Should I turn down cases because of an entitled attitude?


It’s been a busy summer for travel complaints. A little too busy.

Even though I work with a small, dedicated team of volunteers, there are too many cases to handle. The complaints arrive in our collaborative mailbox faster than we can review them, let alone answer them.

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All of which brings me to someone who calls herself @Thefoodescort on Twitter – someone who claims to have asked my team for help several weeks ago. Her story is a reminder that public shaming isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to a customer service problem. Also, that you probably shouldn’t bite the hand that’s trying to help you.

By @Thefoodescort’s own account, we responded and asked to see a paper trail of correspondence between her and the company. That’s a standard reply. We don’t get involved until we have written evidence that a customer has tried to go through the system and failed.

And that’s it – until she tweeted me out one recent morning.

If you’re not on Twitter, here’s what you need to know before I play the tape. Twitter lets you send out short messages of 140 characters or less for anyone to see. It’s often a shortcut to getting better service from a company, since your tweets are public, and no company wants to be seen as ignoring its customers.

That includes consumer advocates, of course.

@Thefoodescort: “I got #badcustomerservice [email protected] #Travelers United [email protected] [email protected] offered to assist asked for docs, now ignores me.”

Bad customer service from me? Seriously? I asked her to share her email address and promised a quick answer, and added: “We’re overloaded with cases. We’re working as fast as we can.”

If @Thefoodescort were the average customer who took to Twitter for a little empowerment, then all would be fine. She’d send her coordinates. Problem solved.

But all wasn’t fine.

@Thefoodescort: “No excuse to not respond to request accordingly. Email takes 2 sec. Not tht busy if ur tweeting.”

I was a little taken aback by that answer. I was expecting an email address and was ready to find out why her case was delayed. So I decided to visit @Thefoodescort’s Twitter account.

It was an eye-opener.

The first thing I noticed was that @Thefoodescort goes to great lengths to protect her identity. She doesn’t list a name or any other details that might make it easy to find out who she is. That’s not unusual on Twitter, but most folks I know use their real name. What reason would they have to stay anonymous?

As I read her tweets, I understood why she might not want anyone to know her real name. Most of her tweets were fairly benign. But a few looked awfully familiar.

There she was, sending virtually the same tweets to other companies — accusing them of bad #customerservice — and trying to shame them publicly.

Did @Thefoodescort actually get bad service from those companies? Maybe, maybe not. Clearer to me: this was a pattern.

I have to admit, being shamed in this way feels a lot like Twitter terrorism. There’s no way to defend yourself when someone says you’ve given terrible service. Never mind that I’m not in the customer service business (I’m in the consumer advocacy business, actually).

She wasn’t done tweeting, either.

@Thefoodescort: “It’s so unprofessional to not respond to requests for status of complaint. Reached out to 3 [email protected] [email protected] nuthin ‘for weeks.”

Well, I can tell you what calling me out is going to get you: nuthin’.

@Thefoodescort is probably not used to being talked back to by someone in the “customer service” business. As far as I could tell, her callouts to corporations on Twitter got the attention of a lower-level representative, who offered only obsequious cookie-cutter responses.

But no one ever accused me of being obsequious.

Me: “Well, aren’t you a sweetie?”

Yeah, that’s an answer I reserve for the most toxic and demanding people, like the delusional airline publicist who threatened to phone my parents because he didn’t like my story.

You’re such a sweetie. Have a nice day.

Her response, delivered a week later: “@elliottdotorg [email protected] [email protected] So unprofessional. U’ve wasted my time for 2 months too many. Will find tru consumr advocate.”

And then a few days later: “If u’ve had #badcustomerservice like me from pls contact me. #RT #travel.”

I found out who @Thefoodescort is, because I learned my Google-Fu from you, dear readers, and it is that good. I personally closed her case, which we considered on this site just yesterday, permanently.

I don’t think anyone should reward her behavior. This kind of entitled, arrogant attitude is what gives all consumers a bad name. It already saturates the airline discussion groups and frequent flier blogs, and now it seems it’s extending its tendrils to Twitter.

I simply won’t tolerate it. No one should.

Should I turn down cases because of an entitled attitude?

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166 thoughts on “Should I turn down cases because of an entitled attitude?

  1. Good call. In fact, anyone who is rude to you at all should be automatically shut down. You’re providing a free service, which should be provided at your discretion.

    1. so true. I like to watch the TV customer advocates (the ones who get a little segment on whatever local news channel you watch) they go in with cameras and when it’s all over they get results.

      I always wonder- are they treated as badly as Chris?

      Do the local news stations get crazy letters asking “I want an update on my problem!” “why are you refusing to help me, when you helped another person with a similar problem?!”

      if chris’s team thinks a case is worth per suing, the customer should feel like he or she won the lottery- it’s a privilege not a right.

  2. Why is this even a question? You are providing a valuable service; for free no less. Why should you waste your time on someone who is not appreciative.

    1. @carverclarkfarrow:disqus You had to go with free… I wonder what Chris is going to say? Is it truly free?

      1. Chris will publish their name publicly, send them newsletters, and ask them to buy his books. Hence, it’s not really free 😛

    2. Yeah… I’m flabbergasted by this person. Calling someone out for not doing something quickly enough when it’s FREE? What the heck???? I HATE entitled people. And what’s with the tweet saying “contact me if you’ve had a bad experience, too”? What does this person think that will accomplish?

  3. Oh dear, why is it that so many people think that blind rage is the best means to an end?

    I have worked in customer service all my life, and I can assure you that people who default to red hot anger as their first move have nowhere to go. When you open with vitriol, you cannot escalate. When your first move is nuclear you will not be taken seriously, and you reduce the potential legitimacy of your complaint.

    Even more absurd and revealing is this person calling you out on twitter, as if you owe her something.

    A few years ago I bought a bargain flight from Toronto to Nairobi via Amsterdam at $775 round trip. There was a major delay in Nairobi on the way back home, due to the Kenyan military closing the airport so that they could use it to launch airstrikes against al-Shabab in southern Somalia.

    Many passengers were very angry and screamed at the KLM reps, as if it was their fault. I kept calm, understood that this had little to do with the airline and showed compassion for the plight that the KLM employee was in.

    My flight was rebooked from Amsterdam to Toronto in first class. This status also allowed me to receive a free stay in a top end hotel.

    As a cheap ass budget traveler, I laughed and laughed and laughed as I basked in the glory of sitting in a $3000 seat for a bit more than one twentieth of the cost. And it was the first and probably the absolute last time that I will be the very first passenger to disembark from a large passenger jet.

    And now, I am a big fan of the KLM brand.

    My point is, it pays to be nice and to show a little respect for people who are trying to help you.

    1. “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” People love to help nice people, as your experience clearly shows. Thank you for sharing it!

  4. I’m not saying I agree with her, but I can understand how not being on the other end of the discussion (meaning in your shoes), people might have the mistaken perception about just how busy you are and how long the process takes. Id like to think that her comments were more from frustration more than anything else.

    1. No. She feels entitled and is angry that her demands are not being met. This world is full of adults who behave like children.

      1. I agree. Her tweets were painful to read, she complained about any insignificant issue. Loved the responses from Christopher when she started complaining about him 🙂

    2. And the “you’re responding to my tweet on twitter, so you must be lying about how busy you are” tweet. So now he has to spend every second working on these things? Taking 20 seconds to write a 140 character or less tweet proves you’re not busy? What the HECK?

      1. Some people tweet before they think. I also believe people generally behave differently online than they do in person. Not to step on Chris’s toes of offend anyone, but if we remove the person, is the cause, in so far as it affects all consumers, a just or an unjust one? Can Christopher use this as the catalyst not to promote a benefit for one person, but as a step changing the behavior of a company for us all?

          1. Helping her is helping the community. Advocacy works for the least of us, or it doesn’t work at all. Chris isn’t a “friends” advocate or “people I like” advocate, he’s a consumer advocate, she’s a consumer, I’m a consumer, you’re a consumer, Chris is a consumer, helping her helps us all.

          2. I must disagree. She’s not the least of us. That concept relates to disenfranchised, dispossessed, etc. That’s not this lady.

            I think it is perfectly appropriate to put some qualifications on who is the recipient of assistance. Up until last year when I injured my back I would volunteer at homeless shelters. The first thing that you learn is that with finite resources, they must be allocated to do the most good.

            This lady couldn’t walk into my office and treat me with the disrespect that she has shown Chris, even as a paying client. I don’t see why Chris, as an free advocate, should accept less.

          3. How do you KNOW it’s not this person? She could be homeless, living on friends coaches, and tweeting from a flip phone or public computer at a library. Maybe this is her way of staying sane, the one thing she can do that keeps her from staring at the bleakness of the wall in front of her?

            It is appropriate to put qualifications on who gets assistance especially with finite and very limited resources, mine would be which cases are going to have the largest impact and influence for the community as a whole. I like to remove the person from the equation. What’s the issue, what’s the harm, how can this resolution cascade across the corporate sphere and induce change for the betterment of all.

            This woman didn’t walk into anyones office, and you’re right she couldn’t, you’d have her thrown out, because your office is private space. Twitter isn’t private space, it’s a public forum, people say things they normally wouldn’t and sometimes those things hurt and they are offensive to us. Chris can take criticism, even if it’s undeserved or unearned.

          4. She could also be filthy rich. We don’t have any facts one way or the other so lets not make up any.

            You are certainly entitled to put whatever restrictions/qualification on your assistance that you deem appropriate. Chris is also entitled to the same allowance. As he solicited opinions, I submit that it is appropriate to determine the worthiness of both the person and the cause. If either is found lacking, then a worthier person/cause can be easily found.

            Yes, Twitter is a semi-public space which permits people to say whatever they want. However, that does not make it a consequence-free space. One of those consequences if that your character is revealed and people may decline to interact with you.

  5. No question at all–turn them down. The entitled will still complain if the results are not exactly what they wanted. And, as you see with the LW you are mentioning, many are serial complainers. A quick Google of Twitter shows she regularly vents on Twitter. You cannot make entitled people happy so best to just let them alone.

          1. I saw that but she also complained about the BA email about a $400 coupon which did not apply to her. Who knows what will cause her to explode in fits of rage? Pretty scary.

          2. I think you are right John. One of the tweets, Elliott refers to an Andrea. Could be the same Andrea McEwen of the Glenmoriston case. Yikes.

          3. THE FOOD ESCORT @TheFOODESCORT · Apr 23

            Jon [email protected] #Scotland promised over & over to call & make right but never did. Bad #customerservice poor #hotel #management #RT

            THE FOOD ESCORT @TheFOODESCORT · Apr 23

            Feeling cheated [email protected] #Visa #BritishAirways credit card 4 not protecting purchase in #Scotland [email protected] 4 room paid & not received.

          4. I don’t get the # thing. I don’t have twitter, heck, I don’t even have a smart phone. #livinginthedarkages (did I do that right?)

          5. It’s a tag so that you can look up posts/tweets on a certain subject. Last night I went to see Lady Gaga. I put #artRAVE in some of my posts. Users can look up #artRAVE and look up any posts/tweets that have that hashtag. Does that help? You just make them up and a lot of people (including me) use them more to be ironic or sarcastic than to actually mean them to be used as a real hashtag. #twitterisstupid

          6. Wow, I read her feed. She complains about the craziest things, and complains to companies that aren’t even doing anything abnormal based on her complaints. It appears she also lives very close to me, yuck!

          7. My goodness, you read all the way till April!
            The first page alone gave me vertigo 🙁
            This tweetsh*t ain’t for me. Plain English is best.

          8. I rarely read twitter, but I saw something recently where someone kept saying “1s” it took me quite some time to figure out they meant “Once”. I also HATE HATE HATE it when people use term like “UR” and “U” and such.

          9. I’m guilty of the last two when I rarely tweet. Sometimes u gotta do it 2 get ur tweet under 140. U know..

          10. Then I HATE you. Just kidding, you are one of my favorite posters on here. What I really meant was, I HATE it when people use them when there is no character limit.

          11. I don’t like it, but I can live with UR and U. But 1s and some of those more contrived abbreviations are nightmare to read. It’s like those vanity license plates where somebody thinks they’ve been really clever, but 99% of people on the road can’t figure out what it says.

          12. So instead of addressing the issue at Glenmoriston as it unfolded (at check-in, or at check-out when settling the bill), she waits to get home and unleash her ire on Twitter? Sounds like she majored in passive-aggressive.

  6. I read through a bunch of this person’s tweets. It definitely seems like she complains about bad customer service if the phone/email isn’t answered immediately and taken care of in 30 seconds. One tweet complained of taking 9 minutes via phone to schedule a mammogram. That doesn’t seem bad, especially if she was a new patient (which I suspect is the case).

    Don’t waste your time on people like this. If they can’t appreciate the service you are providing, they don’t deserve your help in the first place.

    1. Yeah, I read a string about the mammogram and she called a Dr. who was just rated one of the top Dr.s in the area, and then complains about the hold time and the amount of time it takes to get in, then she complains that they dont’ scheduel on-line.

      Her complaint about Open Table cracked me up. Really? How could someone have an issue with them, and I admit, I have had restaurants mark me as a no-show before, but Open Table has amazing customer service and are quite nice and helpful and fixed the problem with ease.

    2. Healthcare is also a tad bit different than customer service. Patient care vs customer care is WAY different one would think no?

  7. Helping people with an entitled attitude sends precisely the wrong message to both consumers and the companies you mediate with. It tells the super-entitled that “the customer is always right”, even when they aren’t, and it tells the companies you mediate with that you’ll waste their time and reputation with pointless stuff, no matter how unreasonable the customer is being.

    There’s nothing wrong with trying to enforce a standard of decorum on both sides.

  8. A commentor on this site said it best … (I’m paraphrasing) “If all you meet is jerks all day, the biggest one probably looks back at you in the mirror.”

    If she treats you like this, I can fully understand why she might have the occasional issue with a business.

    1. John, what could a food escort probably be?
      There’s plenty of escort services here in NYC and I can see oversize load, truck escorts on the highways.
      But food escort; makes we wonder 🙂

      1. You’re going to be the death of me… You know how many doors you just opened that I sooo badly want to walk through but won’t (its a family blog after all)…

        1. After CE identified her twitter account, it opened Pandora’s box.
          Spent my lunch break pressing the Page-Down key.
          Her vile gave me indigestion.
          She says she reviewed The Bonham Hotel and TripAdvisor UK pulled her review down. She is livid. I can only wonder why TA pulled it down.
          She rants against British Airways, Credit Card and mostly service related companies.
          Her first post about the Glenmoriston was on October 9. 2013.
          Hotel deception at its best @glenmoriston #Inverness #Scotland. Not as advertised do something @VisitScotland @oftgov @TripAdvisorUK #ripoff I think that was 9 months ago.

          1. I stayed at the Bonham Hotel in Edinburgh. It is a nice place. Quiet neighborhood, accommodating staff. Good food in the restaurant (a bit pricey), No A/C, but you don’t really need it. Rooms more than adequate in size and amenities. Close to all the sights you might want to see in Edinburgh. Can’t imagine what she didn’t like.

      2. I went looking for this lady on Facebook and ran across “The Food Escorts” out of NYC. Yummy! So yes, you may wonder. 😉

  9. Stay away from this one. My Google-Fu says she’s a psycho who can’t spell her way out of a bag of Cheerios.

    Though, for laughs, I would like to read her “letter.” C’mon, put it up in full so I can MST3K it! 😛

  10. I wouldn’t call this ‘an entitled’ attitude, but rather rude, arrogant and seemingly unstable. Some folks might appear entitled when they are at their wits’ end and really deserve help. This one, NOT!

  11. Decades ago I bought a box of frozen ‘fried chicken’ that had on the front 10-12 pieces. When I prepared it, there were 8. I wrote (before computers) a polite letter to the company and received 5 coupons for free boxes of chicken and an apology.

    I mentioned this to an acquaintance who took it upon herself to write to multitudes of companies claiming they shorted her on their products in hopes of getting freebies.

    All of us feel a sense of entitlement one time or another when we feel wronged. Some of us make a profession out of it and become obnoxious, ego-maniac complainers. They may make waves, but the tsunami will come back to wash them away eventually.

    1. It seems like your acquaintance sold hisher integrity for the hope of getting some freebies. I don’t know the value of the freebies but I am guessing that it was probably under a few thousands…what a low price to put on your integrity.

      Personally, it is a lack of morality in our society. It is really sad when a person purchases clothes; wear them one time to a party then return them for a full refund.

  12. You should absolutely 100% turn down entitled assholes Chris. As you said before, a “team of volunteers.” You know what you should do when volunteers VOLUNTEER to help you, be thank for for anything… even if it’s nothing because the effort in and of itself is something.

    You write great articles, help people get money back when businesses put them in terrible places, and generally try to help put a little humanity back into the corporate sector.

    Keep on keeping on man… this site is my favorite breakfast time read.

  13. Heck yes!!! You are here to help people while asking for nothing in return (okay, you ask them to buy your book). Anyone who gives you attitude about it has serious issues. If they are complaining about free help, imagine how nasty they will become if they pay for something and its .01% less than they expected. Some people are just nasty people. I forgot who said it on here, but someone said something like, “If you meat more than 3 jerks a day, its probably you who are the jerk.” That has been my favorite saying ever since.

    1. I took that saying to heart and it’s helped me figure out that if I’m having bad experiences in multiple locations on the same day, it’s more than likely me that’s the cause. Haven’t had multiple bad experiences since.

      1. Okay, it should have a caveat for certain careers 🙂

        When I traveled twice a week I saw more than 3 jerks in a day, mostly at the airport being a jerk to someone like you. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to meat them. When I managed a call center, I sure did. Not fun.

  14. I went back to yesterday’s story so that I could vote “NO” again. Can’t vote twice, but it did make me feel a little better.

    I read through some of her Twitter account. Her Tweets are just ridiculous. Maybe she needs to eat more of her own recommended foods to calm down as she seems to be a very angry person.

    1. Notice she says she has a NYU Masters Nutrition & Food
      That must be a worthless degree given the crap she writes about.

      Trying #Vanilla #hemp #protein in smoothies…what’s ur preference?

      Try #soy, #almond #rice or #coconut milk in ur #smoothie w/ur fav frzen fruit. No ice, yogurt, sorbet icecream needed. Add protein pwdr too.

      Be sure to marinate ur chicken in #buttermilk for juicy, tender & flavorful thighs.

      Sorry, but definitely a loser, IMO.

      1. Those recipes weren’t bad, I just hate “ur” when “your” would still fit 140 letters. It’s an affectation. Liked the one zucchini recipe.

        Wasn’t sure how marinating chicken in buttermilk would help my thighs, though. 😉

        1. I saw the buttermilk trick on Paula Deen a long time ago.
          But I learned the so-called buttermilk today is no longer real buttermilk. If I have to make my own buttermilk then forget it.
          I’ll use the Chinese approach to tenderizing 🙂

          Nevertheless, I’ve always wondered where these rude people come from. There’s too many of them. Not sure we have a good breeding program anymore 🙂

          1. I’ll have to try it. If you ask my aunt what her secret ingredient is, she always says “I take however much MSG it calls for, and double it.”

          2. That’s pretty potent stuff. Stay away.
            You can always rinse out Baking Soda after it has done its job.

            MSG also gives you the so-called umami taste. From Smithsonian mag: bit dot ly/1meeSlZ

          3. I’ve never actually used MSG myself. But I have never had an issue after eating it, so I consider myself lucky.

          4. You are lucky. MSG in any quantity and any of its cousins (maltodextrin is a big one) give me a migraine almost instantly. Really cuts down on Asian restaurants I can eat at. 🙁

          5. Many family members have vertigo and MSG is a big trigger.
            You are right, it comes in so many other names.

          6. Too much MSG and my throat seizes up, I cannot shallow and I can barely talk for awhile.

            Surely, there must be better ways of enhancing food flavor than that vile stuff.

  15. Most telling thing to me was how she kept returning to this topic, throwing out the same barbs over a (for Twitter) pretty long span of time. Normal people would say what they had to say and move on. But this person just wants to throw bombs and shame people. Best to have nothing to do with her type.

  16. I have written to you twice and each time i have happy with the response i received from you or your staff. Keep up the good work .


  18. I voted “no” on the question, but I don’t think the question fits the situation described above.

    Ascertaining a person’s “attitude” is very difficult with just printed words. Reading tone into someone’s emails, posts, or tweets is often inaccurate.

    I would base the decision off a person’s observable behavior. What someone chooses to write, to whom, and in what medium fall directly under the heading of behavior.

  19. It figures she’s the person who wanted a 100% refund after the hotel already gave her about a 45% discount on her room. Back away Chris, back far, far away!!!

  20. Someone should tweet this story to her and see what she says. Someone other than me I mean 🙂 I don’t want to face her wrath.

      1. It would be a trek, according to my Google Foo she lives in a very rich-rich suburb where lots of executives live. I stay away from the suburbs. Her husband is an executive at a big chemical company. Although I can’t find that she has a job, so she has time, money, and access to chemicals. Even more reason to not tweet her.

        1. What’s 400 bucks to the rich-rich? Why even bother write an ombudsman? You know this happened last year? What could be triggering her returning fits of rage? Surely, this can’t be worth her time. Very bizarre behavior.

          1. Well, in my humble opinion there are certain levels of rich. Please note that I made all of this up on the spot based on my experiences with people.

            1. The uber rich. They fly private and rent penthouse suites or condos/houses/castles with butlers and we never hear about them. They don’t complain as it would not be proper. They do get what ever they want and don’t bat an eye at paying for it. They have people to arrange their travel. They live in multimillion dollar mansions and have multiple homes.

            2. The pretty darn rich. They usually fly commercial first class, pay full price for everything, and stay at nice hotels and roll with the punches. They hire an agent and research everything in advance. They are not above complaining if they don’t get what they want, but they show respect most of the time and know when they are wrong. They live in $2-$5M homes and may have 1 vacation home.

            3. The cheap entitled sorta rich. They make enough money to fly commercial first, but often don’t because they want to save money. They still expect first class treatment. Rather than working with an agent they book everything them selves and buy the cheapest non-refundable rates they can find, but expect them to be refundable if their plans change. Everywhere they go they nit pick and come up with a laundry list of complains and feel they are entitled to a refund because they paid good money, even though they bought a really cheap discounted rate (Carver will argue that they should get the same treatment regardless of the rate they paid, and eh is right, but these people act as if they paid full price and demand to be treated better than everyone else is treated). They have $800K to $1.5M homes and no vacation home. They usually inherited their money, have rich parents, or married someone with money. Some of them even earned it themselves. They are jealous of categories 1 and 2, and want to live like 1 and 2, and think they are entitled to live like 1 and 2, but aren’t quite rich enough and will spend months arguing over a $2 charge that they feel is wrong. The OP falls into this category.

            Please note that this is all tongue-in-cheek. Feel free to add additional categories.

          2. Naah, you are too nice, Emanon 🙂
            #4) The insulting rich.
            It is your #3 plus they believe everyone below their income bracket is just miserable or stupid.
            They throw temper tantrums on the lower income class so they can intimidate them into submission.
            They are the type who demand help and when they don’t get it they think they can find an easy replacement.

            So unprofessional. U’ve wasted my time for 2 months too many. Will find tru consumr advocate.

            Yeah right, she’s gonna go advocate shopping. Good riddance.

  21. Is entitlement an overused term?
    I hear it and read it. But I have no idea why they use the term.
    What do these rude people really think they are entitled to?
    The first time I ever heard this term was when it was used to describe government handouts to the poor and needy.
    Can someone please explain this entitlement thing?

    1. There are two separate uses in your post, at least the way I look at it. Government entitlements are promises made. You’re entitled to it because it was promised, you met the rules for qualifying, etc. What this person feels entitled to boils down to respect. She’s important, her time is valuable, you need to give her whatever she wants quickly. She seems particularly fixated on not having to wait for things. (8 minutes was too long to get a mammogram scheduled?) And if you don’t give her what she wants she’ll demonstrate how important she is in her little social media kingdom.

        1. I would describe her form of entitlement as someone we often refer to as a “DYKWIA”. A Do You Know Who I Am.

          I first ran into this type of entitlement when working for a major university. It was typically the wealthy parents and/or the children of the wealthy parents. They expected to be provided with extra services above and beyond what we provide at no cost because of who they are. They complain about everything constantly. They also demand free things to which they are not entitled, complain when they didn’t get something because they didn’t do what they needed to do to get it, and they constantly threaten to sue.

          Here is a good real life example explaining the difference between true entitlements and entitled people:

          Student A’s parents made ~$19,000 combined, and they got an entitlement grant for $2,000 a semester. They were very grateful and thanked us profusely. Student A did well, but failed math, and inquired about tutoring services which he used and again thanked us for.

          Student B’s parents made $800,000 a year combined and got no grants (They were not entitled to one), and got no scholarships because he got a C average. I was yelled at by mom for not giving him a scholarship (I have no control over who gets scholarships). I was given a long story about how his teachers were bad, and its not his fault he got Cs so I should take that into account. When mom asked why someone else they knew got a grant and they didn’t I said it takes into account individual income information and they didn’t qualify and that I can’t discuss someone elses income with her. Her reply was, “Does it take into account our boat payment?” When I still couldn’t give him a scholarship, I was yelled at by mom and told “My husband is a prominent surgeon how dare you not give my son a scholarship.” When the son failed all of his classes, again I was yelled at by the mom, because we either miss-advised him, had bad faculty, their was no air conditioning in one of the classrooms, the dorms were un-clean, or many other reasons. Now mom demands a refund of 100% of the tuition because “We obviously didn’t teach her son if he got all F’s” and writes the president of the university and threatens to sue us.

          Student A is receiving an entitlement. Student B, is the type of entitled person we refer to in this story.

          1. Excellent example. The “self-esteem” movement led to far too many people thinking that they are “entitled” to certain treatment. “Self-esteem” is an external force and causes emotional distress when said force is removed. “Self-respect” is an internal force and forms a solid basis for emotional development.

  22. Southwest Airlines co-founder and and ex-Chair Herb Kelleher utilized a deliciously clever technique of dealing with grossly unfair complainers. In a letter, he’d name one of Southwest’s more expensive competitors and suggest that they would be happier flying it in the future.

  23. Chris, the service and assistance you provide are not only above reproach, you go “above and beyond” on the various cases that you take on. Someone with a “sense of entitlement” is NOT someone that the vast majority of people would “lift a finger” to help. Your help is pretty much on the “honor system” when it comes to complaints rolling in to your various email boxes, and I am sure (like all email systems) that there might be a minor and seldom episode where something slides in and might not get noticed immediately. You and your team are replying to cases from the entire doggone WORLD! I cannot imagine how you keep track of everything, sir! But when a person heaps “insult upon injury” and (as you politely put it) take the approach of “biting the hand that feeds you”, I have to agree with you that it is time to just “move along” and deal with the next case. I think you are ABSOLUTELY on the right thought process to not deal with cases where the complaining party is clearly being (and pardon my French) a complete a$$. For all of us that you help or have helped, we appreciate you. For this complete tool and “dumb as a doorknob” person who calls themselves “@thefoodescort”, I certainly hope you waste not a single second of your valuable time worrying about this person and their attitude and complaint. The nerve of @thefoodescort is outrageous and appalling. And on top of the story, who the bloody hell are the 13 knuckleheads that voted “no” on the poll? WTH?

  24. Over 90% of the traveling public is walking around with a bad attitude complaining about everything with an overly entitled attitude though so it’s a tough call. I voted no, of course, though.

  25. Chris, also you could have stopped her permanently by reporting as spam – if enough others do, in fact if they then went in and saw her account badmouthing others the same way they would probably do it.

  26. Let me understand. You asked for information, and received no response until you were slammed on Twitter. Why would you consider helping any further? No matter what you do, you’ll still be unable to satisfy her. Drop this one, and spend your time on others who will appreciate what you do.

  27. The Internet is full of needy people, Chris, more needy than you or any of us could possibly help. I know it’s difficult to ignore derogatory comments, but you gotta just move on. You’ve already given far too much time to this moron. The following post from yestoeverything really resonated with me: “Many passengers were very angry and screamed at the KLM reps, as if it was their fault. I kept calm, understood that this had little to do with the airline and showed compassion for the plight that the KLM employee was in.” This kind of behavior got me 2 first class seats London to SF for the price of coach a couple of years ago … I just waited until everyone else was done screaming at the hapless airline staff, offered a solution and was granted my wish … I was fortunate to be dealing with the head guy and my last line was “if you do it this way, you’ll never have to see me again”. He loved it. Like my daddy said, “treat ’em all with kindness, you’ll never go wrong”.

  28. This is a perfect example of what’s wrong with today’s society. People are too greedy and think that the world twirls around them. With that kind of attitude there is no wonder that you do not receive great customer service, well, you actually do not deserve it! “Expect nothing and accept everything” will make you much better customer.

  29. I voted yes. Nobody should have to go out of their way to be helpful to a bully with an entitled attitude. Especially one who tries to use the megaphone of social media to advance their case unfairly. However, I’d like to point out that Chris lets himself be used as such a megaphone by entitled bullies every day. And he seems fine when he’s the one doing the advocating (or as he terms it “mediating”) on behalf of these bullies. For example, the guy who breaks very clear TSA rules by trying to bring empty ammunition magazines aboard a plane and then whines when his PreCheck status is “mysteriously” suspended? He totally fits the “entitled bully” category. The woman who schedules a ridiculously complicated itinerary with no slack in her schedule who wants the airline to pay for her total lack of preparation when a reasonably foreseeable issue arises? Entitled bully. The woman whose daughter may (or may not) have gotten sick at a resort, who didn’t even notice her daughter’s illness at the time, but who wants a full refund for all parties from the resort after her stay? Entitled bully.

    Chris, I fully support you drawing some lines around who you will and won’t advocate for. I just wish you’d do it in cases other than those when you personally feel insulted.

    To be clear, I have no problem with you helping someone who says, “I had an unexpected problem, could they possibly bend their rules in my case?” or someone who says “I have a customer service issue, and I can’t get anyone to listen to my problem.” But as soon as someone misrepresents the truth of the situation or as soon as they argue “well someone else got preferential treatment, I MUST too.” I wish you would send those files to the trash bin with no further action.

    1. I have to respectfully disagree. There are three separate issues here.

      1. Entitled
      2. Bully
      3. Liar

      The two cases that you mentioned are #1. Entitled people. Neither case involves bullying. Also, I have yet to see a case where Chris advocates for someone he knows is lying.

        1. I agree the word is overused, but this website is the very definition of a bully pulpit and therefore I think I used it appropriately in this case.

      1. People do withhold information from Chris or they alright lie to Chris. I don’t think Chris and his staff of volunteers have the time to research the matter to make sure that the person is disclosing the whole story. Nor is it possible to know everything about everything. I have seen Chris advocated for individuals that I knew were lying to Chris or not fully the whole story.

        For example, I remember a story about a person that purchased a non-refundable and non-changeable hotel reservation at a Marriott brand hotel in Florida to watch a space shuttle launch. The launch was cancelled and the guy wanted a refund using the basis that the website didn’t disclosed that the fare was non-refundable and non-changeable.

        I knew the Marriott website very well since I have booked rooms on the Marriott website for over 15 years and stayed over 100+ nights a year. I knew that the website clearly pointed out in bold print that the rate is non-refundable and non-changeable a couple of times before you finalize the reservation.

        It wasn’t a case that the website was changed after the reservation. It was the case of getting the lowest rate then wanting a refund after the space shuttle launch was cancelled…the person took the risk of a non-refundable rate and lost but wanted Marriott to pay.

        Again, Chris doesn’t have the resources to check things or have a staff of people that are making reservations every day at the various airlines, hotels, car rental, etc.; therefore, Chris “takes” the word of the individuals that contact him as the gospel. I wish that he could have the resources to check things out before he advocates for someone.

      2. I have to respectfully disagree with your respectful disagreement. What tips all those cases from the category of entitled into that of bully, IMHO, is the fact that they tried to involve Chris in their dispute. Appealing to this website is the equivalent of running home to get your big brother to fight your schoolyard battles for you. Sure, sometimes you someone strong to help you out of an unjust situation, but I think Chris has the responsibility to assess the truth of the accusation, before he starts tossing around terms like “scam” or “poisoning”.

        Just by virtue of the fact that Chris has this web version of a megaphone means that merely by mentioning an organization in a negative way, he can cast an ugly light them and bring them some measure of bad publicity, whether or not it is deserved. They know this. The people appealing to Chris know this and Chris especially should know this.

        So when an organization, one who even may be in the right, gets an inquiry from this website, they are likely to break their rules, take the monetary hit, and do whatever it takes to avoid that negative publicity. Whether or not it is the fair or right thing to do.

        Chris may not know that these individuals are lying when he starts advocating on their behalf, but when he finds out, he never seems to cease his efforts. For example, how about the case of the guy who lost PreCheck status? First he insisted he had no idea why, that it must be some clerical error, and then, “oh yeah, that time I got caught blatantly breaking their rules, I must have forgotten that and besides, how dare they expect me to actually follow something that I agreed to do?”

        I’ve gone through the process to get GOES (and PreCheck). You would not believe how many times they stress that you must follow all rules and regulations. You must never lie to an agent. You can lose this status at any time for doing so. For this guy to claim he had no idea that he had committed an offense is ludicrous.

        At that point rather than saying, “here is a liar who has tried to manipulate me into pleading his case,” Chris writes a whole article about how capricious the TSA is. Honestly, when he takes that position, but the best evidence he can find are two cases where the TSA is following its own established procedures to the letter, it only serves to convince me that the Chris is the one being unreasonable. If these are the best cases he can use to show the TSA perfidy, I’m siding with the TSA. And if they aren’t the best cases, then don’t use them, use those others.

        1. If we accept your premises, then everyone who appeals to Chris is a bully with Chris being chief bully.

          Incidentally, I can personally attest that not all companies bend to Chris. He took on a small case for me in the past and the company gave him the middle finger.

          I am unaware of any case in which Chris finds out that someone is lying and continues advocating on their behalf. There are cases in which he suspects or his readerships suspects. But that is of course a different issue.

          In the specific case, Chris’ advocacyBut Chris’ larger point was absolutely valid, that the TSA should inform people of specifically why they are being denied. That deserved being written about. That was news to me.

          1. Not exactly. Not every person who appeals to Chris, but every person with an overwrought sense of entitlement who appeals to Chris is a bully in my book. Therefore, if the party is entitled, and they appeal to Chris, they are therefore a bully. And these people often lie to promote their case. Which is why I linked those three traits in my original post.

            Obviously, you (respectfully) disagree.

            As for the TSA case, I have no idea if the TSA is not informing people specifically why their access is being denied. In the case of the guy who was suspended, we only have his word (and I think we have all seen how much weight that holds). As for the woman with the prior criminal conviction, she said that she was told at the interview it wouldn’t matter so she didn’t need to mention it. The thing is, you only get to the interview stage AFTER you have filled in a form (I’m pretty sure that you sign under penalty of perjury) that explicitly asks if you have had any criminal convictions or ever been found to have violated Immigration or Customs regulations. She obviously lied when she filled in that form and then perhaps thought that mentioning it in person would make that all ok. Surprise, surprise, people who falsify information are not accepted into a program where the only assurance we have that they are not acting nefariously is their word. They have demonstrated their word is not trustworthy. Yes, her crime was petty (even though $25 was not a trivial sum of money 50 years ago) but as many politicians have learned, it wasn’t the crime, it was the coverup that did her in.

            So I would love to know if the TSA is not telling people why they are denied access. Unfortunately, I still don’t know whether that is true or not as Chris has only posted the word of two liars to support his case.

          2. Sara, I have been a reader of this blog for several years (probably 10 years). I have found that these cases generally fall into two categories: (1) the travel provider failing to deliver the product or service that was purchasedscamsincompetent customer service that cost the traveler moneyetc…issues caused by travel providers that someone like Chris should strongly advocate for. (2) issues caused by the traveler like purchasing a non-refundable hotel rate or airfare, getting sick and wanting a full refund. In other words, they want all of the rewards (i.e. low fares, low rates, etc.) without any risks (i.e. the travel provider will pay) or penalties for their mistakes (i.e. no personal responsibilities).

            It is the latter that has driven me batty over the years because most of the times these things can be avoided. They know the rules of the fare or rate but they don’t want to follow the rules and after they have been told that their fare or rate is non-refundable by the travel provider…they go running to Chris to complain in the court of public opinion.

            I wish that Chris only handled the first type of issues because they are generally unavoidable by a traveler. I think that Chris spends too much goodwill on the latter cases.

          3. Let me say, completely off-topic, that I was glad to see your name on the comments once again. It’s been way too long!

          4. I have been so busy that I usually read the articles on the weekends making it to late to post comments.

          5. Most companies will pay to avoid negative PR, to get good PR, etc..just take a look at KFC and the little girl in Mississippi. KFC had video tape evidence, cash register receipt evidence and an investigation by a third-party that proved that the story was not true but they still give the little girl’s family the $ 30,000 (I don’t know if they ever accepted the money).

          6. That’s not a good comparison. The specifics of this case are very unique: the alleged victim is probably the most sympathetic victim possible. As such, truth isn’t necessarily a sufficient defense.

            Sensational headlines make page 1. The correction makes page 18.

            But as we’ve seen in many situations, many companies will deny Chris. Just think Jetblue. They’ve given him the middle finger of friendship.

      3. Carver, that’s pretty obvious, we won’t support liars. But I have to believe there are a few good liars who evade radar detection as ArizonaRoadWarrior has explained.

        1. That is unfortunately all too true. I still remember a case from ten years ago where I hit a home run for my client. I learned later, as I got older and more sophisticated that the client completely lied to me and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. It was very sobering.

  30. Sometimes people get really steamed at something, and project their anger at others. Better not to, but some people just don’t have as much of an ability to control and direct their anger to where it belongs. Other people might not understand where loyalties lie, and view a neutral as really having a bias (though here I think Mr. Elliott’s bias is almost always leaning towards the consumers, not the businesses). In other words, some people are just immutably incapable of doing better. That being said, the trail of comments outlined leads me to believe that they were in fact sufficiently thought-out and spread out over a period of time to lead me to believe that she was more interested in lashing out than in actually resolving the conflict. It seems to me that under these circumstances, termination of the encounter was appropriate (though I might consider a mea culpa from her down the road).

    Where I do disagree is that I believe Mr. Elliott is not only a consumer advocate, but that he is also in the customer service business. His consumer advocacy advances his pecuniary interests by adding to his contacts, understanding, and outreach, all of which makes him more salable in his commercial pursuits. This involves dealing with the public–“customers””–and providing a service to them. He may not receive direct payment from his customers, but Mr. Elliott is in that business, and should provide an appropriate level of customer service. In that respect, I think he goes beyond my expectation of an appropriate level of service.

    1. Unfortunately for Andrea, her case (room being downgraded) has some merit but her caustic online persona simply turns off many people. That said, her husband must be a saint. Maybe he should take over the case.

  31. Wow! Just looked at Twitter…. Seems she complains about everyone… I wouldn’t give it a second thought Chris!

  32. Good Lord! I’ve just spent the last several days cleaning up my new puppy’s parasitic poops (I don’t twit, but if I did, it’d be #So.Much.Poop) but after reading her vitriol, I’d rather do that for another month than deal with someone like her…

  33. She did not get bad “customer service”, she got “bad customer” service, exactly what she needed, being a bad customer.

  34. I just want to know how Chris could write yesterday’s column without even a hint of animosity? Well done!

    1. I noticed that too! I had to confirm it was really her, because he seemed SO calm and objective. I would not have been able to write up her case with such kindness and objectivity after suffering the abuse she heaped on his head. Wow Christopher! Impressive!

  35. Chris, given the LW’s meek protests in-person at the hotel and her online rage towards you, I think you’ve discovered the answer to the age-old question of what would happen if you gave Milton Waddams a Twitter account.

  36. Absolutely. People like that make it extremely difficult for those of us who have a legitimate problem and attempts to handle things in a polite manner. Just one more example of how very uncivilized we are becoming. Now its not the squeaky wheel who gets the attention, its the bitchy wheel.

  37. You need to #payattentiontome @nooneelseontheplanet #soimportant is my complaint that #youneedtodealwithit #legitimateproblem and where is my free cookie and ribbon?!? #probirdrights

    1. This has been one of the liveliest and most wildly entertaining threads on this site in months (if not years). A helluva good read.

  38. I’m at work so it’s not prudent to paste in the actual link, but check it out… www dot foodescorts dot com. Suddenly I’m hungry… 😉

  39. WRONG day for me to be too busy at work to get involved in the convo. What a lively day! And what a WHACK JOB!

    I really have nothing else to add, other than this: I’m truly gobsmacked that this woman considers herself Christopher’s “customer” when she hasn’t paid him a single red cent. She asked him for help…FREE help. That makes her a “customer”? That’s a whole new definition of the word, ain’t it?

  40. I will admit I’m split on using on Twitter to complain to a company – it is good for a head’s up, but I think most of the time you can’t explain a problem in 140 characters. I will admit I did use it to complain about a certain chocolate boutique that allowed a customer to bring a non-service dog into their store – the dog was even on the counter where there was food – a violation of a few health code laws.

    I think social media has turned some of us into a nation of passive-aggressives – it’s easy to snap a picture or post someone’s wrong on the internet rather than confronting them. That said, I am enjoying the #carryonshame campaign on twitter right now.

    I’ll also add I remember for years that Southwest did not have an email address for compliments and complaints – if you wanted to contact them, you had to write them an actual letter, which makes you decide if the issue is worth commenting on. Lastly, I’ll say I think most of us could stand to remember what we learned to do as children when we got frustrated – take a deep breath and count to 10. As tempting as it is to yell at someone, like a few people mentioned, you get more accomplished being polite and calm.

  41. ” Should I turn down cases because of an entitled attitude?”…YES, YES, YES you should! Please do turn these down. Too many others need your help! It is getting completely out of control. Consumers today are feeling way too entitled, and it has to be brought under control. Please do not respond to the “entitled”.

  42. But did @thefoodescort ever reply to your request for documentation? One of my favorite emails to send is in response to a “why aren’t you doing your job?!?!?!” query, in which I forward my last email asking for follow up with a simple, “please see below”.

  43. No one is entitled to advocacy. However, when the advocate requests
    information over the course of a couple weeks (to his multiple email addresses that he redirected me to send documents ) and provides details on how the issue should be handled, and this is conducted over many emails, complete with scans and attachments of documents, what is the complainant to think?

    Chris implied he was taking the case. I left him to do the job. And, in doing so no other pursuit was made on this end. This meant that when I tried to re-engage with Chris after months of no communication from him, so much time lapsed, that pursuit of a resolution through the credit card company couldn’t happen due to deadlines.

    Reviews of this hotel online show that other guests have been equally deceived. A partial refund was expected for guaranteeing a reservation for a particular room with particular accommodations at The Glenmoriston, that we did not receive. In confronting staff at the hotel, a deception began with us like no other for days. (Look up the hotel and see similar reviews). If it weren’t a holiday, we would have changed hotels.

    The complaint was initiated with Chris at the end of March and completed in April. In June I contacted Chris for a status. When several weeks went by without any response, I contacted the staff (3). I received no response from anyone. When I saw Chris on Twitter I reached out. Then the letter below was sent on July 8th. Chris didn’t mention my letter in the posting. 4 months is too long in my opinion to not provide closure to a complainant. And, not informing a complainant that you don’t provide a response either way is surprising. Had I known this upfront, I would not have initiated a complaint.

    Mr. Elliott and team:

    Thanks for the email.

    You requested quite a bit of information about this travel complaint issue,
    much of it containing personal details, which I complied with and
    forwarded to you. Your multiple requests took close to 2.5 hours of
    time to email these materials to you. And, we stopped pursuing the
    issue with our credit card company. At no time did you state
    you were still “considering advocating” this issue. And, at no time
    did you state that if you decided you wouldn’t take the “case” that you wouldn’t provide communication to that fact.

    That is quite an arrogant stance. You certainly redefine consumer
    advocacy to mean that the violated consumer continues to be taken
    advantage of.

    You don’t have to take on every case. But, once you engage a consumer you absolutely have the responsibility to provide an immediate status. Your website should outline the proper information as to the policies and procedures of how you operate as a consumer advocate, and, what the consumer can expect. In doing so, you avoid the very situation that currently exists.

    Please reconsider how you conduct your business and treat consumers with the respect deserved. In the meantime, we’ll provide the background of this experience with your state consumer advocate.

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