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If you don’t like surprises, you might like this bill to ban certain fees

Virginia State Senator Stella Pekarsky’s (D-Fairfax) bill to ban junk fees passed the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology in a strong bipartisan vote of 13 to one on Jan. 31, according to a news release

Senate Bill 388 would ban surprise extra fees in many transactions, including phone upgrades, concert tickets, car rentals and hotel stays. These fees currently cost the average family of four $3,200 annually, adding significant economic strain to hard-working Virginians. The bill would require all businesses to disclose and advertise upfront any mandatory fees that are included in the total price of a product or service, promoting fair market competition.

“This bill increases transparency and protects Virginia consumers from surprise junk fees,” said Senator Pekarsky). She added, “Even kids running lemonade stands know they can’t charge someone more than the price they put on the sign. My bill will hold corporations to that same standard, and I appreciate my colleagues’ support in advancing it” to the Senate floor. 

“This common-sense, pro-consumer bill will increase transparency and save hardworking Virginians money,” said Freedom Virginia Executive Director Rhena Hicks. “From renting a car to upgrading a cell phone, hardworking Virginians deserve to know the total cost of a product upfront instead of at checkout. We’re grateful to Senator Pekarsky for tackling this important issue and look forward to passing this bill out of the full Senate soon.”

The hidden “junk” fees are usually not displayed until near or at the end of a transaction and often contradict the price that was initially advertised. According to a national poll from Data for Progress, an overwhelming majority of voters, including 81% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans strongly support efforts to end the practice of junk fees.

Delegate Adele McClure (D-Arlington) is carrying the companion bill, HB 1320, in the House of Delegates. The House bill has been assigned to Labor and Commerce Subcommittee #2.

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