Airlines are among the businesses who will be stopped from adding “sneaky” charges under a new law announced in Tuesday’s King’s Speech.
The practice – dubbed drip-pricing – lures customers with what appears to be a reasonable bill before they face extra fees, some unavoidable, such as for baggage or simply booking.
Budget airlines are notorious for it – a £15 Ryanair flight may include a bill of up to £59.99 for a 20kg checked-in bag.
And 97% of all European operators were found to charge for at least one add-on, according to NetVoucherCodes research.
But drip-pricing is rife across entertainment, hospitality and retail alongside transport.
Ticketmaster bolts on a £2.85 fee, Everyman Cinema charges £2.25 for booking and Deliveroo’s extras – on top of delivery – can include a 99p service fee.
Now, King Charles will announce the Government’s fightback during the state opening of Parliament. It is proposing the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, which will include enforcing more transparent pricing.
It won’t ban the fees entirely but firms will no longer be able to “drip” them through the purchasing process, making it easier for customers to compare like with like.
Consumer expert Scott Dixon called it “long overdue” on an “insidious practice which breaches consumer laws”. He said: “These are often presented past the halfway point of the checkout process and many are dripped at the end.
“This is done deliberately as airlines and other providers know that consumers are more likely to accept it, rather than reject it if it was transparent from the outset.”
The Daily Express has been campaigning on the issue. And the Department for Business and Trade estimates we spend up to £3.5billion online on dripped fees. Citizens Advice estimates 8.5 million people bought something they didn’t want or need, or regretted in the last year through “deceptive” pricing.
Meanwhile, Which? found 86% of shoppers thought drip pricing was “sneaky”. The watchdog’s Rocio Concha said tomorrow’s move was positive. She added: “To help consumers make informed choices, all mandatory charges must be include-
ed in the upfront price and firms must make clear any extra optional fees at the start of the process.”
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