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LIRR Rider Upset Refund Fee Exceeds Ticket Cost

Sen. Jack Martins calls for end to fee, return to previous policy.

All Susan McClellan wants is a fare deal.

The New Hyde Park resident recently found out that a refund on a one way ticket she purchased at her local Long Island Rail Road Station but didn’t use is subject to a processing fee that costs more than the face value of the ticket.

“I want a refund – just give me my money back,” McClellan said Saturday at the Mineola train station. “Every other place you get your money back.”

McClellan said that typically uses her car to commute to her job in Long Island City but on Jan. 12 she decided to use the Long Island Rail Road because of the snowfall as many advised to avoid the hazardous roads. She purchased two one-way tickets at the New Hyde Park station but didn’t use the return fare since she was able to get a ride home.

When McClellan looked at the Metropolitan Transit Authority's website to find out about how to get a refund on the unused ticket, she discovered a $10 processing fee would be charged to refund her $7.25 ticket, meaning a net loss of $2.75.

“It just didn’t seem real and I was just like ‘this can’t be right’,” she said. “If you want a donation from me just ask for it. Don’t be sneaky about it.”

Frustrated about not receiving answers when she called the LIRR, McClellan visited the during times when a clerk was available and even pleaded for the funds to be transferred to a Metrocard.

Among the other changes made to the fee structure on Dec. 30, the LIRR shortened the time a ticket is usable from six months to just 14 days. The LIRR website indicates that a refund is available up to 30 days after purchase.

“I was just appalled that I didn’t know about it, I don’t know if anyone was really aware of this new fee,” McClellan said, hoping the LIRR would reconsider or at least extend the time frame. “I can’t understand if I didn’t use this ticket why they would hold me hostage.”

“In the worst of circumstances there’s always a restocking fee,” , R-Mineola said Saturday after McClellan had reached out to his office for help. “But why a $10 processing fee? If you look at the fares (of the) Long Island Rail Road and you consider that most of those fares are going further than those $10, what they’re telling you is if you don’t use the ticket, they’ve just picked your pocket.”

Martins also hoped that the MTA would reconsider the policy and allow tickets to remain valid for six months with no processing fee for refunds. “These are tough economic times for everybody and to expect somebody to have to pay a fee just to get their own money back is unacceptable,” he said.

Martins stated that a call placed to the MTA resulted in a person saying riders could either give the ticket away or sell it. “Those aren’t options,” he said. “Certainly I don’t expect people who are using the Long Island Rail Road to stand on a platform trying to scalp Long Island Rail Road tickets just to get a couple of bucks back on a ticket that they already paid for.”

A phone call to the LIRR Public Relations department from Patch on Saturday was not immediately returned.

Craig February 06, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Why shouldn't the LIRR screw you like everybody else, Look at the payroll of the execs. Do you have another way into the city. NO. So screw the public. Long Island is a Dead End. Do I like what is happening to long Island. NO. So I am moving off long Island. Spent 50 years here and I have had enough. Moving 4/11.

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