If there’s one thing that brings our divided nation together, it’s our hatred of junk fees.
Say I want to travel to go see my favorite musician Dolly Parton play at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.
When I book my plane ticket, I have to fork up extra cash to bring luggage or change my flight. My grandkids are more into Blippi than Dolly — so they won’t be traveling with me. Otherwise, I might have to pay a fee just to sit with them.
I need a rental car once I land, so I’ll be stuck paying an extra fee to pick up the car at the airport and another fee they never told me about to cover the rental company’s costs for disposing old tires. Seriously?
When I pay my hotel bill, the price is way higher than I thought I’d pay when I booked the room, to cover wi-fi, pool access, a gym, state and local taxes and other special fees.
Before I get to the show, I better look at my checking account balance if I want to buy a record. Even if I see that I have enough money to make a purchase, the timing of other charges hitting my account could result in me getting slapped with a surprise overdraft fee. It’s a simple mistake, but could make a $20 record end up costing $50.
Oh and don’t forget the concert tickets themselves. Major ticket sellers like Ticketmaster tack on fees to attend shows, which can drive up the final ticket price as much as 78% percent higher than what I was told the initial price was.
It’s all bait-and-switch. You thought you could afford to see Dolly Parton, but it turns out it’s gonna take a lot more than working “9 to 5”.
Corporations often label these types of charges “convenience fees” or “service fees.” Probably because they “conveniently” “serve” to pad their bottom lines, costing Americans at least $29 billion dollars a year we didn’t expect to pay. This is a huge problem spanning many different industries — not just the ones I’d encounter on my trip.
But there’s good news: President Biden has urged Congress to draw up legislation to prevent these outrageous fees.
It’s time for Congress to act.
Read it on Robert Reich’s blog.