What does the Wild Thing really mean?

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By Christopher Elliott

This is the Wild Thing. It’s a fun, practical luggage ID made by our friends at Pomchies right here in my home state of Arizona. I’ve given away this frilly fabric accessory, called a Pom ID, to supporters of my website for the last few years.

There’s no better way to start our winter fundraiser by talking about symbolism. What does it mean when you see other travelers with Wild Things on their luggage?

A keen sense of fashion? Perhaps. Outside-the-box thinking? Probably.

Then again, they might have participated in our winter fundraiser to support the unflinching, groundbreaking consumer advocacy we do here every hour of every day. Maybe they are silently helping to make customer service better by funding a site that helps everyone, regardless of their circumstances.

That’s us

By the way, before I forget, I have a box of Wild Things right here and I’m giving them to random new supporters. Here’s how to get one now.

But back to the meaning of the Wild Thing. When I see a Pom ID on someone’s bag, I want to thank them. Because it means they stand for what’s right: honesty, fairness and respect.

It means that, like you, they believe that the price a company displays should be the price its customers pay. It means they believe customers have the right to know what’s included — and not included — when an offer is initially made.

A Pom ID also means they stand for fairness. They won’t put up with incomprehensible one-sided contracts drafted by expensive lawyers. Terms and conditions must be written in plain English and they should apply equally to a customer and a company.

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.

And finally, seeing a Pom ID means a consumer believes in respect — that companies should treat their customers as they would want to be treated. They believe there’s no excuse for bad service.

Respect goes two ways

Customers should also be held to a high standard, and should never take advantage of a company, even when the business is unethical or avaricious. They have an obligation to educate themselves to the best of their ability before they buy.

Alternatively, they also give the system a chance before complaining. They believe that by working within the system, responsible consumers can ask for and receive a just and fair resolution to any service problem.

Enlightened customers also treat employees as they would want to be treated. Selfish and entitled consumers poison the marketplace, driving up prices and tempting companies to adopt customer-hostile policies.

This balanced approach to advocacy is practically unheard of in the consumer world, and especially in the blogosphere. You don’t have to look far to find an online forum or blog network of entitled consumers trying to manipulate the system to their advantage. They misuse coupons, gift cards and book fare errors without remorse.

That is not us

And that is not what the Wild Thing stands for. (Related: It’s been a wild year for travel. What’s ahead for 2018?)

The Wild Thing stands for consumer empowerment. We only want what businesses have promised us, both explicitly and implicitly. We expect a good product at a fair price. No “gotchas” in the fine print, no ridiculous restrictions, no “we get to keep all your money now.” (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problem.)

If you believe in these things, please consider supporting this site now by becoming an underwriter during our winter fundraiser.

Stand with me — with all of us — to support these important principles. We have a long road ahead to fund this consumer advocacy site for the first half of 2018. We’re trying to raise $30,000 in the coming weeks.

I hope you’ll help us make everything groovy.

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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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