LIRR commuter Christopher Ebel is taking issue with the LIRR's...

LIRR commuter Christopher Ebel is taking issue with the LIRR's new refund policy, which charges a $10 penalty on any refunded ticket. His lawyer, Kenneth Mollins says it is being unlawfully enforced. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Long Island Rail Road will address complaints about its new refund policy by waiving the $10 fee on unused tickets affected by a printing error and by alerting customers of the surcharge on vending machines, LIRR officials announced Friday.

"We apologize to any customer who might have had this issue," LIRR spokesman Joe Calderone said Friday.

Though the LIRR notified riders of the surcharge, Calderone said, it will reprogram software in ticket vending machines to make sure that fine print announcing the policy is not obscured. And a mention of the $10 surcharge will be printed on tickets in the future.

On Thursday, Christopher Ebel, of Hewlett, and his attorney Kenneth Mollins challenged as unjust the $10 surcharge, enacted last month, on all ticket refunds - even if the cost of the ticket was less than $10.

Earlier this month, Ebel, 44, tried to return five LIRR tickets that had expired. Ebel said he was not aware of the fee when he bought them, and that the fine print on each ticket stating that it was subject to "conditions of use" was covered by a black box of text reading "One Way Peak" or "OW Off Peak."

Mollins said the refund policy was unenforceable because it was not made clear to customers.

Calderone said the error affected about 6 percent of tickets sold, including Abel's, and only those for intra-Island travel.

The LIRR also will use decals and electronic messages on ticket vending machines to alert customers of the fee before they complete a purchase, Calderone said.

The changes will be rolled out "over the next several weeks," Calderone said.

Mollins said the LIRR's actions were "a step in the right direction," but said the agency should go further by reimbursing all customers who had already paid the $10 fee on the misprinted tickets.

"They've got to know that they are responsible," Mollins said.

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