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In This Issue
Diamond Certified® Resources


Savvy Consumer Tips

Chris Bjorklund photo
Dear Savvy Consumer,

Maybe you remember when Avis Rent a Car launched the “We Try Harder” advertising campaign in an effort to grab market share away from Hertz? The idea that a company was intentionally working harder to satisfy customers resonated with me then, and it still does now. I like it when companies use service and satisfaction to compete for my business and as a way to differentiate themselves.
Start observing this. Do you notice that some companies always try harder? A local restaurant waiter brought me a black dinner napkin because I was wearing black pants. No more problems with the lint coming from the white napkins. The auto repair shop that offers me a ride to BART, or washes my car after repairing it. How about the hamburger joint where the cashier brought out my milkshake early, knowing that I would have to wait at least 15 minutes for the take out order. The hardwood floor refinishing company, anticipating a problem with our removing heavy furniture, offers to arrange for a mover and a storage pod as a courtesy. You know what I am talking about.
Companies that try harder deserve our business and even more importantly, our loyalty. At the Diamond Certified
® Research Survey Center, we hear from people like you that some companies are just better at working harder. Those who do deliver high customer satisfaction consistently earn Diamond Certified®. Those who can’t will fail because you the consumer have the final word.

Chris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer

P.S.  For more consumer tips, start following me on Twitter!

Your Health Records in the Digital Age

medical recoards photo

Doesn't it seem like everything is online today? And doesn't that make you feel just a little bit...uneasy? Your fears may not be entirely irrational when it comes to health records. Personal Health Records, also known as PHRs, are part of an online system dedicated to collecting, tracking, and sharing your health information. The purpose? To give you, the patient, the ability to access and modify the your record for new medications, hospitalizations, vaccinations, etc, so they can be shared with whomever you please. PHRs are not Electronic Health Records (EHRs), which are maintained exclusively by health care providers.

The masterminds behind the PHR may not be the people you would expect — like, for instance, the hospitals. They can range from big names to no names, and they charge fees. Some of the third party sponsors are Microsoft's Health Vault, Google Health, or

The key thing you need to know about PHRs is that not all are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The HIPAA only protects your privacy when dealing with directly health providers, health plans, and health clearinghouses. If you're using a system sponsored by a third party, be careful! You may not be protected.

Here are some other issues related to PHRs. If the website is subpoenaed for legal issues, your records could be subpoenaed as well. And don't forget about site security — there's no guarantee you won't be hacked. Finally, remember that PHRs are  Electronic Health Records (EHRs), which are maintained exclusively by health care providers. Don't mix these terms up.

Ask Chris graphic

Dear Chris,
     I see many ads in the local newspaper (SJ Mercury) highlighting wood kitchen cabinets, priced at less than $6000 (installed) for a 10x10 kitchen. I believe these cabinets are manufactured in China. These prices seem inexpensive? Is the wood of good quality? Do these cabinets use harmful glues? I have heard other vendors (of US-made cabinets) say that these cabinets fall apart after a few months. Should consumers be careful?
       Thank you,

Dear Chandran,
     You’re right to be concerned! As Brad McCarthy, co-owner of The Cabinet Center in San Carlos and Pleasanton, reminded me when I passed along your question, “You get what you pay for.”
Brad explained how these Chinese-made cabinets could be sold at such a rock-bottom price. First, he says, the manufacturer buys the poorest quality of wood — it’s actually scrap wood that nobody else wants — from the U.S. or another wood-producing country and ships it back to China. There, low-paid employees turn the wood into cabinets. The hardware — hinges, drawer glides and other functional parts — is very cheap and breaks easily, so that eventually cabinet doors and drawers don’t open and close the way they should. The finish the manufacturer then applies to the cabinets is comparable to “a bad auto paint job.” As to the safety of the glue and other materials, Brad says they definitely are not up to the environmental standards that American, Canadian and certain other cabinet manufacturers have to meet. He adds that there is no warranty on the cabinets, and the manufacturers are not certified by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) (, an industry group that requires members to meet stringent quality standards.
“Your cabinets might look bad from the start, or they might look okay for as long as a year, but they will not look good for long,” Brad cautions. “And, they could fall or break.”
When do these cabinets make sense? Brad says you might be satisfied if you just want to make a place look new in order to “flip” it or if you’re giving an apartment a facelift to attract renters. If, however, you’re remodeling your own home, he says you should choose KCMA-certified cabinets made of furniture-quality wood, and they should carry a lifetime guarantee. Even at that high quality level, you’ll have a range of cabinetry and prices to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that fits your taste and your budget.
So how much should cabinets for a 10’ x 10’ kitchen (installed) cost? More like $15,000 to $20,000, Brad estimates, with a full kitchen remodel, including countertops and appliances, averaging $45,000 to $65,000.

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 from Diamond Certified CustomersDear Chris,
     I wanted to tell you how impressed I am with Lee Sherwood and his company Frontline Electrical Services, an electrical contractor I found in the Solano Diamond Certified
® directory.
Solano County recently advised me that we had complicated non-compliance electrical issues at one of my properties. I had no idea how to begin to resolve this but sensed the situation would require expertise beyond what most electricians I have previously used would be capable of.
I found Frontline Electrical Services in the directory and the owner, Lee Sherwood quickly stepped in and went out of his way to resolve the issues for me both by fixing the electrical issues at hand and by personally representing me solving those issues to conclusion with the county compliance inspectors. Lee has amazing problem solving skills and a wonderful, helpful attitude. His expertise and background are very impressive and I would recommend him to anyone needing residential or commercial work.
Thank you for bringing Diamond Certified
® to Solano County and helping me resolve something that could have been a major problem.
Terry H.

Companies Recently Earning Diamond Certified®

Alameda County
Castro Valley Autohaus, Inc., Casto Valley

Contra Costa County
MAH Development, Inc., Danville

San Francisco
Kevin Webb Construction, Inc., San Francisco

San Mateo County
Masterpiece Gardens & Design, Inc., Pacifica

Santa Clara County

Gutter Helmet of the Bay Area, San Mateo

Sonoma County
At Your Service Home Care, Santa Rosa
Reliable Plumbing, Hidden Valley Lake

Read this newsletter and prior issues at Diamond Certified Newsletters