It’s been an incredible year for consumer advocacy. Just look at these numbers.

It’s been an incredible year for consumer advocacy. Beyond what anyone could have imagined.

My advocacy team and I are shocked by this year’s numbers — but in a good way. We’ve welcomed more visitors to the site, come to the aid of more readers, and had more help from you, our valued supporters.

In short, it’s been the best year ever.

Here’s a summary of what happened:

✓ We responded to a record number of help requests in 2017, with our cases rising 17 percent from last year.

✓ Site traffic surged by nearly 10 percent. We also raised more than $30,000 to keep the advocacy going in 2018. We’ve just started our winter fundraiser and are incredibly optimistic about meeting our goals for next year.

✓ I introduced a new syndicated consumer column called Problem Solved, and our existing consumer feature, The Travel Troubleshooter, landed in more media outlets. I spent more time than ever in live radio interviews, TV interviews and online chats, making the world safe for consumers.

But you have to dig into the numbers to see how much we’ve done — and how much your support has made a difference.

Cases rise 17 percent

We track monthly consumer complaints for grievances received through this form. These tend to be the hardest of hard-luck cases that beg to be mediated by our advocacy team. And they are.

2017 Cases
Rank Top 25 Companies Total Complaints Percent
1 American Airlines 409 9.57%
2 United Airlines 228 5.33%
3 Delta Air Lines 131 3.06%
4 Expedia 91 2.13%
5 British Airways 84 1.96%
6 Enterprise Rent-A-Car 76 1.78%
7 Hertz Rent a Car 64 1.50%
8 Southwest Airlines 52 1.22%
9 Airbnb 51 1.19%
10 Amazon.com 50 1.17%
11 Spirit Airlines 49 1.15%
12 Lufthansa 42 0.98%
13 AT&T 40 0.94%
14 Airberlin 40 0.94%
15 Turkish Airlines 39 0.91%
16 Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) 37 0.87%
17 Air Canada 35 0.82%
18 WOW Air 35 0.82%
19 Justfly.com 33 0.77%
20 Norwegian (Norwegian Air Shuttle) 30 0.70%
21 Marriott 28 0.65%
22 Travelocity (Expedia) 27 0.63%
23 Hotels.com (Expedia) 26 0.61%
24 Walmart 26 0.61%
25 Comcast 25 0.58%
Total Cases: 4276
Last Year: 3536
Percent Difference: 17.31%
Total Cases 2016: 3536
Percent Difference Year Ago: 20.93%

I’ll spare you the analysis about the worst-performing companies. Needless to say, my team and I are keeping a close eye on the top businesses and making sure that we hold them accountable in 2018. That’s why we’re here.

But there’s a silver lining: Some of this site’s corporate underwriters are also on this list, and their complaint numbers are falling from year to year. To me, that means they are doing their best to fix the complaints they have and to create more happy customers. My team and I stand ready to help them meet that noble goal.

Traffic increases 10 percent

By almost every measure measure, traffic surged in 2017. Our number of users jumped 9.63 percent to 2,674,902. Our number of sessions rose 4.03 percent to 4,245,794. Our pageviews edged up by 3.85 percent to 8,131,379. And the percent of new visitors rose by 6.02 percent, to 62.48 percent, from 58.94 percent a year ago. (Our actual traffic numbers are probably higher, since we lost a week’s worth of data when we switched themes.)

What do these numbers mean? That we had more new visitors and that they came back again and again to benefit from the advocacy on this site. That’s a beautiful thing!

A banner year for media

In 2017, we were everywhere. My flagship consumer advocacy column was picked up by several large publications, including the San Jose Mercury News and the Miami Herald. My new consumer advice column, Problem Solved, went into syndication in late 2017 through King Features and is rapidly gaining steam.

I made lots of media appearances in 2017, including radio, TV, online, and speeches. All of these help bring in new visitors to the site — people we can help. There’s no other reason to be staying up until 11 p.m. to do a live radio interview. I’m an old school journalist, trained to tell the story, not be the story. I wouldn’t be doing this unless I knew it was helping consumers who really needed it.

But 2017 was all about you

Most of all, you made 2017 so successful. That’s because you supported the site by volunteering and by making a donation as an individual underwriter. Together, we raised more than $30,000, most of them contributions of $25 or less. These allowed me to pay for the server, development and legal costs associated with running the leading consumer advocacy site on the internet.

Companies also joined the effort by supporting the Readers’ Choice Awards and becoming corporate underwriters. In 2017, we had more corporate underwriters than any other year since the site’s inception in 1997.

Next year is going to be a challenge. It feels like the whole world is against us. Our bills will be higher and I expect a lawsuit or two just to make things exciting. In other words, it’s going to be an expensive year for advocacy. The winter fundraiser, which just wrapped up its first week, has raised just over $6,000 out of $30,000. We have a long way to go.

In 2018, I’m going to offer even more ways to get involved. At a time when consumer advocacy is an endangered species, you can make a real difference. And I don’t just hope you will — I know you will.

Happy New Year!

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

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Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

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Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

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An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

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It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

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An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

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The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

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Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

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Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

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