“The issue has been resolved”


I’m done.

I’ve combed through more than 10,000 emails trapped in a queue and responded to every one.

For those of you following along at home: I haven’t been getting all of your messages. Since January, some emails were landing in an unchecked “in” box instead of getting forwarded.

Yeah, it’s pretty embarrassing.

I started by retrieving the September messages and the August emails. Then I covered the summer missives.

Yesterday, I reviewed the emails from last spring. And now I’m getting to the rest, from February to March.

What a fascinating exercise. It offered me a new perspective on consumer complaints. Here are a few new things that I learned:

Patience really does have its own rewards. After sending my apology and asking for an update on a case, the most common response was: “The issue has been resolved.” That gives me hope that the system still works, at least to some extent. Not always, of course — but maybe more often than I thought.

The worst offenders are still the worst. Reading eight months’ worth of complaints was depressing because for a short while, I thought certain parts of the travel industry had gotten their act together, based on the lack of grievances from readers. But no. The legacy airlines still stick it to their passengers. Frivolous car rental damage claims still get made by the usual suspects. Sigh.

I’m a number, you’re a number. In the end, our cases can be reduced to a single record locator or expressed as a binary “yes” or “no”. I have no illusions about my own role in all of this. I’m expendable. A day will come when this site will go dark and I’ll be parked in a rocking chair somewhere, enjoying my golden years. None of this will matter.

Oh, and one more thing: I found that I’m a little too eager to respond to emails that are critical of my work. Sometimes, it’s best not to respond to a tirade at all. I’m working on that.

If you’re one of the folks who tried to send me a message during the last few months, please accept my sincerest apologies. If you have an unresolved case, let me know. All of my email addresses work now.

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.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus

  • wildly_curious

    I still do–you’d replied to me and told me I’d be hearing from SWA, I never did, I replied to your email, and never heard from you. I’ll send you another email. Thank you!

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Thank goodness you’re done! That shows a great deal of integrity on your part, going through all those emails and doing your best to apologize, resolve and ultimately, to care.

    Hope now that you can regain some of your sunny disposition. I did notice that your sense of humor is starting to come back (with the Sunday poll question). That provoked a lot of laughter at a family celebration dinner tonight, so thank you for a nice conversational opening!

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    “Oh, and one more thing: I found that I’m a little too eager to respond to emails that are critical of my work. Sometimes, it’s best not to respond to a tirade at all. I’m working on that.”
    YES!!! Have faith in yourself, your abilities, your intellect and your opinions. Don’t respond to most negative tirades at all … or do what many of us do with negative attacks: “respond” and keep it in a file … don’t send or publish it. You’ll enjoy reading them all when you’re in that rocking chair on the porch.

  • BMG4ME

    As someone who also replies to every e-mail that needs a reply, I am impressed that you went through 10000 e-mails. How many do you get a day?

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I get hundreds of emails a day, sometimes more. I managed to send form responses to some and others were press releases. Some required an immediate and personal response. I’m migrating to ZenDesk, which will allow me to get some help with this. To be honest — I’m overwhelmed.

  • BMG4ME

    Some of mine are easy to deal with because they are subscriptions. Others require personal attention. If you are getting 100s of the latter kind, perhaps you need an assistant to deal with your e-mail? If you want to call me some time (e-mail me if you have lost my number) we can set up some time for me to spend some time giving you some other hints and tips.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I definitely need an assistant. It’s on my to-do list.

  • BMG4ME

    Let me know if you want to set up some time to discuss other ways to manage e-mail better (like you I don’t charge for helping people!!!).

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Thank you, that’s very generous. I’m actually working on a way to collaboratively answer the emails, through volunteer mediators. We’re using a program called Zen Desk. Have you ever worked with it?

  • BMG4ME

    Chris, I have not, but I have heard of it.