Diamond Certified Blog

by Chris Bjorklund
September 21, 2010

A few months back, I told you about how frustrated I was when I had to wait nearly 90 minutes for a routine blood test. One lab tech attempted to provide service to a room full of people. I complained to corporate headquarters, pointing out that it was both a customer service AND a safety issue, not having enough staff on-hand. They responded quickly saying they were working on making improvements to that location. I promised to report back to you on whether they did.

Last week, I returned for another routine lab test. This time I’m happy to report that I had an entirely different experience. I had not one, but THREE people all pitching in to register me and draw blood. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
September 14, 2010

When you don’t pay attention, you can get burned, especially when you’re rushing around and/or in a new environment.

While visiting New York City, I ran out to the store to buy pasta ingredients. The pine nuts I threw into my cart were for a salad I never made. As I checked out, another shopper started talking to me about how to know when cut flowers are fresh. I rushed out and never gave a second thought to why my bill for everything came to more than $80.

It wasn’t until I was balancing my checkbook on the plane home, and reviewing receipts, that I found the error. The store had charged me $23.99 for a small package of pine nuts that should have been $3.99. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
September 07, 2010

When I was out to dinner a couple of weeks ago at Carmel Valley Ranch, I literally thought about fastening my seat belt. The service was so uneven I felt like I was riding a roller coaster. I was duly impressed when the waiter offered me a black napkin, rather than a white one, because I was wearing black pants. Things got off to a good start. But then we sat there without any attention for the next 30 minutes. No waiter in sight. It started getting real uncomfortable and annoying. After the drink orders were finally taken, another 20 minutes go by. My dinner partner saw the drinks on the bar, and went to get them herself. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
August 31, 2010

I will always remember the first time I wrote a consumer complaint letter. It was an empowering experience.

During college, I was making Toll House chocolate chip cookies with an electric portable hand mixer. While mixing all that butter and flour, which strained the motor, the appliance started smoking and conked out. I thought that the mixer should be strong enough to handle something as simple as chocolate cookie batter.

Disgusted, I sat down and wrote a complaint letter to the manufacturer. I explained what I had done, what I expected from the product, and expressed by frustration and disappointment. The letter ended with my request for a replacement unit, so that I could continue to “impress my friends with my fantastic cookie-baking skills.” How could any college student live without freshly baked cookies? Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
August 31, 2010

People get confused when their ten-year old car runs up a series big repairs, and they often look for a new mechanic or run out and by a new car. This is what the manufacturers want you to do.
In reality, a good mechanic can keep a good car at 100% from year ten to year twenty for around $100 per month (Hondas, etc for $80, SAABS, etc for $130).

Option One: Buy a new car every ten years:
Two $25,000 cars: $50,000
interest (est) 4,000
Repairs(10 years @ $80/Mo) 9,600
Total $63,600

Option Two: Keep your car for twenty years:
One $25,000 car: $25,000
interest (est) 2,000
Repairs(15 years @ $80/Mo) 14,400
Total $41,400

You Saved $22,200!!!! Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
August 24, 2010

Every now and then it’s worth spending the time to “unsubscribe” to many of the newsletters and promotional mailings that arrive in your inbox. I must have devoted more than an hour unsubscribing to an assortment of things the other day. Do I really need to hear about deals to Portland, Oregon from TripAdvisor when I have not had plans to go there for 3 or 4 years now?

What surprised me is how difficult some companies make it to opt out. A few require that you sign in before you’re able to get off the mailing list. That’s ridiculous. Some ask if you’re sure about your request to unsubscribe – maybe you’re having second thoughts. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
August 10, 2010

Do you ever wonder what standards to apply to a service situation? I attended a training for quality service that’s based on the “Disneyland” model.

S – is for a smile.
E – is to be aware of eye contact and body language.
R – stands for respecting and welcoming the customers.
V – means that the employee values the company’s reputation.
I – is for initiating interaction with customers.
C – empowers employees to create service solutions.
E – reminds employees to end with a “thank you,” no matter what.

It’s easy to remember and can help you evaluate service providers and determine how they’re performing. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
August 10, 2010

When I paid my contractor for materials a few weeks ago, I wrote him a personal check. However, what I didn’t realize until later was that I had entered two different amounts on that check. On the top line after his name, I put the amount due written in numbers: $1, 689.00. And when I wrote out the words as you do on the second line, the words said, “One-thousand eight-nine dollars.”

The contractor argued with his bank when he received a credit for $600 less than he expected. When we investigated the situation (we both thought the banks might duke it out for weeks), we discovered that legally, the written amount in words always trumps the written amount in numbers. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
August 03, 2010

 Guest Expert Michael McCutcheon, owner of McCutcheon Construction, tells us about less costly ways to cool your house on hot days.
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Air conditioning is still the best way to cool a building during hot weather, although in very dry climates, one can use evaporative coolers (“swamp coolers”) instead, which use the cooling effect of evaporating water. While they consume some water, they use less energy. They also don’t reduce humidity, and don’t work in humid climate zones since the evaporative effect is so much less in a humid atmosphere.

Presuming you’re in the mixed climate of the Bay Area and need Air Conditioning (as opposed to evaporative cooling), as with any energy device, Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
July 24, 2010

 AAA Reminds Travelers to Use Their Seatbelts in Cabs and Shuttle Vans

AAA Northern California is reminding summer travelers that seatbelt safety shouldn’t set sail just because you’re on vacation. Sometimes a false sense of safety can set in as vacationers leave their worries behind, and they forget to buckle up in taxicabs and shuttle vans. But the danger of being in a crash doesn’t fade away like a tropical sunset.

“You can leave all your cares behind while on vacation but don’t leave behind your habit of buckling up,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Matt Skryja. “In the rush to relax, travelers sometimes forget basic safety while riding in taxi cabs and shuttle vans by failing to use their seatbelts. Read more