Diamond Certified Blog

by Chris Bjorklund
July 18, 2010

If you’re a big fan of Consumer Reports magazine AND the Stephen Colbert show like I am, you’ll love these two hilarious segments. Colbert decides to investigate the testing process and labs at the magazine’s Yonkers, N.Y. headquarters in a 2-part series.

Part 1

Part 2

My favorite parts are when Colbert tries to test aluminum foil in microwaves and later when he starts tossing plates, soiled for dishwasher tests, at the lab technician. You’ll also see him in labs where cameras and sound systems are evaluated. I enjoyed seeing the people at Consumers Union, who are extremely serious about their work, have a little fun with the top-rated comedian. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
July 17, 2010

First my cell phone conks out. I lose all photos and contacts, and no, stupid me, I didn’t back them up. Then my recording equipment stops working and I have no idea why. When I turned on my iPod, all the music had disappeared – no albums, no playlists. I can probably fix this by re-loading all the music, but I was still frustrated by the unexplained and sudden malfunction.

The capper for the week was another type of crash – a hit and run accident. I parked by City Hall while at the symphony and when I drove home, I had trouble steering the car. When straightening out the steering wheel, the car veered off to the right. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
July 11, 2010

These kinds of questions come up all the time when you’re managing a household. Do I need to buy new tires yet? Should we replace the furnace now, or can we wait another year? And the latest one, do I have to remove the stump under my house? I called a Diamond Certified company for the answer, John Kunkel, owner of Termite Police.

This pest control expert explained that you no longer have to excavate the stumps. It’s better to treat the stump with chemicals that poison termites. The termites ingest the poison, carry it back to the colonies, and that eliminates the problem.

So when you have a question and you need an expert answer and some help, Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
July 04, 2010

Do you know all the verses to our national anthem? I didn’t. Happy 4th!

The Star Spangled Banner
by Francis Scott Key

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming;
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
July 01, 2010

It’s a lot of fun to explore Sonoma on your bike. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. A few weeks ago, we needed a pair of bicycle socks and stopped in at the local bicycle shop. While paying for the socks, the owner asked about where we’d been riding and suggested another loop to try. He went out of his way to be helpful and friendly, even though we had only made a very small purchase. We went on our way.

The following week I had the inevitable breakdown. The chain and gears jammed. A passing cyclist helped get into one gear so I could ride it back to the same bicycle shop. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
June 27, 2010

One of the columnists I enjoy reading in the New York Times is Christopher Hitz, who’s also known as “The Haggler.” In a recent column, he asked readers to send their best strategies for resolving consumer disputes. I must be “old school,” because I believe that simply working your way through the chain of command is what usually works best. Others have more novel approaches.

Someone wrote in suggesting that you use your camera to document your complaint. For example, if your hotel room has dingy towels, take some pictures of the dingy towels and show them to the clerk when you ask for an adjustment to your bill. Really good idea. Show versus tell. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
June 26, 2010

If you’re a fan of Car Talk (aka Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers) on National Public Radio like I am, you know how often callers reproduce car noises on the air. You hear everything from “nya, nya, nya,” to “wuuu, wuuu, wuuu.” It’s fascinating to hear the Tappet brothers try to figure out what’s wrong with each car. LOL every Saturday morning.

To help you figure out what’s wrong with your car on your own, these guys have created a Car Talk Noise Emporium at www.cartalk.com/content/features/Noises/.

You’ll find about four dozen car noises there, and when you click on the part of the car the sound is coming from, Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
June 20, 2010

Here’s how a “consumer-savvy” company keeps customers loyal.

_____________________________________________________

Dear Chris,

Due to a technical problem, your DVD shipment was delayed and will ship on Wednesday, May 26th.

We pride ourselves in delighting you, and we’ve let you down. We apologize, and we will issue a 10% credit to your account in the next few days. You don’t need to do anything. Your credit will automatically be applied to your next billing statement.

Again, we apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. If you need further assistance, please call us at
1-866-923-0898.

–The Netflix Team Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
June 14, 2010

One of the Diamond Certified company owners, John Gorman from the Save Energy Company in Petaluma, is today’s guest blogger. I like what he has to say about asking for a “ballpark figure” on windows.
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I recently got off the phone with a potential client who at one point during our conversation had asked me, “So how much are replacement windows going to cost? Just a ballpark figure.” I know that he was anxious about the cost and standing in his shoes I can completely understand, but I had to tell him, “Honestly, it’s so hard to say.”

Because window replacement jobs or any other construction related project is so site-specific, Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
June 12, 2010

If you subscribe to my e-mail newsletter, The Diamond Certified Consumer Report, you may have heard my interview with Kia Ricchi, the contractor who wrote Avoiding the Con in Construction. She describes many of the shady practices that plague the construction industry. Ms. Ricchi emphasizes that “The con artist will always be with us. Consumers need more tools to find better contractors.”

I agree. Diamond Certified ratings are definitely one of those tools. Contractors listed for your county have had to go through a rigorous review process, which includes credential verification and consumer surveys, to earn Diamond Certified.

Ms. Ricchi has a useful checklist in her book to help you find better contractors. Read more