Things That Tick Me Off: Vendors Who Rip Off Tourists At Ground Zero

200px-NCI_Visuals_Food_Hot_DogYes, it is time for another installment of “Things that Tick Me Off,” the category where I allow myself that chance to vent about something that is so annoying that I must vent to retain my sanity. One of the things highest on my list are vendors who fleece tourists as they try to enjoy their cities. Vendors know that many foreign tourists are unfamiliar with the exchange and the currency as well as the prices. One of those appears to be this lowlife Ahmed Mohammed who not only failed to post his prices (as required under municipal law) at this stand near Ground Zero but was charging some people $30 for a single hot dog. That is, until a local reporter caught up with him.

When Mohammed demanded $30 from locals, he got a vintage New York push back from people who called him a crook and one who just gave him back his dog with a bite out of it. Yet, Mohammed continued to try to rip off anyone who would fall for the scam. The price would change with some charged $15 and others charged $30. When confronted he would try to get $10 or $35 for a dog and pretzel.

Fights broke out in some cases which led to the local NBC station investigating. When the reporter confronted Mohammed he first tries to deny this actions and then suddenly suggests that he could not speak English. The reporter tells him that they have him on tape speaking English and he just smiles.

He is not alone in the Big Apple. Drivers of those iconic horse-drawn carriages have been repeatedly accused of fleecing tourists.

People like Mohammed are not just crooks, they destroy the tourism industry in cities like New York that is so important to so many. One such experience is enough to ruin a vacation and is then repeated over and over again by tourists in speaking with others. I remember when Leslie and I were ripped off by a taxi driver in Paris who charged us three times what the fare was supposed to be. We did not realize it until we took a taxi back from the same location. It remains one of the few truly negative memories from that great city. While it did not deter us from returning, it hurts everyone in a city. It is also the lowest form of crime: to fleece visitors to your city who trust you.

The key to deterring people like Mohammed is not just stripping them of any vendor license (permanently) but jail. This is simple fraud combined with the violation of city ordinances to further the fraud. Clearly, $30 is not the price of the hot dog. While there is not price management, there are laws preventing this type of fraudulent pricing. The other question is why a cart at such a key tourist location was allowed to operate without posted prices for so long by the city. This is not some marginal spot but a prime, high traffic location. Where was the city?

Source: NBC

37 thoughts on “Things That Tick Me Off: Vendors Who Rip Off Tourists At Ground Zero”

  1. Would the hotdog cost $35 instead of $30 if he threw in a hand washing first?

  2. You ask: Where was the city?
    East of Corfu the Ten Commandments Dont Apply. Nor in NYC.

  3. I like it. The possibility of more regulation. Could be a whole new arm of government. The Department of Homeland Hot Dog Security. We’ll need thousands of administrators. What do I need to do to get hired???

  4. Any one who goes to a well known tourist destination knows they have to look out for pickpockets and overpriced goods and food. I find it hard to sympathize.

  5. No one is forced to pay $30 for a hot dog. If a vendor doesn’t post a price, I ask it. Once in a while, I don’t ask, and if the price is way too high, I say I have changed my mind and leave the food/drink and move on.

    As for putting someone in jail for selling overpriced food, good grief – get real. NYC can’t even lock up people committing real crimes.

  6. So, is $30 posted as the price?
    Or do the buyers find out after getting the hotdog?

    I suspect that most foreign travelers have some idea of exchange rates and it’s not likely that a hotdog purchase in lower Manhattan is their first financial transaction.

  7. Nick,
    It’s like the parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant”. When people pull their head out of a political party’s a$$ they actually prove quite capable of making reasonable decisions. By the way, the view is awesome!

  8. I know folks who live in NYC. Many are liberal. One is very conservative. But, across the spectrum, people abided the way Rudy cleaned up NYC. How else could a Republican be elected in NYC. Looks like it will be another Republican soon.

  9. Tyger, Rudy changed the climate of NYC from a lawless jungle to a city that was civilized by going after the unsolicited windshield cleaners who intimidated drivers, the subway turnstile jumpers, and other low level crimes like that. It is counter intuitive to do that unless you understand human nature. You are nipping budding bigger criminals in the bud. You are sending the message this city belongs to the law abiding people, not the thugs. DeBlasio has gone back to the touchy feely form of govt. He’s a one termer. He has committed the cardinal sin, looking to become a national politician while ignoring his day job.

  10. Why didn’t the local government check this guy out? Because, no one complained to them about him. The government shouldn’t be wasting its time patrolling and looking for minor regulations infractions. If the local laws say the price of goods sold by a licensed vendor must be posted, then the thing to do is to complain to the authority responsible for the enforcement of the regulations. Then he will be visited by someone who will issue a fine to him. Once he’s in the government’s system, they will continue to monitor him and he won’t get away with the exorbitant pricing again. Each time he is caught with no posted prices, he will get a higher fine and eventually possible jail time. And you know he won’t post a $30 price for a hot dog. Simple solution.

  11. Justice Holmes,
    Haven’t we proven in this country that it’s not what you pay it’s what you get that counts? If anyone finds a $30 hot dog worth the price then who are you to judge the “value”. If the vendor quotes one price and charges another then that’s fraud. When you are forced to pay $30 for a hot dog that you didn’t want, couldn’t afford and didn’t benefit from then that’s despicable and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    Are you getting the value out of your government that you are forced to pay for?

  12. Wow so its ok to charge $30 for a hot dog? I never understand excusing fraud. I have the same disgusted reaction to this crook as I do to the bankers who fleeced Americans and continue to do so.

    1. Justice Holmes – remember, you are not forced to pay $30 for the hot dog. Willing buyer, willing seller.

  13. Olly, I believe as a young man JT worked for one of the greatest Dems in recent history, William Proxmire. He could not get elected in this Dem party because his claim to fame was holding the govt. accountable for waste/fraud. He had the famous Golden Fleece Award that always got on the national news.

  14. Fleeced!? This is not the lowest form of crime because you still have a choice to make. We have paid $18 trillion and growing for this progressive, bureaucratic state and the IRS has a gun to our head demanding more; that’s as low as it gets.

    JT, be grateful you have the opportunity to get ripped off in some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. Some people have to put up with that from the discomfort of their own living room.

  15. I think this is a story that has gone national. I think people who love the US will always remember 9/11 and are repulsed about someone ripping off people going to this now sacred sight. I think people who identify themselves as Americans are outraged by this behavior.

  16. People in NYC are disgusted w/ their mayor. The city is falling back into the Thunderdome days of the 1980’s. Muggings and other street crime are up while their feckless mayor is roaming the country speaking about income inequality and race. I dub him, Mayor Nero.

  17. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. If you are stupid enough to fork over $30 for a hot dog in any country in any currency then that is the price of a hot dog. I like the guy who took a bite and handed it back. He got a bite for free and the vendor had one choice, call the cops and get himself in trouble or suck it up.

    The vendor, who is obviously an Arab or some other sort from the Middle East, was probably schooled in this sort of thing. I have fond memories of haggling for trinkets in Tangier in 67. We went at it for ten minutes, each yelling ‘last price’ ‘last price’ until we shook hands. I still got ripped off but it was fun. With this vendor I would be eating the hot dog and haggling at the same time. I am reminded of the ‘Cobb’ cartoon of the two Arabs, one saying to the other, “Last night I sold a CIA man, two kilos of Camel sh*t”.

    The practice of fleecing the buyer in this hot dog scenario is nothing compared to how global corporations, health insurance corporations, and other so called ‘free enterprises’ fleece people on a daily basis. In most instances the buyer has little to no choice. You can look elsewhere for a proper $5 hot dog but the health insurance industry has the only cart in town, and you either pay up or die.

    JT is either in need of a vacation here demanding the guy be put in jail or just stirring today’s pot. What do you think?

    1. issac – I think we should wall off NYC. Keep it free from everybody else. Those who are there can deal with the city.

  18. The reason this crook is allowed to do this is that he is not black. A poor black guy selling cigarettes at $.50 or $1 per, is worth killing, but this guy is viewed as privileged since he can pay off the cops. I would look at the bank accounts of the beat cops in that area. They should be disciplined at the very least or fired.

    1. randyjet – is he not allowed to set the price of the hotdog?

  19. While I think $30 is too high for a hot dog, it is NYC. And isn’t the fair trade price of any good the price agreed between a willing buyer and a willing seller? And as you noted, the seller was willing to bargain down.

    This last weekend I paid $5.50 for a pretzel at my local movie theater. This is a locally owned chain that does try to make things cheaper for their repeat customers (if you buy the annual drink cup and use it drinks are $1.00, if you buy the annual t-shirt and either wear it or show it, free popcorn). And this is Arizona where things are much less expensive to begin with.

    And, isn’t part of the NYC experience being ripped off? On my one trip to NYC I was short-changed $20 in a book store. The clerk was offended that I caught her and demanded my $20 back.

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