Diamond Certified Blog

by Chris Bjorklund
May 01, 2010

I wanted three estimates for new kitchen countertops. I knew the dimensions, the color and the type of material I wanted. Should have been an easy process, right?

For the first estimate, I made an appointment with a specific salesman at the showroom. I waited 30 minutes while he was with another client, but when I wasn’t even acknowledged I walked out the door.

I faxed the second estimate request as a different salesman at a different store advised. Several days have gone by and I am still waiting for a response.

The third company stood out because they’re right on top of things. I faxed the information; the lead estimator called for more clarification on the backsplash, Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
April 30, 2010

I often say that one of the best ways to judge a company’s commitment to customer service is by how they handle things when something goes wrong. An auto body shop I did business with recently passed that test with flying colors.

The damage from a car accident cost more than $3,000 in repairs, and the job took several weeks to complete. Happy to get the vehicle back after so long, we drove right to a car wash. Minutes later, the manager called me over to point out that radiator fluid was pouring out of the vehicle. Nearly everything under the hood had just been almost entirely re-built, including the radiator!

Here’s the happy ending. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
April 27, 2010

Do you ever approach a large home improvement project or a major purchase with fear and trepidation? Right now, my husband and I are making some changes around the house—buying new appliances, a TV for the bedroom, drapes for the living room. We both dread the prospect of spending precious weekends at the mall or at appliance showrooms, and that’s after you invest time in figuring out what you want.

If you’re a savvy consumer like me, I do my homework, but streamline the process. For starters, I only go to trusted sources for information on products. Consumer Reports magazine is always my first choice when it comes to finding objective and independent ratings for most items. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
April 23, 2010

Because I am in the middle of planning a kitchen remodel and getting some foundation work done, I found these to be wise words from a Diamond Certified Guest Blogger, Michael McCutcheon, owner McCutcheon Construction, Inc.

I was thinking this morning about the language we use when we discuss negotiating with people. “I’ve got to play hard-ball” with this guy….

“Hard-ball” is a pretty good analogy for taking a tough negotiating stance. Hard-ball is very much a game of intimidation, particularly when the pitcher tries to “brush back” the hitter with one that’s “high and tight.” A pitcher will deliberately throw at a batter’s head in order to get them to “back off” the plate. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
April 22, 2010

Have you been thinking about installing new windows? John Gorman, owner of Save Energy Company, a Diamond Certified company, says if you buy double pane energy-saving windows now, you will qualify for a maximum of $1500 in federal tax credits. You’re allowed to deduct 30% of the cost of the materials through 2009 and 2010. For more detailed information on the tax credits, go to www.energystar.gov. Double pane windows have improved a lot over the years, according to Mr. Gorman. Besides reducing your energy bills, they eliminate mold and mildew. People find that the new windows reduce street noise, which is a huge benefit. New tinting blocks harmful UV rays, so they protect your rugs and furniture from sun damage. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
April 20, 2010

Yes, I did a really stupid thing. I lost my car keys – INSIDE my house somewhere. After looking for them for two weeks with no luck, I gave up and zoomed down to my local hardware store to get a copy made of the one and ONLY key to my 1997 Infiniti i30.

This simple transaction made me love this local business even more than I did before. The young man not only made the key in minutes, but he also took some extra time to give me additional consumer advice. Here’s what he said:

#1. Try the new key ASAP. Try it in the ignition AND to unlock the door. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
April 17, 2010

When we wanted to buy a used car from someone selling a Toyota Echo on Craig’s List, I was grateful that I have a solid, long-term relationship with a good mechanic. He gave it a “thumbs up.” We bought the car and never regretted it.

When my husband’s ’69 VW caught on fire and needed emergency repairs, once again, we were fortunate to be within towing distance of the same shop.
And when I needed a mini-van inspected before a long road trip, I knew my mechanic would check all the vitals so that we wouldn’t have to worry about a breakdown on the Highway 5 to Oregon. He’s honest, reliable and competent. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
March 09, 2010

Considering how many people get into trouble with credit cards, using a debit card can be a good way to make sure you live within your means. But, there are some disadvantages to using a debit card.

First, debit cards don’t offer the same protections that credit cards do when it comes to damaged, defective, undelivered or unsatisfactory merchandise. Credit card regulations give cardholders the right to withhold payment while they dispute a charge. But, because debit card purchases are typically treated as cash transactions, the buyer has far less leverage. Particularly when shopping online, it’s advisable to use a credit card. Also, a credit card is better at protecting you in cases of fraud because you can dispute unauthorized charges without paying for them. Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
March 01, 2010

When was the last time you vacuumed under and behind your refrigerator? It’s amazing how much crud builds up back there, as I discovered while getting a start on my spring cleaning.  As I scrubbed away, I began thinking about the origin of this annual ritual.
The idea originated in China. The Chinese clean homes in anticipation of the New Year. A thorough cleaning eliminates bad luck and misfortune from the previous year. In Jewish custom, Passover, which comes around April, is a time of house cleaning as well. And when homes were heated with coal, wood and oils in the winter, families waited until spring to remove soot, ash, Read more

by Chris Bjorklund
March 01, 2010

You may not think too much about backing up data until the day comes when your hard drive crashes. That's when I got the wake-up call, thinking I had lost everything – photos, work documents, records, letters, music. Rick Sutherland, owner of ClickAway, a Diamond Certified company, says most people are like me and don't realize how easy back up is, and how expensive data recovery can be. To back up data, some people use an external hard drive, where data is put onto another disc and stored in a safety deposit box, or somewhere else outside your home. You can also use an automatic on-line back up service, which is especially useful for saving data on a daily basis. Read more