In a topsy-turvy May, more really is more

Sometimes, more is more.

That’s the takeaway from May’s complaint numbers and traffic statistics.

The airline industry — in particular, American and United — landed even more reader complaints, which meant more work for our advocacy team. It also resulted in more posts and cautionary tales about how to be a better consumer.

But as this site deleted its ads and received approval to become a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization during this tumultuous month, we also became more. (More on that in a moment.)

Every month, I report cases and traffic to you. Individual donors are the single biggest source of funding for this site. I answer to you.

Here’s how we did last month:

  • Traffic continued to grow. Our biggest jump was in our number of users, which increased 7 percent to 288,354. Sessions gained 5 percent to 422,740, and pageviews edged up 4 percent to 789,736, compared to last year. Our daily newsletter now reaches 22,224 subscribers, an increase of 133 readers from last month.
  • We saw a dramatic uptick in cases. We had 365 formal grievances in May, up 24 percent from last month and 39 percent from a year ago. American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines had the most complaints.
  • Our spring fundraiser started May 21. We’re trying to raise $30,000 to keep the lights on. So far, we’ve raised $6,635.
Winners and sinners for May

Here’s a breakdown of our cases for the month:

 

June 2018 Consumer Complaints
Rank Top 25 Companies Total Complaints Percent
1 American Airlines 30 8.22%
2 United Airlines 19 5.21%
3 Delta Air Lines 11 3.01%
4 Spirit Airlines 8 2.19%
5 Southwest Airlines 7 1.92%
6 Expedia 6 1.64%
7 Hertz Rent a Car 6 1.64%
8 Alitalia 5 1.37%
9 British Airways 5 1.37%
10 Sears Holdings 5 1.37%
11 Air Berlin 4 1.10%
12 Airbnb 4 1.10%
13 Alaska Airlines 4 1.10%
14 Carnival 4 1.10%
15 Hotels.com (Expedia) 4 1.10%
16 LG Electronics 4 1.10%
17 Orbitz (Expedia) 4 1.10%
18 AT&T 3 0.82%
19 Amazon.com 3 0.82%
20 Budget Car Rental (Avis) 3 0.82%
21 CheapOair (Fareportal) 3 0.82%
22 DirecTV (AT&T) 3 0.82%
23 Enterprise Rent-A-Car 3 0.82%
24 Groupon 3 0.82%
25 Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) 3 0.82%
Total Cases: 365
Last Month: 295
Percent Difference: 23.7%
Total Cases June 2016: 263
Percent Difference Year Ago: 38.78%
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Let’s take a quick look at how we’re doing year-to-date:

Cases Year-to-Date
Rank Top 25 Companies Total Complaints Percent
1 American Airlines 213 9.27%
2 United Airlines 98 4.27%
3 Expedia 63 2.74%
4 Delta Air Lines 60 2.61%
5 Sears Holdings 49 2.13%
6 British Airways 38 1.65%
7 Hertz Rent a Car 38 1.65%
8 WOW Air 33 1.44%
9 American Express 32 1.39%
10 Enterprise Rent-A-Car 32 1.39%
11 TripMate 32 1.39%
12 Justfly.com 31 1.35%
13 Priceline 30 1.31%
14 Spirit Airlines 30 1.31%
15 Southwest Airlines 29 1.26%
16 Amazon.com 28 1.22%
17 Airbnb 27 1.18%
18 Turkish Airlines 27 1.18%
19 Air Canada 25 1.09%
20 Marriott 25 1.09%
21 Norwegian (Norwegian Air Shuttle) 25 1.09%
22 Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) 24 1.04%
23 Walmart 23 1.00%
24 Royal Caribbean (RCCL) 22 0.96%
25 CheapOair (Fareportal) 21 0.91%
Total Cases 1/1/2018-6/1/2018: 2,297
Total Cases 1/1/2017-6/1/2017: 1,522
Percent Difference: 50.92%

That’s some impressive growth. No wonder our advocacy team is burning the candle at both ends!

A few May surprises

We also had a few surprises last month. Let’s start with the good surprise: The Internal Revenue Service approved our application for tax-exempt status after just 10 days, which must be a record. I have a few details on what that means here.

This is the exciting next step in our journey to becoming a full-fledged consumer advocacy organization. But many obstacles remain.

All of which brings me to the not-so-good surprise. We suffered another denial-of-service related attack last week while we were having some IT work done. For several days, many of you couldn’t access the site. I’m sorry for that. Although the problem is fixed, our traffic suffered for a few days.

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Taking an advocacy site offline is exactly what our opposition wants. The corporate executives and their online reputation managers want to kill this organization before it has an opportunity to get off the launch pad.

If you haven’t already become a supporter during our spring fundraiser please consider doing so now. We need your help.

What’s next?

With the choppy waters of May out of the way, we’re looking forward to smooth sailing in June. But it will be busy. I’m looking at the incoming cases for the first few hours of the month, and yeah — our advocates will hardly have time to look up.

All the more reason to build a robust consumer advocacy organization that can handle more than 1,000 monthly cases, cover them editorially, and keep up with all the associated research and production requirements. Our work will never be done.

First things first, though. We need to reach our fundraising goal and then move on to fixing the world’s consumer problems. Our redesign is several months overdue, so that’s next. (Our current theme is built around commerce — as a nonprofit, it’s obsolete.) And there are many more things on the to-do list. Like I said, sometimes, more is more.

I’m glad you’re part of this adventure!

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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