Consumer Tips for NYC Tourists

Download these tips as PDF in:

Welcome to New York City!

Thank you for visiting New York City—the most popular big city destination in the United States. To make sure you enjoy your time here, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) offers some simple consumer tips.

  1. Don’t Get Overcharged. New York has great shopping and dining, but you don’t need to pay more than the posted price. Restaurants, food carts, and food trucks must post prices where you order. If you don't see them, ask to see a price list. Stores must put prices either on the item or on a sign where the item is displayed. You can negotiate for a lower price, but the price you pay cannot be higher than the posted price. Your hotel rate must be the same one quoted at the time you made the reservation.

  2. Read Menus Carefully. New York is known for its great restaurants and diverse menus. Menu prices should include the full price for preparing and serving a meal. Restaurants can charge for additional service only if that charge is clearly displayed in writing. For example, a restaurant can add a charge for sharing a meal or can charge a minimum price per person, but these charges must be on the menu. Restaurants cannot just add a charge to increase the cost of items listed on the menu.

  3. Don’t Be Pressured by Street Performers. Busy tourist areas often have performers wearing costumes or playing music. They may approach you for a tip, but even if you watched their show or took their photograph, you are not required to give money. If you feel you are being harassed, look for a nearby police officer, or call 911.

  4. Protect Your Identity Online. You’ll want to stay in touch while away from home, but be careful when using unsecured Wi-Fi or public computers. Avoid typing your personal information; create strong, personal passwords; and only download software and apps from trusted sources. Delete any personal documents and empty the Recycle Bin on the desktop before you log off. Never use your credit or debit card to make online purchases on public computers.

  5. Avoid Being Overcharged for Pedicab Rides. Many visitors choose to take a ride in a pedicab, but remember to check for the driver’s DCA license and the posted rates. The price of pedicab rides must be calculated per minute using a timer. Pedicab drivers cannot charge tax, increase the price for additional passengers, or add other fees, and they must give passengers the official Pedicab Information Card.

  6. Confirm Parking Rates. At a public parking garage or lot, always look for the DCA license and check the rate sign, which must be posted at each entrance. Confirm the rates before you park, check the time on your claim ticket, and save your receipt.

  7. Be Cautious When Buying Electronics. Do your research and compare prices before making purchases. Only shop at an electronics store that has a DCA license and check the refund policy before you pay. Examine the product closely to make sure it’s not used or rebuilt and be sure it will work in your hometown. Avoid buying extra warranties that may not cover more than the manufacturer’s and retailer’s warranties. Get an itemized receipt and look closely for hidden fees or add-ons. Keep the box and original packaging in case you need to return the item.

  8. Don’t Fall for False Advertising and Scams. If it sounds too good to be true, it may be. Sale advertisements must describe the name and details of sale items and any restrictions. “Bait and switch” ads that promise savings that aren’t actually available when you arrive at the store are illegal. If a store advertises that it is having a special sale like “going out of business,” liquidating, lost its lease, or is renovating, it must have a DCA Special Sale license.

  9. Check Tour Prices. To explore the city, you may want to use a sightseeing guide or bus, both of which DCA licenses. Be sure to get receipts. All sightseeing guides, including those who do walking, bus, and boat tours, must wear their DCA license. They can only charge $1 per person per hour and cannot charge more than the original fee for other merchandise, meals, or services. Receipts must include the guide or the tour organization’s name, address, telephone number; DCA license number; and the date the ticket was purchased, the specific tour purchased, and the total price. Sightseeing bus operators must post their rates at the entrance of the bus and where seated passengers can see them. They must also post a sign with the departure time. Receipts must have the fare amount; the description or number of the trip; and the company’s DCA license number.
Final Consumer Tip: If you have a problem with a business while you are in New York City, the Department of Consumer Affairs is here to help.

You can file a complaint in multiple languages by visiting, contacting 311 (212-NEW YORK outside NYC), or visit 42 Broadway, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10004. Save your receipts and any other information.