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Practice What You Preach

Posted on September 25, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

Throughout my years as a consumer advocate, I’ve always encouraged people to be both patient and persistent when they have legitimate complaints. I counsel them to write letters, make phone calls, talk to supervisors and/or complain to relevant regulatory agencies. Sometimes I even advise them to publicize their cases through the media or sue in Small Claims Court (when necessary). I cheer them on when they feel like quitting or are just plain fed up by a lengthy process.

Recently, I had my own consumer issue that reminded me to practice what I preach. In October 2017, I booked a flight from San Francisco to London using frequent flier miles through my credit card company. Read more

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Posted in: Personal Stories, Savvy Tips
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What Should Be on Your “Do Not Pack” List

Posted on August 28, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

A couple of summers ago, I was flying to France to stay with friends who had visited San Francisco in the past and fell in love with our foggy city. I thought I had found the perfect hospitality gift when I bought a fog globe featuring the Golden Gate Bridge. A fog globe is similar to a snow globe, but when you shake it up, instead of snow falling, the bridge disappears in gray fog. Because it was breakable, I carefully packed the globe in a carry-on bag, and that was my big mistake. It never occurred to me that airport security (TSA) would confiscate the gift because it contained too much liquid. I have since learned that fog and snow globes about the size of a tennis ball are allowed if they can fit in a clear, Read more

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Posted in: Holiday Related, Consumers, Customer Service, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips
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The Power of the Pen

Posted on July 24, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

When was the last time you took the time to write a hardcopy letter of commendation after receiving outstanding service? I always respond to consumer surveys and offer feedback. I’ve written reviews on TripAdvisor and Airbnb. Recently, I received such good service over the phone that I asked to talk to the representative’s supervisor so I could share my appreciation for the employee’s patience and professionalism. But writing an actual letter and mailing it? It’s been a long, long time.

When my husband told me about his interaction with one of the California State Automobile Association’s (CSAA) field offices over dinner one night, we both agreed that the employee should be recognized for her effort. Read more

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Posted in: Consumers, Customer Service, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips
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Summertime, Ticks and Tweezers

Posted on June 27, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

“I hate nature,” my 12-year-old daughter mumbled years ago as the urgent care doctor removed a tick embedded in the middle of her back. She’d been away at a week-long school camp in Northern California, so we had no idea how long the tick had been there. Fortunately, she didn’t contract Lyme disease from the bite.

I’ve always been afraid of ticks (along with snakes and poison oak), and I was reminded of my fears last month while taking a nature hike in the redwoods near the Russian River. Read more

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Posted in: Consumers, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips
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How Much Do You Know About Your Credit Report & Credit Score?

Posted on May 29, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

Your credit report and your credit score are two different things, and it’s helpful to know about both of them.

A credit report is based on a consumer’s credit history and compiled by credit reporting agencies. One expert referred to it as your “borrowing rap sheet.” Lenders use this information to determine credit-worthiness. You’re entitled to a free credit report every year from each of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) through annualcreditreport.com. It’s best to look at all three reports because they sometimes contain different information. You also don’t know which credit bureau a lender might use. Read more

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Muddling Through Cold and Flu Season

Posted on March 27, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

If you’re going to be laid up for a couple of weeks with the flu, the Bay Area is a good place to do it. A remarkable number of services and conveniences are a phone call or swipe away.

For example, take-out food and grocery delivery services are a godsend when you’re sick. During a recent illness, I couldn’t leave the house for almost a week (my husband was out of town) and needed some basic groceries. The first delivery service brought canned chicken noodle soup, eggs, juice, bananas, ginger ale and a dozen other things in less than 90 minutes. I used a second grocery delivery service for a larger order, placed 24 hours in advance. Read more

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Posted in: Consumers, Health Tips, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips
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Do I Need All This Stuff?

Posted on February 22, 2018 by Chris Bjorklund

Since the recent California wildfires, many of us have been reassessing our relationships to our possessions. Since my home was safe, my immediate response was to find useful items to donate to the fire victims. In fact, many Sonoma County donation sites were overwhelmed with people’s generosity and had to turn away used clothing and furniture. They requested cash donations instead or things like toaster ovens, hot plates and electric teapots for those living in temporary housing.

The stories about what evacuees took with them and what they left behind made many of us think about which of our belongings have value and meaning and which don’t. Read more

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Posted in: House Cleaning, Home Maintenance, Consumers, Home Tips, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips
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