Diamond Certified Blog

Meet the Team: Chris Bjorklund

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Chris Bjorklund, also known as “The Savvy Consumer,” is a consumer specialist and consultant for the Diamond Certified Program. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2015)

Over the course of a career spanning more than four decades, Chris Bjorklund has handled consumer affairs from a number of different angles: nonprofit, as Director of Consumer Education with the Better Business Bureau; government, as an investigator for the Consumer Fraud Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office; and media, working behind the scenes at KPIX-TV and as a consumer reporter for KGO Radio. Through it all, Chris says her purpose has remained the same. “My entire career has been about advocating for consumers, empowering them and educating them about their rights. And after 40 years, that’s still my mission.”

Today, as a consumer specialist and consultant for the Diamond Certified Program (where she’s known as “The Savvy Consumer”), Chris says she enjoys the positive turn her career has taken. Continue reading “Meet the Team: Chris Bjorklund” »

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Raw Honesty: What Consumers Want in Pricing

ImageForFeb newsletterBLOG.pngA few weeks ago, when I called an appliance repair service to fix a problem with my refrigerator, the technician was extremely clear about the cost of his services. The minimum for a house call was $89, and after that, he billed in 15-minute increments for his labor. He would not be charging for his travel time. However, the parts were extra, and at that point he didn’t know if any would be needed to fix a freezer with a layer of ice building up underneath the ice cube trays. I appreciated his direct approach and transparency. Upon arrival, he quickly diagnosed the problem and made the tricky repair. The total bill of $170 didn’t surprise me, and I was thrilled to have the fridge working in time for the holidays. Continue reading “Raw Honesty: What Consumers Want in Pricing” »

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Posted in Consumer News, Consumers, Customer Service, Personal Stories | Tags: , , , , ,

Industry Organization Spotlight: The National Kitchen & Bath Association

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For over fifty years, the National Kitchen & Bath Association has been promoting service and quality excellence in the remodeling industry. Photo: Altera Design Kitchen & Bath (2015)

Overview
Established in 1963, the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) is a nonprofit trade association that consists of more than 60,000 professional members from all spheres of the kitchen and bathroom remodeling industry. The association’s stated mission is to enhance the success and excellence of its members, promote professionalism and ethical business practices, and provide leadership and direction for the kitchen and bathroom industry worldwide. Continue reading “Industry Organization Spotlight: The National Kitchen & Bath Association” »

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Diamond Certified Experts: Pro Painting Tips

While it may seem simple enough, painting can be a surprisingly complicated task. Photo: John Molloy Painting (2015)

While it may seem simple enough, painting can be a surprisingly complicated task. Photo: John Molloy Painting (2015)

To the uninitiated, painting may appear to be a deceptively simple task, which may be why so many people opt to take the DIY route when repainting their homes. However, without prior experience or knowledge of the many variables involved, a novice painter is liable to make a potentially costly mistake. To help consumers gain a better familiarity with the ins and outs of the painting process, we’ve asked four Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to provide their helpful expertise.

Avoiding paint compatibility issues: Cleve Dayton of The Painting Pros
When repainting, a common mistake is to apply a water-based paint product over an existing oil-based surface. Due to their differing consistencies, water-based and oil-based paints are unable to properly bond together, which means even a recently applied coat will soon begin peeling off the wall. To avoid this situation, always pre-test the character of a painted surface by applying a rag or cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. If paint comes off, it’s water-based; if not, it’s oil-based. Continue reading “Diamond Certified Experts: Pro Painting Tips” »

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The 2015 Diamond Certified Directory is Coming!

2015 directoryThe 2015 Diamond Certified Directory is in the final stages of production, which means printing is just around the corner! More than 800,000 copies of the Directory will be sent to homes and businesses throughout the Greater Bay Area. Each Diamond Certified company is presented with a full-page profile that includes:

  • Contact information (address, phone number, website, email)
  • Services and service areas
  • Business profile and philosophy
  • Verbatim survey responses from real, verified customers
  • In-depth ratings information, including customer loyalty and customer satisfaction rankings
  • Legal information (insurance coverage, California business license)

Continue reading “The 2015 Diamond Certified Directory is Coming!” »

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Mediator Tip: Provide Two Ways to Reach You

Problem resolution is much easier if you provide a company with easy ways to contact you.

Problem resolution is much easier if you provide a company with easy ways to contact you.

A couple of weeks ago, a customer contacted us by email to report a complaint about a company. She explained that a Diamond Certified arborist did not follow industry standards, and because of their negligence, she was certain her trees would be lost. She was reasonably angry and intended to report the company to multiple agencies. She said we needed to contact her, so we did. I sent her two emails, one with our complaint form and a second to inform her that the company she was reporting was not Diamond Certified. She didn’t provide a telephone number. So, I waited…

Continue reading “Mediator Tip: Provide Two Ways to Reach You” »

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Prepare to Prepare: Getting Ready To Do Your Taxes

Advice and resources for preparing my 2014 tax return.

Deduct tax preparation from your to-do list so you can enjoy a day out. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2015

Like house painting, preparing to prepare your tax return comprises the bulk of the work. With good preparation, actually completing your tax return is a piece of cake. If you’re one of those people who carefully manage tax documents all year long, pat yourself on the back. If you’re like those of us who find tax preparation painful at best, read on.

First: Organize
Whether or not you’re using a tax preparer, having organized paperwork will make all the difference. As your W-2s, mortgage interest statements and bank paperwork arrive, put them in a large, well-marked envelope. Ideally, throughout 2014, you’ve done the same with all of your receipts for tax-deductible expenses (if you haven’t, don’t worry—we’ll cover that in a minute).
Continue reading “Prepare to Prepare: Getting Ready To Do Your Taxes” »

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Posted in Consumer News, Consumers, Customer Service, Diamond Certified Extras, Savvy Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Puppy (and Kitten) Love Part 2: Basic Care for a New Kitten

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to acknowledge the love we receive from our feline friends. Photo: Megan Harris (2015)

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to acknowledge the love we receive from our feline friends. Photo: Megan Harris (2015)

In the previous installment of our two-part series, Dr. David Horne of Companion Animal Hospital in Santa Cruz talked about the basics of puppy care. In part two, we’ll hear from Dr. Donna Baird, associate veterinarian at Companion Animal Hospital, about the basics of caring for a new kitten.

Picking out your kitten
When choosing a kitten, it’s important to consider the source. “While it’s not uncommon to see someone with a box of kittens on a street corner, a better source is a private home or shelter, both of which will give you some idea about your kitten’s origins,” says Dr. Baird. “Ideally, you should try to see its mother, as she can tell you a lot about the kitten. In many cases, if the mother is feral, her kittens won’t be as easily socialized as kittens that come from a domesticated cat.” Continue reading “Puppy (and Kitten) Love Part 2: Basic Care for a New Kitten” »

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Puppy (and Kitten) Love Part 1: Basic Care for a New Puppy

Diamond-Certified-cute-puppy

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s a good time to acknowledge the love we receive from our loyal and furry companions. Photo: Galen Workman (2015)

Whether celebrating a long-term relationship or discovering a new romance, Valentine’s Day is a time to show appreciation for the loves of our lives. Yet, while the spirit of the holiday emphasizes love between people, there are some of us whose primary object of affection isn’t a person at all, but a dog or cat. After all, what’s a purer source of unconditional love (not to mention cuddling fulfillment) than a beloved pet?

In honor of the love we receive from our furry friends, we’re posting a two-part series on how to care for a new puppy or kitten. Here, in part one, Dr. David Horne of Companion Animal Hospital in Santa Cruz gives an informative summary of the basics of puppy care. Continue reading “Puppy (and Kitten) Love Part 1: Basic Care for a New Puppy” »

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Industry Overview: Real Estate 101

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Whether you’re planning to buy or sell a home, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with basic real estate concepts and terminology. Photo: The Bower Cole Group (2015)

For the uninitiated, real estate can be like learning a new language. In this article, we cover some of the basics, from key industry terms to commonly asked questions.

Distinguishing Designations
With all the different titles in real estate, it can be hard to keep track of who’s who. Here’s a simple breakdown of the main real estate designations:

Realtor: A realtor can be an agent, broker or other real estate professional. What defines a realtor is not their designation, but their adherence to the Code of Ethics set forth by the National Association of Realtors, which you can read here.

Agent: An agent possesses a salesperson license with the California Department of Real Estate (DRE). In order to practice real estate, agents need to associate themselves with particular brokers (known as “hanging a license” in the industry). Continue reading “Industry Overview: Real Estate 101” »

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