UK to ban online shopping hidden fees

The government has said that a set of new laws will ban both mandatory “hidden fees” for online shopping and fake reviews.

These hidden fees, which are part of a process known as ‘drip pricing’, occur when consumers are shown an initial price for goods or services while additional fees are outlined later in the checkout process.

The new rules will force companies to inform consumers of these fees in the headline price or at the start of the shopping process, including booking fees for cinemas and train tickets.

The proposed legislation, which will form part of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill (DMCC), will also make companies provide clearer labelling for prices on supermarket shelves.

The DMCC is currently progressing through parliament.

Research published by the Department for Business and Trade suggests that drip pricing occurs in more than half of providers in the entertainment and hospitality industry, while 72 per cent of transport and communication sites reveal hidden fees later in their checkout process.

The government says these unavoidable fees cost consumers £2.2 billion every year.

“From supermarket shelves to digital baskets – modern day shopping provides customers with more choice than ever before,” said minister for enterprise, markets and small business, Kevin Hollinrake. “But with that, comes the increased risk of confusion, scams and traps that can easily cost the public more than they had planned.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the clear steps we’re taking as a government to ensure customers can compare purchases with ease, aren’t duped by fake reviews, and have the sting of hidden fees taken away.”

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