It’s time to take a stand

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By Christopher Elliott

Is your name on this list? It’s a list of the individuals who have supported this site this year. If you’re on it, you’ve already taken a stand, and I’m very grateful for that.

If it isn’t, I hope you’ll consider adding your name.

Please take a stand. Today. Right now.

Standing up for a cause you believe in is more important than ever. We live in a time when too many people are sitting around waiting for the world to change. But it won’t change without your involvement, and without your help.

The spring fundraiser for your favorite consumer advocacy site is past the halfway point. We’ve given away lots of compelling premiums, including Pomchies accessories and SCOTTeVEST apparel. We’ve raised more than half the money we need to continue operating the site.

Are you ready to take a stand?

In more than 25 years of advocating for consumers, I can’t remember a time like this. In the name of promoting “free enterprise,” the government is quickly removing the few, hard-fought rights we’ve won.

Exaggerating the scope of this crisis is difficult. Whether it’s the do-nothing Department of Transportation or the feckless Federal Trade Commission, or a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau being torn down before our eyes, consumers have been left vulnerable and exposed.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m a big fan of free enterprise, and I’ve seen the damaging effects of overregulation. But what’s happening now is morally wrong.

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At the DOT, for example, enforcement actions against airlines were down 50 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year. That gives airlines a license to operate with impunity. They can drag you off a plane, deny you boarding compensation, or thumb their noses at consumer protection regulations. And they are.

This is one of the last remaining organizations that will hold businesses accountable.

Are you with me?

What happens if you don’t take a stand?

Maybe you’re still sitting on the sidelines, reluctant to stand up and be counted. Maybe this is what you voted for, and you see the deletion of our consumer rights as another swamp-draining exercise.

It isn’t.

I watch the cases coming in every day — real problems from real consumers of all persuasions — and they tell a different story. You read the stories on this site, and you know it, too. The corporate negligence is stunning. Companies believe that no one will stop them. They’re counting on it.

Another thing they’re counting on: your inaction. They’re sure that some of you reading this right now will say to yourself, “This kind of deregulation is good for business. This is the free market at its best.”

And by dividing consumers, greedy corporations win.

You can’t let that happen. Don’t allow them to slap a convenient label on you and your beliefs, and in doing so make you turn away from one of the few consumer organizations that will stand up for you. We are all in this together. Please remember that.

If you do nothing, and if we don’t raise the money we need to keep this site operating, failure is inevitable.

What we’re doing to take a stand

Since becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, my staff and I have met many times to discuss the future. We’d already made some painful decisions, such as removing all the banner advertisements, an expensive but necessary step.

But it’s now clear that the road ahead will be even more difficult. The amount of money required to have a professional paid staff is enormous. We’ll need to pursue foundation grants and talk with forward-looking companies about increasing their support levels. But our biggest single donor has always been you.

I know what we can become if you take a stand. This organization has the potential to empower all consumers with the information they need to help themselves. And it can advocate for those who can’t. We can do that on a national, if not a global, scale — starting right now. (Related: What would happen if Elliott Advocacy fails?)

I’ve already made sacrifices. Turning my personal site into a nonprofit organization has come at a great expense. While other bloggers are raking in millions of dollars a year from advertising and affiliate agreements, my income has dropped with ad revenues disappearing and a shift to becoming a nonprofit. (Here’s what you need to know about travel in the fall.)

My team of volunteers has also donated its time to this cause — to ensuring our database of customer service contacts are up-to-date, to mediating your consumer dispute, or to answering your consumer question in the forums.

Now, during the most difficult part of our fundraiser, it’s time for you to step up. Please consider becoming a financial supporter of this consumer advocacy organization.

We can’t do this without you. I can’t do this without you.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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