We are not afraid

Consumer advocacy is not for the timid.

Every day, the advocates on this site are threatened, criticized and attacked.

In fact, as I write this, I’m laughing off the latest assault from a popular frequent flier site whose members think our advocacy is a “waste of space” that they claim they never read. In the same breath, they complain that our moderators won’t approve their hate-filled comments.

Contradict yourselves much?

Just yesterday, the subject of one of our articles threatened to take us to court unless we immediately removed a story about her, as well as the related social media posts. She accuses us of violating U.S. privacy laws.

Funny thing is, she isn’t mentioned anywhere in the story. Instead, we posted a link to a publicly available document — which I’m pretty sure she herself posted. So, in effect, she was violating her own rights.

Duh.

And not a day goes by that consumers don’t turn their rhetorical guns on us, the very people trying to help them. “Your customer service sucks,” one wrote to us this morning. But we are not here to serve; we’re here to help get service.

Every day, it seems someone tries to fill us with fear, whether it’s a nasty internet troll or a litigious socialite. And every day, the advocacy team that works here must say “no.”

No, we refuse to be afraid of offending the industry apologists and hackers who bottom-feed on fare errors and who unethically churn their credit cards. No, we will not back down when someone who can afford a lawyer threatens us with legal action.

Related story:   These travel agents go above and beyond the call of duty

So what do we do?

Well, we know that living in fear can have long-term health consequences. I don’t want that for me or for my advocacy team. That’s no way to live. But that’s exactly what the bad guys want — they want us to be timid, fearful and tentative in our dealings with the industry.

We won’t.

At a time like this, we can only focus on the mission, which is clear: The real enemy isn’t in front of us in the trenches, but deep behind the lines, puffing on a cigar in the bunker. The real enemy isn’t a person or a company — it’s an idea that the customer is nothing more than a walking dollar sign; that as long as something is legal, it’s also right; and that customers who aren’t careful deserve to be duped.

We stand opposed to those ideas.

We think corporate America should have symbiotic relationships with customers, not parasitic ones. We think that just because you can write conditions into a contract and get a customer to agree to it by clicking an “accept” button, that doesn’t also make it morally right.

And finally, we don’t think anyone deserves to be duped by fine print, whether it’s an adhesion contract or just a garden-variety agreement written to strongly favor a business.

And no, we will not be afraid of standing up for those principles. We refuse to allow the angry rhetoric and threats to keep us from saving the world, one customer at a time.

If anyone should be afraid, it’s the bad guys.

Related story:   Looking for faster customer service from your airline? Flash your card

Yeah, you know who you are. We are coming for you.

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.

%d bloggers like this:
Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.