Sometimes, advocating for someone can mean not advocating for someone.
What do I mean? Well, on any given day, we receive between a dozen and two dozen fresh requests for help.
These aren’t emails that can be answered quickly (I get many, many more queries than that). They’re full-fledged cases sent through our help form. If you haven’t filled it out yet, let me tell you it’s a fairly detailed intake process, so getting through it means you have a serious problem and need help.
And as my team and I review them, the first question we ask is: Does this need the personal touch or would it benefit from a more public airing?
In other words, should we send this case to our small group of advocates, or should we refer it to our help forums.
There are several benefits to posting a case on the forums:
- It’s a public airing of a grievance, so other consumers can read about the problem and learn from it.
- We have a team of dedicated experts available 24/7 to offer quick answers.
- It’s a great place to get a second (or third) opinion about a grievance. You can also quickly find out if you have a valid case, because our valued forum experts are never shy about sharing their opinions.
But as any of our advocates will tell you, we sometimes send a case to the forums that we should have handled ourselves, or vice versa. Today, I wanted to share a few recent cases we sent to the forums. I’ll explain why we did so, and ask you to tell me if we made the right call.
Here’s an easy one from reader Jason Shi. He recently rented a car from Payless Car Rental and didn’t receive a receipt when he returned the vehicle. So he requested an invoice for his records. A week later, not a peep from Payless.
“I still have not received a receipt,” he says.
This didn’t rise to the level of an advocate-able case because there really wasn’t anything to advocate. Our forum advocates could help Shi find the name and email address of an executive, who could easily look into the invoice issue for him.
Why didn’t I contact Payless myself? I could have, but with so many cases arriving every day, you can’t fix everything.
Next case: Viviana Iglesias.
“Back in 2014, my husband, daughter and I had tickets to travel from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale,” she says. “Unfortunately my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. What a tragedy, with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. We couldn’t fly. I contacted Spirit Airlines, but they only gave us a month to use the tickets.”
Spirit Airlines. Sigh.
“My husband’s treatment went on for more than nine months. How could we fly? We lost our money. I know is kind of late but I didn’t know about your advocacy. If there is anything you could do for us, I’d appreciate it,” she adds.
This case is problematic on several levels. First, there’s the fact that it happened two years ago. Most of our cases have a statute of limitations, if for no other reason than companies don’t keep records going any further back. But yes, it’s also Spirit, which has a reputation for taking a hard line.