Your secret weapon for better service? It’s in your pocket

By | September 30th, 2013

Photo courtesy Shutterstock
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

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If you want better customer service on your next trip — and who doesn’t? — then reach for your pocket. But don’t bother pulling out your platinum card to impress a ticket agent, or a crisp bill to tip your bellhop. Whip out your wireless device instead. I explain why in my latest National Geographic Traveler column.


When it comes to travel, is sharing good for you? If you’re talking about the $3.5 billion-a-year “sharing” economy, which turns consumers into travel providers, you’ll often hear a “no.” That’s incorrect. I’ll tell you why in my USA Today column.


Thanks for the annoyance? You’re welcome!
Is there something about travel that others find annoying, but you think is actually great. For example, no one likes the TSA’s liquids and gel rule, but darn, they taught us how to pack light, didn’t they? I’m looking for other things that people complain about, but that you secretly think are awesome. Please send me an email. As always, don’t forget include your full name, city and occupation.

Ever been cut off?
She didn’t have to say anything. And she didn’t, because she couldn’t. The Internet connection at her parents’ house in a remote part of the Catskill Mountains was moving slower than lava down Kīlauea — which is to say, very slowly. Have you ever been separated by technology? Share your story on our family travel blog.

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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.


3 ways not to make a consumer complaint
Ever want to see how customers screw up? Then spend a few hours looking over the shoulder of a consumer advocate. Watch the emails come in — and learn. See more on my post.

When to bend a rule — and when to break it
Rules are meant to be broken, right? Well, you might be forgiven for thinking so if you’re a regular reader of my work. Sometimes they are. Here are the details.

I know what you sent me this summer
You’ll never believe it, but I’ve managed to sift through all of the June and July emails this weekend. And I haven’t thrown my laptop out the window yet. But maybe I should.

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The unsettling truth about travel insurance
CSA Travel Protection’s Web site promises that its policyholders can “travel with confidence,” so when Norma Tarrow’s flight from New York to San Francisco was canceled after the recent Asiana Airlines crash landing, she felt protected, she says. But she wasn’t, at least not in the way she thought.

My ticket credit is gone — can you help me get it back?
Velta Mahon’s airline ticket credit is gone and she says it’s Hotwire’s fault. Is there any hope of a refund? Find out.

I’m done playing phone games with HP
Lisa Bernstein’s HP printer cartridge doesn’t work — and apparently, neither do the company’s phones. How can she get HP to honor its warranty? See what happens.


Well, I made it back to Orlando after a whirlwind tour of Galveston, Houston and DC. But my bags are staying packed — we are off to Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to experience a real Western fall. And we have a special treat for the kids — and you — at the end of it. It’s worth the wait.

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