Being a savvy consumer takes a little extra work, but you’ll get big payoffs in the long run. In this video, Chris Bjorklund, Consumer Advocate, and Joy Lanzaro, Director of Mediation & Compliance, walk you through 10 steps you can take to ensure your transactions go smoothly. When you’re done, check out our Problem Resolution & Mediation Hub to learn more about consumer affairs. Lastly, remember, Diamond Certified Preferred Consumers are backed by a Double Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee when they use Diamond Certified companies (enroll here, it’s free!).
Many parents want help teaching their children about using technology safely, so Google has created a Family Safety Center to address that need. One section explains Google’s safety tools, including “Safe Search,” which allows you to eliminate sexually explicit content from search results. You’ll also find a detailed explanation about sharing controls and privacy settings for YouTube, Google Talk and Picasa Web Albums.
My favorite part of the site is “Tips From Parents at Google,” where engineers, executives and other employees talk about their own challenges managing their kids’ Internet use. Here are two suggestions: Keep your home computer in a central place so you can monitor your children’s online activity, Read more
If you have a dispute that can’t be resolved through mediation, you might need to go to Small Claims Court. For example, you might file a case against a landlord who won’t return your security deposit or against someone who damages your car and won’t pay for the repairs. This special court is designed to help people resolve problems quickly and inexpensively without lawyers or a jury.
How much can you sue for in California? Any individual or business owned by an individual can file two cases per year for up to $10,000 each. You must file where the contract was signed, where the person being sued lives, or where the business being sued is located. Read more
Because sandals can be worn almost all year round, local nail salons are always full of customers. If you’re going to treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure, make sure you choose the salon carefully. All manicurists have to be licensed with the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, but some licensed operators don’t maintain the highest standards. If you encounter a dirty salon, report it to www.barbercosmo.ca.gov.
The best salons clean and disinfect all instruments after every client. Some safety experts recommend bringing in your own sterilized instruments to avoid the possibility of infections. Any items that aren’t disinfected (emery boards, buffers, drill bits) should be thrown out after every use. Manicurists should wash their hands after every client. Read more
We hear about so many consumer product recalls on the news that it’s easy to tune them out. But defective products injure and kill thousands of people every year, which is why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was created in 1972. The CPSC’s job is to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death caused by thousands of consumer products under its jurisdiction. The agency is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that can injure children or pose fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazards. It also works with manufacturers to recall defective products and redesign them to make them safer.
The CPSC now has a searchable product database (www.saferproducts.gov) where you can learn of recalls before buying products. Read more
Picture a previously convicted unlicensed contractor who pled guilty to six felony charges, including elder abuse, grand theft and diversion of construction funds. Does this sound like someone you’d want to hire to work on your home? Of course not…but the man described above currently has an active arrest warrant for failure to appear in court, which means he’s still at large and could potentially prey on vulnerable, unsuspecting homeowners.
The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is helping consumers avoid the worst unlicensed contractors in California by posting their pictures, physical descriptions and criminal records on its website (www.cslb.ca.gov/generalinformation/newsroom/mostwanted). If you see any of these people on the street or have information on their whereabouts, Read more
Prepaid cards are an alternative to debit and credit cards. They differ in many ways, but the most significant difference is that you load them with a set amount of money before using them. Prepaid cards are growing in popularity among people without bank accounts and those trying to better manage their spending. Recently, the nonprofit group Consumer Action compared 28 prepaid cards from 11 different financial institutions to help consumers make the right choice. For a copy of the survey and an educational booklet, go to www.consumer-action.org/prepaid.
Consumer Action’s key shopping recommendations are: 1) Choose a consumer-friendly card with fraud protection and free customer service; 2) Choose a card that fits with how you plan to use it (e.g., Read more