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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

What Not To Wear On Vacation

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2016 | 8:52 AM

Sue Groenewegen is dressing conservatively. Dan Church plans to blend in. And Robin Smith is wearing “less bling.”

It was bound to happen, with all the recent incidents of terrorism and dire State Department warnings. The last thing anyone wants to do this summer, it seems, is...

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DirecTV Damaged My Roof -- Now What?

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2016 | 8:36 AM

When a DirecTV dish damages Dianna Bush Nix’s roof, the company agrees to pay her for the repairs. But more than a year later, why is she stuck with a $3,695 bill?

Question: My roof was damaged by a DirecTV dish more than a year ago. I...

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A Big Win For Passengers In Washington

(0) Comments | Posted July 17, 2016 | 10:57 AM

After months of debate over the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, and at an apparent impasse over privatizing air traffic control, Congress has settled on a compromise — with some unexpected benefits for the average air traveler.

The House and Senate have agreed on an extension that...

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What To Do When Your Switchplates Go Dark

(0) Comments | Posted July 17, 2016 | 10:39 AM

The brass switchplates in Robert Goodbar’s home look a little tarnished, even though he’s only had them for a few months. Can we help him get a refund?

Question: Earlier this year, I bought $210 worth of polished brass switch plates for the light fixtures in my...

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How To Not Spend Your Vacation Standing in Line

(0) Comments | Posted July 10, 2016 | 4:51 PM

You know that part of your vacation where you hold your breath and hope for the best? It used to happen just before the plane landed, in that precarious moment between heaven and earth. But lately, it’s been taking place on terra firma, when you arrive at the...

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Hey DirecTV, Wait Until The President Hears About This!

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2016 | 10:18 AM

A DirecTV representative waives Brian Stocks’ early termination fee. Then the company un-waives it. Is there any way to fix this misunderstanding?

Question: I just had a conversation with DirectTV you might find interesting. I was thinking of switching cable providers, but thought that there might be...

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What Now, Orlando?

(0) Comments | Posted June 27, 2016 | 7:56 AM

Eva Dickerson’s recent Orlando visit ended on a less-than-magical note.

Her family vacation coincided with the shocking murder there of singer Christina Grimmie. Over the next few days, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history left 49 dead at a packed Orlando nightclub, and an alligator attacked...

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Vegas ATM Steals $600 - Can You Get it Back?

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2016 | 8:59 AM

Lisa Selle has $600 sucked out of her debit card in Las Vegas. Why won't American Express cover her loss?

Question: On a recent visit to Las Vegas, someone accessed our American Express prepaid debit cards and withdrew $300 from each of them at an automatic teller...

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Please Take Me Off Your List, Petco

(0) Comments | Posted June 19, 2016 | 12:28 PM

Try as hard as she might, Michelle Blanchard can't get off Petco's email list. What will it take to get the company to stop contacting her?

Question: I recently signed up for Petco's customer loyalty program, called Pals Rewards. You get $5 off for every $100 you...

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Is the FTC About to Ban Hotel Resort Fees?

(0) Comments | Posted June 19, 2016 | 12:21 PM

An alarming rise in mandatory resort fees is pushing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to consider a change to its four-year-old policy on the controversial surcharges.

In 2012, the federal government’s consumer protection agency allowed hotels to add required fees to their room rates as long as...

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For Cryin' Out Loud, Wear a Headset on the Plane!

(0) Comments | Posted June 18, 2016 | 12:26 PM

You probably have a lot in common with Rick Brunson.

Okay, maybe you’re not an information technology consultant, and maybe you don’t live in Barnesville, Ga. But you probably don’t like lots of noise — especially when it’s in an already noisy place, like the inside of...

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For Summer Travelers, Less is More (Better Get Used to It)

(0) Comments | Posted June 7, 2016 | 12:15 PM

This summer, beware of the word “new” and its sidekick, “improved.”

The travel industry, flush with profits, is touting improvements to its products now, just as people begin to plan their summer getaways. But do their “improvements” make the product better, or are they just coming up...

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Why Won't T-Mobile Honor Its Upgrade Offer?

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2016 | 6:07 AM

T-Mobile offers Sharon Lewis an upgraded phone, but is it telling her the whole story? To find out, read on.

Question: I received a notice from T-Mobile that I was eligible for an upgrade of my phone. I've been a customer for years and have done this...

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If My Gift Cards Don't Expire, Why Are They Expiring?

(0) Comments | Posted May 27, 2016 | 10:11 AM

Dennis Tucker's gift card balance keeps shrinking. A closer look reveals the source of the leak. But can it be stopped?

Question: I have a question about the balances on my American Express cards. The first one was a $70 rebate card from McAfee. I used the...

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Do You Think Norwegian Should Fly? Here's What Passengers Say

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2016 | 8:56 AM

Affordable. Comfortable. On time.

Those are just some of the words Norwegian Air passengers are using to describe the discount airline, which is patiently waiting for a foreign air carrier permit from the U.S. government for its Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (NAI). Many customers rave about...

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He Returned His AT&T Phone, But Why is He Still Getting a Bill?

(0) Comments | Posted May 20, 2016 | 8:22 AM

Richard Dixon returns his AT&T phone after filing an insurance claim. But the carrier is charging him for a new handset anyway. Why?

Question: I recently filed a claim with Asurion for a replacement AT&T phone. During the activation of the device, the screen looked broken, so...

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Hey Google, I'm Not That Sheila Lamb!

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2016 | 10:23 AM

Question: I need help with my Gmail account. My email is and someone in the UK has evidently set up an account as

I'm getting a lot of this person's emails. She evidently does a lot of online shopping and I get all the email...

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Lyft and Uber Pull Out of Austin, But Deceptive Pricing Is Here to Stay

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2016 | 6:48 AM

If you thought comparison shopping was hard with traditional travel companies, just try the sharing economy.

Lightly regulated companies such as Airbnb and Uber can make it as difficult as traditional travel sites — and sometimes even harder — to determine the final price you’ll pay, let...

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His DirecTV Bill Was $708 Instead Of $72

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2016 | 11:11 AM

After Christopher Gomez switches to DirecTV, he receives an unexpected bill. Now what?

Question: I need your help. Earlier this year, I called to disconnect my AT&T U-verse Internet and TV service, since the price was going to almost double. They could not match a competitor's price...

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Airlines to Congress: Stop Norwegian Air!

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2016 | 3:53 PM

If there's any doubt Congress is beholden to the powerful airline lobby, this should settle it: An influential group of representatives has just introduced a bill that would effectively block Norwegian Air from operating between the United States and Europe.

That's right, Congress is protecting our airlines...

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