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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

Where's The Tablet I Ordered?

(0) Comments | Posted November 26, 2015 | 6:51 AM


Joe Kim orders a tablet from, but it never arrives. Now they're balking at a refund. What gives?

Question: I've been a loyal customer of Sears and Kmart, making multiple purchases online of electronics at both stores. I recently bought a Samsung...

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Is it Wrong to Outfox an Airline at its Own Game?

(21) Comments | Posted November 22, 2015 | 10:39 AM

Nikolas Langes thought he knew every trick in the book for saving money on airline tickets. After all, he's the founder of an online start-up called Tripdelta, which specializes in finding inexpensive fares.

Turns out he didn't. One day, he noticed a discrepancy between fares based on the currency used...

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I Want My Voice Mails Back, AT&T

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2015 | 11:01 AM


Aylin Gaughan's attempt to upgrade to a new iPhone fails, but that's not the worst of it. Her voice mails are now missing. Can AT&T get them back?

Question: I visited an AT&T store to upgrade to a new iPhone recently. A sales...

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Hey Air Travelers, Here's How to Make Coach Feel Like First

(12) Comments | Posted November 15, 2015 | 3:43 PM


Air travel can be a humiliating, dehumanizing and even torturous experience -- at least according to my e-mail inbox.

I hear often from readers like Sue McDonough, who contacted me after flying from Calgary to Washington on United Airlines recently.

"After changing planes...

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Is Comcast's "Double" Play Twice the Trouble?

(4) Comments | Posted November 12, 2015 | 9:18 AM


When Jennifer Ferris re-ups with Comcast, the cable company downgrades her account. Is there any way out?

Question: I've been a Comcast customer for several years and always pay on time through an automatic withdrawal from my account. I had been paying for...

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What Happens When A Travel Company Drops a Fee? This.

(0) Comments | Posted November 8, 2015 | 12:19 PM

Hertz has quietly dropped one of the car rental industry's most unpopular surcharges: the cleaning fee.

"Although we appreciate when a vehicle is returned in clean condition, we do not charge a cleaning fee to vehicles reflecting normal wear and tear," Hertz spokeswoman Beth Davis told me.

The change, which...

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Comcast is Billing Her $1,300 For Equipment She Returned

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2015 | 1:28 PM


Comcast is charging Ruth Molina $1,300 for equipment she already returned. What can she do to call off the collection agency?

Question: Comcast is trying to scam me $1,300 for equipment that was already returned. I lived in East Brunswick, N.J., for 18...

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Don't Worry, You Can Fix Those Travel Mistakes -- Here's How

(0) Comments | Posted November 1, 2015 | 12:59 PM

All Ali Wallick wanted was the hotel room she had booked. Nothing more.

She'd made the Atlanta Marriott Marquis reservation for a busy holiday weekend almost a year in advance. But when Wallick, a programmer from Trabuco Canyon, Calif., phoned the hotel...

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Why You Should Cut Up Your Affinity Travel Credit Card

(0) Comments | Posted October 25, 2015 | 9:53 AM


A recent poll bears out something I already believed to be true, and am happy to see: Consumers are finally losing their enthusiasm for airline and other affinity credit cards.

Bankrate, an aggregator of financial rate information, reports that its Money Pulse survey...

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Oops, Wrong Theater: How About a Refund?

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2015 | 2:18 PM


Arlene Verge's theater tickets are for a performance in the wrong city. They're also nonrefundable. Does she have any chance of getting her money back?

Question: I recently ordered tickets to a show through a company called Box Office Tickets. I called their...

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Don't Lose Your Reservation - Here's How

(2) Comments | Posted October 18, 2015 | 6:12 PM


No one knows exactly why part of Andrew Smith's business class airline reservation from Salt Lake City to San Juan, Puerto Rico, vanished. But when Smith clicked on American Airlines' website to check on his in-flight meal, he discovered he was going nowhere.

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Why is My Windows 10 'Not Genuine'?

(4) Comments | Posted October 15, 2015 | 11:45 AM


When Peter McKone's computer upgrade goes sideways, he can't find the help he needs. Now what?

Question: I installed Microsoft's most recent updates. When I rebooted I got a message that my copy of Windows is "not genuine." I bought the...

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Are These Travel Companies Really Sorry?

(1) Comments | Posted October 11, 2015 | 12:49 PM


Jason Landman's stateroom on the Carnival Miracle vibrated from the moment his ship cast off in Long Beach, Calif., until it docked seven days later. "It shook and rattled literally from start to finish of the cruise," he says.

When he complained about...

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Why Travel Companies Don't Trust You

(1) Comments | Posted October 8, 2015 | 10:45 AM


Do you trust your airline, car rental company or hotel? Does it trust you?

It's a question seldom asked. But when I checked into the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch near Emigrant, Mont., this week, I couldn't help it. They didn't issue a customary...

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Help! This Wi-Fi Hotspot is Worthless

(0) Comments | Posted October 8, 2015 | 10:34 AM


Tim Kreth's Wi-Fi hotspot won't connect. Does he deserve a refund?

Question: I recently ordered a $40 Wi-Fi hotspot from FreedomPop, a reseller of cellular data from the Sprint network. FreedomPop advertises that you can get 500 Mb of data per month for...

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Uber Didn't Show Up, So What's With This Bill?

(0) Comments | Posted October 1, 2015 | 9:32 AM


Latonya Holloway calls Uber for a pickup. But when it doesn't show up, she's charged anyway. Is there any hope for a refund?

Question: I recently called Uber for a pickup. I waited for the driver but he never came. Uber charged me...

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Don't Play These Gas Price Games on Your Next Road Trip

(1) Comments | Posted September 27, 2015 | 12:17 PM

Rick Hudnett recently pulled into a Chevron station near his home in Orlando. He wishes he hadn't.

The $2.41 price per gallon was a few cents lower than average, so he assumed he had found a bargain. And he did, except for one teensy detail. When he swiped his credit...

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Comcast Sends Collection Agency After Sick Customer

(0) Comments | Posted September 24, 2015 | 11:11 AM


Comcast has sent a collection agency after Theresa Weir. Is it going after the wrong customer?

Question: I'm being harassed by a collection agency working on behalf of Comcast. Please help me.

Late last year, I closed my Comcast account. At the time,...

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Airline Space Deficit Turns Into a Human Rights Issue

(1) Comments | Posted September 21, 2015 | 4:09 PM


Do you have the right to room on a plane?

If you answered "no," you're probably with the majority of American travelers. After all, airlines are private companies, and you always have the option of paying more for an upgraded seat, don't you?

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He's Ready to Throw His Windows 10 Upgrade Out The Window

(140) Comments | Posted September 17, 2015 | 10:24 AM


Ross Jones's Windows 10 upgrade goes wrong and now Microsoft wants him to pay $499 to fix it. Is that right?

Question: I recently upgraded my computer to Windows 10. After that, my Microsoft Outlook won't stay connected to the exchange server that...

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