When was the last time that less than a dollar’s worth of incorrect change mishandled during a customer service transaction prompted you to file a complaint with your state’s Attorney General? Oh, never? We didn’t think so, either.
TicketNews has been sharing a lot of event ticket-related complaints filed with the New York State Attorney General Consumer Bureau as of late. Many of these stories are frustrating and deserving of attention; a lot have even caused our readers to reach out to echo similar situations they have experienced themselves.
That said, we thought it might be fun to share a consumer complaint that is a little less relatable and a little more…comical? Infuriating? A little of both, maybe. We can’t decide, but we thought we’d share.
If we can’t unread this, neither can you.
Below is the full Consumer Frauds NYC complaint submitted to NYAG Consumer Bureau by an anonymous complainant on January 22, 2017.
The Theater Development Fund (TDF) operates the half-price TKTS ticket booth on 47th St. & Broadway in New York City. This booth offers tickets to Broadway and off-Broadway shows at a substantial discount (usually 50% off), on the same day of the performance. The discounted price is printed on the ticket, and TDF also adds a $4.50 service fee per ticket. I am an avid theatergoer who visits this booth frequently to buy discount tickets for shows. Today, I visited the booth to purchase 2 tickets for the Broadway show In Transit, which was listed at 40% off. The clerk said, “That’ll be 204.” I handed her exactly $204 in cash. Shen then told me, “Here’s your 50 cents change.” I was puzzled, and asked, “Why didn’t you tell me that my total was $203.50 if that’s what it really was? I have a lot of change that I’d like to get rid of.” She said, “It’s fine-give me 4 quarters and I’ll give you your dollar back.” So I did. The clerk then gave me the 2 tickets. I examined them, and realized that something was amiss. “This isn’t right,” I commented. “This doesn’t add up to $203.50.” The clerk stated, “There’s a $1.00 Broadway League fee and a facility fee per ticket.” I replied, “Yes, I know that, but those fees are included in the ticket’s price-they’re not extra fees. The extra fee is TDF’s $4.50 service charge.” The clerk then said, “Okay, then what should the total be?” I was a little dumbfounded by this question. When all the prices and fees are printed in black and white on the tickets, shouldn’t she KNOW what the final price must be? I quickly did the math. The discounted price of 1 ticket was %97.20 (printed very plainly on the ticket), and adding $4.50 made the total $101.70. For 2 tickets, doubling that number resulted in $203.40, not $203.50 like I was told. “That is correct,” the clerk replied nonchalantly. “If you really want that 10 cents in change, I’ll have to go to the back room to get it. We only have quarters up front here.” I was stunned for MANY reasons. Obviously I don’t really care about 10 cents, but I did ask for that dime, on principle. What really bothers me, though, is that this type of dishonest practice has been going on for YEARS. On at least two previous occasions, I posted my story on the theater discussion forum “All That Chat” and was alarmed to discover that many other people had similar stories! Most of those people were shortchanged 10 to 50 cents, but someone was once shortchanged a whole dollar. (I may possibly still have printout copies of these stories.) One time I complained to the Theater Development Fund directly, and even received an email response from TDF’s Executive Director herself. but this practice is still continuing. Over the years, the numerous clerks at the TKTS booth have all followed roughly the same script, and whenever I have pointed out the incorrect amount, they always gave me what I was legitimately owed. But it was always very casual; there was never any hint of an apology or a sense that they had made a mistake. That’s why I believe these acts are deliberate. I do think TDF is a worthy organization that does great work-but their donations should be acquired honestly. It seems that they are preying on unsuspecting tourists, or the large majority of people who just take their tickets without examining them. I should also add that this does not happen every time I visit the half-price booth?.it happens maybe half of the time. But that’s still a lot! They must sell hundreds, if not thousands, of tickets every day-so the amount of money they rake in with these dishonest tactics must be staggering! I would like this practice to stop, and for TDF to get all of their donations through honest means. Can you please help? I would like the dishonest practices of the Theater Development Fund to stop!