I know what you sent me this summer


You’ll never believe it, but I’ve managed to sift through all of the June and July emails this weekend. And I haven’t thrown my laptop out the window yet.

The Readers Digest version so far: Since January, 10,000 emails have been stuck in a digital limbo. It’s a mother lode of messages – everything from requests for help from consumers to hate mail.

I’ve already reviewed the September messages and the August emails. I’m happy to report that I’m down to about 3,000 messages, after weeding out the autoresponders and spam press releases.

The most embarrassing email? That would be the one from my sister in Phoenix with pictures of my newborn niece. I’m so sorry I missed that one, Aimee. And a very belated thanks for sending snapshots of the new baby. She’s a cutie.

One email exchange left me reaching for the tissues. It came from a woman who had contacted me this summer, asking for help with a refund on a ticket after her cancer had returned. I emailed her back to apologize for the delay. A few hours later, I received an response from someone someone who identified herself as a close friend.

Too late, he said. She had passed away.

It just doesn’t get any worse than that.

But there’s also reason to be optimistic. At least half a dozen cases that I couldn’t immediately respond to had already been resolved through the normal customer-service channels by the time I got to them. And these weren’t minor conflicts. They involved sizable refunds and above-and-beyond fixes.

It just goes to show that sometimes, the system works.

I have to stress the “sometimes.” I see many more cases that went absolutely nowhere in my absence, and I will get to all of them in the next few days. And of course, I’ll be making even more apologies as I shuffle through the mailbox.

I guess now I know what it feels like to run an airline.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Laura Heintz

    As a teacher, I want to change the world. Sometimes I have to settle for one student, one classroom at a time, which isn’t so bad either. It’s just a hard reality we all have to face.

  • polexia_rogue

    this is why people who call you a “scam” are so disrespectful. with all the cases you have, the ones who make it in to an article should feel honored.

  • Wackiedon

    Nice reveal Chris……Keeping it honest.
    All eye and ears I hope… will be on you in the last speakers position at the Auto Rental Summit. This time of day is when things start to thin out especially after the smoothie break, so lets see how popular or “un” thereof you are.
    I have know the group as self serving and back patting. They always start off as compassionate and overly concerned about their customer “service” and end up rallying the troops around making the most “money” out of the customer …whatever the cost.
    Are you the type of presenter whom feeds off the “vibes” previous speakers and adjust your presentation accordingly? Wing It? Or stick to your guns …blazing as your hosts see red or are seen red in the face.
    I hope to be in the “crowd” otherwise; I / We await your feedback if any, from the summit.
    Keep up the good work Sir.