9/11 Memorial charging $2 reservation fee
Few pilgrims paying respects to the 9/11 Memorial Sunday were outraged by the $2 service fee to reserve a visitor pass online or by phone, but most said they would appreciate more transparency concerning the use of the money and a clearer warning about the charge - instituted last month - before reserving a pass online.
"It's a really long process: You have to fill out a lot of stuff and make an account," only to find out at "the very end" a service charge is levied in addition to whatever you earlier opted to donate, said Diana van der Plaat, 22, a forensic science intern who lives in Morningside Heights. Her complaint was echoed by other visitors, many of whom added they would like a transparent accounting on the web site of how much money is collected and how it's spent - especially given the troubled history of the over-budget attraction.
But John Grayson, 48, a website designer visiting from Boston, argued that "the (web) site was really well done," and not in the least deceptive. Motioning to the lines of people outside the Memorial, Grayson said there had to be an online process to facilitate the estimated 10,000 visitors a day that flock there, and "you can't do online ticketing without fees."
Fees are mentioned in the reservation process, but are not as overtly discussed as they are in the "reservations and fees" tab, which users may not click on. That tab explains: "Admission is free to the 9/11 Memorial. Visitor passes are required to ensure safety as construction continues on the surrounding site. Reservations made online or by phone carry a $2 nonrefundable fee per pass to offset costs associated with providing this service. 9/11 family members are exempt."
Alvaro Gutierrez, 38, a broadcaster and content distributor from Madrid, said the charge was unseemly. "To charge a fee is to make money from tragedy," and the site of 2,753 deaths "should not be a business," he said. Gutierrez hadn't reserved a pass, and, put off by the lengthy queue, left, saying, "I'll come back another day."
“Like other similar institutions, in order to help support the operational needs of the 9/11 Memorial we have implemented a service fee, solely for advance reservations. Visitors of course may still walk up to visit the Memorial without incurring this fee," Memorial President Joe Daniels said in a statement. "The reservation system for the Memorial was always meant to be temporary," but had to be prolonged due to delays in construction, a spokesperson for the Memorial stated on background.