It’s the end of advocacy as you know it (and that’s no bluff)

It happened again yesterday.

Another threat of a lawsuit, this time from a reader for whom I’d secured a ticket refund in 2015. Even though she’d filled out a form explicitly authorizing me to publish her details, and even though her story had been online for more than two years, she insisted that I redact her name immediately.
Read more “It’s the end of advocacy as you know it (and that’s no bluff)”

They want this site to disappear in 2018. Here’s what you should tell them.

They’re out to get us.

I know, because I see the “cease and desist” letters their law firms send us, demanding that we remove their executive contacts from our site. I read the hateful comments on their industry fan blogs. I also deal with their Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that temporarily knock us offline.

Their goal? To denigrate, discredit and dismantle the advocacy you depend on every day. Read more “They want this site to disappear in 2018. Here’s what you should tell them.”

Here’s your holiday gift. Go on, open it.

Carol Broaddus got an early Christmas present this year.

Her new KitchenAid mixer, purchased on Black Friday, wasn’t delivered in time for the holiday baking season. Our advocates saved the day by contacting JCPenney on her behalf.
Read more “Here’s your holiday gift. Go on, open it.”

Don’t let these glory days pass you by. Do something now.

Do you remember what being a customer used to be like? When employees were courteous and helpful? Do you remember when we were treated like “kings”?

Remember flying? Read more “Don’t let these glory days pass you by. Do something now.”

Your advocacy family needs you now. Here’s how you can help.

These aren’t the best of times for American consumers.

Net neutrality has just been repealed. The Federal Trade Commission is refusing to end the deceptive practice of mandatory hotel resort fees. And the Department of Transportation appears to be done enforcing its consumer protections for airline passengers.

It’s easy to feel as if the government, the courts and regulators have abandoned us. I hope that’s not actually the case. But if this is the start of a long winter of discontent for consumers, who will protect you?

Well, you can.

You may not realize it, but you’re part of a caring community of advocates. If you’re subscribed to my daily email newsletter or read my consumer advocacy blog, you’re one of us. You’re already backing honest consumer advocacy journalism — the kind that uses our hard-earned media clout to encourage companies to do the right thing.

Every. Single. Day.

Our winter fundraiser starts tomorrow. You can support your extended family of informed consumers by becoming an underwriter now.

What’s in it for you? I could tell you about the amazing premiums we’re giving away. This spring, we had cool travel clothes, gadgets, airline tickets and Wi-Fi accounts, to name just a few of the giveaways. They were really awesome, and this fundraiser is going to be even better. Sign up now as an underwriter and you’ll qualify for the winter fundraiser giveaways, of course. But I’m not going to talk about that yet.

No, today I want to tell you about the results your support has already helped us achieve. You can read about them every day in my nationally syndicated columns, Problem Solved and The Travel Troubleshooter. My team of advocates and I solve seemingly unsolvable consumer problems every hour, offering carefully considered advice both to readers and the companies working with them. This is service journalism in its purest sense.

Ah, but don’t newspapers pay me for these stories? Yes — and no. My pay has been cut in half as newspaper clients have tightened their belts and trimmed my rates. It isn’t enough to keep the bills paid, let alone cover the upkeep of a high-traffic consumer advocacy site. Over the last decade, I’ve turned to the online community — to you — to help fund this important work.

Here’s how you can help.

I’m not asking for me. I’m not even asking for my team of volunteer advocates. I’m asking for you.

Because even though you might not have an unsolvable consumer problem today, you may soon. At the rate things are going in Washington, there will be no one to help you when you do. Every regulatory agency will be gutted and the corporations who funded the political campaigns of those in power will be firmly in control.

Where will you go? I, for one, intend to be right here, fighting for you every day.

I’ve never been more concerned about the future — or more optimistic. Last week, when I briefly mentioned that my winter fundraiser would start Dec. 18, we raised $1,855. That’s a great start, but we have a long way to go to meet our $30,000 goal.

Your advocacy family needs you now more than ever. Please consider becoming an underwriter now and supporting excellent customer service before it is placed on the endangered species list.

We can’t let that happen.