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Savvy Consumer Tips

Chris Bjorklund photo
Dear Savvy Consumer,

Recently I read the big trend for 2010 is simplifying your life. I’m on board, are you? I think a lot of us are feeling that way as we are worn down by clutter, a constant and overwhelming stream of e-mail, voicemail, advertisements, long commutes, and chaos at work and home. 

One way I am simplifying is by getting rid of things that I don’t wear or use any more. It’s a real pleasure to look into a half-empty closet full of only the things you like to wear and an uncluttered garage. It also can be satisfying to know that many items I have given away to friends or donated are being re-used by someone else. My office is next.

I have eliminated extra credit cards, signed up for on-line banking, and cancelled subscriptions for magazines I do not have time to read. I cook uncomplicated and simpler meals. When we entertain now, it’s often potluck.

What are you doing?
Tell me at
Facebook or Twitter
or email me!

For a variety of services, in my campaign to restore and maintain sanity, I now stick with the reliable and top quality companies I know and trust. That’s where the Diamond Certified Directory and come in. I no longer have to spend hours asking friends for referrals or researching on-line to find a great mechanic, contractor, plumber, pest control operator, or flooring specialist. For the last several projects, I referred to the Diamond Certified listings for my area, found the top-rated companies in the appropriate category, made a couple of calls, and got a quality job done. I am taking a few minutes every to unsubscribe to e-mail lists and offers. I did that the other day and I feel a lot better about email now.

What’s making your life easier? What are YOU doing – right now – to simplify your consumer affairs? Tell me and we’ll share the best stories with all of our e-mail newsletter subscribers.


Chris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer
Join me on Twitter & Facebook

Ask Chris graphicDear Chris,
I just signed a contract to join a gym, but now I’m having second thoughts. Do I have the right to cancel the contract?

Dear Dave,

You’re not alone in setting fitness-related resolutions--statistics show that January is the busiest month for new gym memberships.

Good intentions aside, joining a gym means entering into a legal contract. Before you sign on the dotted line, you should do a fair amount of research on the gym you’re considering. If you still have second thoughts after signing, you may have the right to cancel.

Under CA state law, the gym contract must contain a provision that gives you the right to cancel “any time prior to the midnight of the fifth business day of the health studio after the date of [the] agreement, excluding Sundays and holidays.”

To cancel, mail or hand deliver to the gym’s address in the contract a signed and dated notice stating that you are canceling the agreement. The gym has to refund your money within 10 days of cancellation, minus the cost of any services you’ve already received.

You could have additional time to cancel depending on how much money you’ll ultimately have to pay the gym under the contract. To learn more, visit the California Department of Consumer Affairs online.

Best wishes for a year of fitness and good health, Dave.


Need advice on a consumer problem? Send your questions to me at Due to the volume, I cannot respond to each question personally, but will answer one every month in this column.

Kudos from Diamond Certified® Consumers
Kudos graphic

"In 1997 Atlas Heating designed and installed our central air, which has been working reliably every summer ever since. No one has serviced the system since 1997. It just runs. So in 2008 when our old gas furnace gave notice that its time had come, I asked Atlas for a proposal. No competitor proposed a better unit or quoted a better price. And guess which technician installed the furnace? None other than Jose Perez, who had done the central air back in 1997!"

Companies Recently Earning Diamond Certified®

Marin County
California Motors, San Rafael
G Family Inc., San Rafael

San Francisco
Collier Ostrom, Inc., San Francisco
Metric Motors, San Francisco

Sonoma County
Austin Creek Materials, Cazadero
Glenn Fricker Construction, Inc., Sebastopol
Storage Master Self Storage, Santa Rosa



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