“I could have been murdered”

This traveler thinks she could have been killed on her last vacation. She wants a refund.
Danger in paradise? / Photo by http 2007 – Flickr

I’m not the first person Rose Caiazzo has told her story about the trouble she had in the Dominican Republic. You can find it elsewhere online.

But when she contacted me, she wanted to do more than talk. She wanted some action.

Caiazzo had booked a getaway at the Riu Mambo Resort through Expedia. The package included transfers to and from the airport, which may not seem like a big deal to you. It was to her, though.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services. Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

“As a young woman traveling alone, these transfers were very important for me to book through them, as I had heard about many problems the country has with rapes, muggings and overall bad things happening with tourists visiting the area,” she says.

On her way to the airport, the driver abruptly stopped and asked her to get into another van. She adds,

The driver for the new van was twice the size of me, was not wearing a “Blue” shirt. The mini-bus had closed curtains. I saw that there was another dark-colored man waiting inside the mini-bus.

I really thought I was going to get onto that bus and go to my death at that moment and wasn’t sure if I should scream, run or what.

I was basically filled with anxiety and complied with what they said to do. I swear I almost ran, I was so scared, but then I thought that would be a bad idea too.

In the end, the driver did take me to the airport, but it was a very frightening experience to not know if I was going to be at the airport, or taken someplace else to die in an unmarked vehicle.

Well, that doesn’t sound like a nice way to end your vacation. Making matters worse, she found the responses to her complaints from Expedia and the hotel to be lacking — form apologies that to her were dismissive. She believed Expedia was largely responsible for giving her the fright of her life, since it had put together the package.

“For goodness sakes,” she says, “I could have been murdered and never even found at this point.”

That’s when she started a PR campaign to bring some awareness to her unpleasant van ride, which included posting her story to other blogs and forums and contacting me. Eventually, she got a call from an Expedia manager and a partial refund on her vacation. It wasn’t enough.

I thought it would be interesting to get Expedia’s side of the story, so I contacted the online travel agency on her behalf. It said it had fully investigated her complaint and refunded $31, which is the cost of the transfers. Expedia also said the van had actually broken down — in other words, no funny business. And after all, hadn’t she arrived at the airport safely? It added:

For the inconvenience experienced during travel, additional compensation in the form of a $50 Electronic Travel Coupon was then offered and accepted by Ms. Caiazzo.

In reviewing Ms. Caiazzo’s account, it has been determined that Expedia agents did everything in their power to advocate on Ms. Caiazzo’s behalf in identifying the issue and processing a refund for the transfers.

That doesn’t work for her. She responds:

I will not use the $50 travel voucher, as I won’t ever be using Expedia again. Plus, I’ll tell everyone I know how awful they treated me and whenever I see an article or blog post about them, I’ll blast them and tell my story.

I can understand her frustration, and I certainly know what it’s like to feel like the van ride you’re taking to the airport could be your last.

Expedia has made some pretty significant steps toward resolving her complaint. Some of you may be wondering: Why book a vacation in the Dominican Republic if you’re concerned about crime? Also, beyond, refunding the cost of the transfers, offering a certificate and apology, what more could Expedia or Riu have done?

This one’s going in my “case dismissed” file, but it’s cautionary tale for anyone planning a vacation. And the one takeaway, to me, is that it’s never too soon to start asking questions about security.

Update (6/26): I was contacted by Caiazzo yesterday, and she expressed her concern about the tone of the comments. I share those concerns. Some of these remarks cross the line. I’ve banned one commenter as the result of remarks made on this blog and deleted her comment. I’m considering taking further action, but I probably will not do anything without consulting with my readers.


180 thoughts on ““I could have been murdered”

  1. Are you kidding me?   She could have also gotten food poisoning from a restaurant so I think she should be asking for more money :::shaking my head:::   I think I’m more likely to book with Expedia now just by hearing how they did respond to her craziness.     Ridiculous claim.   This women should just stick to vacationing at Disney World.

      1.  It depends on whether she’s on a flight to MCO with Raven. If so? Extremely dangerous. 😉

        1. I don’t typically like Raven, but in this case I would love to see his views on this.

          1. Raven, where are you?  This is one case that is CRYING OUT for your patented snark!

          2. As my father used to say, “This one needs to be taken out behind the barn and put out of OUR misery.”

            I can’t believe the vitriol this “wanna be social media guru” is spilling on the internet. Way to be racist and hateful, Blogger Rose! She’s a fool to think that going to a different country is going to be the same as the US. If she can’t handle asking someone who is going to transport her for their ID–since she was soooo concerned about that–she shouldn’t leave her house.

            I also think she is a professional complainer/litigant. Sounds like she uses her awesome power of her super-special blog to extort money and freebies from companies.

            And for that, I sentence her to flying an MCO route stuck between two large fliers who are eating a bucket of stinky onions and pickles and have really smelly feet.

          3.  And the emotional support snake.  She must be seated next to the emotional support snake. 

    1. Could have been murdered … too funny.

      Disney’s too dangerous – she could be bitten by a mosquito while in Florida, then who’s she gonna shake down for money?

    2. Funny you say that Michelle, she actually DID get food poisoning that night. Read below posts.

      1. HAHAHAHAHA.    Normally I would not laugh at someone getting food poisoning, but I only laugh becuase this women is PSYCHO (beyond crazy), and over dramatic. 

    1. the racial overtones int his story are overwhelming. Not sure why Chirs printed it

    2. True, I hope Chris didn’t do an “NBC edit”. Did she seriously say that in this context?

      EDIT: I checked her story on the other site Chris linked to. No NBC edit, she sure did post it.

    3. Imagine that, a ‘dark colored’ man in the Dominican Republic.  Who’d a thought that could happen……

      1. No NBC edit on this one. I was on the road yesterday, so I  couldn’t respond to the comments. I was conflicted about some of the racial language, but decided that taking it our would remove too much context.

  2. OMG. In the linked post, the OP says: “…because of all this hassle now, I want to be refunded my money from even staying at the Riu Mambo for the lie their customer service team told Expedia.” The “lie” she’s referring to is that she asserts the van never had mechanical problems and that the two drivers were running some type of scam. She adds the driver spoke no English.

    For someone as concerned about safety as she was, I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t be traveling without a cell phone which she could have used to phone the hotel (or the police) to find out what was happening before she got in the second van. But wanting her ENTIRE HOTEL STAY refunded? This is beyond greedy.

      1. For some people, it’s a choice between traveling solo and not traveling at all. And some of us simply prefer to travel alone. (I’d rather have a root canal without anesthesia than go on an “escorted” tour.) Fortunately most solo travelers are not like the OP. If she was so concerned about “dark colored” men, she should have gone to Sweden instead.

      2. My husband won’t travel, my friends aren’t travelers and my sister works and travels with her husband.  I don’t want to sit at home so I have no choice but to go alone.  I try to check out the area thoroughly and the hotel where I stay.  I use every precaution I can think of to be safe but there is always a possibility that something could happen.  We are a law enforcement family and I know that there is always someone around that would love to mess up your life!  She talks about the bus that there were only 2 men on the bus, no identification of who owns the bus, and why the curtains on the window.  My safety radar would have been on high alert also.
        “How about not traveling alone?” is probably a statement you would not use to address a male traveler. 

        1. I would have been in high alert with this situation, as well… but I would have called the hotel and/or police to check the situation and would not have gotten on the 2nd bus.  Further, I would not insist my entire trip be refunded due to my idiocy.  I don’t think the safety issue is the problem here.  Greed is.

        2. She made this statement:
          In my opinion, Expedia and The Riu Mambo is acting dangerously by putting other women traveling alone in this position! What do you think?

          Well, if you don’t want to be in the same position then perhaps don’t travel alone.

          1. How does she contend that they are putting her in that position?  She bought the transfer and traveled to a Spanish speaking country.  What did she expect?  Didn’t she put herself in that position?

          2. Exactly. I am a single female and frequently travel alone. When I travel to countries where I don’t speak the language, I make sure to stay in areas (after careful research) that aren’t (as she put it):as I had heard about many problems the country has with rapes, muggings
            and overall bad things happening with tourists visiting the area,”

            I mean really? If you are that concerned with your personal safety, then don’t travel to an area that you think has those kinds of problems. There are many other places you can go that would be just as enjoyable and less problems.

            I normally don’t advocate a stance of victim blaming but sensibly, if you have a great fear of some place, chances are your perceptions are going to be skewed. She had the expectation that she was going to be in danger so when the transport broke down, she felt in danger-probably in some small part because of the color of the skin of the men transporting her. It may have been a subconscious bias-I don’t know enough about the OP to judge.

          3. I don’t like to blame the victim either…but this lady is not a victim.  The victim here is Expedia, whom she is defaming across the blogosphere!

            Oh, and us…for having to read her whiny tripe.

    1. If the driver spoke no English (and she presumably didn’t speak his language), how *could* he have told her that the van was having mechanical problems?

      And if only this foreign country would employ ONLY Whites in their tourist service industry, then she wouldn’t have had to fear being raped and/or murdered, because everyone knows that respectable-looking White men don’t do those kinds of things.  *tips the hat to Ted Bundy, Jeff Dahmer, & Gary Ridgeway*

  3. Wow, someone completely overreacted here. “I could have been murdered”. Hyperbolic much? 

    AND Oh My GOD your daily paper could have given you a paper cut and oh my you could have slipped and fell in the shower and oh my you…see where we’re going with this? You were NEVER ONCE put in danger just because you concoct some outrageous fantasy where every ‘dark’ male is out to rape, murder or rob you doesn’t meant it almost happened.

    Seriously, a PR campaign? Yeah, my United flight broke down once but they moved me to another plane and got me to my destination on time so I started a campaign against them too. 

    This person is Grade AAA crazy.

  4. I’m trying to understand why this person was given a platform on which to vent her racist opinions. By definition a “van with a dark coloured man” is not a danger. He racism makes her ‘believ’e it is a danger. I am shaking my head as to why this case is being mediated.

    1. To generate outraged comments. Just like the majority of the posts on this blog since the most recent re-design.

      I used to read this blog every day. Now it’s once or twice a week, but after this and the crazy cruise lady with cancer, I think I’m probably done.

      1. I would not give up on Chris.  He writes a great column and always answers when I write him personally.  The woman was obviously a bigot — they are out there.

  5. She let her imagination run away on this one. She went somewhere  (alone!) knowing that there was a high crime rate, and  was probably expecting to see crime everywhere. When something slightly odd happens, she instantly jumped to conclusions.

    I think the refund on her transfer cost was more than enough for the inconvenience. I wouldn’t expect Expedia to compensate for a customer over-reacting.

  6. Wow, some good cards from the Elliott deck in this one 😉

    I never thought about the Ace of “I could have been killed,” but what really opens up a whole new avenue is the Ten of “dark-colored man”! A veritable blackjack!

    BTW, what seals the deal is how she accepted the $50 voucher.  My goodness, lady, have some self-respect if you’ll “not ever use [Expedia] again” and turn down the voucher with a look of disgust!  Don’t accept it!

      1.  Sounds more like a flush to me.

        So the OP traveled and prepared herself to be scared, and was not disappointed. Big deal!

        That Chris Elliott even bothers to publicize a silly claim like this calls into question the value of his service as an advocate. This one should have been dispositioned quietly and offline.

    1. Good catch, backprop!  Good thing none of us were going “all in” to the pot!  Is someone keeping track of this “deck”?

  7. This is another excellent example of my elliott.org headline reading tip:  If the headline has quotes around it and a word referring to illegal activity, the activity mentioned never occurred. 

    Usually it refers to “theft”, “fraud”, “stolen”, “illegal”, etc.  I never expected to add “murder” to that list.

    1. How about “raped” by a dark skinned man. That would sound real scary even to Central Park joggers?

  8. Wow…just wow.  Drama queen much?

    I wasn’t there, so let’s say everything did appear extremely shady and uncomfortable and let’s say the hotel did lie.  Why then keep saying that Expedia is at fault? Oh right, she’s trying to exploit a refund and lots and lots of attention, so she chooses to harass Expedia instead of launching her so-called PR campaign against the hotel.

    Didn’t Elliot used to have reasonable complaints from reasonable travelers?  I used to learn helpful tips for traveling and complaining (when appropriate).  Why are all the cases now sensationalistic or just plain silly?

  9. This is one of the craziest stories yet!  OMG.  She deserved to ride on the hood of the Hunger Games bus.  Seriously?  When are we 1920?  She was forced to enter a bus with a dark colored man when her van broke down and now wants lots of money back and wants to ruin expedia over it?  Seriously??!?!?!?!  I have been pretty anti-expedia, but in this case Expedia did nothing wrong.  And the bus company did everything right as well, they still got her to the airport despite the bus breaking down.  That’s amazing.  She should be writing a letter about how great the company was for getting her to the airport on-time when the bus broke down.  Yes there is always a certain amount of danger while traveling, but seriously  this woman should not go out in public. 
    She reminds me of an old co-worker of mine who went on their honey moon in Jamaica.  She came back from her honeymoon so upset because all of the employees at the resort were black and because it was so scary and dangerous she never left her hotel room because she could have been raped.   I didn’t talk to her much before this, and after she told her story, I told her how racist she was and have not spoken to her sense.

    1. I’m usually anti-OTA as well, but I do like the way Expedia handled it. I’m glad they didn’t cave like Holland America did to the “pee in the pool” couple.

  10. I just read her other story.  Why does she think Expedia and the hotel are lying?  How does she know the van had no technical difficulties, according to her the driver didn’t speak English.  Is she able to diagnose van engine problems from the passenger seat?  She also called the second van a mini-bus.  A mini bus is not like a windowless cargo van, it’s what they often use to transfer people to/from the airport.  If the bus stops, the second one picks her up and takes her to the airport, what is the problem?  How is that a scam?  This woman is sick and crazy!

    1. I think she’s way off, as well, but in her defense she never said the minivan lacked windows. She says the curtains were shut.  Now, many of those minivans have tinted windows making it almost impossible to see inside even if the curtains are open, so I’m not sure I really buy her on that part of the story, either, but she didn’t say there were no windows.

      1. Sorry I came across wrong. I meant its not like it was windowless. That would make it more scary.

  11. I am still trying to figure out why the story is here.

    Woman buys transfer to airport.
    Woman is transferred to airport.

    For some reason Expedia refunds the cost of the transfer.

    How can this go in the case dismissed file if there is no case to begin with?

    Maybe I’ll keep an eye out for the ‘Resort sues guest for blog postings’.

    1. Exactly.  There’s no case here besides some drama queen trying to pull one over on people.  

  12. Those great baseball players from the DR are dark colored, too. Should we be afraid?

  13. Not much to add on this one. It’s all been said. I’m not even sure why this is a story. Why give her a platform to spew her hate and non-event?

    Here is a hint. If you are that concerned about crime, stay home cause it’s everywhere.

    1. I think Chris is trying to vent, I bet he gets a lot of these cases and just wanted to give us a taste of the “dark” side of being a travel consumer advocate.  Pun intended.

      1. I like this one – You may be right – he just shook his head on this one and instead of writing her back with, “You’re kidding me, right?” he put it up here so we could do it for him!

  14. Gotta agree with Sdir–Chris’s articles now all seem to be sensational or silly.   And even though I hate TSA, Chris’s regular rants about them are starting to get tiresome.  I miss the useful travel consumer information he used to provide.  

    I think I’ll give him another week and if I’m still dissatisfied, I’ll probably just “unsubscribe”.  

  15. She is in Social Media. We are all suckers. This is her  business strategy to promote herself and demonstrate her skills at using social media. They should sue her, not reward her. 

  16. I hope Rose lives nowhere near me. it would give the city an even worse reputation than we already have. I think a refund of the transfers was a nice CS move, but beyond that, she is owed nothing. If you KNOW that the destination you are going to has uissues, then travel with someone or don’t travel at all.

    1. I’m confused. What was the refund, legitimately, for? Riding a bus with blacks? Or brown people?

      1. My guess is that because she was forced to change the vehicle and was not told why, and that the new vehicle didn’t have a properly uniformed driver, and did not speak the language expected. Plus I’m guessing that if you refund the transfer portion, then its all good. if it was only $31, no big deal anyway. It was a good CS move. Technically she got where she needed to go, but the service was disappointing.

        1. Sorry I didn’t see where the OP was promised an english speaking driver. She went to a foriegn country where english isn’t the primary language. Guess what, you are going to run into people who don’t speak english.The driver may have attempted to tell her what was going on but in Spanish.

          1. According to Wiki, the DR is the larget tourist destination in the Carribbean. So if so many tourists are visiting, and you have a driver who transports tourists from the resorts to the airport, one would expect that they speak some second language to be able to communicate with the majority of visitors. I don’t think $31 is a huge deal and was a good CS move.

          2.  Like French. That would be a great second language after Spanish.:-)
            As you know, DR has a long border with Haiti.

          3. Apple to Apples… How many Disney Magical Express drivers speak more than english (fair number due to the hispanic population in the area but not all)? WDW is the largest tourist destination within the US. By your standards they should all be able to speak to anyone on their bus. Not likely.

          4. Even if they couldn’t speak English, it shouldn’t have been too difficult to make her understand “airport” or gesture that the vehicle wasn’t working.  Honestly, I find it hard to believe nothing like that happened–she probably misinterpreted it as part of the attack she was sure was coming.

            Worst case, they didn’t try very hard to communicate with her and she got a big scare. If that’s what happened, it was probably preventable and maybe they should try harder next time.  The alternative is she was so paranoid, anything would have been misconstrued as a violent action towards her.

        2. My reading of her is that she would not have complained about it had the other person on the bus not been a DARK SKINNED MALE. If the other passenger was a woman, then she would not be the only woman (traveling alone) in the bus.

  17. I’m with some of these people.  I’m trying to figure out why Chris would even get involved with something this silly. 

  18. Oh for pete’s sakes, WHY did she CHOOSE to travel somewhere, ALONE, where there are so many “rapes, muggings and overall bad things happening with tourists”.  That was a choice SHE made, no one else and look, NOTHING happened.

    I love traveling and I think more people should do it but there are many people who can’t or shouldn’t travel.  It sounds like she is one of them. 

  19. What I don’t get are the 30 people who said that Expedia hadn’t done enough. Are they closet racists, bleeding hearts or just anti-Expedia

  20. Wow.  And I am also in the are you kidding me category?? She wanted a full refund of her hotel bill because of a mechanical error?  Let’s say it wasn’t a mechanical error, where is the scam if she arrived at the airport safely?  Maybe the original driver had a family emergency and switched out vans because of this.  And if she is that concerned with safety, then why go to DR by herself anyway?  There are plenty of other Caribbean islands to visit, that are more friendly to the single female. 

    Back to the complaint though, seriously?  I went and read her original posting and it states that the driver pulled over on a busy road.  OK.  And that they were running a scam by possibly splitting gas fees?  Who cares.  You pre-paid.  Most you are out (which I bet she did not tip) is a few bucks in tip money.  Big scam there.  Just a note that I may have had more sympathy for her had the original driver taken her to a desolate location and then asked her to switch vans.  But a busy road?  The OP majorly over-reacted and should maybe think about getting herself a panic room and just living in it? 

    I think the OP needs to grow up and not blame or expect a refund of the entire stay because of a car transfer.  I do not even think Expedia should have refunded her the transfer cost nor offer the voucher.  This just shows one example of good customer service on Expedia’s part. 

    1. Please, there is nothing in her statement that suggests DR is UNFRIENDLY to women. I bet the Dominicans love their women, too.

  21. I went to the DR last summer and had a similar weird experience. On your return transfer we had another guy in the car, and we ended up not following the route to the airport. I was confused and eventually we dropped the guy off in a downtown area and proceeded to the airport, but I was not happy at all and was freaked out a bit. But, I will just not book with them again. Asking for a refund of the entire trip, or even the transfer, seems a bit excessive.

    1. I think the price she paid is really for SHARED service. Sometimes you get a car or van to a staging point where you transfer to a larger vehicle. Because they do not explain it to you beforehand, it can get scary.

      Here’s the bottom line. Just because people might look different doesn’t mean they will kill (murder) you. In fact, if you read a little history about the place, Europeans and Americans (yes fair skinned people) probably committed more atrocities in Hispaniola than Dominicans murdering Caucasian tourists.

  22. And how was this Expedia’s fault?  There are some people who should NEVER leave home and this OP is one of them.

  23. Why was this woman traveling alone if it frightens the be-Jesus out of her?

    It would have been pretty easy to figure out the van was broken down after sitting there, dead in the water, for more than a few minutes.  Was this something she neglected to tell Chris?

    I really don’t know what to say beyond this, other than if traveling is such a stressful event for her, maybe she needs to just set up a tent in her backyard, like my kids used to do.

      1. I Googled that name as well, and came up with 6 hits.  DR isn’t listed in her places that’s she’s been, so she may be the Staten Island, NY person.  Or one of the other 4.

      1. Oh, dude (or dudette) – should she have one of those ankle things, too, that attaches the life preserver to her in case she falls off it?  You’re too funny!

        1.  Actually on her arm, so she doesn’t go head first if she slips

          It’s dudette 🙂

  24. You got lots of web hits with the headline, Chris. Congratulations. Your sponsors will be happy.  Seriously, next time skip the dramatics and tell the story, and this woman’s story really should be skipped. It offers no travel education for the rest of us; just an education in one woman’s bigotry.

    1.  Well said.  Seriously, Chris – what was the point of posting this ridiculous drivel and wasting space?  Surely you must receive more legitimate solicitations for assistance or advocacy.

    2.  I think this is a ridiculous story and I agree that Chris probably posted it to generate some page hits.  However, I am glad he did not skip the dramatics and presented this woman as the racist she is.  Otherwise, we would not really understand why she thinks she deserved any type of refund.  And when anyone Googles her in the future, they’ll know what a racist she is, too.  Ah, the permanence of the internet! 

    3. I posted earlier – I think he did it because he can’t write back to these people with, “Are you kidding me?”

      Soooooooo – he posts it here so we can do it for him!  And we all did…

  25. We flew to Mexico and also had transfers included for our resort.  When exiting the airport there were all these vans and drivers gathering people up.  A driver told us we were to go with him.  He spoke a little English.  At least the van was marked with the company name and another couple was also in the van.  We also had the feeling as we were traveling back roads in the middle of no where, that we hoped we were with who we were supposed to be with.  We had a strange feeling too until we could see our resort.  It didn’t sound like the mini-bus was marked or the driver wearing a company shirt.  I can see where that might be scary.

  26. What else does she want from them?  It sounds like they’ve bent over backwards already to refund half the cost of the transfers AND a bonus $50 on top of that.  They explained that the van really was broken down.  I will not visit a country I think is dangerous… perhaps Ms. Caiazzo would do better in the future if she stuck to American soil as well.  Continuing to trash Expedia does her cause no good at all as it appears to me that they went above and beyond.  This just makes her look lika whiner.

    If she wants a bad travel story, I’ll tell her my story about Amtrak, where we stopped 200 feet from the station, the step stool to exit was on gravel, I fell (with my 16-month-old son in my arms no less) and severely twisted my ankle, then got to my van, which I’d been assured was safe to park in the lot for 2 nights, just to find the windshield had a bowling-ball sized crater in it (and the local police basically telling me I had no guarantee of safety parking anywhere in their town). Add to that broken A/C on our train car, a broken seat that wouldn’t recline, and the cafe car being out of just about everything on the menu, and my well-worded complaint, along with a letter from my doctor, was rewarded with a refunded trip. I didn’t expect Amtrak to have good CS like that, but I actually did travel with them again (2nd trip was less than acceptable, but no injuries or vandalism occurred, so no complaints).

  27. Next time Rose, take a vicarious vacation by reading a DK Eyewitness Guide or watching the Travel Channel and leave it at that.  All international travel has unfamiliar places with people who speak different accents or languages, perhaps of a different race, and traveling down strange streets. 

    Sorry, they do not match guests with drivers of same sex, same race, same age and same language.  And a last-minute substitute might not even wear the proper T shirt! Well, maybe Canada would qualify as a safe international vacation for you. But only the English-speaking part.  Those French-speaking people may be saying nasty things which you cannot understand.

    P.S.  The nicest, well-dressed, well-mannered friendly people in some countries are professional scammers, white-collar criminals.  They are slick, dressed to impress white people of upper middle class background.  You would feel safe with one of them driving you around.  

  28. Chris, Why did you post this article?  What am I missing here?  Don’t blemish your soapbox by allowing people like her to use it.

    1. As I posted below, I suspect he included this article to give us an example of the kind of nutty requests he gets.  But I think this was a tactical error, due to the way he wrote the article:  he treated it like it was a legitimate request.  And it’s NOT.  It’s nothing but a racist diatribe from a greedy woman trying to scam money out of her travel provider.

      It’s not very often that I criticize Christopher – I trust his judgment most of the time.  But this one I think was a mistake.

  29. Aha, there is more to this case …

    Rose Caiazzo > Barceló Hotels & Resorts
    I have not received a response from your organization, which is absolutely unacceptable. I am writing here about the situation I was in because of your resort in the Dominican Republic. I was rushed to the hospital on January 19, 2012 because of food that I ate at your resort the evening before. I was very sick from the food & vomiting uncontrollably. American Airlines had me stay at your resort in the Dominican. I told the people at your resort I could not afford to pay for a hospital bill. They took me to the hospital anyway. The hospital would not let me leave the country unless I paid. I gave them a credit card so I could catch my flight!
    The people in the room with me were: Denali Pascual from the resort,
    Migueal in Public Relations & Dr. Omar J. Martinez from the hospital. Please contact the credit card company that I used – Capital One – so you can resolve the issue with them, thank you.
    Feb 29 ·

    Rose Caiazzo
    I will continue to post about this until I receive a reply from your organization.
    Feb 29

    Barceló Hotels & Resorts
    We apologize for any inconvenience Rose, in order solve any problem, please contact us by filling up this form: http://bit.ly/dhxmvC and we’ll contact you as soon as posible. Thank you for your patience.
    Mar 2

    Rose Caiazzo
    OK I just filled out the form & sent, thank you!
    Mar 2


    1. This is for the Barcelo but the article is about the RIU.  She went to the DR twice?

          1. Hmm… I wonder if the lawyers in our midst would care to comment on the possiblity of defamation and slander since she wouldn’t have known if the van had trouble or not. Instead she claims they are liying without proof.

          2. I just read her comment.  She left her knife in her bag?  Was she going to just start stabbing the driver and the dark-colored man if she had the knife?  It also sounds like she thinks Expedia operated the van.  Total whack-a-doo!

        1. Notice the mention of American Airlines? Perhaps she had a cancelled/delayed flight out of the DR and they put her up at the Barcelo?

          1. Yeah. Google has a dead link about her name and boycott American Airlines.

            Looks like she flew AA from/to Miami and AA put her up at the Barcelo where she got sick. This must be BEFORE the RIU since she was taking the INFAMOUS bus ride from the RIU resort to the airport.

            Correction: she said she had to leave her credit card to catch a flight. So maybe she went to DR twice.
            Sorry her whole trip to the DR must have been horrible.

    2. Traveling to the Caribbeans (or any tropical place) without a spare reserve of CIPRO is a unnecessary risky trip. My doctor always prescribe 10 days of CIPRO (20 pills) just in case of food poisoning when I travel out of Canada (even to Europe), It cost nothing (free for canadians) and it could last for a year because when having food poisoning, it take only 5 or 6 pills and it go away fast. In Asia you can buy for less than 5$.
      The pills will save you the pain, the unnecessary expense, hassle and lost time onvacation.

  30. I’m sure y’all think I’m a bleeding heart after my posts yesterday in support of offering kindness to families traveling with young children, but maybe my response to this absurd article will fix that:

    This woman is a racist, greedy nutcase and deserves nothing!

    Christopher, like others in here, I have a feeling you published this story so we could see an example of the kind of whacko mediation requests you get.  But I think you made a tactical error:  you wrote it as if you gave it the same consideration as a valid complaint.  This so-called complaint doesn’t deserve that.  And in doing so, it makes you look gullible and naive…which I know you’re not.  You likely did that just to not appear biased, but in this case, bias was deserved:  she’s a bigoted whacko who didn’t deserve one minute of your attention.  Nor ours.

    It’s hard to believe that even SHE thinks she has some kind of “case”.  So the van stopped…she was asked to move to another one…and they drove her to the airport.  Everything else is just bizarre figments of her racist imagination.

    If I deserved money every time I had a fantasy that something bad COULD happen to me…well, I’d be a rich person.

    Personally I think Expedia should sue HER!

    1. just bought my lottery ticket …. Baby needs a new pair of shoes!

      EDIT: Inside joke for those that might have missed postings over the last few weeks

      1. Guess that’s my cue to head out to the mini-mart to buy my own ticket… 😉

  31. The world can be a dangerous place, and she admitted that she had read and heard enough about the Dominican Republic to have some anxiety about going there. While crime can exist anywhere, you’re responsible for determining where you feel safe, and where you don’t feel safe. If being in a place is going to scare you, don’t go!
    Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia sell travel. Expecting them to advertise “Come to Miami! Enjoy the sunshine! Bring your Mace and Concealed Weapon” isn’t going to happen.

  32. OK so this story really got an immediate negative response from me. I think part of it is because I am from Dominican Republic, another is the blatant racial undertones in her descriptions. I’ve been to DR as both a returning citizen and as a tourist (I stayed at a resort and everything and got to see how tourists see DR) 

    So here is the thing, these transfers back and forth to the airport are done in vans or buses. Usually the buses will have closed shades because it is freakin hot in DR and having closed shades keeps the inside of the bus cooler. So the shades thing does not make me think death by ax murderer.

    Side note on a flight from PR to DR on AA we were in the plane but stuck on the tarmac for some reason. Instead of turning on the air conditioner on the plane the flight attendant had us close the shades to help keep the cabin cool. Mind you the exits on the plane were open so it really didn’t help.

    These buses don’t always run from the airport to only one hotel. Usually they pick up people at the airport and drop off at different hotels in the area. A transportation company will have several buses and depending on how many people there are, who is going where and at what time and how many drivers or buses they have available they might decide to have a group change buses half way. They get you to your destination on time but not in a direct way that might make sense to you. As someone else mentioned in the comments sometimes they will take detours to drop a coworker off or hotel employee off at the nearest town.

    The people who work at these resorts sometimes don’t even live nearby they live in employee housing on the hotel premises and go home only during their one week off per month or couple of months.

    The only thing I find at fault is that the second van did not have the signage and the driver did not wear the same uniform as the original bus. When you arrive in DR to one of these hotels with the type of package that she bought you usually meet your tour or travel package contact person the next day at the hotel and they give you a run down of do’s and don’ts for visiting DR and help you set up excursions if you want to. They will always specify that you look for the driver of the bus or the hotel contact person that is wearing their specific shirt and logo.

    I would have asked Expedia to make sure their ground transportation team in DR had the proper signage, shirts etc. I don’t think she deserved a refund since they got her to the airport and her dramatic exasperated story just makes it that much harder to even consider her complaint.

    I am disappointed Expedia caved. I think an apology would have been more suited. It is people like her that give tourist destinations a bad reputation when they might not deserve it.

  33. Quickly…before I go back to Daddy doo-ty. (LOL)

    If you’re not mature enough to tell a supposedly sketchy van operator “Please show me some identification” no matter how big a guy he is, stay the hell home.

    This one is a racist, whiny, idiot and should be confined to her hometown so the rest of us don’t have to deal with her.

    1. YES!  That’s what I was expecting from you – and it was perfect. 

      Oh, and CONGRATS!!!

      1. Will post a few when I get home tomorrow. We’re here for another day. 😀

  34. This one is even better than “whiners”, it’s from a stupid whiner.  Travel alone to a place full of crime and then get scared?  Expedia should revoke the $50 voucher they gave her and charge her back for the transfers, since that service was provided.  Ugh. 

  35. As a single woman traveling alone, my first inclination would be to choose a place where my safety would not be a concern. A vacation should be worry-free, and this individual seemed to have chosen a place that fed into her already apparent anxieties. Furthermore, if she didn’t want to change vehicles, she could have asked, instead, that they call a taxi (everyone has cells, even in the DR) or a police officer.  Expedia is a travel agent and can not – in this case, anyhow – be held accountable for actions of individuals on the ground in a remote location. To give a more “practical” example: we all know that we can send our kids to the store to buy milk, but, hey, they’ll buy candy while they’re there. A cautionary tale – make the arrangements/do it yourself, if you want to make sure it goes according to plan.  And we all also know that ” 
    The best laid schemes of mice and men

    Go often awry, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!”

  36. This trip was in January? She was perfectly happy on Twitter for awhile, and then in the middle of March started tweeting to Expedia and the hotel her complaints. Including posting on Expedia’s FB page and then tweeting to them that she posted. This kept up for over a month, and someone suggested Chris to her. Then it looks like she took to other travel blogs and left comments calling out Expedia. Really? She paid for a service and the service was provided. When she booked the service online did she make accommodations for her special needs (woman traveling alone and a fear of “dark-colored” men)? Maybe if she had booked face to face with a travel agent she could have requested shared transfers. But I know personally, I don’t like to see people throw internet tantrums to try to blackmail a company. I know the article states the OP told her story elsewhere, but I didn’t expect to find internet histrionics all over the place. It seems like the more she escalates this and builds up the story, the more “dangerous” her “ordeal” becomes. So what resolution does the OP expect? Maybe just some attention, and a pat on the back saying, “you’re right.”

    1. Maybe the medication for her emotional disorders ran out in March? *Shrug*

      1.  So she writes to Chris complaining about her exciting ride to the airport when she should really be complaining about food poisoning and getting hospitalized. Weird..

  37. If the OP hadn’t been screaming for more money, and was just publicizing this in order to highlight Expedia’s alleged indifference to women’s safety (in her opinion), and was doing this primarily as a matter of principle, things might be different.

    I travel all alone ALL THE TIME, for the same reasons as many other female posters have noted here.  There are certain countries I’ve visited (Israel, Russia, Mexico) where a safe transfer from the airport to the hotel and back is a must-have–and I’ve made sure to arrange them, AND pay extra for them if necessary, well in advance.  These are all dangerous places for a woman to get into a cab alone–that’s WHY I arranged for a safe alternative.  In Russia, as a matter of fact, I did in fact have one cab fail to ever show up, leaving me stranded, and you can bet I was hopping mad!  The TA apologized sincerely and immediately refunded the transfer fee, and I could tell he was going to follow up with that driver, maybe firing him.  To me, it was the appropriate response–I could see that the TA took it seriously.

    But the scenario here appears to be different, and apparently because the OP doesn’t give us the full story.  The OP describes the scene as if her driver just stopped abruptly and ordered her into a mystery van with curtains for no apparent reason… yet further down in the column it appears that her car had actually broken down.  Uh, hello?  Wouldn’t it have been worse if they made no effort to find another means to get her to the airport, and she missed her flight, while she stood on the side of the road as her “safe,” assigned driver vainly tinkered under the hood?

    So the issue here isn’t that women shouldn’t travel alone (?!), or that a transfer that’s been paid for and nonetheless fails to materialize in a dangerous area isn’t a serious concern.  The issue is that we have here a tiara-wearer who wants money, period.  I’m pleasantly surprised that Expedia responded so appropriately as they did–they don’t need to do more.  Feels funny defending them…

  38. How stupid and naive can a person be? In her own woeds: ” I had heard about many problems the country has with rapes, muggings and overall bad things happening with tourists visiting the area,” she says.
    With the 1000’s of other places she could have gone, why put herself in jeopardy?   
    She needs to go to a “psycho” retreat. Or just sun herself in her backyard.

    1. All I can think is – isn’t DR a HUGE tourism spot?  If the country were that dangerous, wouldn’t there be warning from the State Department?

      I found one from this month specific to evening transfers from the Las Americas airport: http://santodomingo.usembassy.gov/sec-noc-120613.html

      I found one from May about robberies taking place on a specific roadway (again, at night): http://santodomingo.usembassy.gov/s_not-120501.html

      And the, the usual hurricane and general terrorism warnings.  Sounds to me that’s it’s in the evening where real problems occur so – don’t venture out too far at night…

    2. The OP reminds me of the old movie “Airplane.”  I’m thinking of the woman who was going hysterical; was slapped by the flight attendant, and then had a line of passengers waiting to slap her.

  39. Don’t ever go to New York, honey. Let me amend that: Don’t ever go anywhere. It’s not safe.

        1. She is from Long Island and not lives in Jackson, WY…which conjures up silly thoughts of her and the wildlife there. 

          1. If she ever encountered a bear in Jackson her screams would probably scare the bear away.  Failing that “bear spray” (pepper spray in a large container) is readily available in and near the areas of Grand Teton and Yellowstone NP.  Strangely, in Wyoming, it’s easier, from a legal standpoint, to shoot a human in self-defense than it is a bear!

  40.  Methinks OP should have taken a nice trip to Dollywood or Branson… leave the “exciting” destinations to those of us who would NOT have changed vans in the middle of a journey… especially with a person of “dark color” lurking inside (Didn’t she know that there are a lot of folks of African descent in DR?  duh…).  She could have just held her ground, said “no”, and refused to transfer to another van. Let the driver call the cops; that certainly would have made her feel better, unless, of course, the cops were “dark colored” also.

  41. I’m also concerned about the 80 people  who thought this wacko deserved more of a refund.

      1. Really, you think she has that many friends?  Oh, wait, that’s the other voices in her psycho head!

  42. Rose Caizzzo’s harrowing tale requires more than just and
    apology and fifty bucks.  I suggest she
    should receive at least 5 years of psychiatric services to overcome such a
    terrible experience.  In addition, she
    should receive Fifty-thousand dollars a year for at least ten years so she can
    book vacations without having to resort to dealing with travel discount
    sights.  Think I’m kidding?  You’re right. 
    I voted, “no.”




    1. I think the psychiatric services are needed…to deal with her irrational fears of dark men in airport transfer vans!  Not to mention her propensity for getting into vehicles with people whom she is absolutely convinced are going to murder her.  On the other hand, not sure 5 years of shrink services would fix that…

      1. And for all we know, the original van driver might have called a friend of his to get this psycho to the airport while he figured out how to fix his van.  

        This all could have been completely innocent and I doubt very much there was no conversation at all.  Even with my pigeon Spanish (the only real phrase I know for certain in Spanish is: where are the bathrooms) I could still have figured enough out to know the darn van was broken down.

        1. Something crossed my mind…
          For all we know, the original driver (alone in the car with the OP) was a black (or dark skinned) man.
          Now that would have been a shocker!!!
          Maybe she did not like mini-buses. Too much space.  😉

          1. I know, right?  What are the odds of vacationing in a predominantly dark-skinned country and running into a *GASP* dark-skinned driver?

          2.  LOL, but I kept on thinking about suntan mama when she suggested it would be ok to be alone on the same bus with a dark skinned lady

  43. Rose Caizzzo’s harrowing tale requires more than just and
    apology and fifty bucks.  I suggest she
    should receive at least 5 years of psychiatric services to overcome such a
    terrible experience.  In addition, she
    should receive Fifty-thousand dollars a year for at least ten years so she can
    book vacations without having to resort to dealing with travel discount
    sights.  Think I’m kidding?

     You’re right.  I voted, “no.”




  44. I would recommend that neophyte travelers who wish to leave the comfort and safety of their homeland to visit foreign countries they know little about, read up ahead of time on the history, geography and culture of the places they would like to visit.
    Imagine someone commenting on the fact that there was a “dark-colored” man in the van in the D.R.!  He could have been in the van for any number of reasons.  He could have been one of the 84% of the multi-racial and black citizens of the country or he could have been a tourist himself being shuttled to the airport!  I suppose we must conclude that she did not speak Spanish well enough to try to find out what was going on.  
    A person with the fears and phobias of the OP should not travel alone.  She should join a group tour where most risks are foreseen and handled by the tour company and the tour guide accompanying the group.

  45. where is the problem here ?

    I can’t see ANY !!!

    Sounds like the Dominican Republic is a lot safer than any big city is the USA (not that that is saying much)

  46. OP’s next vacation should be a stay at home adventure where she watches DVDs of scary foreign places and writes about her fears in a journal that she can show to her shrink.  I don’t even want to be near people like this when I travel – so please do us all a favor and STAY HOME.   

      1. I’m with you, Clark…  But, then, Krippendor’s Tribe might be too much for the OP.  There are brown people in it.

  47. I’m a female traveler in my twenties.  I travel alone.

    Places I Have Not Been Assaulted: Anywhere in Mexico (including states with current travel advisories), Honduras (where I accidentally stayed in a brothel, by myself, overnight), Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Moldova (including Transnistria, which currently has an “Avoid All Travel” warning), Turkey or Romania.  And many more.

    Places I Have Been Assaulted: Italy.  Violently.  In the middle of the afternoon. When dressed in work clothing.  With many other people around.  In the city center. 

    Bad things can happen anywhere.  Sadly, you can be murdered, or raped, or assaulted, or robbed, anywhere.  I’m living proof.  Expedia gave this girl exactly what she was owed.  Next time she should stay home and watch reruns of Taradise.

    1. Hell, I got assaulted in London. During the day as well. He grabbed me and tried to take my purse. I turned around and belted him so hard I broke his nose. Then I kicked him in the ‘nads.

      Places I haven’t been assaulted? Mexico, the seedier parts of Montreal and oh look-the Dominican Republic. *gasp*

    2. Some nut grabbed my GF while we were in the Sistine Chapel. Our art guide said it was probably a “gypsy trying to steal from her.”

    3. I had to stop reading as soon as I got to the part where you accidentally stayed the night in a brothel!  I’d LOVE to hear that story some day!

  48. Why do we Americans always think the 2nd languange has to be English???  They border Haiti, so French makes a LOT more sense!  And why, by the way, don’t we assume the responsibility of the 2nd language ever?   HHMMMMM

    1. I wouldn’t think French would be that likely in the tourist industry.  In the tourist industry they’re dealing with a lot of Spanish speakers, as well as Americans on vacation.

      If anything, I would think that Englsh would be more likely as a “common language” with cross-border trade.  I know a lot of people from India, and many prefer to speak English to each other because it’s a common language when people speak any of dozens of languages from that country.

  49. sounds like she stayed at RIU, ate at Barcelo, and now wants moolah from both — thank GOD she’s not my client!!!

    1. No kidding! 

      I find it funny how she is a social media guru, but it hasn’t worked for her with this 🙂  From this site alone, she has not received good marks!

  50. Honestly – Jeanne, I love working with clients like you and Steve – but I think you would understand why I’d fire this one’s [email protected]@ as soon as I could!  HAHA!

    1. That’s the word I was thinking about – Karma!
      The dark skinned dude must have had vodoo dolls.

      1. Too bad they didn’t – we wouldn’t have been subjected to this nonsense if they had!  🙂

  51. I’m a, let’s just say, not so young woman, and if she knew that the DR was so “dangerous” why the heck did she go there in the first place? I don’t go to places where I don’t have reliable people waiting for me or to places that I would describe as “dangerous”. This is not rocket science. She’s gone over the top flogging a story in which NOTHING HAPPENED TO HER all over teh interwebz. She can drop the gratuitous references to  “dark colored men” too. And do us all a favor by staying home and getting over herself.

    1. Exactly…I think her next act should be publicizing a trip to the grocery store whereupon :::nobody died:::

  52. Although I began reading the story with sympathy for Ms. Calazzo, the use of the words “dark-colored” seem to have racial undertones that I am really alarmed by.  It seems that part of the reason she felt scared of the man was because he was dark-skinned, which to me means that her fear was NOT reasonable and therefore NOT worthy of a refund.

  53. Some people need to get their heads examined!
    Certainly,a nything cold have happened. I could have have a heart attack on the way to an airport in a taxi or van service. Does that mean they are responsible? WHAT A WHINER!

  54. I have sympathy for her situation. It’s very frightening not to understand what’s going on. Being transferred from one van to another one with curtains and no explaination can be very frightening.  She was at a tourist hotel, so  the driver should have had enough english to tell her that there were car problems and had to put her into another van.  If he didn’t, HE should have called the hotel front desk and had them explain to her what was going on in english.
    In terms of compensation, she got enough. For me, the compensation that I would want is to know that the staff be educated to understand that a woman traveling alone, being put into another vehicle midway in a trip with no explaination could be extremely frightening and something like that should never happen.

  55. Why did she go there in the first place?  I have traveled a lot of the world alone and never had a bad experience.  Could have, would have, etc. is an over reaction beyond my comprehension.  I voted “no” on the survey.
    Seriously, she sounds like a big complainer — perhaps that is why she 
    traveled alone.  Have been on group trips where we always have someone like this person.  

  56. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve… forget the last one!  LOL  What’s with the ‘Blue’ shirt?  Should she be compensated for her fears?  Not going to happen.  She was never harmed in the first place, the idea was all in her mind!

  57. What an ass she must be. Their was a problem and it was corrected. Expedia bookings mean that she acted as her own travel agent. There are far better and more personable companies at the same rates or better. Use a travel agent and pay a bit more for private transfers.

  58. I have to agree with the statement…why go somewhere if you’re afraid of getting mugged, raped or murdered?
    There are some countries in this world that hate Americans…just don’t go there!
    There are some really nice and safe spots right here in the good ‘ol US of A that would be glad for your tourist dollars! And if you stick with locations that thrive on tourism, you will be guaranteed to have a great time!

  59. I think this story helps as a cautionary tell. I can understand her
    fear in the moment but maybe there were some language barriers that didn’t allow
    her to understand the reason of the change of cars. Knowing some Spanish may
    have helped her express her discomfort but i can totally see where shes coming
    from. I think shes doing the right thing by telling her story

  60. Three out of country trips booked through Expedia without one single problem.  I am sure they are not perfect but they are legit and not intentionally trying to have someone “fear for their life”. 

  61. I’m not going to read all of the prior 179 comments, but I will say that the van driver should have notified the passenger that there was a mechanical breakdown and she would be transferring to another van.   (The van stopped and (she) was told to transfer… isn’t a very good explanation.)  As a single woman who has traveled alone in the past, I can understand the nervousness about entering a new van, without explanation, and seeing only one other passenger, who happened to be male.  The closed curtains part also would be worrisome.

    As no physical harm was done, and the young woman made it to her destination without further incident, I agree that a refund of her transfer fees , offering vouchers and an apology was all the appropriate resolution.

    Chris, it’s unfortunate the so many people online hide behind anonymity to make nasty, rude, and totally off-topic remarks.  

Comments are closed.