Twenty dollar bills currency cash money
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Biden To Tackle Hidden Junk Fees — But Are They Racist?

“Especially low-income folks and people of color.”

The current president of the United States has asked members of the Competition Council — which he created last year to promote competition across the economy and lower costs for families — to take on was the unfair hidden fees known as “junk fees” that are allegedly taking real money out of the pockets of families across the United States, which include but are not limited to surprise banking overdraft fees, excessive credit card late fees, hidden hotel mandatory resort fees, or those substantial termination charges to stop you from switching cable plans and Internet plans to a better deal.

Biden To Tackle Hidden Junk Fees — But Are They Racist?

“In fact, there’s an entire industry that’s popping up in America to help companies use complicated algorithms to hide fees that hurt consumers and help them”, Joseph R. Biden said earlier today, Wednesday, October 26, 2022 during a speech. “These things add up.”

He also said, however, that the hidden junk fees are “unfair, and they hit marginalized Americans the hardest, especially low-income folks and people of color. They benefit big corporations, not consumers, not working families. And that changes now.”

The Federal Trade Commission of the United States began to work on rules which is designed to crack down on unfair and deceptive fees across all industries — mandatory fees that were never disclosed — and avoiding mandatory fees such as resort fees is virtually impossible. The new rules would require airlines, lodging companies, and other travel sites to disclose fees up front. “When you think you’re paying one price to book a hotel, you only find out after checking out that there’s a “resort fee” you never heard about that’s added to your bill”, Biden said in his aforementioned speech. “And the Department of Transportation is going after unfair airline fees.”

The video of the speech — whose duration is 15 minutes and 49 seconds — may be viewed in its entirety here.

Final Boarding Call

While I applaud the current president of the United States to finally take on mandatory fees which have especially become a scourge in the lodging industry, a significant part of his comments are flawed.

First, he complained about certain fees that are charged by airlines. I believe that all companies have a right to charge what they want and let the free market dictate whether the fees are fair. They should not be allowed to hide those fees from the customer — especially when advertising a room rate with the mandatory fee excluded to deceive the customer into thinking they are initially getting a better rate — but these companies do have a right to earn as much revenue and profit as possible.

Second, his comment about hidden junk fees being “unfair, and they hit marginalized Americans the hardest, especially low-income folks and people of color” is gratuitous at best and does not advance the argument. Some people consider that comment as accusing the companies which charge those hidden junk fees as being racist, as saying that was simply not necessary to prove his point, as they affect all people who travel.

I do not believe in intervention by the government to interfere with the free market; but these mandatory fees — creative as they may be and which are specifically designed to initially obfuscate the true cost of travel — are out of control.

A mandatory room fee is no different than a mandatory destination fee, mandatory resort fee, mandatory amenities fee, mandatory facilities fee, or a mandatory damage waiver fee, of which links to past articles which have been posted here at The Gate are found here in this article.

I have no problem with lodging companies profiting from its customers; but that I vehemently oppose the implementation of mandatory daily resort fees, facilities fees and destination fees is no secret to you if you have been a reader of The Gate for years. They should either be optional or eliminated altogether, in my opinion.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I think we have to view this in the context of the times – peak neoliberalism, just prior to its long collapse. They caused the inflation and shovel billions to a corrupt non-democracy in Ukraine. They won’t do anything about antitrust, the open border and consequent wage suppression and welfare cost, or the costs imposed by skyrocketing crime. But a hidden $25 fee, OH BABY, hold the phone, HERE COMES THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND UNCLE SAM TO SAVE YOU.

    The pattern is familiar by now. Take a real problem, spend 2 years handwringing and dancing around real solutions to negotiate with corporate and financial lobbyists and arrive at a token gesture that is already watered-down beyond belief and may even be something that would have occurred anyhow. Develop narratives to get buy-in from the woke freak show D coalition (“it will fight racism”). Have political operatives act like they are optimizing the timing of the “big announcement” for maximum political benefit but really no one cares, especially because nothing is really going to change. Then weeks later walk back all or part of the announcement as needed, blaming COVID, Ukraine, lawsuits, Republicans, the complexity of the law itself, etc etc. Rinse and repeat for the next problem.

    That is how these people roll. They can’t contemplate actually addressing the big problems. And even with an issue like junk fees, you’ll notice the tools they are using have been around for a long time: the FTC, deceptive trade practice laws, common law misrepresentation and fraud. So what does that tell you about government enforcement to fill the gap where private lawsuits are too expensive? Nonexistent. A couple thousand dollars fine, IF, IF they even get caught. But hey, let’s hire more enforcement agents to do more of the same at $150K plus full pension. Just remember taxes are never racist, amirite? Can’t get hit with resort fees if you can’t afford to go to resorts! Problem solved!

    That is why, at this point in our declining empire, I am looking forward to:

    Dr. Jill Biden and Gisele “Fett Pet” Fetterman 2024
    Master of Puppets Tour

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