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One Virginia lawmaker wants to eliminate "junk fees"


The General Assembly is considering a bill aimed at cracking down on so-called “junk fees.”

Some businesses call them convenience fees. Critics call them junk fees, charges added on to a bill for things like paying with a credit card instead of paying with a check.

Jay Speer at the Virginia Poverty Law Center says everybody seems to have an experience with junk fees.

"Across all industries and products, consumers are paying billions of unnecessary, unavoidable fees," Speer says. And there's a bill in the House and a bill in the Senate, and all they require is that these fees are disclosed upfront so people know what they’re being charged, and they can compare and shop for the best price."

The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Senator Stella Pekarsky of Fairfax County.

"We have heard from people that get lured into services, and then by the time they’re finished, they’re already in a process of purchasing something, the price has just skyrocketed," Pekarsky says. "And there are folks who don't speak English very well, for whom this is very difficult. People who are on a budget."

She says she's hopeful the governor will sign the bill if it gets to his desk.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.