NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York Waterway is cracking down on street vendors selling deceptive tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Many of those vendors crowd Battery Park hoping to lure in tourists, but today several of them spoke out against their critics.
“We don’t know why the city is trying to shut us down, there is a monopoly in play here,” said ticket seller Opey Jege.
Statue Cruises is the only business allowed to give visitors access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The most you will pay is $21.50.
However, some tourists are being conned into paying nearly twice as much, sometimes just for a ferry ride around the area.
Last week, New York Waterway, which manages Pier 36 in Lower Manhattan, sent a letter warning tour operators to stop using street vendors or risk having their berthing permits revoked.
The company says the sellers have created an intolerable situation.
The vendors’ tactics have been so aggressive over the years, one tourist was actually punched during a dispute in February 2016. There have been multiple complaints by tourists, residents and workers who say the ticket sellers are not only unruly but also sell deceptive tickets.
“Our tour guide on the bus over here was talking about be careful about who you purchase tickets from. I didn’t understand where he was coming from, but you kind of confirmed there was something going down,” tourist Leigh Morello told CBS2.
People say the vendors falsely advertise boat rides to the Statue of Liberty, when in reality the boat only brings you around the island – it doesn’t land or let visitors off. Some vendors have also been known to sell tickets for the Staten Island ferry, which is actually free for visitors.
“They stop in front of the Statue to take their picture, that’s all our pitch is,” said Jege. “We don’t lure anybody to buy the ticket. They buy it with joy.”
While some ticket sellers protested vocally on Wednesday, others continued about their business.
When CBS2 approached them, some ran away, while others got combative.
“Stop following me because you are harassing me and I’m going to call the cops,” said one seller.