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The Diamond Certified® Consumer Report Twitter link Facebook link
 VOL. 6, ISSUE 8 - AUGUST 2013

In This Issue

Showing Their True Colors

Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer Card

Ask Chris:
Time Shares

Consumer Feedback:
Crystal Clear Window Cleaning & Pressure Wash Services

New Diamond Certified

Savvy Tips of the Month

Organize Your Home Office

Five Steps for Negotiating a Speedy Partial Refund

Boost Your Credit Score

Diamond Certified Quick Links






Read this newsletter and prior issues at Diamond Certified Newsletter Twitter

Showing Their True Colors

A good customer service line is an important part of any organization.

It’s been about a month since the Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco International Airport. On that Saturday in July, I had just boarded a Southwest Airlines flight to Denver and was seated on the left-hand side of the aircraft. The people on the right-hand side had a view of the runway and some of them saw a ball of smoke in the distance. The flight attendant announced that there had been an “incident” so our takeoff would be delayed. We were directed to stay in our seats.

Next, the pilot came walking down the aisle, asking if everyone was okay. That was unusual. He remarked that flying was safer than driving a car, and as a father of three children, he wouldn’t fly planes if it wasn’t safe. (He even pulled out a family photo because a passenger asked to see his kids.) We still didn’t completely absorb what had just happened nearby. About 10 minutes later, the flight attendant asked us to de-plane and stay in the gate holding area. She said they would share more information about the “incident” when it became available. No drama, just clear directions.

By the time we stepped into the boarding area, big plumes of smoke were coming from the damaged Asiana plane and lots of emergency vehicles were moving to the scene. Delayed passengers were taking pictures and sharing any news they had. Southwest’s team on the ground was calm and patient, even as people became agitated and worried about what had happened and what would become of their travel plans. Soon the entire airport was shut down to incoming and outgoing traffic.

Many of us spent the rest of that Saturday calling Southwest’s customer service line and trying to get to our destinations. My cell phone kept cutting out and wait times became longer as all of us scrambled to find other flights from different cities or from SFO on different days. People lined up to re-book their flights and re-claim their bags. Others were simply trying to figure out how to return home from the airport; no traffic was being allowed in or out for several hours. I called Southwest’s 800 number at least five or six times for advice, for SFO runway status and to make flight changes. Usually the airline only makes one itinerary change without penalty, but due to the circumstances, they waived all extra charges every time I changed my itinerary. I think I made four changes before getting to Denver the next day.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Southwest Airlines, and I’ve even enjoyed their offbeat flight attendants who’ve been known to break out in song and tell jokes. Yet on that particular Saturday, they showed their true colors. Their training, discipline and professionalism helped them serve their customers while managing a crisis situation, which could have easily turned into chaos.

Chris Bjorklund signature
Chris BjorklundChris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer


Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer Card

Diamond Certified® Preferred Customer Card

Have you signed up to become a Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer? 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 to get a free copy of the brand-new 2013 Diamond Certified Directory! Visit to get started.

Ask Chris

Make sure you do your research before signing up for a timeshare.

Dear Chris,
Perhaps you can give us some information and a bit of guidance. It’s a long story, but we were one of probably many starry-eyed and romance-drunk vacationers in Mexico who purchased a timeshare about 11 years ago. We have never used the company’s facilities, yet we’ve paid many years’ worth of annual maintenance fees. The salesperson told us we were buying a level of ownership that entitled us to one week in a max. 4-person accommodation anywhere in their network, but when we tried to book something at the same location where the sale was made, we were told we didn’t have enough “annual points” to get a full week! Three years ago, I started a letter and email campaign to request a suspension of future maintenance fee payments and ask that they honor the arrangement the salesperson told us about. At first, we requested that our ownership arrangement be terminated, and we didn’t ask for any of the thousands of dollars we spent on the purchase and the many fees we paid during the first several years. They refused. Then we offered to remain members and start paying if they would adjust our ownership level to that which they originally represented. They refused and have been sending threatening collection letters and emails saying we have no right to cancel for 30 years! There is no way I’m going to pay $400 a year for 30 years for a useless product that was misrepresented to us. I’m concerned that our excellent credit rating will forever be destroyed by this unseemly organization. Do I need to worry about that? Do they have jurisdiction in the U.S. to do that? Do I have any recourse? –J.L., Oakland, CA

Dear J.L.,
Many people who buy timeshares regret it later. I can suggest a couple of things. First, consider filing a complaint with a local TV station’s action line. Seven on Your Side mediates consumer complaints and some of the stories end up on the news. Also, the Federal Trade Commission has useful information about timeshare sales here. Trip Advisor recommends filing a complaint with Mexican authorities who are trying to clean up the timeshare industry. Also, beware of timeshare resale scams. I don’t know if a Mexican-owned company will try to ruin your credit if you don’t pay them any more money. You might discuss this with an attorney. Know that if they report negative information to your credit file, it’s your right to add a statement to that report and give your side of the story.

Good luck,


Kudos from Diamond Certified Consumers

Subject: Crystal Clear Window Cleaning & Pressure Wash Services

Dear Diamond Certified,
Joe Velasquez and an employee cleaned our windows inside and out today. I hardly have sufficient superlatives to describe how splendid and careful and expert a job they accomplished for us. My wife and I are disabled (but with 65 feet of picture windows overlooking the Bay), so I can no longer do the job myself, as I have for nearly five decades. Accordingly, I know what a good window washing entails. Crystal Clear Window Cleaning far exceeded my “personal best,” and they did so with such cheerfulness, including the office staff.

This is the enterprise to employ.

R. P., Millbrae, CA

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Novato - (877) 265-7165

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