Frequently asked questions about Christopher Elliott

Who are you?
How did you get involved in this kind of work?
How can you be a journalist and an advocate at the same time?
You founded an advocacy group for travelers. Isn’t that a conflict of interest?
Any skeletons in your closet, Chris?
You’ve done a lot of travel writing. Ever taken a free trip?
You spend almost as much time criticizing consumers as you do companies. Whose side are you really on?
Do you have an agenda?
You like to throw around the phrase: “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” a lot. Please explain what you mean.
Will you speak to my group or convention?
Do you attend trade shows or conferences?
Do you belong to any trade organizations or associations?
Do you do any product endorsements?
Do you have any weaknesses?

Who are you?

I’m a consumer advocate and journalist. Here’s more about me and the causes I fight for.

How did you get involved in this kind of work?

I started as a business reporter and began to get involved in consumer disputes in the mid-1990s because readers asked for my assistance. Here’s my extended biography for details.

How can you be a journalist and an advocate at the same time?

The world is filled with people who wear two hats. I’m one of them.

You founded an advocacy group for travelers. Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

Actually, I founded two advocacy groups. I helped start an organization called Travelers United in 2009. And I also started Elliott Advocacy.

There is no conflict.

Any skeletons in your closet, Chris?

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t have a few scrapes with the authorities. Anyone who tries to advocate for consumers is going to get into a little trouble — whether it’s a subpoena from the Department of Homeland Security or a libel lawsuit. I’ve been there.

I’m actually proud of my combat record. I haven’t won every battle, and haven’t always been right, but I’m still here, fighting for what I believe. Here are a few of my favorite mistakes.

You’ve done a lot of travel writing. Ever taken a free trip?

I used to work for a travel trade publication, I spent years as a freelance travel writer, and I write a weekly column about family travel. Do the math.

I’ve read your work. You spend almost as much time criticizing consumers as you do companies. Whose side are you really on?

Look, it gets messy out there in Consumerland. I’m interested in a fair outcome of a dispute. I want people to get what they paid for. I’m not here to stick it to any business and I don’t have a hidden anti-corporate agenda.

Do you have an agenda?

Yes. When every consumer reads their contract carefully, asks all the right questions, patronizes only ethical, customer-focused businesses and knows how to resolve any disagreements in a polite and productive way, I’ll fold up my laptop and ride off into the sunset. My work will be done. Until that time, I’m here to help.

You like to throw around the phrase: “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” a lot. Please explain what you mean.

That’s an old journalism adage. I see myself as being a voice for the voiceless: comforting the afflicted, in other words. Many consumers have knowledge, attorneys and money at their disposal, and they don’t need me. I’m fine with that.

Sometimes, when you stand up for the little guy, you realize that the people who have everything — the “preferred” customers with the gold cards sitting in the first-class lounge, are part of the problem. If they’re offended by my sometimes populist rhetoric, then I feel as if I’m doing my job. That’s what “afflicting the comfortable” means to me.

Will you speak to my group or convention?

Yes, I do lots of public speaking. But I limit my topics to customer service and consumer advocacy issues.

Do you attend trade shows or conferences?

I avoid crowds unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Do you belong to any trade organizations or associations?

Sorry, I don’t play well in groups. Nothing personal.

Do you do any product endorsements?

My email newsletter is supported by corporate underwriters, just like NPR or PBS. I do not sell links on any of my sites. Underwriters support my consumer advocacy. I used an affiliate link to track the sales of my last book on Amazon. I’m a terrible shill (trust me, I’ve tried it). I feel compelled to tell the truth, always. I think I make a much better consumer advocate.

Anything else I need to know?

Not really. I disclose everything on this site, but if you think I’ve missed something, please let me know.