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Christopher Elliott
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Christopher Elliott is the reader advocate for National Geographic
magazine and a travel columnist for the Washington Post and USA Today. He writes a syndicated column for King Features Syndicate and publishes a consumer advocacy blog. Elliott is the author of Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals. His latest book is How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle).

Entries by Christopher Elliott

Why Won't Verizon Release Me From My Contract?

(8) Comments | Posted September 3, 2015 | 7:24 AM


Anita Bah's mother can't get her cell phone to work. Now she wants to switch to a new wireless carrier. If only it were so easy.

Question: I'm writing on behalf of my mother. Her Verizon phone does not work...

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Your Hotel Is Under Construction -- Now What?

(0) Comments | Posted September 3, 2015 | 7:12 AM


As hotel renovations go, the one Robert Reich experienced was pretty extreme. The property he'd booked in Baltimore, the Mount Vernon Hotel, was being remodeled and reopening as the Hotel Indigo Baltimore -- Mt. Vernon.

"Extreme" might also describe what the hotel did...

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He's No Pirate, So Why Is Microsoft Treating Him Like One?

(63) Comments | Posted August 27, 2015 | 11:22 AM


Josh Weaver's activation code for his Microsoft product no longer works. Why can't he get it reactivated?

Question: I am writing about an issue with customer service and what I believe to be breach of software agreements. In 2011, I...

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Have Air Travelers Reached Their Breaking Point Yet?

(0) Comments | Posted August 23, 2015 | 3:39 PM

What's your breaking point? When do you say, "That's it -- I'm never flying again!"

It's no academic question for America's airlines, which continue to provoke passengers with new fees, surcharges and rules. They want to know when their customers would rather stay home.

As another summer winds down, maybe...

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Should AT&T Refund Mom's Phone?

(28) Comments | Posted August 20, 2015 | 9:30 AM


Jamie LaMoreaux's parents' AT&T phone doesn't work and they want to return it. Why won't the company let them?

Question: My parents, who are 80 and 87, have an AT&T phone that won't charge. They took it to an AT&T store where they...

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Travelers, Beware of This House of Cards

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2015 | 11:57 AM


Charles Stewart figures he should have known better. The promises made by his MileagePlus Explorer card from Chase -- yes, the one that's heavily promoted in airports and on travel blogs -- looked too good to pass up.

"In order to qualify for...

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What Should I Do About Comcast's Broken Promise?

(42) Comments | Posted August 13, 2015 | 9:22 AM


Shelby Becker is trying to leave Comcast. Its latest trick: lying to her about a price. Can this relationship be saved?

Question: I've spent hours on the phone trying to disconnect my Comcast service because of their high rates.

The last person I...

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Is It Time for the Uber of Air Travel?

(10) Comments | Posted August 6, 2015 | 1:24 PM

Airbnb changed the hotel industry. Uber changed ground transportation. So why can't the same change happen for air travel?

Airlines are ready for disruption. With only four large airlines controlling more than 80 percent of domestic air travel, the industry is a classic oligopoly. Even the government, which is currently...

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Read This Before You Visit Greece

(2) Comments | Posted July 20, 2015 | 1:23 PM


With Greece teetering on the brink of a financial collapse, Monte Mathews decided to postpone his August trip to Athens. Eugene Emmer didn't.

Their different responses to the unfolding economic drama underscore the strong ambivalence Americans feel about the Greek crisis. They're hopeful...

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Are Mandatory Resort Fees Here to Stay?

(0) Comments | Posted July 15, 2015 | 9:07 AM

The Fourth of July fireworks came a little early this year for participants in the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection meeting at the Department of Transportation headquarters.

For several tension-filled minutes, two Federal Trade Commission lawyers stood before the committee last month, insisting their agency had done all it...

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Has Congress Failed Air Travelers?

(1) Comments | Posted June 14, 2015 | 2:11 PM


What has Washington done for airline passengers lately?

That's the question prompted by two recent political scandals that have touched the tourism world. But the answer -- or the lack of an answer -- may be far more troubling than the alleged misconduct.

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"No" Doesn't Have to Be the Final Answer When You're on the Road

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2015 | 12:52 PM


If you're thinking of taking "no" for an answer from a travel company, let Alan Schroeder talk you out of it.

When a late spring storm forced the cancellation of his return flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to New York on Spirit Airlines,...

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What to Do When Your Vacation Rental Gets a Better Offer

(1) Comments | Posted May 31, 2015 | 5:58 PM


Barry Shiller's vacation rental owner got a better offer just before he checked in. And suddenly, his family had no place to stay for their theme park vacation this spring.

He'd booked a house in Orlando through, a vacation rental Web...

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You'll Have Reservations About Your Reservations When You See This

(49) Comments | Posted May 24, 2015 | 5:25 PM

When it comes to booking a hotel online, what you see isn't always what you get.

Christina Daves knows. On several occasions, she's shopped for a hotel room online and then clicked through to make a reservation, only to discover she was actually dealing with a third-party site that looked...

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Read This Before You Take Pictures on a Plane

(161) Comments | Posted May 17, 2015 | 11:32 AM


Next time you're tempted to take a snapshot of an interesting cloud formation or your seatmate sprawling into your personal space on a plane, remember Arash Shirazi and Steven Leslie.

Both of them are law-abiding citizens and air travelers. And both recently ran...

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As You Grieve, Their Motto Is 'Your Loss'

(1) Comments | Posted April 27, 2015 | 8:47 PM


Marlene Eckert was looking forward to a spring river cruise in southern France, which included planned ports of call in scenic Lyon, Beaujolais, Arles and Avignon, along with an extension to Nice. But in January, her husband suffered a massive heart attack and...

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Travelers Go Beyond Voluntourism

(1) Comments | Posted April 20, 2015 | 3:12 PM


After hundreds of business trips and a vacation or two, Clement Quintyne's Briggs & Riley Rollaboard was ready for the recycler. The wheels were worn and the outside was frayed.

His wife, Debra, figured it was time for new luggage. But what to...

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Bogus Reps Anger Even More Comcast Customers

(7) Comments | Posted February 18, 2015 | 7:56 AM


It started with a message to @Comcastcares, the Twitter account for Comcast's customer service department.

"Without a doubt the worst customer service I've experienced," wrote Ryon Nishimori. "Google fiber can't come to Nashville soon enough."

Turns out Comcast was watching.

But apparently,...

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Comcast Changes Customer Name To "Wh*re" - and Worse

(102) Comments | Posted January 30, 2015 | 3:13 PM


The most shocking thing about a revelation that a Comcast employee changed a customer's name to "a**hole" was how shocked everyone was.

Readers reacted with indignation at my report that the company with the worst customer service scores in America would...

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The Travel Industry Loses Its Way in a Blizzard

(0) Comments | Posted January 26, 2015 | 12:00 PM

An epic blizzard bearing down on the East Coast of the United States today is forcing passengers to ask difficult questions about compassion and the travel industry that supposedly serves them.

It may be even more difficult for travel companies to answer them.

Airlines are waiving their strict ticket...

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