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.
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.