The UK government’s Department for Business and Trade is set to introduce new legislation aimed at enhancing transparency and fairness in online shopping.  

The proposed laws, part of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill (DMCC), will target “drip pricing” by banning unavoidable hidden charges and will also make fake reviews illegal. 

Under the new proposals, businesses will be required to disclose all mandatory fees upfront, ensuring that consumers have a clear understanding of the total cost at the beginning of their shopping experience.  

This includes booking fees for cinemas and train tickets, which must be included in the headline price.  

Optional fees, such as airline seat and luggage upgrades, will not fall under the new regulations. 

The decision follows a consultation on consumer transparency.  

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The DMCC Bill is expected to come into force in spring 2024.  

In collaboration with the country’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the government will also develop new guidelines to address the issue of fake reviews, holding website hosts responsible for the authenticity of reviews on their platforms. 

The department will work with stakeholders and businesses to develop simpler and clearer guidance for pricing labels.  

The DMCC Bill will address consumer concerns such as subscription traps, and will empower the CMA to investigate and address competition issues more swiftly and effectively.  

This includes taking action against companies that collude to inflate prices to the detriment of UK consumers. 

Enterprise, Markets and Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake stated: “From supermarket shelves to digital baskets – modern day shopping provides customers with more choice than ever before. 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.”