How to actually keep your New Year’s resolutions

new year's resolutions

If you’re like me, you’ve probably forgotten the New Year’s resolutions you made a few days ago — or are at least thinking about forgetting them.

Maybe the 20,000 steps you vowed to take every day are closer to 10,000 this weekend. Maybe ice cream is back on the dessert menu. (Oh, you saw us over at Nami in Phoenix on Saturday? The kids made me do it.)

But for me, one thing is not negotiable: the promises I made in December to take our consumer advocacy to the next level.

Keep your New Year’s resolution by taking one step at a time

Last week, my father shared a speech by investment manager Stephen Duneier that helped me understand how my advocacy team and I can keep our New Year’s resolutions. It’s as simple as putting one foot forward and taking a step. We may not get there tomorrow or even six months from now, but with enough persistence, we can do it.

For example, at the moment we’re struggling with modernizing our daily email newsletter. You wouldn’t believe all of the complex processes that go into creating a newsletter every morning.

But we’re making one change now: We’re moving our transmission time from 5 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. That way, the message is at the top of your inbox when you open your email program.

Yes, we’d love to have all the list segmentation and personalization done tomorrow. But that’s not how things work at a volunteer organization. The ship turns slowly.

By the way, if you know anything about email marketing and want to help a good cause, please contact me.

New year, new challenges

I also posted our new list of 2019 donors last week. That was really exciting because we already have supporters this year.

Is your name on the list? If it is, thank you. Individual donors are the lifeblood of this advocacy organization. We rely on them to cover our basic expenses, such as our server, email program, IT development expenses, and other fixed costs.

If you’re tired of being taken advantage of by big businesses, please consider adding one more New Year’s resolution to your list: support our consumer advocacy site. Put your name to this list today.

A great week for advocacy

We’ve been exceptionally busy this month. For the first 13 days of 2019, we’ve received 356 cases — up 66 percent from a year ago.

Here’s the full list:

Rank Top 25 Companies Total Complaints Percent
1 American Airlines 51 14.33%
2 Sears Holdings 40 11.24%
3 Marriott 26 7.30%
4 Walmart 23 6.46%
5 Amazon.com 22 6.18%
6 Enterprise Rent-A-Car 21 5.90%
7 Expedia 20 5.62%
8 AT&T 18 5.06%
9 WOW Air 15 4.21%
10 American Express 14 3.93%
11 PayPal (Ebay) 14 3.93%
12 United Airlines 14 3.93%
13 Airbnb 13 3.65%
14 Lufthansa 12 3.37%
15 Priceline 12 3.37%
16 Royal Caribbean (RCCL) 12 3.37%
17 Comcast 11 3.09%
18 T-Mobile 11 3.09%
19 Facebook 10 2.81%
20 Hertz Rent a Car 10 2.81%
21 Target 10 2.81%
22 American Home Shield 9 2.53%
23 British Airways 9 2.53%
24 Groupon 9 2.53%
25 Justfly.com 9 2.53%
Total Cases 1/1/2019-1/13/2019: 356
Total Cases 1/1/2018-1/13/2018: 215
Percent Difference: 65.58%

I’ve been trying to find new outlets for my nationally syndicated columns in order to help even more people. It’s not easy. Most of the newspapers are not buying any more syndicated columns. In fact, my old paper, the Dallas Morning News, just laid off 20 newsroom employees. I was an intern at the Morning News in 1989 and they carried my syndicated column for more than a decade.

It appears the Sacramento Bee has also dropped the Travel Troubleshooter, but not because they don’t like it. It looks as if they eliminated the travel section.

If you know of any newspaper that still has a features section or a travel section, and that might be interested in my column, please let me know.

This week’s stories

Don’t get bored on vacation: Tips to keep the kids engaged
Climbing to the top of Sugarloaf Loop Trail in Sedona, Ariz., for a round of Uno easily ranks as one of the strangest things we’ve done as a family. Then again, there’s almost nothing I wouldn’t do to keep the kids from getting bored on vacation.

This Great Value Vacations trip wasn’t so great
When Linette Warnecke’s travel companion breaks her hip and has to cancel a Greek vacation, her tour operator, Great Value Vacations, is reluctant to refund the trip. What can she do to encourage the tour operator to do the right thing?

This Popcorn Factory promotion code doesn’t work — I want a refund!
When the Popcorn Factory promises to honor Sandy Diggins’ coupon code for a $104 order, she waits. And waits. And waits. Where’s her $25 credit — and can this consumer advocate help her get it?

She agreed to the flight schedule change. Now she wants a refund
How much is a flight schedule change worth? If you said $440, then maybe you’re familiar with Dineen and Ray Ebert’s case against Affordable Travel, a travel agency they recently used to book flights from Venice, Italy, to Dubrovnik, Croatia.

What’s next? Here are the top travel trends for 2019
If you like crowds, personalized travel experiences or talking to machines, then you’re going to love traveling in 2019. That’s because “overtourism,” personalization and artificial intelligence rank among the top travel trends of the new year, experts say. And, as in years past, you’ll also pay more to get where you’re going.

Many, many thanks for supporting the journalism and advocacy I do with my team of advocates every day.

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Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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