Biden targets hidden 'junk fees' from banks, cable TV, concert tickets

(New throughout, adds broader administration effort on fees, adds Live Nation comment)

By Hannah Lang, Doina Chiacu and Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) -

President Joe Biden pledged on Wednesday to crack down on surprise fees consumers are forced to pay on cable bills, hotel rooms and concert tickets, while U.S. financial regulators declared bank fees for bounced checks and overdrafts unfair.

"These are junk fees," President Joe Biden told reporters at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. "They benefit big corporations. Not consumers. Not working families. And that changes now."


Biden signaled his administration would look at concert tickets, hotels and airfares shortly after the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued guidance that surprise overdraft fees and unexpected depositor fees for bounced checks are likely unlawful.

The White House said the move could eliminate billions in banking fees.

Overdraft fees can catch consumers off guard when their online accounts still show a positive balance, while some customers may find they owe a fee for depositing a check that they did not know was bad, the CFPB said.

The agency said that both fees likely violate the Consumer Financial Protection Act's prohibition on unfair fees that are unavoidable to consumers.

In a fact sheet, the White House noted that bank overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees accounted for an estimated $15.5 billion in revenue for banks in 2019.

Pressure by the regulator pushed revenue from such fees down 90% at Bank of America this summer.

Biden added that the Federal Trade Commission had started work on a rule last week to crack down on "unfair and deceptive fees across all industries."

He cited processing fees for concert tickets and resort fees at hotels as two items his administration is examining.

"We're just getting started. There's tens of billions of dollars and other junk fees across the economy that I'm directing my administration to reduce or eliminate," Biden said.

"We applaud President Biden's advocacy for fee transparency in every industry, including live event ticketing," Live Nation Entertainment Inc said in a statement.

"This only works if all ticketing marketplaces go all-in together, so that consumers truly have accurate comparisons as they shop for tickets." Shares of the company, which owns Ticketmaster, fell 4% on Wednesday.

Biden's remarks follow a meeting the White House Competition Council held last month, in which he ordered federal agencies to take steps to reduce or eliminate hidden fees, charges and add-on costs, which he said were weighing on family budgets.

The administration has come under intense pressure to tamp down inflation that has hit four-decade highs. (Editing by David Holmes and David Gregorio)