New California laws protect consumers from surprise ambulance bills, hidden fees and more

John Gregory Image
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
A look at the new CA laws offering more protection to consumers
Here's a rundown of the new laws that aim to protect consumers in California in 2024.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- New state laws are battling bait-and-switch tactics. From banishing surprise bills to cracking down on hidden fees, your wallet's getting more protection in the new year.

For example, if you ever need to call an ambulance, you won't need to guess how much that potentially life-saving trip could cost.

Out-of-network ambulance rides can cost thousands of dollars, but you can't choose which company responds to your call. Now patients can't be charged more than their in-network cost.

"When you call 911 and an ambulance shows up, you don't know if that ambulance is going to be in-network, out-of-network," said former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani. "A lot of folks have been hit with a lot of fees because they call an out-of-network ambulance.

"So now medical service companies have to provide in-network rates if you have private health insurance. And if you don't, they have to provide Medi-Cal and Medicare rates."

Soon, it will be a lot easier to budget for what you buy online.

Starting July 1, websites will have to show all fees upfront, instead of hiding them until you check out.

That includes everything from concert tickets and reservations, to convenience fees and food deliveries.

Speaking of reservations, you can stress a little less if you need to cancel an impulse hotel or Airbnb reservation.

You can now cancel without penalty within 24 hours of your reservation being confirmed. The reservation just needs to be at least 72 hours before check in.

Finally, it could soon cost a lot less to fix your tech.

"The Right to Repair law allows individuals who buy something that costs $50 or more to actually be able to have access to the parts and information to repair that item themselves, without having to go through the company and pay significant fees," Rahmani said.

The law makes it easier to and cheaper to fix your TV, smartphone, electronics and other appliances.

Manufacturers will have to provide consumers and repair shops with the parts and tools to service a device. That law goes into effect in July.

Join us every weekday morning on Eyewitness News at 5 a.m. for our new segment, ABC7 On Your Side. John Gregory has you covered on money-saving tips, including tricks to save on your bills, smart negotiating tactics, plus where you can score free stuff!