On October 20, the FTC announced an NPR with respect to “junk fees”, noting
The FTC is concerned that junk fees are common in many sectors of the U.S. economy. The advance notice of proposed rulemaking announced today seeks public comment on the harms stemming from junk fees and associated junk fee practices and on whether a new rule would better protect consumers. The types of junk fees the FTC is seeking comment on include:
- Unnecessary charges for worthless, free, or fake products or services:Consumers may be slammed with charges for products or services that cost companies nothing to provide, are available for free, or should be included as part of the purchase price. Companies might also upsell consumers on fake products or services that either have no value or never materialize.
- Unavoidable charges imposed on captive consumers: Consumers may be forced to pay junk fees because they have no way to avoid or opt out of them. They might be dealing with a company with a monopoly or exclusive rights that can extract fees because there is no competing option. Or consumers might get hit with fees after they have already sunk costs into a product or service, and they can’t easily walk away.
- Surprise charges that secretly push up the purchase price: Consumers can experience junk fee shock when companies unexpectedly tack on mystery charges they did not know about, consent to, or factor into the purchase. Companies might hide these fees in the fine print, cram them on at the end of a purchase process, or use digital dark patterns or other deception to collect on them. Some companies might claim that they do not charge any fees and then add on fees after the purchase or sign up.
The FTC’s NPR can be found at