I’ve never told anyone these advocacy secrets

Here are some Elliott Advocacy secrets

The near-death experiences. The lawsuits we should have lost. The cases we won, even though we had no case.

I have stories to tell, and as our spring fundraiser gets under way, I’m going to tell them. The reason? I hope you’ll understand how fragile this site is — and how dependent it is on the support of readers like you. Simply put, I can’t do this without you.

Here’s how to become an underwriter now.

Left for dead

This is hard to talk about, but this site has been left for dead many times. Normally, it happens after there’s a change. For example, a few years ago, I decided to focus on what mattered — solving all types of consumer problems, not just travel problems.

I’d gathered a fine collection of travel columnists who loved writing about airlines, airline travel strategies, and frequent flier programs. When I told the team about our new direction, they abandoned the organization. Only one writer remained, and together we wrote every post on this site for many months.

That was a close one!

Our site has had near-death experiences for technical reasons, too. Hacks, denial-of-service attacks, malware — it’s all taken its toll. I remember having to shut the entire site down for a day while my developers rebuilt the server from scratch. I’ve never told anyone how close we came to losing everything.

The worst near-death experiences come from self-inflicted wounds. I’ve made a few major errors as a consumer reporter, mostly because I trusted others. I thought my reputation as an advocate was toast. I’m happy to say, I was wrong.

Lawsuits I should have lost

As you probably know, cease-and-desist letters from angry companies arrive in our inbox on a regular basis. I’ve also been sued. In one case, even though I thought I’d done nothing wrong, the company built a compelling case. Had it gone to court, I probably would have lost.

I normally don’t talk about pending litigation. To go into details would be embarrassing and might hurt my chances of prevailing in court. But I’m telling you now — I’ve almost lost the ranch a couple of times.

Consumer journalism is a high-wire act. It’s risky, and it’s easy to make a mistake. I wouldn’t recommend this profession to anyone. Become a sports writer or try politics, but leave the consumer advocacy alone unless you have nerves of steel and a backbone made of titanium. (I don’t, but I’m still here.)

So here’s my next secret: An unsympathetic judge could have shut me down many years ago, but that never happened. That’s one reason why I’ve formed an independent, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization — so that we’re protected from frivolous lawsuits or the actions of a single person. If I go down, the site stays up.

Your financial support will help build that organization. Here’s how to get involved now.

We shouldn’t have won these cases

And while I’m spilling the beans, here are a few more: Our advocacy team is incredibly lucky. Many of the complaints we receive should go directly to the “Case Dismissed” file. Of course, we don’t know that until we ask for the other side of the story. When we get all the facts, we may close the case. But the company a reader is complaining about doesn’t. Often, it fixes the problem anyway, as a “goodwill gesture.”

What percentage of our cases fall into the “never mind” category? On some days, it’s well over half. On others, it’s one or two.

In a perfectly just world, we shouldn’t be winning these cases. That’s when the commenters correctly note that we only prevailed because of the implied threat of writing a critical story.

I admit I wish I could change that. If someone comes to us with an unresolvable case, it should stay unresolved. But that’s not how it works. I’m lucky to have the power of the press behind me, but sometimes it helps too much.

Sometimes, I feel like that cockroach in the movie Wall-E — impossible to kill.

Come to think of it, isn’t that what you want in a consumer advocacy organization? A little escape artist, a lot of luck and a little too much success?

Now you know my secrets. By most measures, I shouldn’t still be here. But I am. We are. And now you can ensure we stay here by becoming an underwriter. I hope you’ll consider doing so now.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

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Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

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An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

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VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

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Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

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Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

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