Diamond Certified Blog

Savvy Tips on Researching Products and Services

I’ve found that being a savvy consumer takes a little extra effort in the short run, but there are big payoffs in the long run. The larger the purchase, the more time and effort I put into the research and vetting process.

When it comes to product ratings, Consumer Reports is the gold standard of consumer protection. (For the record, I served on its national Board of Directors for more than 20 years.) Its website, consumerreports.org, has detailed and objective ratings on everything from washing machines and refrigerators to new cars and auto insurance. A second website called The Sweet Home has a different twist on product ratings and a different business model. Continue reading “Savvy Tips on Researching Products and Services” »

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What To Do When the Contractor’s Bid Hasn’t Arrived

Sometimes there are good reasons why a contractor’s bid hasn’t yet arrived. Photo: Anderson Window & Door Installation, 2017.

One of the most common complaints we hear from consumers who are starting remodeling projects is that contractors don’t submit estimates in a timely fashion. To address this, we’re republishing one of our most popular posts, which features advice from Joy Lanzaro, Director of Mediation and Compliance, on what to do when a contractor’s bid hasn’t arrived. Hope you find it helpful!

The complaint often looks like this:

“How long should I wait for my contractor to provide an estimate? The estimator seemed really nice and keeps promising a bid, but it’s been weeks! I try to only hire locally but I’m tired of waiting and wasting my time. If they didn’t want my business, why not just tell me and stop stringing me along? I would never try to do business with them again and will tell my friends not to do business with them. Just thought you should know…”

Continue reading “What To Do When the Contractor’s Bid Hasn’t Arrived” »

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Video: Engine Fluid Maintenance

Earlier this week, we posted an article featuring expert tips on auto engine maintenance. One of the aspects mentioned was the importance of changing and monitoring engine oil and transmission fluid. To learn more about this crucial component of vehicle care, watch this video by Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Ken DeMartini of Japan Auto Repair, Inc.


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Diamond Certified Experts: Under the Hood

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, one of the most important areas to address is under the hood. Photo: Wayne & Son’s Automotive Repair (2017)

A vehicle has several components that need to be maintained, from tires to brakes to suspension. However, the most critical of these components are found under the hood—namely the engine and transmission. We’ve asked eight Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to give their tips on caring for these vital organs of vehicle operation.

Fluids are the lifeblood of the engine, providing the necessary cooling and lubrication to allow its moving parts to function safely and smoothly. That’s why ongoing fluid maintenance is crucial for maximizing engine lifespan. Ken DeMartini of Japan Auto Repair, Inc. says this starts with engine oil. Continue reading “Diamond Certified Experts: Under the Hood” »

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5 Ways to Prevent Data Loss on Your Home Computer

data recovery computers

If you have a seriously damaged computer, it’s best to find a data recovery firm to attempt repair work rather than relying on DIY solutions. Photo: DriveSavers, Inc. (2017)

We all know the paralyzing feeling of having a computer frozen on the “blue screen of death,” or worse, a computer that won’t turn on at all. Family photos, financial documents, novels in progress—our home computers often contain our most personal and valued information, which is why regular backups are important. If you realize something is seriously wrong with your machine, the next steps you take will make the difference between recovering data and losing it forever. To prevent potential data loss, Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Mike Cobb of DriveSavers, Inc. recommends the following:

  1. Pay attention to noises. It’s normal for computers to make some noise, like the hum of the ventilation fan. Other noises are certainly cause for concern. If you hear any grinding, clicking or whirring sounds from your machine, call a professional data recovery firm.

Continue reading “5 Ways to Prevent Data Loss on Your Home Computer” »

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Concentration Station: How to Create a Home Office

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, close to 25 percent of all employed Americans work from home at least some of the time. This is hardly surprising given increasingly longer commutes and the growth of the gig economy. If you’re part of this trend of telecommuters, you probably already know that working from home has its upsides and downsides. The key to staying on task while surrounded by the distractions of home is to create a home office where you can be your most productive. Let’s go through the steps.

home office interior design

As telecommuting gets simpler, dedicated home office spaces have become more important for homeowners. Photo: Closet Factory (2017)

Step 1: Establish Your Work Station

If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated room for a home office, you’re already set. Continue reading “Concentration Station: How to Create a Home Office” »

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Savvy Consumer Tip: How to Find a New Doctor

Watch this video for some helpful tips on choosing a new doctor.

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Industry Overview: Pest Control 101

pest control bay area

Pest control is a year-round problem for Bay Area homeowners. Photo: All N One Pest Eliminators (2017)

The Bay Area’s moderate climate and abundant green space make pest control a year-round problem. At any given time, residents may find their homes overrun with insects such as termites and fleas or confronting trespassing animals like mice and rats. While many are eager to eliminate potentially harmful pests, there are also concerns about the effects of pesticides on people and pets. In this article, we’ll demystify the pest control industry by defining key terms used by professionals, providing tips for a pest-free home and answering frequently asked questions about eliminating pests.

Key Terms for Pest Control

Broad spectrum: Something that affects a wide range or large number of organisms. In pest control, the term “broad spectrum” usually refers to broad spectrum insecticides or pesticides that kill a wide variety of insects. Continue reading “Industry Overview: Pest Control 101” »

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Promises Made + Promises Kept = An Extremely Satisfied Customer

I had such a seamless experience with a light installer a few weeks back, I wanted to tell you about it. My husband and I purchased two wall sconces that had to be installed in a stairwell. Once we realized that we didn’t have the right kind of ladder for the installation and weren’t sure how complicated the electrical work would be, I started looking for a provider. After a few false starts, I found a local lighting company that suggested making an installation request through an online form.

People remember when they’ve had a great experience with a contractor. Photo: Roberts Electric Company, Inc., 2017

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had mixed success with requesting a quote this way. Often, you never even hear from the company—it can feel as though your request for service has gone into a black hole. Continue reading “Promises Made + Promises Kept = An Extremely Satisfied Customer” »

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Yard-Wise: 6 Ways to Improve Your Property’s Exterior Efficiency

From your garden to your pool, there are several areas where you can improve your exterior efficiency. Photo: Landmark Landscapes (2017)

Like many Bay Area homeowners, you’ve probably taken measures to reduce your home’s water and energy usage, such as installing water-saving plumbing fixtures and switching to LED lighting. However, you may have overlooked another part of your property: your yard. From your garden to your pool, there are several areas where you can save water and energy by improving your exterior efficiency. Consider the following measures:

Improve irrigation
If you’re using an outdated sprinkler system to water your lawn and garden, you may be wasting water every day. Traditional sprinkler heads are known for their inefficiency, losing a substantial amount of the water they distribute to wind and sun evaporation. Fortunately, you can easily upgrade your system for a surprisingly low cost. One option is to convert to streamers, which are designed to provide a more direct delivery of water. All you have to do is switch out your old nozzles for streamer nozzles, which cost a little more than $1 apiece. Continue reading “Yard-Wise: 6 Ways to Improve Your Property’s Exterior Efficiency” »

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