Slippery reviews and other scams your momma never told you about

When are you likeliest to get scammed? This week, I have a few answers in my column — and they might surprise you.

I’m coming to you today from gorgeous Savannah, Ga. I hope you’re following the fun on Twitter and Facebook in real-time. I’ll have a full report in the usual places later this week. Some of the images on Flickr are really incredible. This city sure doesn’t take a bad picture, as they say here.

I wanted to give a shout-out to our friends at the Travel Hacking Cartel, which is a brave underwriter of this site and newsletter. If you want to travel smarter, you’ll want to stop by and check out the cartel now.

I have way too much material to share with you this week, including a new National Geographic Traveler column about user-generated reviews that you won’t want to miss. I’m also hard at work on my latest ebook about cruising. You can find the latest section on troubleshooting your cruise here.


• Sandals lost her wedding pictures. What does it owe her? No one can seem to agree.

• Should I blacklist “involuntary downgrade” cases? Tell me.

• Is that new FAA bill any good for air travelers? I break it down for you. Read it in the Washington Post, too.

And I couldn’t let a week go by without a check on our friends at the TSA. I examine the case of the underwear protesters and wonder how effective they’ve been. You can also read this story on the Huffington Post. Have a great week!

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 Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Douglas Muth

    Your column about user-generated reviews resonated with me.  I am currently working for a startup that is solving this problem by getting review data from your friends and friends of friends (aka the people whose opinions matter to you).  

    If you have a moment, stop on by our website and let us know what you think:

  • Jerry Constant

    I do NOT trust reviews from any on line source. On a recent trip to Phoenix & Palm Desert read up on reviews mostly from Trip Advisor.
    Went to to 4 star recommended restaurents & both were HORRIBLE
    Then went to another restaurent that was given a 1 star & found food & service to be excellent.
    So now we take our chances on our own!

  • finance_tony

    I’ve seen iterations of this at least a dozen times….what makes yours different?  Despite the dangers of fake reviews, isn’t the power of traditional ratings sites in their sheer numbers and breadth?  Is there really going to be critical mass of friends and FoFs on my Facebook network to help me make a sound judgment if I travel to say, Chicago, and want to find a good Indonesian restaurant?  All of the failures before you say….No….but I’m all ears.

  • Douglas Muth

    > I’ve seen iterations of this at least a dozen times.

    Such as?  We are not aware of any current competitors in the social search scene.  If you know of some, please tell me.