Chair Hickenlooper: “The essential question here is: ‘How transparent is the transaction from the beginning?’”
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper chaired a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security to examine price transparency and how undisclosed “junk fees” harm consumers.
“Companies need to give consumers the transparency they deserve when they shop for goods and services,” said Hickenlooper, Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security, in the hearing. “Price transparency allows for consumers to see the total price of a product or service from the get-go, so they don’t feel deceived.”
Hickenlooper was joined by Ranking Member Marsha Blackburn, and witnesses Sally Greenberg, Chief Executive Officer at the National Consumers League, Vicki G. Morwitz, Bruce Greenwald Professor of Business, Marketing Division at Columbia Business School, and Todd J. Zywicki, George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law at George Mason University.
“We all know that junk fees can be frustrating for consumers as they shop for products and services. They raise costs and in many cases cause confusion,” said Hickenlooper in the hearing. “As a former small business owner, I experienced firsthand the many obstacles in opening a new brewpub, new restaurant, or literally any small business… Today, large companies use their market advantage to force customers into paying fees that were not expected, or simply unavoidable. Consumers’ pockets, and small businesses, suffer as a result.”
During the hearing, Hickenlooper and other senators asked questions about how hidden fees hurt competition and cost American consumers time and money.
Hickenlooper also discussed upfront “all-in” pricing, which displays the total price of a product or service, including all additional fees from the start of the transaction, rather than surprising consumers at check-out. Hickenlooper shared an example of how upfront “all-in” pricing lets American consumers make informed decisions in his opening remarks.
“I think we are coming to a point where we’re going to go into a period where everything will be transparent, and customers will feel more confident that they’re getting a fair opportunity to get what they want at the price they expect,” said Hickenlooper in the hearing.
For a full video of the hearing, click HERE.