Wednesday, 04 October 2023

Assembly approves Sen. Dodd’s ‘junk fees’ bill

SACRAMENTO — The California Assembly on Monday approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, in partnership with Attorney General Rob Bonta and Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, that would outlaw hidden charges on purchases — also known as junk fees — ensuring consumers are not exposed to deceptive business practices that add unfair costs.

“For too long, Californians have been hit with dishonest charges being tacked on to seemingly everything,” said Sen. Dodd. “It is time we put the consumer first and create a level playing field for those businesses that advertise the real price, up front. “Thank you to Assembly members for voting today to end junk fees that boost corporate profits at the expense of those who can least afford it.”

In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden called out junk fees applied to an array of transactions involving banks, ticket vendors, airlines and online sellers.

By one estimate, 85% of Americans have paid hidden fees totaling $28 billion per year.

California, which has the fifth largest economy in the world and the nation’s largest population, pays an outsized share.

The president proposed federal action by numerous federal agencies to address issues within their subject matter and regulatory authority.

At the state level, senators Dodd and Skinner, along with Attorney General Bonta, introduced Senate Bill 478, which would expand on the White House proposal and put the Golden State at the forefront of banning these secretive fees, regardless of industry sector.

The bill would expressly prohibit the pervasive and deceptive practice of advertising a certain price and then adding on mandatory charges that are controlled by the business.

Companies that fail to comply with the new rules could be subject to steep financial penalties.

SB 478, which has broad support from consumer groups, passed the Assembly with strong support. It heads next to Gov. Gavin Newsom following a Senate concurrence vote.

“Today’s vote on SB 478 is a win for Californians,” said Bonta. “I am sponsoring this bill to stop hidden fees because the price consumers see should be the price consumers pay. With SB 478 clearing the Assembly, that common-sense principle is one step closer to being made abundantly clear. I am grateful to the authors of the legislation, senators Dodd and Skinner, for being in this fight with us: Together, we are fighting for consumers and a fair and transparent marketplace.”

“Under SB 478, Californians will know up front how much they’re being asked to pay and will no longer be surprised by hidden junk fees when buying tickets to a concert or sporting event or booking a vacation or hotel,” said Sen. Skinner.

Dodd represents the Third Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Contra Costa and Sacramento counties.

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