It's free to visit the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, but if you don't drop some cash into the clear Plexiglas donation boxes, expect to be harangued in front of everyone behind you.
"They will embarrass you in front of everybody on line behind you if you don’t come up with any money," Bob Porch, who volunteered to search for survivors, told the New York Post.
"My head almost fell off when I heard the guy say 'Two? That’ll be $10.'"
A sign for those waiting for tickets urges them to "please have your donations out and ready," with $5 to $10 per person suggested.
When two Post reporters recently tried to get their tickets without offering a donation, someone at the donation box pressed them.
"Would you like to leave any donation? Anything is appreciated," a worker with both palms up told them.
There also is a $2 fee to book reservations online. Those making such bookings are asked for another donation. And those who pay by credit card receive another solicitation by mail.
The overbudget memorial and museum have cost $700 million so far, with $300 million of that funded by taxpayers. When the museum is completed, a mandatory $20 to $25 fee will be charged.
Some relatives of 9/11 victims feel their lost loved ones are being used as fundraisers.
"It’s a shakedown," said Bill Doyle, whose son Joey died in the attack, told the Post.
"They’re making people feel guilty by memorializing those who lost their lives that day. They’re creating a cash cow."
With 15,000 visitors on a busy day, the nonprofit foundation that runs the memorial can pull in $75,000 to $150,000, though the group wouldn't release figures to The Post.
The nonprofit has a $10.3 million payroll and 10 of the top 12 managers made more than $200,000 in 2011. Even one of the foundation's board members, Lee Ielpi, says he favors asking for donations, but not in such a heavy-handed way.
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