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Priceline guests get a bad rap? How to fix?

Priceline guests get a bad rap? How to fix?

Old Apr 6, 10, 6:47 am
  #61  
 
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Jackal: As a responsible customer at hospitality businesses, I could hardly imagine what some people do. And I can see how bad the problem is.

This will seem really extreme, but maybe the day has to come when only people with above average credit scores get to put at risk the highly-valuable assets of hospitality businesses. A customer with an above average score is NOT likely to trash your assets or check out without payment. That's why employers look at credit histories. I see no reason why reckless people are entitled to rent cars or expensive lodgings. Maybe when they can't, it will be a wakeup call.

Still, I have to admit if there was any practical way to keep those people away, the hospitality industry surely would have implemented it already.
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:10 am
  #62  
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Originally Posted by lo2e View Post
Sorry to take this thread slightly OT, but this post strikes me as extremely ignorant... what data do you have to suggest any of the above? Or is it just a blind assumption?

I have debit cards because I want to use real money and not credit, and ditto for many other people I know. That's my choice and the choice of a lot of others. And what exactly is the relationship between having a debit card and living paycheck-to-paycheck? Again, myself and lots of others I know don't fit into that category.

And yes, I have one credit card that I ONLY use at hotel check-ins (hardly ever pay anything for incidentals) and to secure car rentals (pay at the end with my debit card).
I definitely do not intend to be ignorant. And I definitely understand there are many people who are in your situation--who see no reason to bother with the world of consumer debt and simply choose to pay, as you say, with real money.

Unfortunately, however, my experience is that you are in the minority. I did mention there were exceptions such as you. I do not have hard data to present, but I can offer countless anecdotes from my years of experience in front-line customer service (think: overdue cars later found hidden in garages, cars recovered with bashed in windows and empty fuel tanks, cars recovered by the police in towns 50 miles away after being missing for weeks--95% of these experiences involve customers renting with debit cards), and I can say that there is a reason why most hotels and rental car agencies have implemented very strict requirements for accepting debit cards.

Credit cards serve as a very convenient, cheap barometer of someone's risk, since the banks do all the hard work of qualifying. If someone has a credit card, he or she tends to be less risky. If he or she only has a debit card, that person tends to be riskier.

As a customer service and in recognition that there are some people in the same boat as you, the company I work for does accept debit card-only customers. However, we require a flight itinerary (which establishes you are from out of town and have a fairly firm commitment to return the vehicle to us) and charge an extra deposit of several hundred dollars (which establishes you do not live paycheck-to-paycheck and therefore are not a large financial risk). If you meet those criteria, then you are quite welcome to rent a car from us. By your own argument, using these screening methods should be quite fair, since they present no problem to people such as yourself and help us to screen out those who would be a risk.

And actually, you yourself are not a true exception to my quoted post, since you admit that you actually do have a credit card that you use for hotels and rental cars, so your argument does not apply to yourself.

Originally Posted by LuvAirFrance View Post
Jackal: As a responsible customer at hospitality businesses, I could hardly imagine what some people do. And I can see how bad the problem is.

This will seem really extreme, but maybe the day has to come when only people with above average credit scores get to put at risk the highly-valuable assets of hospitality businesses. A customer with an above average score is NOT likely to trash your assets or check out without payment. That's why employers look at credit histories. I see no reason why reckless people are entitled to rent cars or expensive lodgings. Maybe when they can't, it will be a wakeup call.

Still, I have to admit if there was any practical way to keep those people away, the hospitality industry surely would have implemented it already.
While it's not completely foolproof, there is a practical way that is already implemented and has already been discussed at length above: establish some financial criteria the customer has to meet before taking possession of the asset. For credit cards, it's an extra authorization for incidentals or security. For debit cards, it's an [often significant] extra deposit as well as some additional requirements such as flight itineraries--or even a credit score analysis (common at some rental agencies). For other agencies who do not want to mess with checking peoples' credit scores (something that can be expensive for the rental car agency and can hurt the credit score of the customer--it shows up as a hard inquiry), simply restricting debit card usage is a reasonable way to reduce risk.

As a manager, I have come to realize my roll is equally geared to providing excellent customer service as well as serving as a loan officer. Just as a bank would not loan $25,000 to a customer who only makes minimum wage, has no credit history, and has no tangible assets to hold as collateral, I do not really feel comfortable loaning a $25,000 vehicle to that same person. Frankly, if you do not have a flight itinerary, cannot hold a $500 deposit on your debit card, or even have a credit card but strike me as somewhat shady, I don't want your business. After years of honing my risk radar, I do not think that is an unreasonable position to take.

(Knock on wood, we've had every missing car eventually returned to us, but the amount of money we've lost on damage, fuel, lost rental revenue, employee time, and the like is not an insignificant total.)
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:22 am
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Maybe accept a debit card with a significant cash deposit? The obvious disadvantage is the impact on business. But, WTH, trashed or dumped cars and hotel rooms have a chilling effect on the bottom line, too. I remember at the beginning of my credit record, I couldnt rent a car with cash at ALL. They demanded a credit card. My circumvention was to go to a rental agency owned by Sears and charge it on my Sears card. I guess maybe that way they had a quick way to prove I was a reasonable risk. Whatever. It got me the card. But it also was my motive to pursue my first Visa card which I got from my employer at the time. Again, the card issuer had access to info most Visa (actually this is a long time ago and it was, get this, a Bankamericard) could only gather more expensively.

Fact was I didn't really have a credit record. And debit cards were yet to be invented. But I've never abused credit, so I guess justice triumphed.
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Old Apr 6, 10, 7:39 am
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Originally Posted by LuvAirFrance View Post
Maybe accept a debit card with a significant cash deposit?
Cash deposits in conjunction with a debit card are immaterial. If you're going to require a deposit, put it on the debit card and forget the cash. Cash has no advantage over debit cards (since it all comes from the same place anyway--the person's bank account), and it has significant disadvantages: you can't go back and get more of it without the customer bringing it to you, you have to track it and make sure you give it back to the right customer, you have to worry about counterfeit bills, and all sorts of other problems. (I've never understood why customers, when confronted with [and not meeting] our debit card criteria, always ask if we would accept a cash deposit instead. Cash is WORSE! Then again, I may rethink my position on that if someone is willing to hand over cash enough for the value of the car--$25,000, say--plus potential lost revenue. A suitcase with $30,000 might be OK for a cash deposit!)

I'm a bit surprised you're trying to invent methods that are worse for customers than the current ones and aren't any better for merchants! The current system of requiring an extra deposit or a credit score screening on debit card customers works about as well as any other easily-implementable system. Accepting a debit card no questions asked with no extra deposit or qualification is a recipe for disaster, but very few, if any, hospitality merchants do that. What most merchants do now is about the best balance between reasonable customer service for the customer and reasonable risk management for the rental agency.
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Old Apr 6, 10, 8:35 am
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Oh really? You think a landlord's gonna take a debit card for first and last month's rent? The point of a deposit is to give you some incentive to meet the terms that gets it returned. Somehow, I just don't see anything but hard cash sufficing.
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Old Apr 6, 10, 10:57 am
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Originally Posted by LuvAirFrance View Post
Oh really? You think a landlord's gonna take a debit card for first and last month's rent? The point of a deposit is to give you some incentive to meet the terms that gets it returned. Somehow, I just don't see anything but hard cash sufficing.
Yea, I see it from that way too.
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Old Apr 6, 10, 3:57 pm
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Originally Posted by LuvAirFrance View Post
Oh really? You think a landlord's gonna take a debit card for first and last month's rent? The point of a deposit is to give you some incentive to meet the terms that gets it returned. Somehow, I just don't see anything but hard cash sufficing.
He's not going to take a debit card NUMBER and call it good--but he WOULD (at least those landlords who take credit cards) actually CHARGE the first and last month's rent on the debit card!

That's what rental agencies do--they are CHARGING the deposit to the debit card! (Were you assuming they did not charge the deposit?)

Trust me, dealing with cash is painful. We actually don't even accept cash at all at our office.
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Old Apr 6, 10, 9:57 pm
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Well, as I said, if there was simple brilliant solution, hospitality managers would already be doing it. Apparently there isn't. Do Priceline clients use debit cards any more than people who book by other methods?
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Old Apr 7, 10, 12:15 am
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Trust me, dealing with cash is painful. We actually don't even accept cash at all at our office.
You don't trust me, why should I trust you? And you don't accept cash? Bizarre.

What a unpleasant world you must live in. Most people, you know, are honest, decent, and hardworking. Most of us return lost purses/wallets/children, correct the cashier when s/he gives excessive change, and pay our bills on time. We help old ladies (and gentlemen) across the street, smile to strangers, and obey the speed laws even when there's not a policeman in sight (e.g., it is good & proper to respect the neighborhood and their established speed limits).

You seem to choose to assume the worst about people. Solely on the basis of their acceptance of the price you yourself made available on Priceline. Not only offensive, but definitely not someone I'd want to do business with. Are you sure you don't work for a big bank? Sounds more like the mentality of those who unilaterally and unexpectedly triple the monthly payments of good and loyal credit customers, driving them into poverty or bankruptcy. "Give 'em a push and see if they'll fall over" attitude.

Some day I hope you are able to see the goodness in folks, accept kindnesses without suspicion, offer anonymous charity, and understand that cheerful and wholesome travelers can come from any "socieo-economic statum". When you start looking for the good things in people instead of the bad, the whole World will be a happier place for you.

1. Bad things happen. There are bad people.
2. Many more good things happen, and there are many more good people.
3. Don't burn the whole village just because someone took two portions of rice.
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Old Apr 7, 10, 8:15 am
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Originally Posted by LuvAirFrance View Post
Well, as I said, if there was simple brilliant solution, hospitality managers would already be doing it. Apparently there isn't. Do Priceline clients use debit cards any more than people who book by other methods?
I am totally confused. There IS a simple brilliant solution, and hospitality managers are already doing it. It's called doing additional screening on debit card customers! It's not foolproof, but it's about 95% of the way there!

Upthread, you were agreeing with me. Then you started proposing more draconian, less useful measures that even I find to be too harsh. And now you're actively contradicting me, yet you have no experience in my industry?

I really don't know how to respond to your posts when they're not consistent!

As for your question about Priceline and debit cards: I cannot speak to that, as I indicated upthread that our business does not deal with Priceline's Name Your Own Price program. I started out in this thread with some light speculation that I could indeed see the property manager's point that Priceline bookings could result in increased risk. That morphed into a discussion of how credit cards work, and finally into me explaining that, in my personal experience, debit card customers are indeed riskier, leading to the current phase of discussion. I did not, nor did I ever, claim to be an expert on the situation regarding Priceline.

Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post
You don't trust me, why should I trust you? And you don't accept cash? Bizarre.
When did I ever say I didn't trust you? I'm not making this a personal argument at all!

Trust me because I've established myself as a helpful, knowledgable, friendly, welcoming FlyerTalker--just look at my post history. (You don't need to go far; scroll up a bit and check out some of the posts I made in this thread in early March, or even simpler: take a look at the thread linked in my signature.) Trust me because I have given hours of my life free of charge to host random strangers I met on the Internet--FlyerTalkers--around the city of Anchorage, even taking off time from work to do so. Trust me because several people on these forums know me personally and can vouch that I am an honest, friendly, generous, giving, helpful person. And trust me because I have seven years of experience in front-line sales and front-line management. While I don't claim to have seen it all, I can attest that my perspective on this matter comes solely from personal experience.

As for cash: are you arguing that we are bad for not accepting cash deposits, or are you arguing that we are bad for not taking cash in our workplace? If the former, I have nothing to say, for you truly do not understand the concept of risk management. If the latter, then why should we accept cash when:

1) At least 999 out of 1,000 people would rather pay with their card (I only hear the request to pay with cash one or two times a month, and even then, they are virtually always fine with leaving it on their card)
2) Dealing with cash introduces risk of counterfeit bills and provides a temptation for employees to steal from their employer
3) Cash can get lost
4) There is no financial benefit to us to accepting cash (it does not bring in additional business that would otherwise accept risk)
5) The owners hold the management personally responsible for missing cash (i.e. if any cash goes missing, it comes out of my paycheck)

Given those criteria, again, why should we accept cash--especially when I'm personally on the hook for it?

And let me clarify: I did not say I don't trust people with only debit cards. While I think a credit card does show that at least one bank believes you to be responsible, I do not distrust people with only debit cards. I want to verify they are responsible, which is why I (and the entire rest of the rental industry) require some additional steps before accepting only a debit card. If you satisfy those criteria, then I am happy to take your business. Who I don't necessarily trust immediately are those who cannot fulfill those criteria. That is when my guard goes up. But if you do not have a credit card, I do not inherently distrust you.

Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post
What a unpleasant world you must live in. Most people, you know, are honest, decent, and hardworking. Most of us return lost purses/wallets/children, correct the cashier when s/he gives excessive change, and pay our bills on time. We help old ladies (and gentlemen) across the street, smile to strangers, and obey the speed laws even when there's not a policeman in sight (e.g., it is good & proper to respect the neighborhood and their established speed limits).

You seem to choose to assume the worst about people. Solely on the basis of their acceptance of the price you yourself made available on Priceline. Not only offensive, but definitely not someone I'd want to do business with. Are you sure you don't work for a big bank? Sounds more like the mentality of those who unilaterally and unexpectedly triple the monthly payments of good and loyal credit customers, driving them into poverty or bankruptcy. "Give 'em a push and see if they'll fall over" attitude.
I find it deeply insulting that you assume I do not support these actions. I return wallets without taking any cash from them. I correct the cashier when he or she gives me excessive change. I tip more than most people I know. I smile and nod and even say "How are you?" to strangers I walk by on the street (or hike by on the mountain). I pay my bills on time.

And I DEFINITELY do not assume the worst about people. Just ask any of my coworkers or friends (or even FlyerTalkers I know personally): NONE of them will say I do this. In fact, if anything, they will accuse me of constantly assuming the best of people, sometimes to my own detriment. It's a result of over the years having assumed the best about people and consistently getting burned that have made me adopt a realistic worldview towards customers: those who do not have credit cards (or who have maxed out cards that can't take a deposit for incidentals) are GENERALLY a high risk to my business. With proper qualification (a high deposit and a return flight itinerary), we've been able to provide customers the service of being able to use their debit cards while minimizing that risk (and *I* was the chief person arguing in favor of accepting debit cards--several others in our management simply wanted to deny them all, but I felt that was poor customer service to our many frequent renters from rural villages who tend to not have credit cards). Go try to rent from Avis here with your debit card. They'll flat out tell you "no." I dare you to say they are providing better customer service than we are.

Oh, and where did I ever say that we participate in Priceline's Name Your Own Price service? We don't. And I said so at the beginning of this thread.

You seem to have a thing against banks. I wouldn't argue the thought that owning a bank gives the owner a license to steal. But I bank with a local credit union. As a member in good standing with my local credit union, I think it is a good thing that the credit union's loan officers are protecting my assets by carefully screening people applying for loans. Would you argue that my credit union should put my money at risk by allowing people to borrow money whom they do not believe will be likely to pay the loan back? I hardly think that screening risky customers out is bad business. So for you to argue that me doing the same thing with my assets makes me a bad person and someone you would not want to do business with seems hypocritical.

Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post
Some day I hope you are able to see the goodness in folks, accept kindnesses without suspicion, offer anonymous charity, and understand that cheerful and wholesome travelers can come from any "socieo-economic statum". When you start looking for the good things in people instead of the bad, the whole World will be a happier place for you.

1. Bad things happen. There are bad people.
2. Many more good things happen, and there are many more good people.
3. Don't burn the whole village just because someone took two portions of rice.
I still see the goodness in people. I still make exceptions to our policies that have still bitten me in the end. Recently, I waived the requirement for a flight itinerary for a military wife who said she was moving up here by herself because her husband was deployed while they were being transferred. I reduced the extra deposit because she said the military had not yet processed the moving expenses disbursement to her. I worked out a way to let her have the car for three weeks even though she only had enough money to cover one week because she said her car was being shipped up, and I know from personal experience that can be subject to long delays. I went out of the way to take her personally to our off-airport location so she was not subject to airport taxes, helping to save her money. And I even split up her rental charges among multiple cards, because no single card had the money to cover the rental. Oh, and when she called and extended her rental and none of her cards approved the extension charges, I even violated our own policy and let her keep the car for two more days until her disbursement cleared, rather than immediately demanding the return of the vehicle. I trusted her, and I sympathized with her difficult situation of having to move herself and her kids without the support of her husband.

So, what happens? Two months goes by, and she is behind on payments and has stopped answering my phone calls. Her cards are all declining. We have no way to get in contact with her.

Fortunately, I remembered that she said she was staying on base until she figured out arrangements for living out in Wasilla, about an hour from our office. We contacted the Wasilla police to report the car stolen, and they were fortunately able to recover it that afternoon. To date, I don't think we're squared up on her bill yet.

Fortunately, we recovered our asset--a brand new $20,000 compact car--but we are still out of hundreds of dollars in real money, not to mention several hours of my and other managers' time and a tow bill to bring the car in from Wasilla to Anchorage. Oh, and she also told a bold-faced lie: she said she had told me that she was going to be closing the credit card we had on file for her but that I had told her we could still rent the car on it. The only thing she actually ever told me was that the military would be depositing more money on that card periodically so we should keep trying it.

Faced with that, would you do again what I did for this customer? I dare you to say yes. And I dare you to accuse me again of not seeing the goodness in folks. She was only one recent example. I have dozens of others. And even then, I probably am still likely to trust and believe the next person who comes along.

Unfortunately, I have business assets at risk to consider. My industry and the hotel industry have similar concerns: we are loaning out an asset that can be abused and can leave us on the hook for substantial costs. And unfortunately, it is an industry-wide established fact that people who do not have credit cards are, in general, riskier. That's why hotels and rental car agencies across the country have special screening criteria for people with debit cards. Whether it's running the customer's credit score, requiring a flight itinerary, requiring an additional deposit, or whatever, these criteria are in place as a customer service to help find alternatives to that assumption that debit card customers are risky!

So:

1. Bad things happen. A responsible business person should take reasonable precautions to prevent bad things from happening. Requiring a credit card, or requiring some extra screening for debit card customers, is entirely reasonable.
2. I find great satisfaction in the thousands of good customers whom I have dealt with, and I have been known to go above and beyond to take care of them or provide them with extra service beyond the call of duty. I cherish the friendships I have made with several regular customers, from school superintendents to anesthesiologists. I appreciate the numerous offers I have received to stay in touch, connect on LinkedIn, and potentially do business in the future. There are many good people. These many good people recognize the good in me.
3. We take the same precautions as everyone else in the industry because it is an industry-wide recognized risk that would be foolish, and expensive, to ignore. We are going above and beyond some other rental agencies who simply refuse to accept debit cards at all. If a customer does not have a credit card, with some verification that the customer has established he or she is responsible in other ways, we will rent to him or her. This is not burning down the whole village; it's installing fire-retardant insulation in all the buildings.

Last edited by jackal; Apr 9, 10 at 3:37 am
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Old Apr 7, 10, 12:25 pm
  #71  
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Originally Posted by LuvAirFrance View Post
Oh really? You think a landlord's gonna take a debit card for first and last month's rent? The point of a deposit is to give you some incentive to meet the terms that gets it returned. Somehow, I just don't see anything but hard cash sufficing.
There's a huge philosophical difference between a landlord and a rental car company. A landlord taking a debit card would be a moron.

Many business don't take cash deposits (and require credit card or debit card) because they don't want their employees dealing with cash or having to keep a cash balance on hand. Imagine if you have a $500 deposit. Multiply that by 50 renters - you now have to keep a bank of $25,000 on site for rental cars. Now imagine if there was a thief who knew that the rental car industry was keeping a bank of $25,000 on site - easy target, no? Then there's the potential of employee theft (happens in every industry).

Taking cash & having to do the paperwork to refund a cash deposit is not worth the hassle. The innkeeper/rental agency sets the boundaries of what risk/policy they want to operate with - if a customer doesn't want to abide by the operators policy, they're free to not use that operator.
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Old Apr 7, 10, 12:27 pm
  #72  
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Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post
What a unpleasant world you must live in. Most people, you know, are honest, decent, and hardworking. Most of us return lost purses/wallets/children, correct the cashier when s/he gives excessive change, and pay our bills on time. We help old ladies (and gentlemen) across the street, smile to strangers, and obey the speed laws even when there's not a policeman in sight (e.g., it is good & proper to respect the neighborhood and their established speed limits).
Clearly you don't live or work in Las Vegas like me.
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Old Apr 7, 10, 6:02 pm
  #73  
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Originally Posted by bhatnasx View Post
Clearly you don't live or work in Las Vegas like me.
He said that there were, in general, more good people than bad. He never said that there were more good people than bad in Las Vegas. Similarly, he was not talking about some Al Qaida cave on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, or some pirate base in Somalia or some coca plantation in Colombia - other places where assumptions of good folks outnumbering bad would clearly be unwarranted.
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Old Apr 7, 10, 7:58 pm
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Originally Posted by D1andonlyDman View Post
He said that there were, in general, more good people than bad. He never said that there were more good people than bad in Las Vegas. Similarly, he was not talking about some Al Qaida cave on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, or some pirate base in Somalia or some coca plantation in Colombia - other places where assumptions of good folks outnumbering bad would clearly be unwarranted.
What ethnocentric bilge. On what factual basis are you willing to diss the people of North Waziristan, Somalia, or Colombia (where peasants grew coca long before the Norteamericanos discovered blow). Once you start to label civilians who live in other countries as being Bad People, it becomes easier to rationalize machine-gunning them down from helicopters.
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Old Apr 7, 10, 8:11 pm
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Originally Posted by mbstone View Post
What ethnocentric bilge. On what factual basis are you willing to diss the people of North Waziristan, Somalia, or Colombia (where peasants grew coca long before the Norteamericanos discovered blow). Once you start to label civilians who live in other countries as being Bad People, it becomes easier to rationalize machine-gunning them down from helicopters.
I was not generalizing broadly about the civilians in those areas. I was referring specifically to the folks inside Al Qaida's caves, engaged in Piracy in Somalia, and who were currently growing coca. You could possibly excuse the coca growers, as following their heritage, but the others have undoubtedly made a conscious decision to engage in violent criminal enterprises that are not in any way, shape or form condoned as acceptable by even their own nations' governments.
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