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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle Couch-Friedman is the founder and CEO of Consumer Rescue. She is an investigative consumer reporter and advocate, author, and licensed psychotherapist. Michelle is a public speaker and her expert guidance has been cited in Consumer Reports, Travel & Leisure, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Popular Science, CNN, CNBC, Travel Weekly, Reader's Digest and more. You might even catch Michelle on tv helping fix a situation. :) Michelle is also an Ombudsman Columnist for The Points Guy and the former executive director of the nonprofit Elliott Advocacy. During her six years in that position, she resolved thousands of cases for troubled travelers and other consumers. You can read hundreds of 5-star reviews Michelle earned during her service to the nonprofit since 2016 here on Great Nonprofits. Today, she continues to spend as much time as possible fiercely defending consumers and exploring the world with her family. Contact her at Michelle Couch-Friedman or on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.
Warning: Don't carry $158,000 in jewelry on your JetBlue flight. Here's why.

If you take $158,000 in jewelry on a flight and it goes missing, who pays?

Traveling with $158,000 worth of anything is a risky endeavor. Rose Cohen found out just how risky when all her high-value jewelry went missing during her recent JetBlue flight.

She believes an organized crime ring targeted her, ultimately forcing her to gate-check the bag that contained the jewelry. Her theory? This move allowed the thieves to help themselves to her gems before the flight even took off.

Now she wants to know who is going to pay for her loss.

Never rely on a stranger's guidance about the ID you need to cruise.

Never ask a stranger what ID you need to cruise. This is why

You should never rely on an anonymous stranger’s advice about the required ID you need to take your next cruise. Salvatore Friscia knows this all too well. While planning a vacation on Carnival’s Pride, he says an unidentified phone agent gave him the wrong information about the documentation requirements for the cruise. That guidance led him and his wife to show up for the cruise without the correct ID. As a result, the Friscias were denied boarding the ship and missed the entire cruise.

Norwegian Cruise Line treated this couple very differently than another couple just two weeks before. What's going on here?

Why did Norwegian Cruise Line treat these two couples so differently?

Last December, Patrick Doyle and his wife boarded a Norwegian Cruise Line ship, vaccinated and COVID negative. They intended to celebrate Christmas with a tropical cruise sailing on NCL’s Dawn. Unfortunately, within three days of embarkation, Lee Doyle became very ill. In the medical center onboard the vessel, she received a diagnosis of influenza. Her husband, who was feeling fine, tested positive for COVID, and their holiday adventure suddenly took an awful turn.

Why did this Royal Caribbean passenger think a printout from Ancestry.com was a valid ID to cruise to Canada?

No, a printout from Ancestry.com is not a valid ID to cruise!

Barbara Vannier’s adult daughter tried to check in for her international cruise with just a driver’s license and a printout from Ancestry com. Unfortunately, she quickly found out that this is not valid ID to cruise to Canada and the ship left without her. Now Barbara wants an apology from Royal Caribbean and a full cash refund for her daughter’s missed vacation. But is she entitled to either? 

The cruise itinerary changes on this trip caused the passenger to ask for a refund.

These cruise itinerary changes ruined my trip! Shouldn’t I get a refund?

The cruise itinerary changes on Iris Fennel’s recent Baltic Sea journey completely ruined her trip. She says Norwegian’s Breakaway sailed right past three out of five of its scheduled ports of call. Based on that ratio, Iris has calculated the cruise line should give her a 60 percent cash refund.

But does the cruise line owe Iris anything for these changes to the itinerary?

This tale is a harsh reminder of the reality of cruise schedules. These itineraries can be as fluid as the seas the cruise ships sail upon. In fact, the captain can change course for a plethora of reasons with little to no notice to the passengers. And if you’re curious as to what the company owes you if your cruise makes a giant deviation, read your contract. The surprising truth is there.

These college students encountered a gross vacation rental with rats in NYC. Can the Consumer Rescue team help?

This vacation rental has rats! Can the Vrbo host keep my $8,865?

After a 12-hour flight from Israel to the U.S., college students Nadav and Odelia were eager to get settled. They grabbed their luggage and headed to the cute Vrbo in Queens, scheduled to be their home base for three months. But those plans quickly changed when they arrived at the vacation rental and shockingly found rats already settled there.

Then things went from bad to worse for the tired and bewildered United Nations interns. The Vrbo host refused to release them from the nearly $9,000 rental contract. Instead, he told the young ladies to go to a youth hostel while he evicted the rats from his vacation rental property.

Now, after several weeks of trying to reason with this Vrbo host, they’re asking for our team’s help. The college interns do not want to return to the basement-level apartment where the rats have been residing. But the owner claims they are in breach of contract, and he says he gets to keep the $9,000.

That definitely doesn’t sound right to the Consumer Rescue team. So can we fix this vacation rental fiasco? 

Will Jetblue let this old cat fly home from the Dominican Republic?

Can JetBlue really refuse to let my cat fly home from vacation?!

Flying with your cat internationally can be complicated — especially when an airline changes its pet policy mid-trip. Yekis Fortunato found out just how complicated after flying JetBlue to the Dominican Republic with her 19-year-old cat, Foxxy.

Shockingly, soon after arrival, the airline summarily canceled the feline’s return flight. The reason? JetBlue updated its policy prohibiting any pets from flying to or from the island on its aircraft.

The name on your passport must match the name on your ticket. This is why.

What happens if the name on your passport doesn’t match your ticket?

Can you fly off to an international destination if the name on your ticket does not match the name on your passport?

The answer to that question is “No.”

Ralph Lantz found this out in a devastating way. He booked his friend, Jackie, a ticket to meet him on a dream vacation to Greece. But his generous gesture went all wrong at the check-in counter. That’s where Jackie’s Mediterranean plans came to an abrupt end when a Virgin Atlantic agent pointed out that the name on her ticket was not the same as the one on her passport.

Why did Travelocity send this customer to a closed hotel in a remote area of Mexico?

Why did Travelocity make me pay for a permanently closed hotel?

Rosalva Paulino recently used Travelocity to book a pleasant-looking historic property in a remote area of Mexico. However, upon arrival at the location, she was confronted by a permanently closed hotel. Complete with blocked entrances and overgrown vegetation, it was clear the hotel had been shuttered for some time. Bewildered, she scrambled to find alternative accommodations on her own.

Rosalva assumed Travelocity would apologize and quickly refund her prepaid reservation for the permanently closed hotel.

She was wrong. Her shock turned to anger when Travelocity rejected the refund request, claiming the hotel refused to approve it.