New York City

The $30 hot dog: New York street vendor caught ripping off tourists

New York City hot dog vendors are visible on nearly every street corner of neighborhoods with popular tourist attractions.

New York City hot dog vendors are visible on nearly every street corner of neighborhoods with popular tourist attractions.  (iStock)

New York City summer tourist season is well underway. After a great day of sight-seeing, what better way to stave off hunger than with a classic city snack—the hot dog.

But visitors beware. One vendor near the World Trade Center memorial site was recently caught overcharging naïve customers, allegedly charging as much as $30 for one hot dog.

NBC 4 was tipped off to Ahmed Mohammed’s shady practices, and asked the vendor how much he charges for a hot dog. After several seconds of nervous hesitation, he responds $3. But the crew soon caught him trying to sell one man named David a hot dog and pretzel for $15.

"I said, 'What are you, a crook?'" David later told NBC 4 New York. "I'm not a tourist, so I know the price in New York."

Several customers told the station that the vendor had charged them $15, $20 or even $30 for a single hot dog.

"I just felt like I was getting ripped off, and it's just making the 9/11 grounds like a big tourist trap," one woman near the stall told NBC.

Hot dogs from New York City street vendors vary in price—usually between $1 and $3. But unlike many vendors, Mohammed does not post food prices on his cart, a practice which is not necessarily illegal but does constitute a violation of Department of Consumer Affairs regulations, according to NBC.

Now one local council woman is trying to change that regulation.

"As I was watching it, I was outraged. First with his attitude, and with the gall," Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz said after viewing the video. She has since introduced a bill to make posting prices law, as well as imposing stiffer punishments for those who don't comply comply. 

Ron Wolfgang, vice president of operation for the Alliance of Downtown New York told NBC that since May 13, his organization has observed five altercations on the street over prices being charged on snack items like pretzels, water, soda and hot dogs.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is investigating the incident and encourages people who are charged more than a posted price—or fail to see prices posted at all—file a complaint at nyc.gov/consumers or to call 311.

As for Mohammed, when NBC contacted his boss, they were told that this particular vendor was new on the job and the prices will be posted on the cart soon. A hot dog will cost $2.50.