Hidden fees and shop labelling to be tackled by new laws

Management & Growth, News,

The Department for Business and Trade are making changes that will ban so called ‘dripped fees’, make fake reviews illegal, and make sure that price labelling on supermarket shelves is clearer.

These measures are part of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill that is currently progressing through Parliament.

Dripped Pricing

Dripped pricing refers to an initial price being shown to a consumer, but where additional but mandatory fees are “dripped” into the checkout later in the buying process. These hidden fees will be outlawed under the new measures so online shoppers are instead given a clear idea upfront of the full price they will pay.

Booking fees for cinemas and train tickets will need to be amended, where they are simply applied towards the end of a transaction, but charges for optional items such as airline seat and luggage upgrades will not be affected.

It’s estimated that these unavoidable fees cost consumers £2.2 billion each year, with 54% of entertainment providers, 56% of providers in the hospitality industry and 72% of providers in the Transport and communication industry using them and therefore to be affected.  

Fake Reviews

New guidance will be created over the next few months to tackle fake reviews. Intended measures include making website hosts accountable for the reviews they host on their pages.

Price Marking

Price marking in shops is governed by the Price Marking Order, which is an EU law that has been retained in the UK. This legislation requires the final selling price and an appropriate final unit price, such as price per gram, to be clearly shown.

The Price Marking Order rules were last updated 20 years ago and now that the UK has the flexibility to adjust these rules, the Department of Business and Trade have the scope to make some updates. 

The goal is for new, simpler, and clearer guidance that will be more consistent, with the aim that any changes will be announced in the Spring.

Small shops that are already exempt from the Price Marking Order will continue to be so under any new measures.

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