Diamond Certified Blog

Tag Archives: Consumer

Is there a “Right Way” to Give Feedback?

Delivering feedback isn’t always easy. Before deciding to speak up, you may wrestle with competing goals of personal and social responsibility versus a desire to avoid conflict. At some point, every service provider has needed constructive feedback to better serve their customers. In speaking to thousands of consumers over the years, I’ve found that some people prefer to silently move on and not use that company’s services again. In those cases, everyone loses. Armed with the following tips, you may feel empowered to turn an unsatisfactory situation around and experience increased goodwill and satisfaction.

Talk to management before posting on social media.

Bob had a puzzling exchange with an electrical technician who charged him to flip a breaker. Bob and the technician couldn’t reach an agreement. After paying his bill, Bob posted a lengthy narrative of his experience on Yelp. He also contacted Diamond Certified and the Better Business Bureau. Continue reading “Is there a “Right Way” to Give Feedback?” »

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Posted in Consumers, Customer Service | Tags: ,

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: , ,

Consumer Response to the 2016 Diamond Certified Directory

2016 directory coverWe’re thrilled about the publication of our 2016 Diamond Certified Directory. (If you haven’t received your FREE copy in the mail yet, click here.) The 10 county-specific versions have been arriving in Bay Area mailboxes throughout April and we’re already seeing significant usage. We spend a lot of time getting the Diamond Certified Directory just right, so we love hearing from consumers who use it.

Barbara S. writes, “My husband and I keep the directory in a handy place because it’s our ‘go to’ resource when we need to find a service provider for our home and/or health.” Continue reading “Consumer Response to the 2016 Diamond Certified Directory” »

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

Meet the Team: Chris Bjorklund


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

Savvy Consumer Tip: Urban Wildlife

Here are some tips for dealing with unwanted critters around your house.

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

Your Consumer Bill of Rights

We’re all familiar with the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution that were ratified in 1791. But have you ever heard of the Consumer’s Bill of Rights? President John F. Kennedy outlined them in a speech to Congress in 1962, at a time when the consumer movement was just blossoming. I think you’ll agree with me that these rights are still as important today as they were nearly 50 years ago when they were first articulated.

The six basic rights are:
1. The right to be safe. Manufacturers should cause no harm. The Consumer Product Safety Commission was formed in 1972 to uphold this right.
2. The right to choose freely. We can choose the products and services we want, and monopolistic practices are outlawed through anti-trust legislation.
3. The right to service. Businesses should be responsive and treat customers with courtesy and respect. Companies that earn the Diamond Certified award are committed to making this their highest priority. You’ll see this repeatedly in the customer comments found on each company’s report at www.diamondcertified.org.
4. The right to be informed. The Internet has made this right easier than ever, but it also means businesses should provide complete and truthful product information so we can make intelligent choices. False and misleading advertising is illegal.
5. The right to education. Consumers need access to programs and materials that help them better understand how to make buying decisions. Here again, Diamond Certified companies stand out because they spend extra time educating consumers on services they’re about to purchase.
6. The right to redress and be heard. We can voice our complaints and someone will listen, whether it’s the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General or nonprofit mediation groups. Small Claims Court is another avenue for redress and complaint resolution. Consumers who have unresolved disputes with Diamond Certified companies get extra help through the mediation process, which is explained in detail at www.diamondcertified.org.

So now you know your basic consumer rights. Use them wisely.

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Posted in Savvy Tips | Tags: ,

What’s Up With No Follow-Up? Part #2

As I told you last week, I was frustrated and puzzled when a contractor didn’t provide an estimate after visiting my property and promising to send over a bid. While waiting, I started wondering if some companies do this because they simply don’t want your job for one reason or another. That I understand, but just tell me that and I will stop bugging you! Maybe the job is too small or too far away, or they sense that you’ll be a difficult customer. Maybe the company is too busy, but just tell me that.

In this case, the reason for the delay was something else. The company owner had some serious family issues that had distracted him from the business. Of course, any of us would understand something like that and cut some slack and back off. I guess the lesson here is not to jump to conclusions, or take these things personally, but I still think a little communication with your customers makes all the difference in the world.

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What's with No Call Backs, No Follow-Up? Part #1

Most anyone in the Bay Area can commiserate with me when I say I’m frustrated with service people who don’t return phone calls, and even worse, service companies that promise an estimate and then don’t bother to produce one.

I’m trying to get a couple of projects done around the house — a small area in my backyard needs to be landscaped and I want to remodel a bathroom. For the landscaping, I’m trying a few estimates and I’m shocked that some companies don’t return messages. You keep hearing how tough the economy is, and how people are looking for work, so why not call an eager customer back? I have money and want to spend it!

The contractor came out to look at the bathroom promised an estimate the following week. Two weeks later, I still didn’t have an estimate. Then the following week I called and the receptionist said I would have it by Friday. Still no estimate. I waited more than a month and called again and left a message. I never got an estimate, and with some probing, I learned why. I’ll tell you about that in next week’s blog.

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