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Mass. Attorney General aims to eliminate ‘junk fees’ with new regulations

BOSTON—Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell is cracking down on “junk fees” with new proposals that would prohibit hidden and surprise fees in the Bay State.

“They’re very annoying and they’re very frustrating,” Campbell said.

Most consumers would agree. Junk fees cost American families tens of billions of dollars every year, according to federal regulators, and now Campbell wants to ban the practice in Massachusetts. The Federal Trade Commission proposed similar regulations in October.

According to the Mass. AG’s Office, the proposed regulations would require businesses:

· Clearly disclose the total price of a product at the time it is presented to consumers

· provide clear and accessible information on whether fees are optional or required

· simplify the process for canceling trial offers and recurring charges

The AG’s Office will hold a public hearing and comment session on the proposed regulations on December 20. Campbell said the proposals could go into effect soon after.

“We have strong progressive consumer protection laws here in Massachusetts so we’re pursuing these regulations under those laws,” Campbell said.

Like many unfair and deceptive practices, Campbell said “junk fees” hurt low and middle-income consumers the most. They also make it harder for consumers to compare prices when they shop.

“Especially when we have so many residents operating under a tight budget. [Maybe] they want to bring their children to a concert, they go through the process and at the end, they have a service fee or a convenience fee tacked on to the advertised prices which raises the price significantly,” Campbell said.

Boston resident Patti Burris applauded the effort to get rid of junk fees.

“I love that and I think that’s probably something Massachusetts will be leading the charge and other states will follow,” Burris said.

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