Should I delete this story?

One of the things I love about new media is that there’s a “delete” button. If you screw up a blog post, you can always go back and fix it — or erase the entire thing.

Maybe it’s my journalism school training, but I’ve never removed a whole post.

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Today, I just might.

Here’s the story. (And if the link goes nowhere, then I’ve obviously already erased it.) It involved a woman traveling alone in the Caribbean who had an uncomfortable experience during a transfer from her hotel to the airport.

The guest described a fellow passenger in a way some found offensive, because it called attention to his race. I received a fair amount of criticism for allowing her to say what she did, but most of the venom was directed toward her.

She contacted me Monday evening, demanding that I remove all references to her identity.

That would effectively gut the entire post. As I see it, I only have two options: leave it as is or delete it.

I don’t know what to do.

The back story

Before publishing the article, I had several exchanges with the traveler. She told me her story and while researching her case, I found that she had shared her problem on numerous other sites, revealing some or all of her identity.

I contacted her online agency on her behalf, and it answered her complaint, denying her further compensation.

She wasn’t happy with the agency’s firm “no” and asked if there was anything else she could do. Yes, I replied: I could write something about her case. I asked if I could do so, and she agreed.

I mediate many more cases than I write about, and had planned to let this one slide. But sometimes, if a traveler is very insistent, I can be persuaded to move a case into my “cover this” file.

My recollection of our correspondence is that this woman was keen on having something written about her allegedly dangerous Caribbean vacation. In the end, I decided to post something because it served as a cautionary tale about safety and the importance of good planning that other consumers could benefit from.

The comments

On the day the post appeared, I was traveling, so I didn’t have time to read every comment that appeared. I normally do. Also, the automatic notification system from Disqus — it emails me every comment that appears — had mysteriously stopped working a few days before. As a result, I didn’t fully appreciate the tone of the responses until this traveler urged me to read them carefully on Monday.

I have to say, I was shocked. And embarrassed.

One of the comments crossed a line. It suggested that the traveler should have been murdered on her vacation. That person had already made another questionable comment on another post.

I deleted the comment and blacklisted the commenter.

Many of other commenters were — how do I say this nicely? — unkind. They accused me of having written about this case to generate page views (wrong — cat videos work much better) and that she was a racist with entitlement issues.

I don’t know the traveler personally, but I can see how her comments might be interpreted in that way.

If I had it to do over again, I would have not published her remark about a “dark-colored man waiting inside the mini-bus.” It was a distraction from the real issue, which is that she simply felt unsafe.

In terms of the tone of her emails, I’m not sure if I could have or should have changed anything. Fact is, she felt the online agency should have done more for her, and she was mad about it.

The fallout

The traveler is upset because even though she gave me explicit permission to write about her case, she thinks that doesn’t include the right to use her full name.

I disagree. I use full names on this site when I write about consumer problems and always have. That’s disclosed in my frequently asked questions section. (After our exchange, I sharpened the language to specify that it’s a full name, not just a first name or initials.)

She appears to be afraid that the anger from the comments will spill over into her business and personal life. I certainly wouldn’t want that, either.

I’m really troubled by the comments. Whenever the remarks turn angry and personal, someone will email me to say, “Chris, don’t let your site turn into another FlyerTalk” — a reference to the often unfiltered and rude comments that appear on that site.

But on this particular post, the comments are worse than anything I’ve seen on FlyerTalk. I should have jumped in sooner to say, “People! We are better than this.” Too bad I was driving a car most of the day.

So do I delete the whole thing or leave it up?

Those of you who know me also know that I’m all about owning my mistakes. They are instructive. They keep our egos in check. They are, as Salvador Dalí would say, almost always of a sacred nature. Although the post is factually correct and I followed the right procedure, there have been unintended consequences. I feel bad about that.

But deleting the post would set a bothersome precedent. If I spike the story, any reader who is unhappy with the way a post turned out could ask me to do the same. It would also fundamentally change the way this site is viewed online — not as a reliable record of consumer grievances, but as yet another site where reputation management operatives can ply their trade.



181 thoughts on “Should I delete this story?

  1. As a journalist, I sometimes give my interview subjects the right to review their quotes. If there is a factual error, I will, of course, fix the quote. However, I let them know upfront that I will not change a quote because they don’t like the way something they said sounds. As you said “bad precedent.” 

    Having said that, I don’t think you should have used her words “dark-skinned man” but not because they take away from the real issue, which was that she didn’t feel safe. On the contrary, I think it was precisely because he was dark-skinned that she felt unsafe. I have a feeling she would have felt a whole lot safer had the man been “light-skinned.”

    Hindsight being 20/20 and all that, I probably wouldn’t have written about her case at all after she said that. But she said the words, and you asked permission to write about her case. It’s unclear whether you asked and were granted permission to use her full name. If you did and you were, you simply can’t delete the post. If she did not give you permission to use her name, I would remove it but I would not remove the post. 

    1. But redacting the words “dark skinned man” would have changed the story and roughly half the basis for her complaint.

      I pointed out in a later comment that consumers like us ultimately pay when companies settle with customers who have unfounded complaints and outrageous demands. 

      That phrase helped us view this lady in her real element. 

      I won’t speak for anyone else, but that kind of sealed the deal that we weren’t dealing with any sort of legitimate complaint. My vote and voice, via comments, went toward criticizing the very basis of the complaint.

      1. I say don’t delete but a lot of these comments tell the real story about what is going on in society.  We state a fact like “dark skinned man” and we assume racism. Why? It was a fact, and adjective to describe. Should we say sexist becasue she said man? No!

        We all have our prejudices and most of us will feel more uncomfortable around others not like us and this will help us form our fears and rational.  This is not going away and not necessarily wrong.  If we treat the person differently or with less respect because of it then it is wrong.

        I think it is ignorant of anyone to draw a conclusion of racism beacuse of anything said in the post.  We need to all get a clue in our life, be happy, and less acusatory.  We will see and know the racists when they are there and we dilute the impact when we obviously overuse the claim.

        1. It’s important because there’d be no need to mention it.  She wasn’t giving the police a description; she was describing her reason for being scared (in the Dominican Republic, no less).

          What if I said, I was frightened for my life when he opened the door because there was a big, brawny Jew sitting in the back seat? Part of the description is relevant, and part really isn’t.

    2. I think allowing quoted people the opportunity to review their quotes is good practice, but I can see how difficult that might be with deadlines, etc. I still remember one time when a reporter gave me the opportunity to review a quote of mine prior to publication, and even though the quote was perfectly accurate and taken in-context, I really appreciated the opportunity to verify it.

    3. I’ve actually taken it a step further with interviews and told them if at any time I ask them a question they aren’t comfortable with, feel free to tell me, “I’m not comfortable responding to that” and we’ll move on.

    4. She knew the terms of posting here – has posted NUMEROUS other sites – and just was expecting everyone would feel the same way she did.  When she put out the comment about dark-colored men, SHE chose the language, and the repercussions of those words if taken badly.  Leaving this up is the right thing to do, otherwise anyone who didn’t think they got the response they WANTED will expect Chris to take it down, too!

  2. Chris, she asked for help but didn’t get what she wanted now she wants you to remove it..shame on her. By no means are you obligated to delete the article nor do I think you should. I think your article, as long as it was accurate as written, should stand.  

    I think a good compromise would be to allow her to add a follow up comment to the article that you can publish with the original. This way you maintain your journalistic integrity and she gets a chance to clarify anything she feels was misconstrued. 

    I think this would also serve as a reminder to anyone who attempts to use this forum as a means of manipulating or attempting to shame a travel provider that they should think twice before providing an exaggerated account of their experience.

    1. I agree. Remember Mr. Perez of Oyster Bay Beach Resort? He came back and gave us his side of the story. I’m still searching for Mr. Jack Permadi. Do you think he could be that dark skinned man on the bus on the way back to the DR airport?

      1. ROFL. Mr Perez went on to make a comment on about EVERY post made in that column, which IMHO made him look even more foolish than he did previous. Also, who cares what his real name was. The fact remained that there was indeeed a real person who used the room(s)

        In this case, I don’t think the post should be removed. She clearly posted her story in other columns and on other forums for all to see. Apparently, when she didn’t get her way, she wanted to complain. Perhaps an easy way out could be to redact her last name to an initial. First name, last initial would serve no possible way to then hurt her business and the story would still be intact.

        1. Mike I respect your opinion even though I do not agree with it. I felt comments should not go without a response otherwise they seem to be assumed as the truth even if they are not.

  3. I say no. Why?  Because she wrote to other places and the exact same request, word for word, is on those sites, too, with her name attached to them, just like yours..  She used every means she could to get her way(which didn’t work) and now she is doing it again to you from what I am reading. 

    I like what BC wrote on this.

  4. This is the internet – by now the story is out and it’s too late to repair the ‘damage’ that’s been done. Unless it’s completely made up (why would it be?), then there’s no benefit to deleting it. If anything, that attracts more attention.
    However, if you want to add more information (as I see you’ve done) or amend it with corrections or resolutions, that’s perfectly acceptable and usually beneficial.

  5. I don’t think you should delete it at this point.  She said what she said, and you told her story the way she told it.  She has to take ownership for the words she chose, and the consequences that come from them.  I find it troubling that it didn’t occur to her that her “dark-colored” comment would come across as racist, and would spark a lot of ire.  But she DID use those words, and we as your readers have a right to be shocked at such blatant bigotry.

    But setting the racist overtones aside…I personally felt that, while it wasn’t a mistake to post the story, the mistake was in treating her complaint as if it was valid.  I still have no clue what her complaint was!  Obviously she never WAS in danger – the danger was all in her mind, as apparently neither driver had ulterior motives.  They did exactly what she’d paid for:  drove her to the airport.  The fact that they stopped along the way and made her switch vans was nothing more than a brief inconvenience — the concept that they had any bad intent was completely in her own imagination. 

    So what were you supposed to mediate?  That’s what bothered me – you as the writer gave the appearance that you felt her complaint had merit, and she was entitled to your efforts to get more money.  For what?  For having an overactive imagination?  For having been delayed by a few moments?  For having to switch vans?  Are we all entitled to ask for money if we conjure up scary thoughts in our heads causing us to feel unsafe?

    I’m sorry that you are embarrassed about our comments.  You shouldn’t be.  She should be embarrassed by her comments (and I suspect she is, now that she realizes how she sounded).  I admit that some of us got a little carried away, but it’s not often in polite society that we’re faced with such blatant and ugly racism.  It’s something that makes many of us angry, and that’s what you saw…the reactions of people who were angry and disgusted by what appeared to be open bigotry. And I think many of us were uncomfortable that you seemed to treat her as just another wronged traveler needing your help.

    I know I’m not alone in feeling a little more protected from unscrupulous travel providers knowing that you are out there to help us in your inimitable “Chris Corleone” fashion, should we find ourselves getting screwed. But we’d like to believe that you use some discernment in choosing which cases to mediate, and don’t waste your precious time on people who don’t actually have a valid issue.

    My suggestion is to give her the opportunity to post a response, and add it as an update to the story.  I personally would be interested in hearing what she has to say, and I can only hope that she learned something from the universally horrified reactions of so many of your readers. 

    And if you find any of the comments particularly objectionable, delete them…not the entire story.

    1. You make some valid points.Maybe I allowed myself to be pressured into mediating the case and then went looking for a reason to write about it. Maybe I should have just let this one go.

      1. Bells can’t be un-rung and second guessing a journalistic decision may cause one not to pursue the very story that most needs exposure.  As long as the pieces are factual, they are what they are.  A source can’t give me permission to attribute remarks, and then demand withdrawal because those remarks were published.

        And as was noted – even if you delete your post, it is available SOMEWHERE on the web forever.

      2. Don’t beat yourself up over it, Christopher.  It’s obvious to us that you are a generally kind person, and tend to look for the good in people…which means that you don’t always see the *other* side of them.  That’s an admirable trait, and one that is particularly useful when your job is to help people.

        I do think the story had validity, if only to allow us to see the wide range of mediation requests you get!  And let’s not forget that she fired off a social-media storm when she posted her story across the blogosphere – it was a worthy endeavor to shine some light on it and put it to the court of public opinion. 

        I will repeat my urging to not remove it.  I think it’s only fair to Expedia, who she has been defaming across the internet!

      3. The best thing to do is just that, let it go. What’s done is done.

        Honestly, I think it speaks volumes that the OP is looking to have this removed because she’s receiving so much negative feedback. What she should do is apologize for making such a blatently racist remark. I don’t condone the cruel nasty postings, because two wrongs don’t make a right; however, I haven’t seen anywhere where she apologized for her remark. If she’s not sorry for what she said (multiple times in multiple places), but only sorry for the consequences, that makes it clear what her motives and true feelings are. What’s done is done.

        1. Oh the smart alec in me sooo badly wants to respond but this topic is too serious to do it.

    2.  Well said. I’m not really sure what her complaint was either, nor why she expected more compensation. Also, she set herself up for internet scrutiny when she posted her story on various forums which linked to her facebook profile and blog. If you put it out there, people are going to find it.

    3. I find it hard to believe that if this had happened to you or possibly your da that it wouldn’t have crossed your mind hat it was strange that she was asked to get in a different vehicle than the one she left the hotel in. I think all of us at some point in our lives will find ourself in a situation where we will have to stop and decide what the right move is to make. And, isn’t it possible that we are jumping to the very thing we are excoriating her for by assuming she is a “racist” simply because of her use of the words “dark-skinned” man?

      1. First of all, if I felt unsafe, I wouldn’t have gotten in the van to begin with. The fact that she got into it when she was convinced she was going to be raped or murdered is pretty bizarre, and calls into question her basic judgement. Who gets into a vehicle that you think is going to lead to your death?

        Second, clearly I’m not the only person who took her “dark-colored man” comment to mean that she assumed the man to be a danger because of his skin color…which is the definition of racism. That’s been a pretty universal reaction in here…not just mine. So that lends a certain credence to it, no?

        Third…what in hell is a “da”?

  6. Agree with the tone / content of the comments so far. Don’t delete. She said what she said. It goes towards whether she deserved any compensation or not. She might not like the comments, but the internet cuts both ways. What you put out there is often for perpetuity.

    That being said, I’m an advocate for only putting into comments what you would say to someone in person. With the anonymity of the web, it’s all too easy to come up with a great one-liner that puts someone in their place, but is unnecessarily harsh.

    As long as the “worthy” stories make it on here more than the “unworthy” ones, I like reading both kinds. As for the OP and everyone like her, the bile comes out when people are greedy and self-entitled and blame others for their own mistakes. To those kinds of people – take heed before you seek to publicize your case! And it might behoove you to actually read this column before you seek Chris’ help… (Some of the readers are scary sleuthy and will find amazing tidbits of info on the web in minutes!)

    The OP might find solace in the fact that most of these stories are forgotten in a few days. However, she may find her services required when the Elliott Hunger Games / Thunder Dome Reality Show starts filming…

    1.  And when the playing cards are released! The “Dark Skinned Man” card owes its existence to her.

    2. “That being said, I’m an advocate for only putting into comments what you would say to someone in person.”.

      I agree with that sentiment.  My personal modification on that is to only say online what I would say in front of my pastor.  Keeps me from commenting on a lot of things, but I sure do “like” other comments that wouldn’t pass muster with him.  🙂

    3. Agree.  And notice that I am among the VERY few people on here who post using my real name.  The way I see it, if I would only say it anonymously, I shouldn’t be saying it.  Using my real name keeps me from saying things that shouldn’t be said.

  7. Chris,
    I was pretty surprised by the tone and nature of the comments.
    They were mean spirited.  Normally, the comments are pretty spot on.  I don’t know if people were just have a bad day – the heat, the Eurozone mess, spouse was cranky – but it reminded me of 4th grade and a bunch of “mean girls.”
    After reading the comments, I would be afraid that someone who had a problem would be think twice about writing to you for help because of being brutally commented upon.

    1. I think most folks here are savvy enough to know that we’re the ones who ultimately pay in the end for – how to say this gently – “outliers” like the OP in that story who wind up getting compensation for nothing.  Comments most certainly should be sharp and critical.  Sometimes that’s how people learn.

  8. So, she pandered her story to several online media sites, and now she doesn’t like the fallout? Tough. When you wrote about me calling tsa agents “stupid”, I took serious heat, some even local, and that was fine…didn’t change my mind one bit. If her story had been published in print media, ie, The Wall Street Journal with her name attached, she couldn’t expect them to redact all identifying info after the fact, so expecting you to is ridiculous.

    That being said, it might be prudent to remind her that many of the “major” serial killers have historically been white, so dark skinned or not, you should be careful. She needs to get over it. Online pseudonyms not traceable back to a real person are going the way of AOL dial up, and rightfully so. If you say it, own it. Simple as that.

  9. I would leave the story up largely intact – redact her identifying details if need be, but as for the rest of it, a friend had a sign with a unattributed quote that seems especially appropriate in this case:

    “Put on your BIG GIRL PANTIES and deal with it!”

  10. In the future, have a legal document that must be signed every time you mediate giving legal and full permission to publicize the store with full name. 

    1. Interesting idea. I think the disclosure is the best I can do for now. The legal document is a slippery slope. Before long, this site will become like Consumer Reports where all the editorial decisions are made by lawyers.

      1. Chris,  I don’t think you should remove the story.  However, I’m not sure that I agree with your decision to post someone’s full name in any story.  The person’s name (in any of your stories) is, of course, relevent to you in your quest to help the person.  But it is not relevent to readers of your stories – only the points of the stories are.  Since your blog is available to anyone on the planet to read, it really isn’t quite fair that when someone comes to you for help with a problem, that they then have to risk having their full name put out there for the world to see (including psychos and stalkers).  We need to remember that once someone has someone else’s full name, there is so much they can find out about them easily and for free on the internet. And generally, your stories make it pretty obvious where the person lives (which airport they’re flying from, etc.) – making an online search on them even easier. 
        Why not just use a pseudonym for the purposes of easy reading and still protecting the person’s identity? You’ll still have the person’s name but the rest of us won’t. Seems fair.

        1. If he’s not going to use the person’s real name shouldn’t he do the same for the properties involved? The knife cuts both ways.

          1. Fair question, given that a property can have its business affected, but I don’t think it’s the same. 

            A person is more likely to be stalked. A property – not so much.   And that’s a scary problem.  Plus, it’s not a property who is writing to Chris asking for help – it’s a person. So there is an understanding that the person is asking for Chris to be “on their side” (hence the name of his blog).

            Also (and I’m not referring to the person with issues who wrote to Chris about this particular story), normally, if a person is writing for help with – let’s say, an airline – the airline isn’t going to suffer from having its name mentioned, but the person who was just trying to get some help from Chris may, indeed, be hounded by lunatics.  And the airline (or other company) could even blacklist the person for publicizing a complaint.  It wouldn’t be the first time that happened when a property found out the name of someone complained (legitimately) about them.

          2. @KaraJones:disqus I would agree if most people’s goal in contacting Chris wasn’t to extort or embarass a company into something they weren’t due in order to avoid bad press associated with saying no to Chris. 

            How many times does Chris end his posts with notes on how a company waived their policies to allow a refund? Especially in situations where the vendor did nothing wrong (this case, HAL, etc).

          3. The knife cuts both ways.

            Would you be opposed to a glowing review if it was posted under a pseudonym?

          4. No. The glowing review has no intent to extract something from the property. No threat if not complied with.

            The intent of most of these complaints is to extract compensation from a property even when it is not justified. In doing so, the OP is going to social media in an attempt to spread their story (correct or incorrect) and obtain their compensation, justified or not, by embarassing the vendor even when they aren’t at fault. 

            In those situation, the OP and their actions are always part of the equation. If someone is going to make an accusation of wrong doing, they need to own that accusation. If it is that bad, they should be willing to put their name on it.

          5. How do we know know what the intent of a glowing review is? 

            Inferring intent is a slippery slope.

  11. Do not delete it. She has her story on forums all over the net with her full name and info, so why does yours matter? Is she requesting ALL forums to remove her story? She’s the one who said the offensive things, not you. I think she’s mad because you reported the truth, in her words, and now we see her true colors. 

    1. I think she got taken aback by all the comments because despite posting all over the web, none of her postings got any replies (that I could see). She obviously didn’t know what she was dealing with when she came to Chris and the army of commenters.

      1. Remember, be careful when you take that mountain biking trip in Jackson Hole.

    2. Interestingly enough, the posting Chris links to at the beginning of his article seems to be gone, I guess she had it removed somehow.

        1. It’s not understandable.  An adult stands by what they post publicly and if they make a mistake they write a mea culpa.  They don’t go around trying to bury it by yanking the comments from the places they posted it.

      1. That’s OK; we and the entire travel industry know who she is. Maybe she’ll think twice before spewing her venom next time.

  12. No, she foisted herself and her ridiculous, entitled, ignorant demands upon the internet space and social media.  And, most ironically, internet sites indicate she is a social media guru (yes, really)!

    Let me be completely clear:  She doesn’t deserve to be stalked, bullied, or harassed (nobody does).

    But she does deserve to have her demands chastised, her comments criticized, and her ridiculous statements taken to task wherever they are found on the internet – especially when she put them there.

  13. Absolutely 100% don’t delete. This person went to many outlets to vent her opinions, she is only know backtacking because she was caught out to be a complete and utter racist  and we told her as much. Perhaps it will teach her a lesson before she goes spouting off her undesirable opinions again!

  14. Heck no.  She was trying to pull one over on the company, tried to use you as a leverage to do it and has been outed.  Now that she’s found out that her little scam was transparent and linked back to her real identity, she’s embarrassed.  Too bad.  

  15. Both you and the traveler need to own it. Maybe you could change the last name to an initial as a decent compromise? I still think that woman should have thought twice before going alone to a country that she thought was dangerous. FL has beaches too.

      1. Christopher, you get it right way more often then not.  And I don’t think you got it wrong by writing about this one.  At the risk of repeating myself, your only error here was in making it sound as if her complaint had validity, which it didn’t.  I think the article would have been better had you written about it as a “closed case” not worthy of further mediation, and then let us vote if we agreed.

  16. I think you should not delete it.  As long as you were factually correct and did you due diligence, which you always do despite what some hotel managers my think, than you have no reason to delete it.  She contacted you, she said what she said, and she gave you permission to publish.  If she is upset with the results, perhaps next time she should think before she speaks.  Besides, what you published is no different than what she posted on other websites, in fact on Peter Greenberg’s site she mentioned she went for her knife and realized it was packed in her bag.  That’s far worse than what you quoted her as saying.  Is she asking Peter Greenberg to remove that as well?  I think to protect your own integrity the story must say. Deleting it is a slippery slope, if you delete a story because a consumer is upset, what’s next, deleting a story because Expeida is upset?

  17. At school we tell kids that what they post is out there forever, so even if you do delete it, the information and comments are out still out there.   I do agree with you deleting and banning the person who suggested she should have been harmed – there is no reason for your readers to descend to that level – even if the pasenger was revealing unsavory bits suggesting her own profiling biases.   There are things that can be said with rude sarcasm to friends that are beyond the pale when printed and distributed publicly.  It is easy to forget just how public this is when so many of the writers are familiar names and one feels part of the group.   I don’t mean to pick on commenters because I enjoy reading the snarkiness and I have learned a lot about travel from this column but I am not sure I would give permission for you to publish a problem where I had been foolish.  I would be embarrassed enough without being reminded of all my missteps in excellent sarcasm and brillant hindsight.

    Perhaps, in retrospect, this story should not have been published except as part of an “if you are afraid something will happen when you travel, then you should stay home column”.

    I am a white haired, American woman who frequently travels alone and the only place I have ever been robbed or threatened was in the United States.  (Not in Europe, Africa, India or Southeast Asia.)  Perhaps God watches children and fools and so has looked out for me, perhaps many threats are bigger in our minds than in reality.

  18. Chris – Just my two cents. I think you leave it up unless you feel that the story you wrote is not truthful or fails to accurately represent your conversations with her (I don’t think that’s true or you would pull it without asking). Your original poster went searching the internet finding venues to attempt to shame her OTA and resort into paying her things she wasn’t due for irrational fears she had. She had no issue using the resort’s full name and her OTA’s full name in doing that. Now that the press and the public have seemed to support what they did and made her look foolish, she wants to undo what she did. Sorry, that is life and in life there are consequences for our actions. You wouldn’t retract a story because the resort or the OTA said something they regret.  Anytime you attempt to use the press and social media to shame a company, there’s always a chance that it’s you that will be shamed.

    OP’s be warned

  19. I say no.  And my thoughts are the same as the majority already posted – she gave you permission and deleting sets a bad precedent.  It’s one thing if you, as the site/article owner, decide to remove something for your own reasons.  It’s a whole different animal if you remove at the request of someone else.  I understand why she’d be upset, but she was the one who got the ball rolling by contacting you.  You’ve moderated the comments.  That’s more than fair.

  20. I think you should not delete the post. I think this article gives your frequent readers a reminder that they should focus on the issue the traveler had during their trip and not take it out personally on the traveler. I was surprised so many nasty comments got published and i see now that you not being able to monitor them was a factor.

    As some have mentioned elsewhere on the internet trolls will show up eventually on a site but the other moderate comments are a worthwhile read and they should be kept up.

    I am concerned though about the idea of having the OP respond to the post in a followup. I feel like it might spiral further with personal attacks back and forth. 

    1. Just curious, did you flag any posts that you thought went too far? I believe that Disqus will hide a comment if enough people flag it, even if Chris doesn’t happen to be reviewing the notifications at the time. Asking readers to flag inappropriate comments to get them down quicker, with periodic reminders, is a reasonable way to handle it.

      1.  I did not flag any comment. I went looking for a flag icon and recently saw one so I will in the future.

    2. you can’t seperate out the ‘issue she had’ during her trip because it was a non-issue. She paid to be driven to the airport – she was driven to the airport.

      1.  I think there was an issue, just not one that in my opinion needed monetary compensation.

        The issue i saw was that the bus that came to pick her up after the original bus had broken down did not have the same logo’s and the people on the bus did not have the ground transports uniform.

        That is one thing that they tell you when you go to DR with one of those packages that includes ground transport. Always check for the logo and the shirt of the company. This way you are sure you are with the company you reserved not someone trying to poach (not kidnap) passengers and ask for extra fees to get you to the hotel.

  21. I do not think that you should the story. It is what it is.

    I hope that the people who post on this site will think twice before submitting a comment. Most(but not all) forum/comment type sites that I have visited start out with comments being respectful and on-topic. Within a few months many posters spend more time on insults and name-calling than actually discussing the topic at hand. That is when I stop visiting the site. This site is heading down that path. It started with the discussion of overweight passengers and really hasn’t improved a whole lot.

    I cringe a little every time I see a post where someone has asked Chris for assistance and many posts call that person an idiot or worse. An Ombudsman or Consumer Advocate can only succeed if he/she is viewed as someone that will be respectful and compassionate. If I thought that my complaint would subject me to derision I would not think much of the person that I had asked for assistance but I would make it a point to steer people away from them.

    1. I agree with you Bill.  I love this site and read it daily, but I am often surprised at the mean spiritedness of some of the comments toward an OP or toward other commenters. 

  22. Spiking the story would be a particularly bad precedent.  Besides no matter what you do now the story is out there and can be viewed with a little trouble by searching the cached versions on the search sites (Google, Yahoo, etc) to using the WayBack Machine site (

    Spiking or deleting the story isn’t going to change anything.

  23. Chris, I agree that it’s hard to have an unflattering story about you out there, but I don’t think there’s much damage done in this case. I googled her name, and in the first 2 or 3 pages of results, I didn’t see any reference to that fateful airport transfer. She seems to publish a ton of stuff online under her real name, so it’s unlikely that having this story up with cause problems for her. Your blog post will remain buried on page who-knows-what. 

    I say, leave it up. Taking it down sets a bad precedent, and the story isn’t really going to cause her any damage, anyway.

  24. It seems like this woman now wants to make it your fault that she made such comments, rather than the fact that she made them.

    So, no, don’t delete her story, because for the most part it sounds like she deserves what she’s getting from this.

    Not to mention, you point out that she’s gone screaming as loud as she can in as many places as she could. So she’s just another person who’s only going to be happy when they get what they want, and nothing short of that. I wouldn’t waste my time with such a person.

  25. i think the OP had no idea what the general reaction to her comments would be and now that she knows, she realizes that it was a mistake for her to publicize this unfortunate incident.  she was foolish, IMO, but committed no crime.  let’s not punish her any further.

    1. So the general lesson would be – go ahead, rant and rave all you want – not just on the Elliott blog but everywhere else you can.  Try to shame the resort, hurt their business, and spread general ill will toward them.  Use whatever ignorant statements you can and make as many outrageous demands as you can hoping for a payday.

      Then if it doesn’t work out for you, everyone should forget it happened?

      No thanks.

  26. Please do not delete anything about this story.  The woman wrote to you asking for your assistance as a consumer advocate.  You did as she asked and in addition, you received her permission to post her story on your site.  She has no quarrel with the accuracy of your posting.  She is displeased about the some of the comments your readers made.  By all means remove the hateful comments, but the rest of the matter should stand. 
    This woman, like every one of us, has to learn from experience.  Apart from the fact that the claim she tried to make is devoid of merit, she exposed herself as a racist and was called on it.  It is now too late for her to want to make a retraction.
    This is what I do.  It has saved me from embarrassment countless times and it is what I recommend to all really angry responders.  Before you post responses here or anywhere else on the Internet, write your comment in your word processor.  Before sending it anywhere, get up and have a cup of coffee, return to the computer, reread what you have written and ask yourself if you really want your message to go around the world as it presently stands.  By this time, your ire will have cooled, sober second thought will have taken over and you will either delete or reword the posting to make it more temperate before you copy and paste it. 

  27. I remember looking up some of the other sites where she posted almost the same comments verbatim as in the post on this site.  She now says she’s upset that you used her full name yet she herself used her full name when posting on these other sites and in some cases left comments using her own Facebook account, which identifies her as a business owner to even those who aren’t on her friends list.  She didn’t get favorable replies on those sites, either.  Clearly this is a case of complainer’s remorse when the pendulum swings the other way.  As a journalist, I say leave the post as-is.  If you’re feeling particularly magnanimous, you can redact her last name to an initial.

  28.  Leave it.  Don’t potentially ruin the integrity of your site by bowing to the demands of someone who wasn’t happy with the results of your article.  To be honest, regardless of the “dark-colored man” comment, her complaint didn’t hold water with me.  She still got to the airport, and Expedia did plenty for her.  Expedia booked transfers for her, and she got a transfer.  Nowhere did Expedia state that the transfer would be provided by a white person, and it sounds like that was the only thing that would have made her feel safe.  That is her problem, not Expedia’s.  In hindsight, it probably would have been best not to write about her at all, but she gave you permission, and that’s on her, not you.

  29. Chris – you’re a journalist.  As such, you did the story she asked for and if she’s uncomfortable with her words, maybe she shouldn’t have said them.

    I’m sure she would LOVE to have her words redacted, there’s lots of times public figures, who are quoted often, would like to have their words redacted but the truth of the matter is, this is life in our world.

    When you did the story about Caden and Southwest Airlines, you got it right, it was the rest of them who got it wrong, causing more uproar because of their inability to comprehend what they’re reading.

    I vote for “No”.  Don’t redact anything from or remove the story.  These are the consequences of the choices she made.  You set a dangerous precedent if you do so.

    I have to wonder if we had all agreed with her would she have demanded the story be removed? Most likely not because then her princess entitlement attitude would have been rewarded.

  30. Agreed – if you can say it, be an adult and suffer the consequences.  We all do it…

  31. To me, this is one of those, “Is it worth the battle?” questions.  Leave the story up for the sake of journalistic integrity and the rights of the media?  Yes, you can do that.  But is it worth the hassle?  Clearly not.  You offered to help her, you published her complaint verbatim, people reacted inappropriately, now you have all of these problems.  I say take the post down… then she can’t complain about her name being on the site any more and nobody else can write flaming emails to cause you further problems.

  32. A real journalist don’t bend to any pressure. If you bend, don’t call yourself journalist. Journalists have ethic rules and you did observe its.

    1. I find this to be a little harsh, but well-intentioned.  Journalists find themselves in the midst of moral dilemmas all the time and, in the end, we have to trust our guts.  Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose and we’re only human.  Sometimes we also make mistakes.

  33. Chris –

    It’s a shame you’re going through this but at this point, I don’t think you can easily delete this posting. Yes, the comments were pretty snarky, but I think that can be partly attributed to your attracting a larger audience pool these days.

    My suggestions:

    1. Don’t remove the post but redact her name. Append the copy so that you alert readers that the post has been updated with this change.
    2. Make one of your next posts a primer and/or refresher on your TOS and comment code. I do think we have a lot of new commenters (and a bunch of regulars, including me) who could use a reminder about being civil to one another.
    3. Take a step back, breathe, and remember that you’re doing a bang-up job handling complaints – real or imagined – from travelers. We, your readers, don’t see the huge pile of emails you must get, or those whiny missives that make you roll your eyes. We’re all Monday morning quarterbacks here, so take what we say with a grain of salt. 😉

  34. The “dark man” is unfortunate, but if she had seen a “big” man, then all overweight guys would have wanted to lynch her. She has many fears, it seems, and seems to be a paranoid personality type. But any, you handle posts perfectly, I think. If a source is bothered after the fact (similar to buyer’s remorse), then they learn something about themselves.

    1. *….but if she had seen a “big” man, then all overweight guys would have wanted to lynch her*

      That’s a false assumption.

  35. No, this post should not be deleted nor, with the exception of the person you banned for saying the OP should have been murdered, should the comments cause you embarrassment.  I read them and it looked to me that everyone was more or less in agreement that the woman was being unreasonable in her demands insisting on full reimbursement of her stay at the Riu.  Her choice of words may have been unintentional/unfortunate or as some have pointed out indicative of her views of people who are ethnically different from her.  But that is her problem, not yours.

    As was discovered by your regular readers, she had been forum-shopping, spreading her tale of woe and now is having buyer’s remorse.  I think many of the people who commented, myself included, were just stunned that you would really seriously consider this a situation worth mediating, especially after such recent gems like the woman with her disabled husband who got escorted off of the Holland America cruise because he urinated in/near (I forget) the pool and then she further went on to extort HA by posting on their Facebook page.  As I commented on the original story, “Surely you must receive more legitimate solicitations for assistance or advocacy.”

    “I mediate many more cases than I write about, and had planned to let
    this one slide. But sometimes, if a traveler is very insistent, I can be
    persuaded to move a case into my “cover this” file” 

    Then write about those cases.  Even if a traveler is “insistent,” surely you  are capable enough to know when a case does not pass the smell test.  How many times have you asked “Should I mediate this case?” and the response is an overwhelming “No.”  It’s these ridiculous cases with the enlarged sense of entitlement that many of us are tired of reading about.  I started reading your blog because I thought it would be informational and I might learn something to help my travel experiences be easier.  All I’ve been learning lately is how to be an irrational, self-absorbed traveler with unreasonable expectations, that doesn’t know to read the fine print, or that there are times when consulting someone with experience when booking travel might be the better option.

  36. From what she presents she felt unsafe in large part because of racist views.  You presented her as she presented herself to the companies she was complaining to.  If she doesn’t like how she looks in the mirror of reality, that’s her problem, not yours as a journalist.  That she already shared this story on her own blog and with other sites guts her right to keep it private.  She shared first and is only prolonging her embarrassment by making a fuss now.

    Leave the story in place.

  37. From the getgo I thought this case was not worthy of your time or intervention. There really was no case at all.  The woman in question is clearly a tad nervous and, therefore,  shouldn’t have been travelling alone. On the other hand is it really racism to call someone dark skinned?  Would the readers object to phrases like:  Italian, Jewish, gay?  She was merely describing what the man looked like… adjective if you will.  I voted for a dark skinned man to be president of these United States. Was she using a pejorative?   Only in the minds of those who choose to make it so.

  38. Chris, did you know that your article said LESS about her whole trip than what she posted herself as comments in others sites and her rants in facebook. In fact, google even has a dead link about her purportedly asking people to boycott American Airlines on the same trip. Her trip rants were against the airline, 2 resorts in the DR, a hospital, and the airport transfer. I think she just realized that her business as voice over artist does not need the negative publicity she got here. If any propective client suspects she is a racist, they will probably run away.

    This really should be a lesson to all people, especially younger people. Be careful what you say on the internet. Anyway, I still am baffled how a supposedly well bred “lady” who grew up in Long Island and was “educated” at Marist and Stonybrook could have posted such a racially insensitive comment.

  39. I agree that the story should not be deleted.  I would normally say that the OP’s name should remain also but for the fact that their are some crazy people out there and some can be counted among your commenters.  This is a tougher call.  I will defend the OP in one regard. The OP’s racist remark was clearly uncalled for.  However, as a woman, and totally without reference to skin color, I can absolutely understand her nervousness and anxiety when ordered out of one van into another; when the second driver has no uniform; when the van windows are covered, –notwithstanding those who make light of her fears or who get off on telling us how savvy and fearless they are  when traveling alone.  There is a good chance I would have refused to get into the second van. That being said, based on what we know from the article,  it is ridiculous for her to expect any compensation because of this incident.

  40. First of all, I don’t believe that news media, print or otherwise should be a place where someone gets to say whatever they want and subsequently control other people’s reactions to it. If someone asks you for help, I think it is implied that you may write about it. If you want to give people the option to ask that you help them without considering using their story, that’s one thing. But it’s a slippery slope to start allowing them to dictate after the fact if they don’t like the outcome.

    Second, I don’t believe that Disqus comments gets indexed by Google, so they won’t be searchable. The story has been syndicated all over the place, so the comments won’t follow it in most places and most people who read it here probably won’t bother to scroll down. But what Google does index is the OP’s use of “dark colored” man in comments on various blogs, all published by the OP prior to the article in question.
    She used her own name when she posted threats on blogs, Facebook pages of the hotel and Expedia and when she repeatedly contacted the companies on Twitter. And when she invoked your name on Twitter. It looks like she also uses her Twitter account for her business and used her Twitter account as the sign-in method to make some of the blog comments. I say that the OP made a choice to associate herself with her statements long before you got involved.

    And also, I think that in this case, her online behavior is relevant to the article. How she behaved (making what amounted to threats on blogs, Facebook, Twitter) was to try to damage the reputation of the companies involved to get their attention by associating her story with already published blog content and on their social media sites. It is a 2 way street, and the OP put her reputation on the line long before you got involved.

    1. I don’t have a Facebook account and that’s intentional.  I would say that my full name is one that some might find odd, but strangely is not unique.  However, I don’t like to use my full name when making comments.

      As for the comments sections here, I’ve done search on this site (powered by Google) and many of the searches do produce matches that only come from the comments.  However, the comments have migrated over the years from an older system that required simply a name and unverified email address without nested comments, to Disqus with a guest poster option, and finally to the Disqus system we see now.

      For example, I looked for something unique in these comments, and TonyA specifically used the phrase “2 resorts in the DR”.  Type that (with quotes) into the search box and this article is the only one that shows up.  

      I also looked for something unique in the comments section of the article referenced.  There was one person with a unique set of typos.  I went to and entered “a nything cold have happened”.  Guess what shows up?  Of course random search terms might not be unique and will typically give dozens or even hundreds of results, but the comments from Disqus do apparently get indexed by Google.

      1. I believe that is due to the “What’s everyone talking about” feature, not Disqus. If you search quotes from comments on the original story, Google does not show results that point back here. I even tried limiting results to and nothing came up.

  41. Until all commenters are required to post their verified first and last names to stand by THEIR comments, it seems only fair that the woman of the story be allowed the same level of anonymity. I say keep the story, but change the name. Yes, at this point someone could go back and find it, but at least they’d have to do a modicum of work to do so.

    1. By her making comments about the incident in other well known sites, she tried to be her own “journalist” :

    2. Your analogy is flawed: She used her full name and gave Chris permission to use it.

  42. Unfortunately the person who sought your assistance just discovered the double edge sword of social media.  You can’t expect to be able to skewer people and organizations when you’re unhappy and not have any repercussions if your side of the story is a bit unsavory.  Lesson learned all around.  It’s unfortunate that she feels like she could potentially be targeted personally at this juncture.  I guess in the end the real question for me is: how likely do you think it is that she could actually suffer harm from naming her in this post (which I agree that you completely disclose before posting an article, so don’t feel guilty there) AND that the person or persons who might be engaged in this behavior don’t already have the information that they need to do so.  In this day and age of cacheing it’s almost impossible to make something completely go away.  If you think that deleting the post at this juncture would alleviate this, then it’s something to consider although it does set an unsavory precedent.  But I think that’s highly unlikely to change anything at this point – just my two cents.

  43. Chris, It is too late to change this.  but perhaps addressing how companies can better service solo (male or female) clients is more to the point.   

    Could this story have ONLY focused on safety?
    I have been in a van for an hour long trip with a ‘strange’ driver so i see both sides of this coin.   But as a solo traveler, i would like you to think about posting a caution for the other thousands of travelers who go solo for many reasons.      It is bad enough solo travelers are restricted by cost when we travel, but safety is far more difficult to handle.    It may not stop many from traveling to far off places but now we have to think about everywhere we go:   road trips in the USA (never stop at the rest stop after dark), going to the beach solo, camping,  or even the more mundane, going to a movie solo. I live in Atlanta and must be careful NOT to go to the grocery store late at night.Solo travelers have the choice of restrictive tours, paying double for cruises, sharing with a ‘stranger’ on a trip or finding a solo travel company.     Not attractive options to many of us. This has prompted me to work on a blog for solo mature travelers. 

  44. I don’t think it should be deleted.  I probably would have omitted the words “dark colored”.

    1. think BL A CK  would have been more correct?
      If those were her words, keep them.

        1. No need to visit DR. Washington Heights is nearby. Anyone here in the NY area knows a Dominican. Food is very good and people very jovial. Can’t understand where the woman was coming from (although she was from Long Island).

          I used to work with a Dominican (who also worked at the same company the OP worked for – Symbol Tech at Long Isl.)  A very nice guy and he used to tell me how divided his island is between the blacks and browns. When I asked him to explain further, he said the real black people were Haitians. I was kinda dumfounded. Weird how one island (Hispaniola) can be separated by color or language (Spanish and French).

          Funny since I remember one day at grad school when we had to check the box which identified our race. My Dominican classmate checked Hispanic and my Haitian classmate checked African Am.

          Racism and bigotry is everywhere. It only becomes a big issue when people talk or write about it. If you are not a WASP, you learn to live with it.

      1. No, I wouldn’t have referred to the color.  Given that where this happened almost everyone is the same color, I can’t understand why she would have been surprised or afraid of the person just because of their color.  This does remind me though of a conversation between my mother and our cleaner many years ago, which I witnessed.  The cleaner was talking to my mother about her dentist, and kept on saying “He’s Jewish – but nice though” – even though she was fully aware that we are Jewish.

  45. Don’t delete it.

    She showed her stupid, racist side, and is now back peddling. If she wanted to look like less of a jerk, she should have never posted the story ANYWHERE on the internet in the manner that she did.

    Besides, I’m sure it has already been archived via the Wayback Machine.

    ETA: Just remember that the internet collective has the attention span of a fruit fly. Most people will have forgotten about her by tomorrow…

    1. However, she’s got a unique name.  It’s a bit different if someone has a name that isn’t unique.  Search for a “Fred Smith” is different than searching for her name.

      1. I used to work for Fred Smith. One of the nicest man in America. And definitely NOT a racist.

        ADDED: For those who don’t know, Fred Smith is the founder and Chairman of Federal Express (FedEx). I repeat, he (Fred) is a great person and boss.

  46. I agree with the bulk of the posts already here (which seem very thoughtful and professional, imo!).  The “slippery slope” issue is very real.  If you cave in to one objector, then Disney, Enterprise, Orbitz, HomeAway, Expedia, and every Bridezilla who ever contacts you (among so many others!) will all come running after you eventually too.  They’ll be claiming offense and demanding that you rewrite or delete a post–and if you delete THIS one, there will be precedent for that.  Eventually there won’t be much point in writing at all!

    And if your FAQ’s indicate that you’ll identify people, it sounds like you’re covered.

  47. Meeee-owch! – I just read that story… I’ve delivered my share of snark, but some of the commentaries in there were playing close to the line.

    I agree that the OP does sound like a professional litigant though.

  48. I doubt that Chris’s not printing the “dark-skinned man” comment would have changed my opinion of the original post. There was plenty of other material in the OP’s complaint that showed her true “colors.” She was seeking as many media avenues as possible to broadcast her bad experience, but all she served to prove was that SHE was the bad experience.

  49. You should always leave articles up unless there’s some good reason to take them down. And in this case I don’t see what that is.  The OP is upset, but I’m not exactly sure why. Her name being used shouldn’t have come as a surprise if she’d ever read your column and this isn’t the only place she publicized this. 

    There was one horrible comment that crossed the line and was already deleted. If you find others were too unkind, you can delete them, as well, or even kill off the entire comment thread if it was too negative or embarrassing to you.

  50. I don’t think you did anything wrong here. You reported her “issue” as she described it, just like you do in all your other posts. You don’t (or it doesn’t appear that you do) edit your other posts to make the person not look as bad or crazy. She wanted her story heard. She doesn’t get to whine now when she didn’t get the response se feels she deserved.

  51. Posting the question on removing the article is a mea
    culpa.  To err is human, to forgive, Devine.  I witnessed a similar situation when an
    internal security report, which lists all the incidents during the month, told
    of “two Latino teenagers were escorted off the property when it was determined
    they were neither residents nor guests.” 

    Many of us didn’t initially pick up on the fact that the “Latino”  adjective didn’t add to the story and was an
    inadvertent, prejudicial remark.  When it
    was pointed out, the writer was reprimanded and the word redacted.  A number of the people who did not initially
    notice the error were from other minority communities.  This just goes to show that in a
    multi-cultural society, we have a long way to go. 

  52. I just wanted to add my two cents. I read the original story and posts with amusement, but did not post myself. I did not think any of the comments were over the line (although I did not see the comment about she should be murdered – which clearly is).

    I think most commenters were scornful of her blatant bigotry and her undeserved scorched earth campaign against her hotel and Expedia. I thought the commenters were all right on and did not think they were either hostile or uninformed as you see on so many sites. As many have already said here, you reap what you sow. She spewed nasty all over the internet and got rightfully criticized.

  53. I see your column as a very important learning site. The lessons are to see what difficulties others have experienced, so that we are alert not to get caught up in a similar unfortuate situation. 
    In this particular case, the traveler was already anticipating a problem that her research had indicated “murder, rape,” etc. in the country she had chosen. Therefore every person becomes a ‘boogeyman.’ There is questionable, but evidence, she misinterpreted events. If her comments appeared to be racist, reader comments showed it was in the eye of the beholder. My previous comment on this story was, why did she not vacation in a different place: there are a thousand other choices?She is now concerned, after the facts from her own comments, that her business and social persona will be negatively damaged. This is a learning process and it is, for her, to dig deep into her inner thinking that may be askew.Since she had told her story on other sites, seems she was hellbent to get compensation, by using, what to her was a “horror” experience, embellishing it with her deep seated attitude about “dark-skinned” people.This is not uncommon in today’s racist attitudes where we hear too often, “The black man was the culprit.” We were not there, she was, and to her the fears were legitimate. In Costa Rica, my wife and I flagged a taxit to our hotel. The driver had two very rambunctious cohorts in the front seat. The driver opened his glove compartment to reveal a 45 automatic. They all laughed to see the fear in our faces. We got to the hotel OK. You never forget those “close calls.”Chris, write it as it is.  A story is only as good as its true facts. Thanks.Philip

  54. I’m actually the most surprised with you, Chris:  why on earth did you ever write this in the first place? NOTHING HAPPENED. No looks, no gestures, no intimidation-and she got to the airport on time! As many other posters have said, whatever “happened” was all in her head. The fact that she’s bashing Expedia, even when they’ve given her a goodwill gesture is absurd. She wanted coverage, and she got coverage…I think now she realizes how her story portrays her as stupid, elitist and racist and she wants it down…in this respect, I say “don’t delete.”

    However, this is not anything close to your level of your usual post and I am quite confused as to why you chose to run this over something a lot more “newsworthy and interesting.” Given that, maybe the delete button isn’t such a bad idea?

    (I did vote “no”)

  55. When she said, “I saw that there was another dark-colored man waiting inside the mini-bus” she clearly was giving what she felt was the complete ambiance of the “scary” situation.  If it were extraneous, then she never should have made the reference.  Obviously by its inclusion she felt it contributed to overall scariness.  

    If her story telling gets her in trouble professionally or personally, then her decision-making to publicize widely her “scary” airport transfer comes into question.

  56. You should consider that that is a considerably varying degree of identification. says there are 5 people with that name in the US. Only one appears to have an online presence, so I would assume that is her (and if it’s not, you may have other problems). A previous story was about Kenneth Cook. There are 1464 people with that name and a web search is unlikely to direct the user to that particular Kenneth. 

    Does publishing the entire name add anything to the story? If the story had just said Ruth (or Kenneth, etc.) the content would remain the same, the value to the reader would remain the same, and this would not have been an issue, just as it would not have been an issue had she been named Ruth Jones (2,469 of those). The uniqueness of her name has led to the story impacting her in a way it would not have if her name had been more common. 

  57. Leave the story up.  I’ve read other articles you’ve written and posted here where the subject wanted the story changed or written down.  I’d only make any changes or deletions to correct errors that were factually wrong, not items that the subject or the travel organizations think make them look bad.  I think you’ll lose credibility as a journalist and consumer advocate if you allow for these changes based on these kinds of biases.

    1. That said, I have noticed lots of very snide and mean-spirited comments on articles here.  If you don’t want this site turning into another FlyerTalk, doing more moderation and setting firmer boundaries would be useful.

          1. If you cannot stand the heat get out of the kitchen (or the internet).
            This ain’t bible school or a church.

          2. What it is is Chris’s site. It’s up to him to decide what he wants posted on it, and if he doesn’t want the snark, he can close down the site or remove posts. This isn’t about what I can or can’t stand.

          3. Read my other posts and find out for yourself rather than trying to put me on the defensive.

  58. Elliott man this is not about you, this is about a person who made comments about things she was unclear about.  She went on a vacation ALONE to a place that she already had preconceived ideas about and she was neither mature enough as a person or a traveler to understand that things happen when you travel.  She also did not seem to understand that her travels were taking her to a third world country not the Ritz Carlton of America.  
    If she felt that way than fine but she should be embarrassed that she  automatically felt that she would be “raped” or “murdered” just because something didnt go exactly as planned.  
    She wanted her story told and she told it loud and clear and in the process she made herself look like a fool.  
    The next time she thinks about travel she needs to be more familiar with her surroundings, she needs to travel with a friend or partner and she needs to not jump to such HUGE conclusions just because she was ALREADY too scared to go on this trip. 
    Dont back down on this,she needs to learn a lesson about her words, her actions and the consequences that follow that. 
    She needs to see that she sounded like a racist, entitled American who had no real education about travel. 
    If you believe you did the right think by printing this than she needs to defend her actions and or learn from them before she opens her mouth next time. 
    And may I suggest to her to stay home, dont go to a foreign country and then label them all as horrible people.

  59. why did she need to say dark skinned at all?  If it was a white man would she have said “a white skinned” man .. and “murdered” and “raped” all in the same sentence? It seemed that she said it because she already had pre-conceived ideas about where she was, and that would be a true statement since she made it clear that she had “read” and “heard” things about this country already… jeesh

  60. You wrote “If I had it to do over again, I would have not published her remark about a “dark-colored man waiting inside the mini-bus.” It was a distraction from the real issue, which is that she simply felt unsafe.” Chris, as a woman who often travels alone I have, as have many women, had some frankly dangerous experiences and near misses, This was NOT besides the issue. It is uncomfortable, it leads people to scream about racial profiling, and the more liberal we are or think we are, the more we hate to even have such thoughts, but the fact is that any woman who looked into that van with a uninformed driver, closed curtains, and another man — yes, even a dark-skinned man (rather than, say, two smiling Norwegian ladies with their blond haired children) would feel that way.  The path of a solo woman traveler ALWAYS balances judgment versus intuition, risk versus positive encounters, and the unfortunate thing is that while many of us may travel the world with open hearts desiring to encounter and bond with people from other cultures, we also HAVE to take in any possible danger cue and evaluate it, even if such an evaluation is politically incorrect — because danger IS  out there, and many of us have seen it first hand and had narrow misses. Like any adventure traveler, I also have heart-warming tales of having been rescued out of situations by people who at first glace may have seemed threatening (A car load of four young middle-Eastern men stopped to help me when my car broke down at 2 a.m. on the South side of Chicago)…. In such cases, all your warning hackles go up, your instinct and intuition kick in — do they seem nice; you read the signs, the body language, you evaluate, and you consider everything, yes, including race. You HAVE to — to ignore ANY piece of information, no matter how politically incorrect, could be dangerous. This woman might not have even commented on race if there had been several people in the van, including perhaps a woman or some kids. She might not have thought twice if the driver of the other van had been uniformed, if the other van had been marked, if there had been an ID card, even if the other man in the van might have smiled and said hello. She was responding to the cumulative elements in the situation, and no piece of information was irrelevant in this woman’s judgment. And in fact, to ignore this uncomfortable and politically fraught issue would be the stupid thing to do. It’s an issue we women deal with every time we travel. After all, had this woman been killed, somebody somewhere would be writing about how she partied hard at the all inclusive and was last seen getting into an unmarked van with a local…. and her judgement would have been questioned there too.

  61. I voted yes, but not for the reasons you cite.  I’ll accept that on the trip she was frightened, but only because she imagined what might happen.  If the van she got into had no curtains, people of another race, etc. she still could have gotten murdered.  Take it off as it’s all “what might have been,” not what did happen.  Her tone is out of line and just as you indicate many comments were also out of line.  In this case it’s more detrimental to you than to her to leave it up.

  62. It does lead to the question as to whether or not people are using their real names or just providing a fake name.  There’s always the chance that someone might create a fake email address and contact Chris with the intention of impersonating someone else and making that person sound like a cretin, a racist, or a total jerk. 

    I do remember seeing a couple of Disqus posts by someone using the handle “LisaSimmeone” using some rather foul language that I’m surprised wasn’t immediately filtered by the board software.  It appears that one was removed, but the other is still available.  For those who don’t know, a “Lisa Simeone” appears to be an occasional commentator on  I’m guessing this is the same person who was a former radio host of a nationally syndicated program who was in the news last year.  She would be a person terribly conscious of her image and not likely to use that kind of language in a public forum.

    What’s that expression?  “On the Internet nobody know’s you’re a dog.”,_nobody_knows_you're_a_dog

  63. It is nice to see what dumb travelers are out there today. I bet she could not speak Spanish and that is their primary language. Their may have been a breakdown and the driver did not have an ability to explain the problem in English; wwe again, do not know the WHOLE story. A person that is so scared about deat, rape, abduction, should never travel to another country! Dominican Republic is as safe an area as I have traveled with the friendliest locals in the islands. Their is nothing that they won’t do is asked. I needed washclothes and I could not translate – they eventually told me to ask for leetle towels. I think this person should go home and hide in her closet. It’s safer!

  64. I have already said my view on this earlier, but what is bothering me on her request is that her occupation is that of a social media consultant.  Here she tried to use her ‘skills’ and it backfired.  I am sure keeping this up also concerns her regarding the value of her expertise.  She tried to use social media to her advantage and lost.

  65. I think that this woman has some serious personal issues that she really needs to deal with and to stop blaming others for her problems.  That said it is my opinion that she needs to be more aware and not travel to places that are likely to make her nervous.  She asked Chris for help and got it.

  66. You need to be true to your values, Chris; deleting this story would open up a mess in the future and distract you from what you do so well.  If someone requests your help, they need to be cognizant of what you do, which is post information on the internet to inform, educate and entertain the travelling public.

  67. Her racial undertones didn’t come from you! If you had said them, I’d encourage you to delete and possibly restructure your post. You simply reported the story with the details as she told you, right? You were doing your job. Don’t worry about it. I think I can speak for most of your faithful readers that we know you’re not a racist. 🙂 

  68. Spike the nasty comments, but the story is out there already.  It’s better to get ahead of a problem than stick your head in the sand. 

    I read the original story, and I thought she had some overblown concerns but I didn’t take it as racism.  I just thought she was oddly nervous and oddly passive – I mean, if I saw someone in a van I was concerned about being alone with, regardless of race, I wouldn’t get in.  Full stop.

  69. Best damage control is to apologize to all dark-skinned males and move on.
    You need real cajones to do that.

  70. Don’t remove the post.  AND if she had heard such “terrible” things about the area, why in heaven’s name would she want to go there on vacation and especially alone?  Sounds like her judgment isn’t all that good and maybe she should just stay home, where by the way, she will still be in danger of being robbed, raped, or killed.

  71. While I believe her referral to a “dark-skinned” man was inappropriate, would we be incensed if it had occurred in a Latin American country and she used the same description?  She told her story the way she felt.  Obviously she needs some sensitivity training.  I believe the individuals who responded aggressively (murdered???) should be deleted – that’s way overboard. 

    1. Agreed. I’m the cold hearted one of the bunch and even I wouldn’t go that far. 

      Still, I think if Blogger Rose wanted to tell her story, she could’ve just said, “There was an un-uniformed man driving and another man who made me feel uncomfortable sitting in the back.”

      Everyone who has traveled has had those moments of “Oooh, that guy/gal is giving me baaaad vibes. I’m gonna stay away.” The moment she used “dark skinned” as a descriptor, is the moment I had to call her out. 

      1. Not only did she make a rather “racial” remark but she also went on disparaging Expedia and the RIU Hotel for allowing such a situation to happen to any woman. What made her the spokesperson for any woman who is in a bus alone with a dark skinned man? Oh I forgot, the whole world revolves around her.

    2. Aren’t we all getting too serious about this?
      The title of the story was “I could have been murdered”. Her words.
      Well some reader just responded and said “Yeah, you should, you i*iot”. That’s the kind of talk you hear in the school hallways and office break rooms.

      Cud, shud, wud … it rhymes. Just words in a text msg 🙂

  72. Perhaps you could have stated that the driver’s “appearance” concerned her. That carries the essence of her issue without introducing the race factor.

    Removing the name prohibits readers/responders here from doing research into her other posts when deciding what to post here.

    I think you’ve handled this properly, having spoken with her, plus your FAQ, and also removing offfensive posts and blacklisting.

    All that said, I’d much rather see you delete the “story” about giving up seats for families flying together. The discussions there degraded rapdily. I agree that all responders should “be better” than that. It’s healthy to comment and even disagree as long as we do so with tact and a measure of professionalism.

  73. No. Do not delete the post. If she couldn’t be bothered to think about the possible repercussions of her language—fancy that, a dark-skinned person in a country that’s 19 degrees latitude north of the Equator—then that is her own personal burden to bear.

    Playing rules-lawyer after the fact (“I didn’t give you permission to use my full name”) is ridiculous, but it fits in well with the tone of her original letter.

  74. It seems to me that many of the snarky comments – including my own – were in part a reaction to something that I think is clear from her complaint – she does not seem to want to take responsibility for her decisions.  If she is indeed experiencing negative consequences because of her words, asking for removal of the story is tantamount to another attempt at avoiding responsibility for those consequences.  The out of line comment was handled. Everything else, IMO, is on her.  
    I think that blog posts can be pulled by the blog owner for any reason.  Readers can then choose to stop reading the blog if they don’t like how it’s being published or edited. Using journalism analogies, if this had been published in print media it could not be “deleted” if the publication had already been distributed.  All you could do is publish a correction or apology.  The part she objects to is the stuff she said and the reaction it got – so I don’t see where she is entitled to either a correction or an apology.  Following that, there is no reason to delete it.

  75. My only question is the same when I initially read the story the first time: did she feel unsafe because it was a “dark-skinned” man or was it because there was a man, period, in the vehicle? Some of us use descriptive words and some of us don’t when telling a story. I chose to believe it was because it was an unusual situation and she was unsettled, period. It also gave me food for thought as to how I would have reacted in the same situation so, for me, the story was instructive and I find it sad that we still jump to such conclusions.

  76. This woman came to you with her story. Your disclosure clearly states what you will be doing with the info you receive. If she didn’t know what it was she should have. People need to be accountable for their own actions/words and for her to come to you now is absurd.  Her complaint was frivolous, and HER choice of words is her own fault.  She needs to live with this story with her name being out on the internet. She brought this on herself. Even if you remove the story it’s still going to be out there.  Anything put on the net can’t ever truly be deleted.

  77. Chris, I read the story and felt that the woman was Way, Way, over-
    reacting.  I thought that the reason she traveled ALONE was she seemed like the sort of person that would not be a great travel companion. Having experience with that sort of person was why I traveled alone.  They are self-centered and so forth.  But, the story about her experience was interesting, but she “over-reacted.”  Was not MURDERED!!

  78. With apologies to Johnnie Cochran, “If the story is true, let Caiazzo stew.”

  79. This woman posted her story all over the internet using her full name.  Now she’s backtracking and trying to erase the evidence.  She seems to have deleted her comments on Allwomenstalk (which were linked in the original article) but you can still see her comments here:

    If Rose Caiazzo, of Rose Consulting in Jackson Hole, has a problem sharing a van with a “dark-colored man”, I think it’s important for her feelings to “spill over into her business and personal life”.  I would hate for her to have to spend any more time in the company of “dark-colored” men who might make her feel uncomfortable, and this will help “dark-colored” men (and anyone else who feels so inclined) stay far, far, far away.

    1.  “I appreciate
      your time in reading about my situation & allowing it to stay so
      Expedia can get a good look at what I’ll be posting all over the web
      every chance I get.”Be careful what you ask for; you just might get it.

  80. I don’t care about people being so sensitive that the slightest little thing becomes a cause celebre for all sorts of silliness.  People need to grow a pair because you know what – the world is damn dangerous place and people use words to describe their perception and fear – why is it everyone always finds the insult in everything in the world?  When I was  about 8 my grandfather told me not to worry about what other people think of me because they probably don’t.    It stuck with me and makes me realize that people do not intentionally use words to insult others- I simply do not understand that people are sitting out there looking for insults . . . 

    Getting back to the issue at hand – again – she was overly, over the top melodramatic – in hindsight.  There are many many tales out there where single women traveling along have been attacked, robbed, raped and worse in identical situations.  Sitting here in the safety of our homes we can look at her as being over the top melodramatic – basically because she could write about it. 

    The company that did this needs to recognize that crime does happen and that if it is using its good name to sell vacations it needs to make the effort to ensure that people feel safe. 

    That said – the OP here went waaaaay over the top in her insane rantings – if she made a simple point instead of plastering the internet with her fear and trying to make the company look bad intentionally and trying to strong arm them into doing what she wanted – I’d say she’d make a more intelligent point and generate more and not less sympathy. 

    Did she choose the wrong words?  Yes. 

    Should Chris try to help – this is Chris’ job and his blog – he is a big boy and  can make his own choices.

    It would be WRONG to take down the post – if people are offended get over it.  

  81. I voted “yes” because it’s just too much darn trouble!  Plenty of other experiences out there to post as “cautionary”, no?  Personally, when I read the original post, it didn’t feel right, not the usual “problem” you help people with.  Forget about it!

  82. What this woman wrote should stay.  She paints a picture of herself in her comments.  Le each person reading it make up his/her own mind.

  83. Yes, you’re a consumer advocate, but you’re also a journalist.  If you let someone push you to delete a piece you wrote, because of how it might makes them look, then your journalistic integrity would be hurt.  Leave it up.

  84. Chris, I don’t think you should delete.

    She was spreading her story far and wide before she contacted you. Complete with her full name. The only reason she wants the story deleted here is because she can’t delete it like she has elsewhere. She wasn’t expecting the backlash she received when she posted her story. I truly believe she thought that she would get scads of sympathy and when she didn’t, she got upset.

    I do have some sympathy for her. As a single woman that frequently travels alone, I am always aware of my surroundings-no matter where I go. Even if it is a trip to Seattle for a ball game. I don’t make the automatic assumption that every man is out to attack me. But I also don’t trust any of them either. It’s a “treat every man with a great deal of caution and deal with each situation as it arises.” But it is every man, not some men, based on the color of their skin.

     I really got the feeling based on her comments and other posts that she is racist-if even subconsciously racist. It’s not something people want to admit but when you write about going to a place like the DR and “I had heard about many problems the country has with rapes, muggings and
    overall bad things happening with tourists visiting the area,” and then going on to talk about the dark-skinned man sitting inside the van. Her expectations clearly were that she was probably going to be a victim of a rape or other crime. I don’t blame her for being leery of the situation but it seems pretty clear to me that in part, her reactions to the situation are racially based.

    And where I lose complete sympathy for her is her over the top insistence in getting a full refund for the vacation. And demanding that you delete your post. She is the one that said the words that got posted. You didn’t put the words in her mouth. If she can’t handle the harsh criticism that comes with what she says then maybe the next she starts flinging words all over the internet. she might think twice about what she is saying. You know, that is one of the great things about the internet. When we post blogs/comments, we can take the time to consider what we say. Read our words over, take measure of what we said and make changes. (and spell check *g*) So the words you may blurt out in the heat of the moment can actually be taken back before they get posted.

    And if you don’t? Guess what. There is this little thing called an apology. Not a fauxpology btw. A “I’m sorry I said “XYZ. I realize it was poorly worded and I offended people and I am sorry.” Not the fauxpology of “I’m sorry if you were offended.” or “I didn’t mean to offend you but…” It takes a real adult to apologize.

  85. Chris, you have behaved honestly and honorably. Don’t delete the post. She didn’t ask for anonymity; therefore, you were under no obligation to provide it. You were right, of course, to delete inflammatory comments.

    I understand her fear in that situation, and I doubt it had anything to do with whether the guy was “dark-skinned” or not. Regardless, you’re right that that qualifier detracted from the point of her complaint, and many of the commenters seemed unable to get past it. C’est la vie.

  86. Chris, you should not only NOT delete this story but you should also make it an example of an UNREASONABLE demand. Rose Caiazzo complains that Expedia and/or the Hotel (RIU) may be placing women (like her) in danger by putting them on a bus alone with a man (a dark-skinned one).

    Please note that Expedia gives one a choice of airport transfer (see pic). Since she paid $31, then she obviously chose Shared Puerto Plata Airport Shuttle Transfer by Blue Travel Partner Services . If she wanted to travel alone without another passenger, then she could have chosen a Private Puerto Plata Airport Transfer for $81.25 each way (instead of $15.50).She paid $15.50 for SHARED bus service (each way). There is a chance she could be traveling alone with a dark-skinned man. She chose to travel cheap and she got what she paid for. There is ZERO justification for her complaint. IMO, the complaint is very unreasonable.

  87. Don’t delete as others said, Chris. Tell her to look at Charles Carreon’s current story with Matthew Imnan if she thinks she has it bad, and she’s in gooooooooooooooooooood company.

  88. I went back and read your original story, Chris, and most of the comments.

    I voted to delete the story partly because so many of the comments to the original story (as opposed to this one about deleting it) were rather abusive and off-point, but mostly because the traveler’s complaint against the hotel and the booking service didn’t seem well taken.

    While the incident with the van transfer apparently made her quite apprehensive, what could the hotel have done to prevent the situation from happening?

    Should the hotel have asked her to approve the driver of or the passengers riding in the second van? Should it have provided her with a car and driver (of her choosing) instead of sending her to the airport in a van?

    And was the driver of the first van “dark-skinned”? What about the driver (and passengers) in the van that picked her up on arrival on the island? 

    If the hotel and Expedia weren’t at fault, why mediate her dispute over the compensation she demanded?

    As reporter1035 said, in hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have run the story myself, and if I thought it was a mistake to publish it, I would have deleted it. 

    But I wouldn’t lose any sleep over the decisions you made regarding this story, Chris. Keep up the good work.

  89. @reporter1035:disqus  The woman was transferred (apparently without any explanation?) to another van, and there was only one other lone male passenger – and curtains on the windows?  eeeks.  That was the real issue, and I can tell you that as a woman, had I been traveling alone in that situation, I’d have been nervous, too. 

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