How to become a consumer advocate

Admit it — you read this site because you love to see consumers win. Whenever an advocate intervenes to make things right, you cheer. But what if you could be that advocate?

Well, you can.

This week, we’re recruiting our summer class of consumer advocates. You’ll learn from the top consumer advocacy team in America while you help resolve real cases in real time.

How you can become a consumer advocate

As you know, we rely on help from volunteers to help us advocate, edit, research, write and produce our stories. We always welcome new volunteers who want to join our cause.

Fill out the form. We need a little information about you first. So step one is to fill out this short form.

We’ll send you details. My team will review your form and reply. We may need a little more information from you. If we have everything we need, we’ll send you instructions on how to get started.

You’re all set! And that’s it. You’re on the team and ready to help save the world.

Is it really that simple?

Yes — and no. As with any volunteer activity, you get out what you put in.

After we have all of your information, we’ll ask you to sign up for an account in our help forums. That’s where we advocate most of our cases. We assist consumers collaboratively and in real time.

Our forum managers will give you a special internal trainee designation and help you navigate your first few days as an advocate. We’ll equip you with the tools you need to become an effective advocate. But we also want to observe how you interact with consumers during this short probationary period.

After a few weeks of on-the-job training, our managers will talk to you about other opportunities, which include editing, newsletter production, research, and writing. You may also decide you like the faster pace of forum advocacy and choose to stay — which is absolutely fine!

It’s not easy to become a consumer advocate

Many are called to the advocacy. But I have to be honest — our washout rate is about the same as the Navy SEALs.

Advocacy is hard and at times thankless work. Sometimes, people are not happy with the resolutions we offer and get upset at the advocates trying to help them. Other times, advocates will disagree with the best resolution, and the infighting makes some volunteers drop out, unfortunately.

I hope you stick around. We need a few good advocates to help us with the crush of new cases we receive every day. We also need dedicated advocates who can edit, research and write.

If you’d like to help, please fill out this short form. I’ll be in touch.

This week’s stories

Here are this week’s columns. Please like and share them if you have a moment:

Here’s a little unsolicited parenting advice from the road
I’m as averse to unsolicited parenting advice as the next dad. But when the advice comes from the road — which is to say, the lessons learned from more than two years of nonstop travel — it feels a little different.

Overbilled by $480 for my Expedia car rental
Elizabeth Welke’s Expedia car rental has a surprise at the end: an extra $480 charge. Why won’t Expedia or her car rental company help her fix it?

What’s with these “transaction fees” charges on my Sinemia tickets?
After Edith Caballero encounters surprise surcharges and technical difficulties with Sinemia, a movie ticket service, she asks for a refund. Is anyone watching?

Will this new law kill car sharing?
A proposed new law that regulates peer-to-peer car sharing companies may quietly kill an emerging business in Maine. But the repercussions could be felt across the country. If it did, it would represent an important victory for the car rental industry, which says it’s trying to create a level playing field to compete with companies such as Getaround and Turo.

Unpacking hacks: What to take out of your bag when you arrive and what to leave in
You don’t have to rummage through the internet for long to find helpful packing tips this summer. You know, roll your clothing (don’t fold), carry on your suitcase (don’t check) and, of course, pack light. But this vacation season, maybe you really need a few unpacking tips.

Posted in This Week Tagged

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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