We consumers know the experience well: You find a hotel at a doable price, only to get hit with that additional “resort fee.” You try to buy concert tickets and then encounter an eyebrow-raising “service fee.” You pay a bill late and get charged a big fat fine for it.
“Junk fees,” they have been called, those tacked-on charges that sometimes greatly exceed the true cost of the paperwork and processing.
When it comes to potentially questionable fees charged by banks and other companies, a federal consumer agency wants to hear from you with an eye toward making things better.
In 2019, major credit card companies charged more than $14 billion in punitive late fees, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Banks made more than $15 billion in non-sufficient funds and overdraft fees.
The agency’s purpose is to make sure financial institutions treat you fairly. In January, the consumer bureau announced “an initiative to save households billions of dollars a year by reducing exploitative junk fees charged by banks and financial companies,” according to a news release.
Here’s where you come in: The agency wants to hear about fees related to banks, credit unions, credit card accounts, mortgages, loans or payment transfers. They want to know about fees that were unexpected or seemed too high. If you were charged a fee for something you assumed was part of the baseline price, or if it was unclear why a fee was being charged at all, they want to know about it.
Junk fees make it harder for us to choose the best product or service since the true cost is hidden, bureau director Rohit Chopra said in a January press call.
The agency says Americans find ourselves potentially subject to “inflated or surprise fees” — charges that aren’t avoidable or immediately negotiable — for everything from stop payments to check imaging to card replacements to using of an out-of-network ATM.
Feedback from consumers will help the agency craft rules, issue industry guidance and focus its supervision and enforcement resources in the coming months and years. Officials are also interested in hearing from other sources including small business owners, nonprofits, legal aid attorneys and local government officials.
The New York Times recently reported that the agency has focused on the $15 billion a year collected by banks for insufficient funds and overdraft fees. Some banks have, under pressure, scaled back or even eliminated those charges.
Through March 31, you can submit comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at http://www.regulations.gov or email them to FederalRegisterComments@cfpb.gov with “CFPB-2022-00″ in the subject line. Though online submissions are preferred, you can also mail your input to: Fee Assessment, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 1700 G Street NW, Washington D.C., 20552.
If you feel nickel-and-dimed by those fees, they want to hear from you.