTC’s authority to issue this regulation.