You don’t tip enough!

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The shameful state of the salaries of restaurant workers, who often earn a poverty-level $2.13 an hour before gratuities, is a topic that’s hotter than the biscuits in Paula Deen’s kitchen these days. I’ll explain why in my USA Today column.


Angry about “junk” fees? Do you think you deserve a refund?
I’m working on a story about the latest and greatest “junk” fees imposed by the travel industry. Many of these were added with little or no disclosure. So here’s my question: Do you think that you deserve a refund for these fees, since many customers were surprised by them and often had no choice but to pay them? If so, which fees should be refunded? Here’s my email address. As always, don’t forget include your full name, city and occupation.

Have you ever run into trouble with a “legal” connection time?
Whether you’re traveling by bus, train or plane, you may be subject to a “legal” connection time. But what happens when that “legal” time isn’t enough, and you’re stranded in a terminal? I’m researching a story about missed connections and a travel company’s liability. I’d love to include your experience of running afoul of a “legal” connection. You know how to reach me.

Become a smarter traveler
Pre-order my new book, How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle). It’ll help you navigate the ins and outs of the travel industry and save lots of time and money. Details are right here. By the way, if you’re heading out somewhere on a trip and need help with something, I’d be happy to email you a draft of a chapter, whether you order the book or not.

Let’s talk!
The stories you see in this newsletter are just a starting point. I hope you’ll take a minute to leave a comment, whether you agree or disagree with something I’ve written. Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google. I’m listening. And of course, I’m also here if you need me. Here’s my email address.

Related story:   June 20, 2007


3 times a company should offer a refund – even if it doesn’t have to
Last week, when I suggested that consumers should sometimes apologize to a company, a few of you thought I had completely lost it. Read the rest in my latest post.

Should US Airways compensate me for a lodging error?
Ken Middleton and his girlfriend were flying back to the mainland after enjoying a vacation in Hawaii. At least, they were supposed to be. But their US Airways flight was canceled because of a mechanical problem and they were rebooked on a flight 24 hours later. Should I mediate this case?

Yes, I have a “do not mediate” list – here it is
The government maintains a “no fly” list. Car rental companies keep “do not rent” lists. Hotels sometimes blacklist guests. So it probably makes sense that your favorite consumer advocate has a “do not mediate” list. Here’s mine.

“The issue has been resolved”
I’ve combed through more than 10,000 emails trapped in a queue and responded to every one. Here’s what I’ve learned.

The government shutdown’s surprise effect on travelers
The government shutdown was supposed to be a non-event for travelers, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. Here’s what happened.

The real reason legacy airlines are awful
Because they can. That’s my conclusion after finishing the missing emails from April and May. America’s legacy airlines are awful because they can be awful, and because we let them. Here are a few details.

Using frequent flier miles to escape from New York
Felix Chan’s parents are stranded in New York after a storm. They can’t get back to Hong Kong because he used miles to pay for their ticket. Are they stuck? Find out.

Related story:   It's time to unmerge a few airlines


I’m in Jackson Hole, Wyo., today. The park is still closed — but there’s snow on the mountain. Is it too early to rent a pair of skis? I’ll have the answer soon.

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 Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • polexia_rogue

    i need to show the tipping article to certain family members. my mom, my dad, my sister and several uncle and aunts are of the VERY popular belief “don’t waiters get a share of the food profits?”
    (if that was true you would not have to tip at all.)

    also, NONE of my family members (even those who do tip well) of the believe the waiters make less then minimum wage. my sister even reads “Waiter Rant”- a blog, turned book about a WAITER- and she believes waiters make minimum wage PLUS tips.

    the public at large need to be educated on what servers actually make.

    this extends to food delivery; it annoyed me to no end when Pizza hut raised their “delivery fee” and people started saying “I guess I will be giving a smaller tip”–THE DELIVERY FEE DOES NOT GO TO THE DELIVERY MAN! YOU STILL NEED TO TIP LIKE A DECENT HUMANBEING

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