TSA watch: Is it “casual conversation” — or racial profiling?

A few minutes after Vance Gilbert’s recent flight from Boston to Washington pulled away from the gate, the aircraft made a U-turn and returned to the terminal. Authorities had a few questions for him before they could clear his flight for takeoff. What kind of book was he reading? And why hadn’t he stowed his fanny pack in the overhead bin, as a flight attendant had suggested?

Gilbert, a popular folk musician who lives in Arlington, Mass., has unwittingly become a poster boy for the TSA’s pilot behavior-detection program — a new screening technique that is almost certainly coming soon to an airport near you.

As it turns out, Gilbert had perfectly valid answers to both questions. An amateur aviation historian, he was studying a book about World War II-era Polish aircraft. The fanny pack contained his wallet, so he tucked it underneath the seat in front of him.

But Gilbert believes that he was singled out because he is “a 6-foot-tall, bespectacled, slightly graying, 52-year-old, 230-pound African American male with a close hair cut.” In other words, that he was the target of racial profiling.
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When customers attack: 5 videos you’ve gotta see

Bad customer service cuts both ways.

Companies can provoke their customers to do extraordinary things, from angrily confronting their employees to burning down a car dealership.

But sometimes, it doesn’t take much to set a consumer off.

Sometimes, they’re just having a bad day, and when they’re asked to wait or given a routine “no,” they snap.

Anyone who doubts there are bad customers should look no further than the data compiled by the National Retail Security Survey. American retail business, it found, lost $33.5 billion to what’s euphemistically called “shrinkage” last year – losses from shoplifting, internal theft and other types of criminal activity. But the news isn’t all bad: The number is down from $36.5 billion in 2008.

Which is why you need to watch these videos. They’re great examples of how not to behave when you’re a customer.
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Best Western offers free night after bedbug attack, but is it enough?

Patricia Lenhart’s husband woke up one recent morning covered in bug bites. Bedbug bites. He and his wife were guests at the Best Western Beach Dunes Inn in Marina, Calif., and when they mentioned the probable infestation, a woman at the front desk said the hotel “hadn’t had a problem” with bedbugs before.

Then they checked out TripAdvisor, and discovered that wasn’t true.

“I found two recent reviews complaining of bedbugs,” she says. “Both people state that they notified the front desk. One of them was over a month ago! Unfortunately, they were both posted after I made my reservation. I don’t have any faith that the hotel will follow through on their promise to fix this.”

I contacted Best Western on her behalf, and as you’ll see in a minute, it reacted quickly. Question is, did it do enough?
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