The Department for Business and Trade are making changes that will ban dripped fees, make fake reviews illegal, and make sure that price labelling on supermarket shelves is clearer.
These measures are part of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill that is currently progressing through Parliament.
Dripped pricing refers to when an initial price is shown to a consumer, but additional fees are “dripped” into the checkout later in the buying process. These hidden fees will be outlawed under the new measures so that online shoppers are instead given a clear idea upfront of what they will pay.
It is estimated that these unavoidable fees cost consumers £2.2 billion each year, indicating their widespread use. It is likely that these new laws will require website adjustments and redesigns for many businesses. For instance, booking fees for cinemas and train tickets will be caught by the new legislation. It has though been mentioned that airline seat and luggage upgrades that are optional are not included.
New guidance will be created over the next few months to tackle fake reviews. Intended measures include making website hosts accountable for the reviews they host on their pages.
Price marking in shops is governed by the Price Marking Order, which is an EU law that has been retained in the UK. This legislation requires the final selling price and an appropriate final unit price, such as price per gram, to be clearly shown.
The Price Marking Order rules were last updated 20 years ago and now that the UK has the flexibility to adjust these rules, the Department of Business and Trade have the scope to make some updates. They have announced that they will be working with stakeholders and businesses to create new, simpler and clearer guidance that will be more consistent in the modern shopping place.
Small shops that are already exempt from the Price Marking Order will continue to be so under any new measures.