Feds Propose Rule Banning ‘Junk Fees’

Taylor Swift performs during The Eras Tour concert at SoFi Stadium
Fans enjoy Taylor Swift’s performance during The Eras Tour at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission announced a proposed rule Thursday that would ban so-called “junk fees,” effectively mandating all-in totally transparent pricing for concerts and other ticketed events.

Under the proposal the list price would have to include fees and include a breakdown of where the fees will go and what they are for.

The Biden Administration began calling for junk fee elimination nearly a year ago and has ramped its battle against the practice in the months since. In February, the president urged Congress to take up legislation to  “lower the huge service fees that companies like Ticketmaster slap on tickets for concerts or sporting events that can easily add hundreds of bucks to a family’s night out,” In June, the White House announced Live Nation was moving to all-in ticketing for events at its owned-and-operated venues and festivals and that it would also offer an all-in option for all events sold via Ticketmaster.

After the president began his push against junk fees, the FTC began asking for public input on potential rules to eliminate “unfair and deceptive charges.” The FTC said it received more than 12,000 comments; it is now seeking a new round of comments following the promulgation of the proposed rule, which can be read here.

“All too often, Americans are plagued with unexpected and unnecessary fees they can’t escape. These junk fees now cost Americans tens of billions of dollars per year—money that corporations are extracting from working families just because they can,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “By hiding the total price, these junk fees make it harder for consumers to shop for the best product or service and punish businesses who are honest upfront. The FTC’s proposed rule to ban junk fees will save people money and time, and make our markets more fair and competitive.”

Under the proposed rule, the FTC would be able to seek refunds for consumers charged fees in contravention of the rule and the agency would have the power to levy fines for non-compliance.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who chaired a January committee hearing aimed squarely at Ticketmaster and Live Nation, announced her support for the FTC’s rule in a statement, saying “From buying a concert ticket to booking a flight, hidden fees are a constant challenge for consumers trying to make informed decisions on big purchases. We must put an end to these surprise costs so that consumers have the transparency they need and deserve. This announcement from the Administration is an important step towards ensuring that the price you see is the price you pay.”