Diamond Certified Blog

Diamond Certified Experts: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency

You may not be able to predict a vehicle emergency, but with proactive measures and knowledge, you can be prepared when it happens. Photo: Ramirez Tow (2016)

You may not be able to predict a vehicle emergency, but with proactive measures and knowledge, you can be prepared when it happens. Photo: Ramirez Tow (2016)

Nine times out of 10, driving is as simple as getting from point A to point B, but every so often, things don’t go according to plan. Whether a minor collision, a mechanical failure or a dead battery, vehicle emergencies are an inevitable part of driving, so it’s important to be prepared. To gain insight on how to do this, we’ve asked five Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to weigh in on some common scenarios. Continue reading “Diamond Certified Experts: Being Prepared for a Vehicle Emergency” »

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Posted in Auto Tips, Diamond Certified Experts | Tags: , , , , , ,

Five Steps for Negotiating a Speedy Partial Refund

Have you ever hired a service provider to perform a repair and found that while certain elements of the performance were acceptable, other elements weren’t performed correctly? Here are some tips for speaking with the manager/owner to request a partial refund.

1. Prepare your mind
Be rational when asking for a partial refund—it shows the other party that you’re realistic and makes an implicit promise that a speedy fix is within sight. Separate what you know to be true (the service contract, industry requirements) from what you believe to be true (your subjective assessment and intuition).

2. Temper your approach
Try to gradually escalate pressure in your tone, language and body language. In order to achieve this, you have to be deliberately relaxed in the beginning. Breathe and be cordial. State what your expectations were before work began and clearly explain where they fell short. Continue reading “Five Steps for Negotiating a Speedy Partial Refund” »

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Posted in Customer Service, Savvy Tips | Tags: , , ,

New Year, New Routines: How to Get Your Home Ready for School

It’s that time of year again: students in San Francisco go back to school in less than a week, and the rest of the Bay Area follows quickly behind. Whether you’ll miss the lazy, crazy days of summer or can’t wait for the structure of a school day, it’s time to (re)develop your “school’s in” routine. Last year at this time, we discussed four great ways to get your home ready for the school year. New year, same helpful tips. Here are four things you can do to jump back to school with panache.

Boy with backpack going back to school

A newly minted first-grader takes a final look back at summer. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2016

Create a family launch pad.
A launch pad can help soften the pain of school-morning madness…at least according to Cynthia Ewer, editor of Organizedhome.com. Using bookshelves, hooks and cubbies, you can create an area for all of the things your family needs to get out the door in the morning. A launch pad can be as simple as a cleared space on a bookshelf, but if you need a big solution for a big problem, consider hiring organizational help to create a functional, highly efficient system. Continue reading “New Year, New Routines: How to Get Your Home Ready for School” »

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Posted in Consumers, Home improvement, Home Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

All About Outdoor Kitchens

If you enjoy dining alfresco, an outdoor kitchen can double your pleasure by allowing you to cook outside as well. Photo: Riptide Construction, Inc. (2016)

If you enjoy dining alfresco, an outdoor kitchen can double your pleasure by allowing you to cook outside as well. Photo: Riptide Construction, Inc. (2016)

With Alain Joske, owner of Inscapes

With the beautiful weather in the Bay Area, it’s no wonder that one of the biggest local home improvement trends is to extend one’s living space to the outside with add-ons like decks and covered patios. However, even though these exterior additions are great, you can take your alfresco experience to a whole new level by building an outdoor kitchen, which will allow you to prepare meals and dine under the sun or stars. To learn about the process of outdoor kitchen construction, we’re joined by Alain Joske of Inscapes.

Plan way in advance. An outdoor kitchen isn’t built overnight—it’s a lengthy process, and the actual construction is often the shortest part. Continue reading “All About Outdoor Kitchens” »

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Posted in Consumers, Home improvement, Home Tips, Landscaping Tips | Tags: , , , , , ,

Savvy Consumer Tip: Teen Driving

Do you have a teenager who is about to start driving? Watch this video for some helpful tips.

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Children’s Vision Care: Frequently Asked Questions

This summer, we’re scouting out answers to some of your frequently asked questions about children’s health. Earlier, we published Children’s Dental Care: Frequently Asked Questions. This week: children’s vision FAQs.

Children's vision care

Nutritional health and exercise will help keep a child’s eyes healthy throughout their life. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2016

How can I tell if my preschooler has vision problems?
The American Optometric Association (AOA) provides the following list of signs that may indicate vision problems among young children: Continue reading “Children’s Vision Care: Frequently Asked Questions” »

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Posted in Consumers, Health Tips, Savvy Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

Industry Organization Spotlight: National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)

Realtor_logoThe National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is the United States’ largest trade association, consisting of more than one million members that include residential and commercial brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and other real estate professionals. All members are identified as REALTORS, a registered designation that signifies their commitment to the association’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. NAR’s key priorities include promoting the success and professional development of its members; conducting research and exchanging information; and advocating on the behalf of its industry, its members, and American property owners.

Professional Development
NAR and its affiliated institutes, societies, and councils offer an extensive array of programs and services to help its members enhance their professional skills and knowledge. Continue reading “Industry Organization Spotlight: National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)” »

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Reinforcing Your Home with Seismic Retrofitting

With geologists predicting a large earthquake in the coming years, now is the time to get your home properly reinforced. Photo: Paradigm Concrete & Construction, Inc. (2016)

With geologists predicting a large earthquake in the coming years, now is the time to get your home properly reinforced. Photo: Paradigm Concrete & Construction, Inc. (2016)

With David Lorber, owner of Superior Builders & Remodelers

Living in the Bay Area, we have a lot to be thankful for, from the mild, sunny weather to the lush, scenic landscape. Additionally, we’re spared from many of the severe weather phenomena that exist in other areas, such as hurricanes, blizzards and tornados. However, there’s one destructive natural force the Bay Area isn’t exempt from: earthquakes. While an earthquake may lack the portentous visual dread of a Midwestern twister, perhaps no other natural disaster is able to inflict such a devastating toll in such a brief span of time—often mere seconds. What’s worse, we’re due: Geologists predict that a large magnitude earthquake will occur in Northern California within the next 30 years, likely along the Hayward Fault. Continue reading “Reinforcing Your Home with Seismic Retrofitting” »

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Posted in Consumers, Home improvement, Home Tips, Real Estate Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Money Matters: Managing a Loved One’s Financial Affairs

If you have an aging loved one in your life, make sure you’re prepared to help them maintain their physical and financial well-being. Photo: Chris Bjorklund (2016)

If you have an aging loved one in your life, make sure you’re prepared to help them maintain their physical and financial well-being. Photo: Chris Bjorklund (2016)

My brothers and I are fortunate to still have our 95-year-old mother in our lives, but we do have a lot of responsibility for her physical and financial well-being. We’ve helped her with estate planning, medical directives and investments, and we manage her bills, doctors’ appointments, medications, and caregivers. My older brother, a certified public accountant, has power of attorney. Like most families, we have a lot going on and it can be overwhelming at times.

Despite our collective efforts to keep things organized and do advance planning, we’ve had some glitches. Continue reading “Money Matters: Managing a Loved One’s Financial Affairs” »

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Posted in Consumers, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips | Tags: , , , , ,

Choose a Fabric that Performs (So You Don’t Have To)

Guest Post By Ron Smith, owner of J. Hettinger Interiors

choosing upholstery fabrics

Keep in mind that better fabrics will be priced higher. Photo: J. Hettinger Interiors, 2016

Ready for a makeover? Whether your old sofa needs a facelift or you’re redecorating your entire home, selecting fabrics will be a key part of the design process. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

First, when it’s time to select a fabric for your furniture, cost should be just one of the many factors you consider. A design professional can help you choose fabrics that wear well, clean easily and keep their color over time. Continue reading “Choose a Fabric that Performs (So You Don’t Have To)” »

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Posted in Consumers, Home improvement, Home Tips, Savvy Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,