This is the end!

the end

This is the end. It’s the end of the busy Thanksgiving travel period, the end of the Black Friday shopping frenzy — and the end of our fall fundraiser.

But I know it’s going to be a happy ending.

The end of the Thanksgiving travel season

It was a heckuva week to travel, from traffic to flight delays to winter storms. If you want to know how to avoid future mishaps, you have to check out this morning’s Forbes story on the airlines to avoid during the holiday travel period.

We’ve received hundreds of requests for help during the holidays, and we always answer them quickly and do our best to help. Quality journalism and prompt help. You count on my consumer advocacy organization — and me — for that every week.

We’re here for you during Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years — and beyond. And I’ll always be here with the kind of original, no-nonsense journalism you can count on to get you through your trip or any consumer experience. (Did you catch my story about fake reviews, just in time for Cyber Monday?)

[Shopping for the holidays? Please use our Amazon Smile link. Every purchase will help us.]

This is the end of our fundraiser, too

We’ve been fundraising for the last month and everything wraps up this week. You know what that means, don’t you? Southwest Airlines tickets. That’s right, I’m giving away roundtrip tickets to any Southwest destination, which, by the way, will include Hawaii next year.

You want them. I know you do. I’m giving away the tickets to a random underwriter this week. Here’s how to participate.

My advocates and I had hoped to raise $40,000 this month to pay our bills. We just passed $10,000 last week.

What happened? We timed the fundraiser to coincide with the big political fundraisers before the U.S. election, and we just couldn’t compete with them. Next year, we’ll start in September, which is usually when our public radio and TV colleagues hold their fundraisers.

I hope we can get a little closer to the $20,000 mark before everything wraps up. It would certainly go a long way to covering some of our essential costs.

There’s still time to become an underwriter — and possibly win one of the tickets. Just click on this link and you’re in.

Yes, this is the end. But with your support, it can be a happy one.

This not the end of the advocacy

I’m redoubling my efforts to make my consumer advocacy organization (really, I should say your consumer advocacy organization) the best it can be. In December, I’m wrapping up that book proposal. I think Advocate This will help countless consumers overcome a system that’s rigged to extract their money and give them nothing. I can’t wait to share the details with you.

This week, I also have a lot of stories that will help you become a smarter consumer. How do you avoid weather delays? I’ll tell you in today’s Washington Post. Stay at a hotel without getting ripped off? Check my USA Today column. Nice to be in the Chicago Tribune with my story on a washed-out vacation rental.

Thanks for sticking with me. With your help, I know this will be a great conclusion to 2018.

This week’s columns

These unwanted guests joined us on vacation. Here’s what we did about them
When it comes to vacation trouble, the worst is the kind that you don’t see coming. I’m talking about insects, rodents, and other creepy-crawlies that decide to join you on your getaway. Add kids to that mix and you have the soundtrack for a horror movie. You know, the blood-curdling scream, followed by. “Daaaaaaad! Come heeeeere!”

The road to my VRBO rental washed away. Why can’t I get a refund?
Linda Robinson’s VRBO rental is unreachable after the road washes away during a storm. But is her booking protected by the company’s “book with confidence” guarantee?

My Fitbit Charge 2 cracked — how can I fix it?
Melissa Hill’s Fitbit Charge 2 cracks after a little more than a year. Is the company’s offer acceptable — or should it do more for her?

Don’t make these common holiday travel mistakes
At about this time every year, radio and TV producers ask me to go on the air and dispense travel advice. They’ll ask me how to avoid the biggest holiday travel mistakes. And at about this time every year, I really want to tell them, “It’s easy: If you want to avoid holiday travel hassles, stay home.”

Why travel agents want you to call them travel advisors
When Peter Schwartz needs to book a trip, he doesn’t contact a travel agent. He calls a travel advisor.

Have a great week!

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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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