Ahead of a U.S. Senate Subcommittee hearing today on “Protecting Consumers from Junk Fees”, government watchdog Accountable.US released a new analysis finding numerous companies and trade associations across industries affected by the Junk Fee Prevention Act have spent over $1.7 million while lobbying on the bill in the first quarter of 2023. The bill, part of the larger crackdown on junk fees led by President Biden and the CFPB, would “eliminate excessive, hidden, and unnecessary fees imposed on consumers” within the telecommunications, ticketing, hotel, airline, and entertainment industries — an effort that enjoys strong bipartisan public backing from 3 in 4 Americans. Junk fees include excessive online ticket fees, airline family seating fees, exorbitant early termination fees, and surprise resort or destination fees.
Accountable.US also found Republicans on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection have taken over $920,000 from these industry opponents of the Junk Fee Prevention Act.
The new analysis follows Accountable.US’ recent report that found the top 20 U.S. banks that are most dependent on junk fees disproportionately target lower-income consumers through their branch locations. In fact, nearly 60 percent of these banks’ 4,200+ branches are set up in counties with poverty rates at or higher than the national poverty rate, while over 76 percent of their branches were in counties with median household income levels less than the national median household income. These banks reported on average 41.7% of their 2021 net incomes from service charges that punish vulnerable consumers.
Read the full report here.