Hidden charges and fake reviews to be banned

Mandatory hidden fees for online purchases will be banned under new rules proposed by the UK government.

Unavoidable booking charges for things like train or cinema tickets are often only revealed late in the checkout process. This practice, known as ‘drip pricing’, costs UK consumers £2.2bn every year, according to the Department for Business and Trade.

Under the planned Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, such fees will have to be incorporated into the headline price.

Charges for optional add-ons such as airline seat reservations or luggage upgrades for flights will not be included in the measures.

The crackdown will also address fake reviews, with website hosts held accountable for reviews on their pages.

And supermarkets will have to be clearer with grocery price labels on the shelves and online, with consistent unit pricing to help shoppers make an informed choice on what to buy.

“From supermarket shelves to digital baskets — modern day shopping provides customers with more choice than ever before,” said Kevin Hollinrake, Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business. “But with that, comes the increased risk of confusion, scams and traps that can easily cost the public more than they had planned.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the clear steps we’re taking as a government to ensure customers can compare purchases with ease, aren’t duped by fake reviews, and have the sting of hidden fees taken away.”