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In This Issue
Diamond Certified® Resources

 

Savvy Consumer Tips

Chris Bjorklund photo
Dear Savvy Consumer,
 
I’m always looking for ways to help you become a savvier consumer, and that’s why we’re introducing a couple of new features.  
 
We’ve just added a Consumer NewsLink of the week to the Consumer Advice section of the
Diamond Certified® website. We’re scouring sources for consumer news and posting those stories, along with useful websites for you to check out. For example, we have links to sites where you can get a free credit report or find out whether a contractor’s license is valid. We also have a story posted about a proposal to have supermarket scanners identify recalled products at the checkout stand. We will be updating the link regularly.
 
Another exciting addition is a new feature called “Ask Chris”. Every month in this newsletter, I will be answering your consumer questions. If I don’t know how to answer your question or solution to your problem, I will tap into the expertise of Diamond Certified company owners and pass along their advice. I’m eager to hear from you at chrisbjorklund@diamondcertified.org.

2009 Directory Cover Sample

One more thing. Keep an eye out for the new 2009 Diamond Certified Directory. It will be released this month and many of you have already signed up to receive it, so you will receive it in the mail. If you have not requested one yet, click here. The Directory lists all the Diamond Certified companies in your county, by category, and includes each company’s capabilities profile and verbatim comments from customers. This Directory is so handy—just keep it by the phone for when you need any kind of service, a plumber, carpet cleaner, landscaper, or caterer. Find great companies serving your community.
 
Sincerely,

Chris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer

Clean Clothes, Clean Environment

dry cleaning photoThe vast majority of the country’s 35,000+ dry cleaners use perchloroethylene, a known toxin, to get your clothes clean. California has committed to phasing out “perc” by 2023. But what are your options if you want professionally cleaned clothes and a clean environment before then?
 
According to Green America, you have a couple of good choices. One is to wet-clean your items—even those that say “Dry Clean Only.” The secret is a computer-controlled washer that can be programmed to spin as slowly as six revolutions per minute, depending on the fabric. And no toxins are needed to get stains out.
 
The other option is liquid carbon dioxide cleaning. In the process, CO2 is converted to a nontoxic liquid solvent that gets out all sorts of stains when clothes are rotated in a special machine. The liquid CO2 is pumped back to a storage tank at the end of the cycle, ready to be used again. No new CO2 is generated—the CO2 used is recaptured as a by-product from other industries—so the process does not contribute to global warming. (Avoid CO2 cleaners that use Solvair machines, which utilize toxic glycol ether as a solvent.)
 
The Urban & Environmental Policy Institute of Occidental College offers an online directory to help you find liquid CO2 and wet cleaners in your area.

air bag photoProtect Yourself from Air Bag Fraud

Following its investigation into air bag fraud, NPR (National Public Radio) is warning consumers that some car air bags are not being replaced after they’ve been deployed. In some cases, consumers unknowingly purchase a used car with no air bags. In other cases, car owners who have been in an accident receive their car back from the repair shop without new air bags installed.
 
The motivation for air bag fraud is, of course, money. Air bags can cost between $1,000 and $3,000. Crooked car sellers increase their profit on a used car by not replacing deployed air bags. Bad body shops make money by billing the customer or insurance company for an air bag they order but then return to the manufacturer for a refund. The typical driver can’t tell if an air bag has been replaced or not.
 
Here are some ways to protect yourself against air bag fraud:

  • Patronize only reputable auto sellers, mechanics and body shops. Get referrals from people you know and trust, and check the business’s complaint history.
  • If you have any doubts, get a second opinion.
  • Before you purchase a used car, consider using a service such as CARFAX to find out if the vehicle has been in an accident or sustained other damage. (Next year, you’ll be able to access a U.S. Justice Department database that provides information about cars that have been damaged in floods or totaled.)
  • Be suspicious if your car’s air bag light is on or if the seat belts don’t retract normally. Have a trusted mechanic or body shop technician check the car out.
  • Look for small tears and other signs of air bag deployment or tampering around the steering wheel and dashboard.
  • Report a suspected offender to the state attorney general, the state insurance department (if the air bag fraud was committed as part of an insurance claim), consumer protection agencies, and any other enforcement agency you think should know.

In California, air bag fraudsters face up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Kudos from Diamond Certified® Consumers

Dear Chris,

Kudos from Diamond Certified CustomersI called Bellows Plumbing after seeing them listed as "Diamond
Certified".

I had our duplex re-plumbed during a total bath renovation and could not have been more satisfied with their professionalism and competency. This was not an easy project but the Bellows team provided 5-star work, and, at the price that was quoted.

I highly recommend these guys !!

Jerry N.

Companies Recently Earning
Diamond Certified®

Alameda County
Auto Body Express, San Leandro
Kerri Landscape Services, Livermore
Norcal Flooring, Berkeley

Contra Costa County
Gary Dobson Construction, Martinez
Jetton Construction, Inc., Berkeley

San Mateo County
Herb Knecht Painting, San Carlos
Mr. Roofing, South San Francisco
Peninsula Prime Motorz, Burlingame
The Fireplace Element, Mountain View


Santa Clara County

Appraisals by the Bay, Watsonville
Arborist Onsite® Professional Tree Management and Horticultural Consulting, Inc., San Jose
Duran Fence Company, San Jose
Harrell Remodeling, Inc., Mountain View
Helios Solar Maintenance, Santa Clara
JCM Paint, San Jose
Marbled Elegance, Santa Clara

Santa Cruz County
Ernie's Service Center, Felton

Sonoma County
Deckmaster Fine Decks, Sebastopol

Read this newsletter and prior issues at Diamond Certified Newsletters

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