Unavoidable concealed fees for online purchases, also known as "drip pricing," are slated to be prohibited by new legislative proposals. Additionally, fraudulent reviews will be prohibited, and companies will be required to provide more transparent price labelling in supermarkets.
This comes as a result of a consultation held by the government about consumer openness, which came to the conclusion that the pricing policies of certain companies are not completely transparent.
The suggested regulations are going to be put into the bill that is being submitted for digital markets, competition, and consumers.
When consumers are offered with an initial price for a product or service on an online platform, they are then confronted with additional charges during the payment sequence. This is an example of what is known as "drip pricing."
According to a report that was compiled by the Department of Business and Trade, the practice was widespread, since it was utilised by more than fifty percent of enterprises that provided entertainment and hospitality services.
It was found that drip pricing is particularly prominent in the transport and communication industries, and that it costs customers up to £2.2 billion yearly in expenses that are not essential.
In accordance with the new laws that are being suggested, mandatory fees will be added into the prices that are offered online.
If you are purchasing anything like movie tickets or train tickets, for example, you are required to reveal any necessary registration fees from the very beginning of the purchase process.
Among the measures that will be implemented is the elimination of any expenses that are related with additional products, such as airline seat reservations or luggage improvements.
It is anticipated that the newly implemented regulations will become effective in the spring.
Minister for enterprise, markets, and small business Kevin Hollinrake stated, "Consumer choice has never been greater than it is today, thanks to digital baskets and supermarket displays." "However, this also increases the likelihood of public confusion, deception, and snares, which can easily exceed their initial budget."
The Bill, according to him, will enable consumers to compare purchases and prevent themselves from being "duped by false reviews."
The government agency reported that 90% of consumers considered evaluations prior to making purchases, which contributed to the £224 billion spent in online retail markets in 2022.
In an effort to combat fake reviews, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has contributed to the development of new recommendations that would also hold website administrators liable for reviews on their pages.
A CMA spokesperson described the government's "progress towards adjustments to address consumer behaviour that misleads or leaves them without payment" as "positive."
In addition, reforms will be implemented to the Price Marking Order (PMO), which mandates that vendors exhibit the final selling price and, where applicable, the final unit price (e.g., the price per kilogramme).
Proposed changes, according to the Department of Business, would ensure unit pricing was applied consistently to promotions and special offers, enabling consumers to compare similar products and determine which purchases offer the best value.