House passes bills to junk the junk fees & protect consumers
HARRISBURG, Oct. 18 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives took a stand today for fair prices and the wallets of everyone who is tired of being gouged by last-second fees added to online transactions by passing Rep. Nick Pisciottano’ s Pay the Price You See Act, House Bill 636.
“Whether you're a Swiftie or a Steelers fan – or both - stay in AirBnBs, or even just order DoorDash after a hard day’s work, you know that figuring out the price of things you buy online can sometimes be harder than it should be thanks to junk fees,” Pisciottano said. “You base your budget on the pseudo-price at the beginning and then get hit with the real price - with all the fees tacked on – at the checkout point. Your $100 ticket turns into $180, or your $30 dinner turns into $50 in one click. It's frustrating. It stifles your ability to price compare. It's unfair. I’m glad the state House is throwing junk fees on the junk pile.”
Pisciottano’s bill would require companies to show consumers the price plus all mandatory fees upfront.
“You get to see the price, the whole price, and nothing but the price at the very beginning so you can make your decision on whether the real cost is worth it,” he said.
Pisciottano noted this ongoing state effort is very similar to the federal effort from President Joe Biden and the Federal Trade Commission to help protect the wallets of consumers everywhere.
“Americans today are swamped with junk fees that frustrate consumers, waste their time, and raise prices on goods and services across the economy, which is why the FTC announced a proposed rule banning junk fees nationwide just last week,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "I congratulate Representative Pisciottano and all of elected officials in Pennsylvania who today acted to ban deceptive and hidden fees and protect Pennsylvania consumers."
The bill is also earning the support of consumer groups statewide and nationwide, including organizations working to amplify the voices of working families like the American Economic Liberties Project and Fight Corporate Monopolies.
“Americans know that junk fees are unfair, and they want elected leaders to rein them in. The Pay the Price You See Act does just that,” said Pat Garofalo, director of state and local policy at the American Economic Liberties Project. “By mandating that corporations abide by all-in pricing, disclosing the full price of a product at the beginning of the transaction, this bill would benefit consumers and local businesses, eliminating an anticompetitive tactic used to nickel and dime customers. We applaud Rep. Nick Pisciottano for his steadfast commitment to this issue, hope the bill swiftly becomes law, and that lawmakers at all levels of government act to eliminate junk fees all across the economy.”
"Today, Pennsylvania is taking a monumental step towards a state government that works on behalf of working people", said Helen Brosnan, Executive Director of Fight Corporate Monopolies. "The last thing hard-working Pennsylvania families should have to worry about are unfair and deceptive junk fees. Americans are sick and tired of being taken advantage of by powerful corporations, and it’s very encouraging to see lawmakers like Rep. Pisciottano fighting like hell to create an economy that works for everyday consumers, not just the rich and powerful."
The Pay the Price You See Act is just one bill passed by the Democratic majority in the state House this week to help inform and protect consumers.
On Monday the House passed Rep. Steve Malagari’s Beat the Bots Act (House Bill 1378) that would punish companies that use AI and software loopholes – better known as “Grinch Bots” to buy up massive amounts of tickets or products before regular consumers can even log on, and then re-sell the items to consumers at a massive mark-up.
“This marks a step forward in protecting Pennsylvania consumers from automated scalpers looking to exploit the online market,” Malagari said. “With huge numbers of tickets and services being sold online and the boost to our economy these experiences provide, it’s important to ensure a fair marketplace for our consumers. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to unite against the digital manipulation, price gouging, and scams that harm our constituents' online shopping experiences.”
On Tuesday the House passed Rep. Rob Matzie’s Stop Speculative Ticketing Act (House Bill 1658) that would stop the practice of allowing ticket sellers to list tickets for resale even though they didn’t obtain – and might never obtain – the tickets they’re putting up for sale, and comes down hard on scammers who put up websites designed to fool consumers into thinking they’re dealing with a legitimate ticket seller. Matzie’s bill is backed by consumers and major companies like Ticketmaster, LiveNation and the Better Business Bureau.
“Speculative ticketing is not only deceitful, but it is inherently unfair to fans and consumers,” Matzie said. “You should know – without a shadow of a doubt – who you are buying a ticket from and that the ticket is in the possession of the seller. The Stop Speculative Ticketing Act addresses a simple question: How can you sell something that you do not have?”
Pisciottano said all three bills now go to the state Senate for consideration, and given the massive bipartisan support in the House, he’s confident the bills will be quickly debated and approved. People looking to urge the Senate to act can visit www.pahouse.com/actioncenter to sign a petition and contact their senators.