What does “making it better for everyone” really mean?

It’s that time of year when everyone makes a resolution. Here’s ours.

And I really do mean ours instead of mine because this site, and this consumer advocacy project, has always been about you — not me.

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Our resolution for next year is simple: to make things better. Not just for airline passengers. Not just for travelers. To make things better for everyone.

I admit, I’ve taken a few detours along the way.

For example, I recently allied myself with a friend who started an airline passenger advocacy organization. That took us down a narrow path that limited our ability to help consumers.

Do airline passengers deserve advocacy? Oh, yes, and how. But so do consumers who drive rental cars, take cruises, buy refrigerators and use wireless devices.

Another unnecessary diversion: loyalty programs. For the last few years, I’ve allowed a few negative comments made on obscure mileage blogs — comments not even written by the site’s authors — to compromise my advocacy practice.

I’ve responded by criticizing an entire industry, sometimes unfairly. I shouldn’t have.

As a result, many readers of this site believe I’m not here for them.

“Your tone to frequent travelers can be harsh at times,” one longtime reader wrote to me recently. “Keep in mind that we are just trying to ease the discomforts of travel any way we can.”

I know. I used to be a frequent flier.

Another blogger recently called me a “frequent flier hater.” That affected me on two levels.

First, this was never meant to be a site about flying or loyalty programs. It’s a site about consumer advocacy. And second, how could I possibly “hate” anyone, let alone a frequent consumer?

But point taken. You deserve better.

Making it better for everyone means finding the issues that matter to all of us, not just a chosen few. I think there are better windmills to tilt at. For example, have you looked at your cell phone bill lately? Yeah, check it out. Page through your bank account statement while you’re at it.

What’s that fee for?

And when it comes to travel, do you realize that more than 90 percent of the trips we take are by car? Where are all their advocates?

Some of you will read this and say: “I knew it! You couldn’t hack it as a travel blogger and now you’re changing your focus.”

To you I say: Thank you for the comment. Thank you for visiting my site. But this never was a travel blog, and I’m sorry if I gave you the impression that it was.

So here’s what all this means, practically speaking:

The new company contacts section will feature a wider selection of corporations, from retail to electronics. Yes, we still have travel companies. But we don’t plan to make a big deal about them.

Our Thursday column, Problem Solved, will go into syndication in 2015 and become this site’s flagship feature, replacing The Travel Troubleshooter. No worries, the Troubleshooter will still appear on Friday, but PS is now our emphasis.

Our new forums will feature more general consumer discussion topics, slowly and permanently shifting the focus from travel.

Also, our customer service awards will begin to acknowledge all companies that do the right thing.

In 2015, my goal is to make this site your site for consumer advocacy. If you have a problem, come see us. We’ll try to fix it for you. And if we can’t, we’ll bring it to the attention of someone who can.

Happy New Year.

38 thoughts on “What does “making it better for everyone” really mean?

  1. I side with Chris about frequent flyer programs. Lately I don’t even bother to enter my numbers during booking. I rarely fly these days anyways. My friend is completely opposite. He flies an international flight every month and brags that he can write a book about SkyMiles. A book! Seems that’s the problem. You need to know a lot about it before you can benefit from it.
    But I like my HHonors card. It’s redeemable at least.
    Having said that, as a budget traveler, my trip nowadays is, I would say, 99% by car. I don’t mind to drive two whole days to get to a destination. So I’m looking forward to your articles in the new year.

  2. My copy of How to be the World’s Smartest Traveler came with me in my carry-on during my last trip. I read a good chunk of it leading up to the trip and kept it with me in case I got into some kind of jam. I felt a lot less nervous just having it in my bag than I have on most of my other trips. I’ve got a friend going on her first solo flight and her first flight to Europe soon. I know what I’m getting her as a gift before she goes.

  3. Glad to hear this. I was recommending someone refer an interesting problem to you but the rec was declined because he believed you only did travel. Being on Boarding Area also reinforces that. misperception. I suggest that at the top of every one of your pages there be a tagline saying something to the effect of “Consumer Advocate for …” and list your interests.

  4. Very gracious of you. I *was* going to write something snarky like, “In related news, it’s minus 1 Fahrenheit here”, but didn’t. 😀

    I echo @ajpeabody:disqus: you’re on BoardingArea, which sure looks like it’s hosting travel bloggers. You’ve got that nice red header that now stays fixed (and messed up Disqus on my other computer) underneath the BA fixed header. Throw a tag line in after “Elliott”, something like – “Consumer Advocate for all consumers”. Heck, have a contest and the winner gets a free book from you. Let’s get the word out to more folks!

    1. I agree that the BoardingArea affiliation makes shifting your focus problematic. If you read the “About Us” section of BoardingArea, it specifically says that it is a collection of frequent flyer blogs. Your clip on the bloggers page asks for trip-related problems. It’s like telling everyone you’re really purple but everything we see is blue.

    1. I started having problems Saturday, right around the same time as the red banner appeared. The site works fine on my home office computer, but not on my household computer. But every other site with Disqus works fine, so I’ve narrowed the problem down to this site. PsyGuy suggested that we use IE instead. Sorry, I love this site, but not enough to use IE.

        1. I have this sort of vague memory of you and another poster commenting about Chrome and Firefox not working with this site (which I verified) and IE being able to work instead. You did suggest to me to switch browsers. I probably conflated the two comments.

          Lunch is over – back to being productive!

      1. Since you mentioned fixing a glitch (and only since) …

        In Firefox, the first time I load this site the favicon is a gray “F” with a blue background. Subsequent loads change it back to your picture. In IE, it stays at the “F”.

  5. Best wishes for the New Year. I agree that most frequent flyers are deserving consumers often in need of an advocate. Most of the people on Flyertalk and Milepoint are good people there to help or get help. Only a few are gaming the system. I hope you discover ways to use them.

    Frequent travelers make fewer mistakes then others but being human still goof from time to time. Moreover since they spend more time traveling the odds are that they are more often victims of service provider screw-ups. Glad you will be there for them.

  6. Re: I recently allied myself with a friend who started an airline passenger advocacy organization . Did you mean frequent flyer hacking site? I really do not expect to see credit card ads in a true consumer advocacy site.

  7. Best wishes for 2015, Chris … I find “your stuff” both educational and entertaining and am always pleased when you’re able to help someone who’s really been pushed around, whether it’s travel or other topics. Looking forward to the coming year!

  8. This is going to be interesting to see. Frequently I’ve felt that Elliott sees his audience only as the infrequent flyer (which, in fairness, is the majority of people) and stakes his positions only on their needs and experiences, getting rather dogmatic about it at times.

  9. Chris-Happy New Year to you and yours! This is great news as I used to feel somewhat left out of the loop as an infrequent traveler. For 2015-road trip(s) to visit remaining unvisited states in the lower 48-I’m taking you with me.:)

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