- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A New York City hot dog vendor at Ground Zero has caused several fights to break out after charging customers, particularly tourists, as much as $20 and $30 for a hot dog.

A local NBC affiliate caught Ahmed Mohammed on camera trying to charge a man named David $15 for a hot dog and a pretzel outside of the One World Trade Center.

“I said, ‘What are you, a crook?’” David recalled. “I’m not a tourist, so I know the price in New York.”

Ron Wolfgang, head of security for the Alliance for Downtown New York (ADNY), said there have been “five times since May 13 where we’ve observed altercations on the street over the prices being charged for hot dogs, pretzels, water, soda.”

Customer after customer told NBC about how Mr. Mohammed tried to charge them $20 to $30 for a hot dog.

“I just felt like I was getting ripped off,” one woman said, “and it’s just making the 9/11 grounds like a big tourist trap.”

Ben from New Jersey took a bite out of his hot dog before leaving it at the stand when he was told the price.

“He was like, ‘15, maybe 10,’” he told NBC. “And I left my bitten hot dog there. That was it.”

ADNY’s Jessica Lappin, who learned about Mr. Mohammed last week when fights started breaking out, said his pricing methods give New York “a bad name.”

“To rip-off somebody, to charge them $35 for a hot dog and a pretzel, that leaves a terrible impression,” she told NBC.

NBC cameras captured the price of a hot dog changing by the minute: $3 for some, $30 for others.

Several customers also complained of being shortchanged. One woman said he had only given her $5 in change instead of the $8 she was owed, and another woman said he didn’t give her change at all.

Mr. Mohammed claimed he didn’t speak English when confronted by an NBC reporter, despite video evidence that he speaks and understands English just fine.

Part of the problem is that the vendor doesn’t clearly post his prices, which is required by the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs. The agency is now investigating Mr. Mohammed and tells consumers to file complaints at nyc.gov/consumers or to call 311, NBC reported.

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