Pennsylvania House Passes Bill to Enhance Consumer Protection

Man buying pizzaPhoto by Mike Jones on Pexels.com

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed a new piece of consumer protection legislation designed to enhance transparency and fairness in financial transactions. State Rep. Darisha Parker, D-Philadelphia, authored the bill with support from state Rep. Roni Green, D-Philadelphia. The bill, known as H.B. 1977, aims to ensure that consumers are fully informed about any additional fees applied when using credit or debit cards.

Understanding the Legislation

House Bill 1977 amends the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, originally enacted in 1968. The primary goal is to require businesses to clearly post any surcharges or fees associated with credit or debit card transactions in a visible location. This transparency will help consumers make informed decisions before completing their purchases.

Currently, many local businesses, such as pizza parlors and nail salons, absorb transaction fees for credit or debit card payments. However, shrinking profit margins have led some smaller businesses to pass these costs onto consumers. Often, consumers are unaware of these additional charges until they complete their purchase, causing confusion and frustration.

Enhancing Consumer Protection

Rep. Parker emphasized the importance of this legislation for both consumers and businesses. “Pennsylvania consumers deserve protection at the cash register to ensure they are informed on the true price of their purchase,” Parker said. “This legislation would help consumers face rising prices, while wages stay the same.”

The bill aims to address a common issue where consumers are surprised by additional charges. By requiring businesses to disclose these fees upfront, the legislation seeks to foster transparency and trust between consumers and merchants.

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Co-author Rep. Green echoed Parker’s sentiments, highlighting the bill’s pro-consumer stance. “Consumers deserve to have all the information before being asked to make a decision on a purchase,” Green said. “This bill is pro-consumer and will ensure that any surcharges or fees are clearly posted by businesses, so that purchases are fair and without unexpected costs.”

Bill Effects on Consumers and Small Businesses

The implications of this bill are significant for both consumers and small businesses. For consumers, it means greater clarity and the ability to make more informed purchasing decisions. Knowing all potential costs upfront helps consumers budget more effectively and reduces the likelihood of unpleasant surprises at checkout.

For businesses, this legislation could initially pose a challenge as they adjust to new disclosure requirements. However, in the long run, it may lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. By fostering transparency, businesses can build stronger relationships with their customers, which can be beneficial in a competitive market.

Next Steps

After narrowly passing the House with a vote of 102-100, the bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. If passed by the Senate, the legislation will become state law, mandating that all businesses in Pennsylvania comply with the new disclosure requirements.

As this bill moves forward, it represents a broader effort to protect consumers and ensure fair business practices. The passage of H.B. 1977 marks a step toward greater transparency and accountability in the marketplace, setting a precedent for other states to follow.

In an era where transaction fees and hidden charges can erode consumer trust, this legislation stands out as a proactive measure to safeguard consumer rights and promote fairness in the economy.

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