Clampdown on hidden online fees to help shoppers cut costs

Rules on hidden online fees, known as drip pricing, will be tightened to boost transparency for stretched families.

The Government is proposing a crackdown on extra charges such as booking or processing fees in products ranging from train tickets and concerts to food deliveries.

It comes after research confirmed drip pricing – where the price paid at checkout is higher than originally advertised due to extra fees – is widespread.

It reportedly occurs in more than half of providers in the entertainment (54 per cent) and hospitality (56 per cent) industries, and almost three quarters across transport and communication (72 per cent) sectors.

In total, this costs UK consumers £1.6 billion online each year.

New consultations have been launched by the Government, with proposals to help consumers during the cost-of-living crisis.

As well as targeting hidden fees, two other consultations will seek views on measures to weed out fake reviews as well as confusing shelf labelling in supermarkets.

‘Crucial safety net for consumers’

Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business, Kevin Hollinrake, said: “From the shelves of supermarkets to digital trolleys, modern-day shopping provides a great wealth of choice.

“But fake reviews and hidden fees can make those choices increasingly confusing and leaves customers unsure about what product is right for them.

“We’ll be listening to industry to ensure these new regulations work for businesses too and don’t generate unnecessary burdens, while at the same time providing a crucial safety net for consumers and their cash.”

Stamping out purchase and sales of fake reviews

Regarding fake reviews, the Government said its ambition is to ensure customers and traders benefit from reviews that represent a genuine experience, while stamping out the purchase and sales of fake ones

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: “Our research shows that fake reviews jeopardise consumer trust and are harmful to honest businesses that don’t purchase or incentivise people to post positive reviews.”

The consultation follows recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority to tighten the rules on how everyday items are priced on supermarket shelves as well as its own work to tackle fake reviews.

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