Diamond Certified Blog

Category Archives: Consumers

All Systems Cold: A Checklist for Your Air Conditioning System

air conditioning system

Check your air conditioning system early, before the first heatwave hits. Photo: Kelly Plumbing & Heating, Inc. (2017)

“I thought you don’t need air conditioning in San Francisco,” we’ve all heard someone say (usually an out-of-towner). But anyone who lives beyond the city limits knows the truth: that cool and foggy peninsula is surrounded by areas that stay hot and dry well into October. The key to staying comfortable and sane during the summer is a properly functioning air conditioning system. Before you flip the thermostat from “heat” to “cool,” take some simple steps to make sure your system is ready to go. With the Bay Area’s changeable spring weather, be sure to check your system early—you don’t want to be one of dozens of desperate customers contacting HVAC technicians when the first heatwave of the season hits. Continue reading “All Systems Cold: A Checklist for Your Air Conditioning System” »

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

Industry Overview: Pet Boarding 101

pet-boarding-facility

To ensure your pet is well cared for in your absence, it’s good to be selective when choosing a pet boarding facility. Photo: Dublin Creek Kennels, Inc. (2017)

Owning a pet is a big responsibility—after all, whether it’s a dog, cat or other kind of animal, a pet has the distinction of being a living entity (unlike your car or house). That’s why, when you’re out of town or otherwise unable to care for yours, a pet boarding facility can be an invaluable resource. To help you prepare for bringing your pet for its boarding stay, we’ve curated the following collection of information about pet boarding, including key terms, useful tips and answers to frequently asked questions.

Types of Pet Supervision Services

Since there are several types of pet supervision services available, it’s good to know the full extent of your options.

Boarding
A pet boarding facility (aka kennel) houses and cares for pets while their owners are away or can’t keep them at home for various reasons. Most kennels offer comfortable accommodations, feeding and medicine services, grooming, playtime, and socialization. Continue reading “Industry Overview: Pet Boarding 101” »

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How to Stay Up on Consumer News and Issues

Newsletters, blogs and podcasts are great ways to stay informed about consumer issues. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2017

Like most of you, I subscribe to a variety of news feeds, blogs, email newsletters and podcasts, both for entertainment and so I can learn about things I’m interested in. I’m a big fan of Flipboard, my news feed for politics, cooking and music. For local restaurant openings and news, I enjoy reading tablehopper.com, and my favorite podcast right now is “On Being” with Krista Tippett, which I learned about from a colleague at Diamond Certified. When it comes to consumer news and issues, here are a few of the resources I use to stay informed.

Consumerreports.org
This website from the publishers of Consumer Reports magazine requires a subscription for detailed product ratings. However, it also has a lot of free content with general buying advice. Continue reading “How to Stay Up on Consumer News and Issues” »

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

Your Kid’s First Car: What Every New Driver Needs to Know

auto-dealership-first-car

The first lessons of car ownership happen at the dealership. Photo: Toyota Marin (2017)

What’s the perfect accessory to go with a cap and gown? A set of car keys. With graduation season upon us, many young people will be getting their first cars before heading off to college or starting their first jobs. A car allows a young person to experience freedom and independence, but it’s also a serious responsibility. School may be over for your child, but the life lessons are just about to begin. To learn how you can help teach your child to be a responsible car owner, read these tips provided by five Diamond Certified Experts.

How to buy a car
For many young people, an auto dealership may be where the car of their dreams crashes into the reality of their bank accounts. Even if the car is a gift, it’s a good idea to include your child in the purchasing process. Continue reading “Your Kid’s First Car: What Every New Driver Needs to Know” »

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How to Use the Diamond Certified Directory

The Diamond Certified Directory Report Page

The Diamond Certified Directory features report pages for top rated companies throughout the Greater Bay Area. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2017

Last month, we mailed the brand-new 2017 Diamond Certified Directory to more than 810,000 households throughout the San Francisco Bay Area (if you didn’t get your FREE copy, click here). Whether you already rely on the Diamond Certified Directory to find top rated local companies or you’ve never heard of it before, we figured it’s a good time to get (re)acquainted.

Every April, American Ratings Corporation publishes 10 versions of the Diamond Certified Directory, covering all of the Greater Bay Area (including Monterey). Continue reading “How to Use the Diamond Certified Directory” »

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Posted in Consumer News, Consumers, Customer Service, Diamond Certified News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Response to the 2017 Diamond Certified Directory

The Diamond Certified Directory features only top rated Bay Area companies. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2017

Throughout April, the 2017 Diamond Certified Directory has been arriving in mailboxes all around the Bay Area (if you haven’t received your FREE copy yet, click here), and we’re thrilled with the responses we’ve been getting. Our ratings team spends 100 percent of their time conducting stringent customer satisfaction research to identify companies that qualify for the Diamond Certified award. The Diamond Certified Directory is our opportunity to present these top rated companies to consumers, so we love hearing from people who are using the directory to find new companies to meet their needs. Here are some samples of what we’ve been hearing:

“I engaged Westward Builders this year because I got a reference from you,” says Catherine C. “Great job!” Dean D. called to tell us that “Keech Painting Contractors were very good. They did a great job, they were reasonably priced and we were very happy with them.” Continue reading “Response to the 2017 Diamond Certified Directory” »

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Posted in Consumer Events, Consumer News, Consumers, Diamond Certified News | Tags: , ,

Industry Overview: Moving 101

From packing to unloading and everything in between, moving is a complex and rigorous undertaking. Photo: Advantage Moving & Storage (2017)

In terms of sheer scope, few enterprises are as exhaustive (or exhausting, for that matter) as moving. From the basic tasks of packing and transporting your belongings to more technical aspects like hiring a moving company and getting insurance, there are a lot of bases to cover. To “unpack” some of the complexities involved, we’ve curated the following collection of information, including key terms, helpful tips and answers to frequently asked questions.

Key Moving Terms

Bill of lading: The standard form used by the United States shipping industry to acknowledge that a carrier has received a shipment. The bill supplies a list of goods included in the shipment and specifies the terms of the shipping agreement, which include the transporting vehicle and the shipment’s final destination. It also represents a legal document that’s vital to the pursuit of loss or damage claims from a moving company. Continue reading “Industry Overview: Moving 101” »

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Elder Care: What to Do When a Loved One Needs a Helping Hand

There’s usually a sign. Maybe your mother had a bad fall, forgot to pay her bills or is unable to keep up with her medications. Whatever the reason, nearly all families will come to a point when they realize a loved one can’t fully or safely take care of daily tasks. With the first wave of baby boomers entering their 70s, elder care is a growing need for Bay Area families. Understanding the care options that are available can help families make choices that will bring everyone comfort and peace of mind.

caregiver and patient

The best caregivers will focus on building strong, trusting relationships. Photo: Interim HealthCare of Santa Rosa (2017)

In-Home Care
If your loved one needs some assistance with chores, errands or self-care, in-home care may be the best fit. Crystal Smith, manager of Interim HealthCare of Santa Rosa, says the key to a positive in-home care experience is building a strong relationship between the caregiver and the family. Continue reading “Elder Care: What to Do When a Loved One Needs a Helping Hand” »

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Posted in Consumers, Diamond Certified Experts | Tags: , , , ,

Why Won’t They Call Me Back?

I’m frustrated right now because I’ve been calling several local companies for service and haven’t heard back from any of them. I’m trying to get on a schedule for tree pruning, and I’m also attempting to schedule a furnace cleaning and fireplace inspection. I’ve left four voicemail messages for one of these companies over a two-week period. I’ve persisted because I’m a repeat customer and was satisfied with their services in the past.

There are steps you can take to ensure you get a call back from a busy company.

I understand that small businesses can get overwhelmed with consumer demand. Severe storms like we had this winter mean tree service companies, plumbers, and roofers are working overtime and can’t keep up with all the requests. Continue reading “Why Won’t They Call Me Back?” »

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

The Baby Bomb: Bracing for the Impact of First-Time Parenthood

While there’s no way to be fully prepared for parenthood, it doesn’t hurt to be proactive. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2017)

Three months ago, my wife and I welcomed the newest addition to our family: a baby boy, our third child. Four years after our last visit to the delivery room, the event reawakened the sense of joy and wonderment we experienced when our first two children entered the world. Likewise, the first few days of bonding with our son brought back memories of our early days as parents. By our third time around, we’ve become fairly seasoned—the interrupted sleep and constant diaper changing are practically second nature. But that first time…not exactly a walk in the park. As you’ve no doubt heard, nothing can prepare you for your initial foray into parenthood. Continue reading “The Baby Bomb: Bracing for the Impact of First-Time Parenthood” »

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