Surprise Fees Sideline Kids? Parents Sue SportsEngine Over Hidden Costs

kids playing soccer

A class action lawsuit claims SportsEngine hides fees in youth sports registration.

Imagine signing your kid up for soccer, only to discover a surprise fee hidden at the very last minute of online registration. That's what parents across the country are alleging against SportsEngine, a company that makes software for youth sports organizations.

These frustrated parents just filed a proposed class action lawsuit, claiming SportsEngine hides a mandatory "Online Processing Fee" until the checkout stage. This unexpected charge feels more like a sneaky trick than a legitimate cost, making it difficult for families to budget for their kids' sports activities.

Rising costs threaten the playing field

Playing sports is a great way for kids to stay active, learn teamwork, and have fun. But recently, the price tag for youth sports has been climbing steadily. Part of this increase comes from companies like SportsEngine, which add extra "junk fees" on top of regular registration costs.

SportsEngine's alleged bait-and-switch

SportsEngine helps youth sports organizations manage their registrations. These organizations pay SportsEngine a subscription fee, not the parents. Parents then use SportsEngine's platform to register their kids for different sports.

Here's where the trouble starts, according to the class action lawsuit. SportsEngine allegedly misleads parents by only showing a single price throughout the online registration process. Then, right at checkout, a surprise "Online Processing Fee" pops up as a separate line item. This fee can be a percentage of the total registration cost, adding an unexpected burden.

“The ‘Online Processing Fee’ is never reasonably disclosed to consumers until it shows up as a line item in their shopping cart—after the purchase process is largely complete. This process fails to provide an adequate advance warning to customers that an Online Processing Fee will be imposed on their purchases,” the complaint states.

Basically, it seems like SportsEngine advertises a lower price to get parents invested, then springs the hidden fee at the last minute.

The lawsuit argues that SportsEngine's practices are unfair and deceptive. By hiding these fees, they're essentially forcing families to pay extra just so their kids can participate in sports. This could disproportionately hurt low-income families who are already struggling to afford the costs of organized sports.

Are hidden fees a growing trend?

SportsEngine isn't the only company accused of using hidden fees to inflate prices. Similar cases have targeted companies like Sofar Sounds (hidden booking fees for concerts) and Six Flags (hidden processing fees for hotel stays).

The Federal Trade Commission is also cracking down on "junk fees," aiming to protect consumers from deceptive practices. Additionally, a bill called the Junk Fee Prevention Act was introduced in Congress to require companies to be upfront about all fees from the very beginning.

This case raises important questions about transparency and affordability in youth sports. As the case progresses, it could set a new standard for how companies like SportsEngine interact with parents and young athletes.

The parents involved in the lawsuit are seeking damages, refunds for the hidden fees, and a court order requiring SportsEngine to clearly disclose all fees upfront during registration. This would give parents the information they need to make informed decisions about their children's sports activities.

The plaintiffs and proposed class are represented by Michael R. Reese of Reese LLP and Jeffrey D. Kaliel and Sophia Goren Gold of KalielGold PLLC.

The SportsEngine junk fees class action lawsuit is Morales et al v. SportsEngine Inc., Case No. 1:24-cv-02971, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.



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