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 VOL. 5, ISSUE 8 - AUGUST 2012

In This Issue

I Hear You

Diamond Certified Community Giving Project

Ask Chris: Shopping Credit Cards

Consumer Feedback:
Mike Testa
Plumbing, Inc.

New Diamond Certified

Savvy Tips of the Month

Preventing and Controlling Mosquito Problems

Two Ways to Save Money on Pet Drugs

Debit vs. Credit

Diamond Certified Quick Links






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I Hear You

customer service agent

Do you make mistakes when you’re rushing to get things done? I certainly do. Recently, I was in a hurry to order and send a wedding gift, and in my haste, I forgot to enter the “free shipping” promo code during the online checkout process. As I completed the order and reviewed the confirmation page, I realized I was charged $13.50 for shipping. I decided to take the time to call customer service and find out if it was too late to waive the fee.

Within five minutes of placing my order, I was connected to a friendly customer service agent who listened patiently to my story. I acknowledged it was my mistake but said I thought it was worth asking for the shipping waiver anyway. When I said, “That’s a lot of money,” the agent gave me the best possible response: “I hear you. We’re all watching our pennies these days.”

I was surprised at the power of the phrase, “I hear you.” Even if the customer service agent hadn’t credited the $13.50 shipping fee, I would have come away with a good feeling about the interaction and, by extension, the company. Obviously, their people are trained to be empathetic and good listeners.

Sometimes, being heard is all we really want. When your voice is heard—whether it’s a complaint, request or simple observation you want to share—it’s both satisfying and empowering. Too bad more service providers and companies don’t get that. By the way, the representative not only listened and empathized, she also refunded the shipping fee!

Chris Bjorklund signature
Chris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer

Chris Bjorklund

Diamond Certified Community Giving Project

Diamond Certified® Preferred Customer Card

Now when you sign up to become a Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer, we will donate $1 to a local charity of your choice. Organizations include The Marine Mammal Center, Parents Helping Parents and Pets Unlimited, to name a few. Membership is always free and comes with numerous benefits, including a special member hotline, members-only access to additional tools on, a double Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee and more. Join now by calling (800) 313-1009 or visiting Become a Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer today and help us give back to the organizations that have made the Bay Area such a great place to live!

Ask Chris
Dear Chris:
My brother needs to find a credit card with good terms. His credit score is solid and he plans to pay off most of the balance every month. What’s the best way to shop for one? —J.B., Petaluma

credit card art

Dear J.B.,
The good news for consumers is that it’s much easier to shop for credit cards than it used to be. First, your brother needs to think about how he plans to use the card. Most cards fall into one of three categories: cash back, travel and low interest. If you pay your balance in full every month, you can consider a cash back card with a higher interest rate. If your goal is to rack up frequent flier miles, get a travel rewards credit card, and if you can’t pay your balance in full every month, then shop for a card with the lowest possible interest rate. While I haven’t found an objective review of credit card comparison sites, you might look at these:,, and A friend recently recommended a new site called—it’s easy to navigate and claims to compare 1,714 credit cards at once. Check several sources before picking your new credit card. –Chris
Need advice on a consumer problem? Send your questions to me at Due to the volume, I cannot respond to each question personally.


Kudos from Diamond Certified Consumers

RE: Mike Testa Plumbing, Inc.

I wanted to let you know how pleased I am with Mike Testa Plumbing. From the very start of answering the telephone, they were personable and professional. They seemed to sincerely want to help and accommodate. Their price was fantastic and the job was done in under an hour, plus a discount for “older people.” In contrast, I called another plumbing company. They asked many questions that I thought were unnecessary before asking what I needed. I felt they were gathering information ahead of time to see what they could sell me. They also gave me a first estimate of more than $8,000, then came down to $800 after I insisted I didn’t want all they were trying to sell me. I couldn’t believe it!

Mike Testa Plumbing’s bill was $200, and they were open to coming back if I had any problems. I congratulate the company on the way they do business. I’ve given their name to the Marin Water District and many friends who have had good results. Thank you for your book.

Diamond Certified ® Only companies rated Highest in Quality earn Diamond Certified

Companies Recently Earning Diamond Certified

ALAMEDA county
Raymond K. Chan, DDS
Clifton R. Chan, DDS
San Lorenzo - (510) 431-2590
Water Damage Recovery,
Oakland - (877) 592-2827

Hawkins Enterprises, Inc.,
San Ramon - (925) 594-9624
Prestige Pools,
Pleasant Hill - (925) 269-4831
Stone & Tile Impressions, Inc.,
Concord - (925) 594-9822

John's Plumbing & Sewer Service
Novato - (415) 830-8934

monterey COUNTY 
Peninsula Pool Service & Supply, Inc.
Monterey - (831) 515-6761

san francisco
Big Leprechaun Moving & Storage,
San Francisco - (415) 830-8936
Faxon Garage,
San Francisco - (415) 830-8930
Vonnegut Thoreau Construction, Inc.,
San Francisco - (415) 599-4696

California Power and Light
Morgan Hill - (408) 624-8712
Donald . Morgan Design
Los Gatos - (408) 680-8967
Roy's Woodcraft Flooring, Inc.,
San Jose - (408) 622-0366

American Ratings Corporation - Diamond Certified • 504 Redwood Blvd. • Suite 210 Novato, California 94947 • (877) 312-1307
©2012 American Ratings Corporation  

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