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Colorado lawmaker wants to crack down on companies that charge hidden fees

Colorado lawmaker wants to crack down on companies that charge hidden fees
Colorado lawmaker wants to crack down on companies that charge hidden fees 01:19

When Colorado state Rep. Naquetta Ricks traveled to Las Vegas recently, she shopped around for the best rate on a hotel.

But when she arrived, she says, the price of her room jumped $240. She says the hotel tacked-on a "resort fee" that wasn't listed anywhere in the price of the room.

"Had I known that I would have compared apples to apples and gotten a nicer place to stay," says Ricks, who is now sponsoring a bill to shed light on hidden fees in Colorado.

She's introduced a bill that would ban advertising or selling a product or service without disclosing all fees upfront. Violations would be a deceptive trade practice.

The consumer advocacy group CoPIRG says there's been a rise in resort fees, convenience fees, processing fees, service fees and other fees. 

Danny Katz, executive director of CoPIRG, says those fees can add hundreds of dollars to the price of a product or service.

"This is about non-discretionary fees. Obviously, we're charged things if we pick a premium product, or we pick a color that has a higher cost, and we don't expect businesses are going to be able to know that in that upfront advertising. But we do know some of those fees - whether they're called convenience fees, or service fees, or administrative fees - they are going to be assessed on you no matter what you pick. Those fees should be part of the price because they are part of the price," he said.

Ricks says the average family spends over $3,200 a year on hidden fees.

"Most Coloradans have tight budgets, and they don't want to be giving $3,200 a year for deceptive trade practices," she said. 

The bill includes exemptions for entities that are regulated by the government like airlines, financial institutions, and the postal service. There are also exemptions for restaurants and craft breweries. 

State Rep. Mike Lynch, who opposes the bill, wondered who it was targeting, calling it a solution in search of a problem.

"You now are potentially hanging an up to $20,000 fine over the heads of businesses. I just really think the free market could take care of this on their own," he said. 

The bill passed the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee 7-3 and is headed to the full House.

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