Connecticut lawmakers crack down on ‘junk fees’

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) is calling on state lawmakers to pass a piece of legislation targeting so-called “junk fees.”

“Junk fees” is a term used by policymakers and consumer advocates to refer to undisclosed charges added to many online purchases. Advocates say that junk fees are particularly prevalent in the sale of event tickets, lodging, and food delivery. They are often labeled as “service fees” or “convenience fees.”

Lamont’s legislation (Senate Bill 15) requires “upfront pricing on all event tickets, hotel and short-term rental accommodations, and food and beverage sale and delivery services,” according to his office.

The new law intends to give consumers information about pricing before purchasing many goods and services. Attorney General William Tong used a personal anecdote to illustrate how junk fees often catch consumers off-guard.

“I am the dad of an 18-year-old young woman, a 15-year-old young woman, and a 12-year-old son,” Tong said. “And so, I was on the clock to get Taylor Swift tickets.”

“You have a brief window, right, to get those tickets, and if you find a ticket, you’ve got to hit it, or you’re gonna lose it,” Tong continued. “The problem with junk fees is they catch you right in that moment where you, if you want to go to this concert that everyone in the world wants to go to, you gotta pay whatever they’re telling you you have to pay.”

Lamont echoed those concerns, “A junk fee is a really nasty surprise.”

The CEO of The Bushnell in Hartford threw his support behind the legislation.

“It is imperative that this transparency in pricing is one piece of the puzzle that we face,” David R. Fay said.

Lamont’s proposed legislation already received bipartisan, unanimous approval from the General Law Committee. It now awaits votes in both chambers. The governor signaled confidence that the measure would ultimately be passed.

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