It’s that time of year when you follow the herd to the mall and gorge on the displays.
That’s right, I’m talking about the irrational holiday shopping season. Think I’m overstating this? The authoritative National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts a 3.9 percent rise in holiday sales this year, meaning that collectively, Americans will buy $602 billion worth of gifts before the end of this year.
The average holiday shopper will drop $737 on gifts, décor and greeting cards, according to the NRF. That’s some serious gorging!
This year, I’m not going to tell you to avoid the frenzy. (What kind of Scrooge would I be?) Instead, as a service to consumers, let me help you understand what the other members of the swarm actually mean when they talk amongst themselves. [continue]
From time to time, a case crosses my desk that leaves me a little cross-eyed. Melissa Davenport’s does all that, and more.
Let’s get a few things out of the way: There’s a lot about this honeymoon-gone-wrong story that we don’t know. I’m relying on you to help me figure which missing pieces we need to collect – and ultimately, if this case is even fixable.
But based on what Davenport says happened to her daughter Amanda and her new husband, Dan, I think it’s remarkable that they’re still married.
The couple had been planning their honeymoon for a while. But life got in the way of their big vacation. The first winter after they were married, they couldn’t get away because they were still in college; the second winter, Amanda was serving in Afghanistan.
“So you can imagine the anticipation and excitement when it was finally time for them to go,” says Davenport’s mom. [continue]
When did travelers lose their manners? When did they stop saying “please” and “thank you,” start filling the entire overhead bin with their carry-on luggage and stop bathing? The answer is in my USA Today column.
□ BIG CHANGES ARE COMING IN 2014
We have several really big announcements to make in early January, including an exciting new digital project, a new site that you’ll definitely want to see, and one or two more surprises. Can’t say more except to stay tuned. You’ll read about it here first!
□ WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What else should be allowed on planes?
First they allowed electronic devices. Now they’re probably going to allow cell phones. So … what’s next? Well, that’s what I’d love you to tell me. Your answer can be serious or facetious, but by all means, please share your opinion. As always, don’t forget include your full name, city and occupation.
Help us make travel better
Are you tired of just reading about the latest consumer problems? Do you want to do something about it? Well, now you can. We need volunteers with strong research, mediation and analytics skills to help build a next-generation consumer organization. It’s gonna be big, and it launches in 2014. Here’s how to get involved.
Nothing could have prepared Jeff White for the shock he got after printing his boarding pass for a recent Delta Air Lines flight from Pensacola, Fla., to Albany, N.Y., by way of Atlanta. Right there, next to his name, was a confirmation code that proclaimed: “H8GAYS.”
“At first I didn’t think I read it right,” says White, a student at the University of West Florida. “I was worried that another customer might think I somehow picked that code. If I were a gay male, I might have thought that a Delta worker purposely gave me that code, and that would have made me extremely uncomfortable.”
Every day, in ways big and small, airlines offend their customers. Most of these transgressions are fairly minor, from serving the wrong meal to addressing a guest by the incorrect name. But taken together, the incidents raise a larger question: How should companies respond, and what kind of compensation, if any, are travelers entitled to? [continue]
When Juventino Garcia and his wife arrived in Madrid for a recent tour of Spain and Portugal, they didn’t understand a word anyone was saying. Garcia and his wife don’t speak Spanish or Portuguese, but they’d been promised a bilingual guided tour by their tour operator, Sunbound Vacations.
“We were on a Spanish-only tour with people mostly from Latin America,” says Garcia. “We notified Sunbound by email, and they responded letting us know that they would handle the situation.”
It took seven days before the tour accommodated them.
“But the local guides who spoke English were directing their presentations primarily in Spanish, understandably for busload of Spanish-speaking people. We were given synopsized versions at times in different locations, away from what was being explained,” he says. [continue]