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 VOL. 8, ISSUE 5 - MAY 2015

In This Issue

Shake It Up, Baby: Consumer Benefits and Pitfalls of Market Disruption

The 2015 Diamond Certified Directory

Online Pet Adoption Scams on the Rise

Consumer Feedback:
B. Henry's Quality Electric Inc.

Savvy Tips of the Month

Podiatry Overview: Q&A with Dr. Michael J. Cornelison

Nomad for a Day:
31 Hacks to Making Moving Easy, Straightforward and (Even) Fun

Heating and Cooling System Tips

Diamond Certified Quick Links






Read this newsletter and previous issues at

Shake It Up, Baby: Consumer Benefits and Pitfalls of Market Disruption

Alternative taxi services are one of the most popular market disrupters in recent years. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2015.

For years, I’ve lived in a San Francisco neighborhood where you can’t get a taxi without a long and frustrating wait. The taxi phone number is always busy, and when you finally get through, you’re on hold for 10 minutes…and it might take another 30 minutes for the driver to arrive! You’ll never find a taxi that’s just waiting for a pick-up.

Now, thanks to alternative taxi services, I can hail a ride with my smartphone and it arrives in less than 10 minutes. As a result of the new competition, I’ve noticed traditional taxi services have upped their game. Instead of busy signals on the phone, you get friendly dispatchers and freshly painted vehicles.

When a new competitor comes on the scene, consumers may benefit from more options, greater convenience, lower prices, faster service and better quality. But we’re learning about potential pitfalls, too. Recently, an alternative taxi service rejected my son’s credit card for a ride. When he attempted to clear up the matter, he couldn’t reach anyone in customer service by phone and no one responded to his emails. Finally, on my advice, he resorted to Tweeting about his problem, and only then did the company help him resolve the matter. It was a time-consuming and frustrating process. We’ve also read about the concerns with insurance, driver training and background checks at some of these companies.

Only time will tell how these market disrupters will fare as they become more established in the marketplace. Meanwhile, many consumers will take a chance and try alternative services, and in the end, the companies that serve our needs best will win our repeat business and loyalty.

Chris Bjorklund signature
Chris BjorklundChris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer

P.S. I’m writing this on my way to New York City, where I’m staying at an Airbnb rather than a hotel (saving 50 percent a night on the room) and using alternative taxi services to get to and from the airports.

The 2015 Diamond Certified Directory

The brand-new Diamond Certified Directory has been mailed to households and businesses throughout the Greater Bay Area. Each top rated Diamond Certified company is represented with a full-page profile that features a researched article and list of services, a graphical depiction of actual ratings results, verbatim survey responses from real customers, and more. You can get a digital edition of the directory by clicking one of the corresponding counties below—it will immediately download to your computer, iPad or Kindle!
Alameda County
Contra Costa County
Marin County
Monterey County
Napa County
San Benito County
San Francisco
San Mateo County
Santa Clara County
Santa Cruz County
Solano County
Sonoma County

Online Pet Adoption Scams on the Rise


If you’re looking for a new pet online, make sure you know the telltale signs of a scam. Photo: Galen Workman, 2015.

Can’t resist that little puppy you see up for adoption on Facebook? Or maybe you’ve been checking the ads on craigslist and have fallen in love with a nine-week-old black Labrador? Unfortunately, according to nonprofit consumer organization, many of these adoption opportunities are phony. Complaints are surging both with this group and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Typically, consumers who are looking for pets reach out to prospective sellers online. Money is sent in advance to the alleged owners via prepaid accounts (like NetSpend and Reloadit), which is like sending cash. Often, additional funds are requested to cover shipping crates and insurance, yet the consumers never receive the animals. These adorable pets don’t even exist; they’re simply photos taken from the Internet.

Protect yourself by shopping for your next pet in Northern California, where you can meet the seller in person. Or why not adopt from a nonprofit animal shelter or rescue instead? At least you’ll have a better idea of what you’re getting before you spend any money. For more information, go to
Kudos from Diamond Certified Consumers

Dear Diamond Certified:

If you need an electrician, absolutely call B. Henry's Quality Electric Inc. These folks are very good at finding and fixing problems. The price is reasonable, and they arrive promptly and do the work quickly. Great service, great job and great price.

Sonoma County


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