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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Consumer reporter and ombudsman

Michelle Couch-Friedman is the founder and CEO of Consumer Rescue. She is a consumer advocate, ombudsman columnist, mediator, writer, and licensed psychotherapist. Michelle is a public speaker, and her expert guidance has been cited in MarketWatch, Consumer Reports, Travel & Leisure, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Popular Science, CNN, CNBC, Boston Globe, CBS News, National Geographic, Travel Weekly, Reader's Digest and more. You might even catch Michelle on TV reporting on a situation. :) Michelle is also the travel ombudsman columnist for The Points Guy and is 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. She is also a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. Today, she continues to spend as much time as possible fiercely defending consumers and traveling the world with her family. Contact her at Michelle Couch-Friedman or on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.
Is this the worst booking mistake ever? This traveler wanted a beach, family vacation and ended up in the mountains of Kingston, Jamaica in a business hotel.

Here it is: The worst booking mistake I’ve ever seen

What if you made the worst booking mistake ever — and realized it just moments too late?

Lori Korosek did just that. This novice traveler intended to book a relaxing all-inclusive beachfront hotel in Jamaica for her son and herself. But she accidentally ended up with a nonrefundable, landlocked business hotel that forbids children — located one hour from the beach.

Now Lori is asking our advocacy team if we can do anything about her $1,500 vacation planning gaffe.

Lori’s colossal booking mistake underscores the fact that not everyone should attempt to book their own travel. In this case, a professional trip advisor could have provided critical guidance to this rookie traveler. And although we don’t typically mediate self-created fiascos, Lori has an extenuating circumstance that I found difficult to disregard.

This traveler's car crashed in the sea! Now he's plunged into an insurance nightmare.

His rental car crashed into the sea. Now he’s in a $27,825 insurance nightmare!

Last fall, Russell Wayne’s rental car inexplicably crashed into the ocean in a picturesque seaside town in Spain. Unfortunately, the strange accident totaled the Europcar-owned Audi and plunged Russell into an insurance nightmare with Chase Eclaims.

Now Russell is asking our advocacy team for help in getting his $27,825 insurance claim paid.

Can we do it?

Can Robinhood freeze a customer's account and keep their money?

Robinhood froze my account and kept my $3,000 inside! Is this legal?

Robinhood, the online millennial-focused brokerage site, brags that “Investing is simple here.” That sounded great to Bryan Bryan when he was looking for an easy way to invest some cash. So, he followed the onscreen prompts, transferred $2,400 into his Robinhood account and prepared to make his first transaction.

Of course, as is true with any investment, Bryan knew there would be some risk involved. But what actually happened, he never saw coming. That simple investment he hoped to make turned into an instant nightmare. Robinhood accepted his money, immediately froze his account, and refused to explain why.

That was four months ago.

This car rental mistake was a doozy! Can Hertz charge its customer $951 for returning the car to the wrong location?

Is this really a $951 car rental mistake?!

Andrew Dupuy made a “little” mistake when he returned his recent car rental in Seattle. He says an innocent oversight caused him to drop the vehicle off at the wrong place. Only after it was too late to fix the problem did he see the shocking price tag of his error.

Now Andrew is asking if he’s really stuck with the $951 penalty the car rental company charged for this mistake.

Can we help?

This Expedia customer's reservation at an all-inclusive went all wrong -- to the tune of a $7,000 hit. But who caused this problem?

My Expedia booking went all wrong! How did I end up owing $6,987 extra?

Something went terribly wrong with Catherine Duffin’s last Expedia booking. She used the online travel agency to plan her family’s New Year’s getaway to the all-inclusive Xcaret Resort in Mexico. Assuming the cost displayed on her Expedia confirmation would indeed include everything, she received a shock at check-in. That’s when hotel management asked for not only the over $16,000 she expected to pay — but also an additional $8,000.

How did an Airbnb scammer book a trip to France with this consumer's account?

If an Airbnb scammer takes $1,942 from your account, can you get it back?

Is your Airbnb account safe from scammers and hackers?

Berenice Anaya certainly thought so. In fact, the possibility of a criminal accessing her Airbnb account and causing havoc had not even crossed her mind.

However, this Airbnb user recently woke up to an unpleasant reality after a scammer successfully hacked right into her account. The Airbnb security team thwarted the thief and prevented him from completing his ultimate goal. But not before $1,942 was removed from Berenice’s bank account.

So why won’t Airbnb return the money to its victimized guest? That’s what Berenice is asking our team after repeatedly trying unsuccessfully to retrieve her cash from the company.

What’s going on here, and can we help?

This social influencer asked for a business class upgrade in a most terrible way

This “influencer” asked for a business class upgrade in the worst way

Could asking for an upgrade to business class end with you getting kicked off your flight — and banned for life?

Maybe.

“Social Influencer” Jacqueline Ng insists that’s exactly what happened to her when she recently asked for an upgrade. Cathay Pacific agents turned down her request in no time and then kicked her off the flight. Worse, the airline accused her of fraud and banned her from all future flights.

Jacqueline says this is all a misunderstanding. Now she wants our advocacy team to investigate and ask the airline to reverse the banishment.

This family got left at the pier. Is the cruise line responsible?

This family got left on the dock! Is the cruise line responsible?

If you show up with the wrong ID to board a cruise, you’ll get left behind on the dock as the ship sails away without you.

Unfortunately, Charishma Motwani and her family experienced this awful scenario firsthand. As a result of documentation confusion, they missed their much-anticipated Alaskan cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Bliss.

Charishma says Norwegian Cruise Line is responsible for the mistake that caused her family to miss their voyage. She believes the cruise line owes her a do-over or a refund for their lost vacation.

And once you hear the facts of her tale, you just might agree.

This one day car rental turned into a $1,000 fiasco and this Hertz customer wants you to know about her experience. She also hopes our advocacy team can get her money back.

Here it is: the worst car rental experience so far this year!

Beth Mowery just had the worst car rental experience of her life, and she wants you to know about it.

When you rent a car, you probably assume you’ll only pay for your own rental. But several days after Beth returned her last rental car, she received a nearly $1,000 upcharge. As it turns out, Hertz billed her for someone else’s rental. What followed was a series of careless mistakes that the car rental company refused to acknowledge or correct. And each mistake was more frustrating than the last.

Now Beth hopes our advocacy team can help fix these errors and retrieve her money.

What should a consumer do if a stranger drops money into their bank account via Zelle and then demands it back?

An angry stranger sent me a Zelle payment by surprise! Is this a scam?

What’s the safest thing to do if you receive an unexpected Zelle payment and then an angry stranger asks you to send it back?

That’s something Erin Scheithe wants to know. She recently received a surprising text that an unknown person had made a $925 Zelle payment to her. Soon after that, a panicked woman emailed pleading for the return of the misguided funds. But when Erin asked her bank for guidance, things really started going wrong.

Erin’s frustrating tale is one you’ll want to read if you have a cash app like Zelle or Venmo installed on your phone. Although these services can be a great way to send money to friends and family, they’re also a great way to lose a ton of cash. Here’s what you need to know to help you decide if a money transfer app is right for you.