Ollyy/Shutterstock

Ollyy/Shutterstock

This is the online edition of Elliott’s E-Mail, my free weekly newsletter. Please join me next Monday morning for The Christopher Elliott Show, an irreverent half-hour conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Tune in to the hashtag #elliottshow at 11 a.m. At 11:30 a.m., I’ll be joined by special guest Doug Parker of Cruise Radio fame on my channel.

□ HOW THEY RUINED THE FAMILY VACATION

The American family vacation needs an overhaul. Once the best opportunity for enrichment and education as well as much needed R&R, today it’s often a dysfunctional, unhealthy, sense-dulling waste of time and money, typically enabled and abetted by an unimaginative travel industry. I have details on what went wrong — and how to make it right — in my National Geographic Traveler column. What’s your take? Is the family vacation in need of a reboot?

□ WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Where’s the fee “breaking point”?
If you travel, you pay fees. The smart travelers know how to avoid most of them. The rest? Not so much. But here’s what I’d like to know: When will we say “enough”? At what point will the fees go too far? Can you think of a time when you were hit with a fee and said, “That’s it, I’m never going to work with this travel provider again? I’d love to include your thoughts in my story. As always, don’t forget include your full name, city and occupation.

Wanna become the world’s smartest traveler?
I know you do. Then do this now: Pre-order my new book, How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle). It’ll help you navigate the ins and outs of the travel industry and save lots of time and money. Details are right here.

Let’s talk!
The stories you see in this newsletter are just a starting point. I hope you’ll take a minute to leave a comment, whether you agree or disagree with something I’ve written. Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google. I’m listening. And of course, I’m also here if you need me.

□ POSTS YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS

New company contacts: TripAdvisor, Yelp and more!
We’ve moved all the company contacts from On Your Side back to Elliott, and are updating all of them. In the last few days, we’ve added new entries for TripAdvisor and Yelp, plus AAA Travel, Travel Leaders and updates on several airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. By the way, if you have absolutely awesome research skills and want to help compile these subversive company cheat sheets, please let me know. We need you!

Is Your Pre-Paid Phone Card Company Committing a Felony?
When is an hour just 36 minutes? When you buy some phone cards, apparently. That’s the conclusion of a recent Federal Trade Commission investigation, which found certain pre-paid calling cards offered an average of just 40 percent of call minutes customers thought they were buying — and some, significantly less. Read the details in my Mint.com column.

Check confusion at Macy’s is driving me #$&!@ mad
David Garcia writes two checks to Macy’s, but they’re deposited in the wrong place. Now it can’t help him fix the problem. How can he fix this problem? Read more in my latest Problem Solved column.

Do I deserve a refund after my destination turned dangerous?
Diane Austin’s problem isn’t that unusual, which is why I’ve decided to write something about it. In April, she booked a $730 roundtrip ticket in April through Orbitz on American Airlines to fly to Puerto Vallarta. Should I mediate this case?

□ MY PARTING SHOT

Only a few more hours until my big announcement. Can’t wait!