Don’t you dare read this story!

They don’t want you to read this. They don’t want you to get involved. They want you to be ignorant.

“They” are the unscrupulous travel companies, the mean-spirited critics and the naysayers who would prefer a consumer advocacy website like this didn’t exist.

It would be easier that way — easier to fool you into believing that a “discount” fare was all you really had to pay. Easier to convince you the Wi-Fi in your hotel was “free” and that when you play the loyalty program game, you always win.

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But you know better.

Twice a year, I raise money to keep the lights on and pay the bills. It’s a necessary part of my advocacy practice. Public radio and TV have underwriters, and so do I.

I’d like you to become one of them. Here’s how.

For the first week of October, I’m announcing the premiums exclusively on Facebook exclusively. So please “like” my page and tune in at 8 a.m. EST Tuesday. I’m giving away some really amazing luggage.

You need reasons?

How about the daily coverage this site offers?

How about the countless cases I’ve personally mediated and written about in my flagship column, The Travel Troubleshooter? Just last week, I helped an airline passenger who was too sick to fly and needed to cancel his trip.

If there’s a story that’s affected consumers, chances are you read about it here first. is ground zero of the customer service revolution. I’m here for you every day, mediating disputes, advocating for consumers in real time.

The kind of advocacy that happens on this site and newsletter is easy to take for granted. But imagine what would happen if one day it disappears. Some of you might be OK with that, particularly those of you with insider connections or elite status. But infrequent travelers will have lost an influential friend.

They will have to accept whatever the company is willing to give them. Or not give them.

I’m replaceable, of course. I’ve been grooming a network of volunteers, training them to mediate disputes. Our new forums are that training ground, where these emerging advocates are practicing their trade.

What if all those voices had nowhere else to continue their training? That’s a thought that keeps me awake at night.

I would never ask you for something without also offering something in return. For this fundraiser, I’m privileged to work with companies which share my vision of consumer advocacy. They will be providing premiums for people who are willing to support the cause. The premiums include how-to books, luggage and devices that will improve your travel experience. I’ll have details soon.

I know what you’re thinking. If a company is part of this fundraiser, does that make it immune to my criticism or being a subject in one of my stories?

You know the answer. But I’ll say it, in case there are any doubts: The companies who support my work want the extra scrutiny of a consumer advocate. Not only do they expect it, they insist on it.

Now that’s what I call “vision.”

So, if you’ve ever learned something from your time on this site, please consider supporting this cause. You are the backbone of this organization, this collaboration of like-minded consumer advocates and friends. I want to see your name on the list of underwriters.

I’m reinvesting every penny I raise from this fundraiser back into the site and into the cause of advocating for you.

Please become a supporter today. The fundraiser will last through the end of the month and we have plenty of exciting premiums. We also have a special surprise premium I’ll be announcing in a few days, so stick around.

And let’s not let them win.