Consumer Alert: Survey reveals an overwhelming majority of consumers are affected by junk fees

Consumer Alert: Be on the lookout for, and push back on, junk fees

Consumer Alert: Be on the lookout for, and push back on, junk fees

This Consumer Alert is all about junk fees, which are much more than a nuisance. A report from U.S. Senator Bob Casey indicates they’re really impacting household budgets. In his report, junk fees are defined as hidden fees that are not revealed in the original price — the consumer doesn’t learn about the fee until checkout.

Senator Casey estimated common hidden fees for families included in the cost of your cable bill, food delivery, your home rental and banking. The costs of just those fees can top $700 a month.

USA TODAY’s consumer finance section, Blueprint, conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans, and 93% of respondents said they have paid junk fees. And, 91% believe junk fees are getting worse.

But get this: 83% say they’ve abandoned a purchase because when it was time to check out, they were hit with junk fees.  Not surprisingly, one of the most common purchases that tacks on junk fees is concert tickets.

Attorney General Merrick Garland cited excessive junk fees when he announced the lawsuit against Ticketmaster and Live Nation on Thursday. But Bryce Colburn, USA TODAY Blueprint small business editor, said we’re seeing those fees in almost every facet of life as a consumer.

“We see that consumers are getting increasingly frustrated, but they’re also losing trust in all these companies who just keep adding all these transaction fees at the end which can make your cost 20 to 30 percent higher sometimes,” said Colburn. “I think this is where we really need to start promoting pricing transparency.  That’s the key to all of this.”

He says we must embrace our power as consumers.  If you see hidden junk fees, leave a review calling them out. While the White House is tackling junk fees on many fronts, they’re not going away without serious consumer pushback.

Call the business before making a purchase like a car rental or hotel stay, and ask about extra fees. Lastly, often with online purchases, you’ll be asked to complete a survey.  Colburn encourages you to participate in those surveys and let your voice be heard.