I sent these cases to the forums – did I make the right call?

Sometimes, advocating for someone can mean not advocating for someone.

What do I mean? Well, on any given day, we receive between a dozen and two dozen fresh requests for help.

These aren’t emails that can be answered quickly (I get many, many more queries than that). They’re full-fledged cases sent through our help form. If you haven’t filled it out yet, let me tell you it’s a fairly detailed intake process, so getting through it means you have a serious problem and need help.

And as my team and I review them, the first question we ask is: Does this need the personal touch or would it benefit from a more public airing?

In other words, should we send this case to our small group of advocates, or should we refer it to our help forums.

There are several benefits to posting a case on the forums:

  • It’s a public airing of a grievance, so other consumers can read about the problem and learn from it.
  • We have a team of dedicated experts available 24/7 to offer quick answers.
  • It’s a great place to get a second (or third) opinion about a grievance. You can also quickly find out if you have a valid case, because our valued forum experts are never shy about sharing their opinions.

But as any of our advocates will tell you, we sometimes send a case to the forums that we should have handled ourselves, or vice versa. Today, I wanted to share a few recent cases we sent to the forums. I’ll explain why we did so, and ask you to tell me if we made the right call.

Here’s an easy one from reader Jason Shi. He recently rented a car from Payless Car Rental and didn’t receive a receipt when he returned the vehicle. So he requested an invoice for his records. A week later, not a peep from Payless.

“I still have not received a receipt,” he says.

This didn’t rise to the level of an advocate-able case because there really wasn’t anything to advocate. Our forum advocates could help Shi find the name and email address of an executive, who could easily look into the invoice issue for him.

Why didn’t I contact Payless myself? I could have, but with so many cases arriving every day, you can’t fix everything.

Next case: Viviana Iglesias.

“Back in 2014, my husband, daughter and I had tickets to travel from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale,” she says. “Unfortunately my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. What a tragedy, with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. We couldn’t fly. I contacted Spirit Airlines, but they only gave us a month to use the tickets.”

Spirit Airlines. Sigh.

“My husband’s treatment went on for more than nine months. How could we fly? We lost our money. I know is kind of late but I didn’t know about your advocacy. If there is anything you could do for us, I’d appreciate it,” she adds.

This case is problematic on several levels. First, there’s the fact that it happened two years ago. Most of our cases have a statute of limitations, if for no other reason than companies don’t keep records going any further back. But yes, it’s also Spirit, which has a reputation for taking a hard line.

What’s more, our team felt that taking this to a public forum would be better. It’s a warning beacon for others who might consider booking one of Spirit’s highly-restrictive tickets. A difficult call, to be sure.

Next up: Mario Cohan.

“I’m trying to use my miles with LAN,” he says. “I have over 570,000 km accumulated.
For a trip from Miami to Sao Paulo, Brazil, I would be charged 70,000 km plus $995 in taxes. But if I want to buy that same ticket it will only cost $657, including taxes. I think this scam from this and other airlines should be stopped by a consumer protection agency.”

Miles. I mean, kilometers. Sigh.

I stay away from cases like this because I can’t offer any advice about loyalty programs beyond: “Stay away from them.” Oh, I know there are readers who fly all over the world for “free” in first class, and I’m happy for you. But I firmly believe we’d all be better off without these programs, so I abstain from commenting.

I’ll make an exception for Cohan. Of course the numbers don’t make any sense. Why would you offer an airline your miles plus pay $995 when you can pay $657 for the same ticket? Is it a scam? Hell, yeah!

But we send this to the forums because other readers need to know, and also because we do have real loyalty program experts who lurk in the forums and might be able to offer some advice about more efficient ways of burning up his useless frequent flier kilometers. And I’ll be spared another argument about the folly of frequent flier programs. Really, what’s the point?

When consumers are sent to the forum, they sometimes believe we’re telling them they don’t have a case. That’s not true. Our forum advocates know more than I do, particularly when it comes to travel issues, and they frequently resolve a problem that I wouldn’t have been able to. So the forums are sometimes the best chance to get a problem fixed.

It’s just a question of which cases should go there. And that’s never an easy decision.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

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.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

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.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

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.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

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

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

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.

Send this to a friend