Being a savvy consumer takes a little extra work, but you’ll get big payoffs in the long run. Here are the Top 10 ways you can be a savvy consumer.

Make sure you do your research before hiring any company. Photo: American Ratings Corporation ©2017

1. Know what you want. Research the pros and cons of the products and materials you’re shopping for. Start a project file. Compare cost, durability, energy ratings and manufacturers’ warranties. Get estimates from several service providers whenever possible. By doing so, you’ll learn more about the work you’re contemplating and be better informed prior to making a decision.

2. Do your research. Check the company’s license and make sure it has the correct license classification for the work you need. What type of workmanship warranty does the company offer? If the company will be sending employees to your home, ask about workers’ compensation and commercial general liability insurance (CGL).

CGL isn’t required by law, but a contractor is required to tell you if they have it, and if so, provide contact information for their insurer. Workers’ compensation is legally required for all licensed contractors who have employees. If your contractor doesn’t carry workers’ compensation, ask how you will be protected if one of their employees gets injured on your property. The only acceptable answers are: 1) Their crew is covered by workers’ compensation or 2) they’re hiring a licensed subcontractor who has workers’ compensation. In both cases, you may ask for proof.

Each Diamond Certified Company Report features survey responses from real, verified customers. Photo: American Ratings Corporation ©2017

3. Don’t be fooled by fake or cherry-picked reviews. Review sites can be helpful when it comes to checking out a company before hiring, but they also post reviews from any person who chooses to post, which means legitimate, spontaneous reviews are mixed with fake and cherry-picked reviews that come from a company’s best customers, family and friends. This cherry-picking produces misleading and biased results. When you choose a Diamond Certified company, you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews because only real customers are surveyed from a large, random sample of each company’s actual customer base.

4. Compare apples to apples. As you evaluate different bids side by side, it’s important to make sure you’re not comparing apples to oranges. Are the companies offering the same type of work or are there differences in their procedures?

5. Get quotes and specifications in writing. Make sure you understand the scope of work to be performed and the timeline. Ask questions and, if necessary, edit the scope of work to reflect the understanding of both sides.

Open communication is the key to getting what you want out of a project. Photo: American Ratings Corporation ©2017

6. Communicate your expectations. It’s important to ask if your expectations are realistic for your particular job. For example, if your vehicle’s on-board computer is showing a problem with a part, that part may need to be replaced before the computer can inspect the other systems. Once that repair has been made, the computer diagnostics may find that additional repairs are necessary. If the vehicle has been running on original parts for many years and the value of the vehicle doesn’t justify costly repairs, you may want to discuss this possibility in advance.

7. Don’t jump to conclusions; ask questions. Also, double-check any assumptions you may have formed about certain aspects of the project.

8. Create a job file (paper and digital). Paper and digital trails are helpful, especially if a problem comes up later.

9. Give the company an opportunity to fix problems. Most companies want the opportunity to make things right, and it helps if you’re organized and clear about what’s wrong and what you want them to do.

The Diamond Certified Resource features local companies rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise®. Photo: American Ratings Corporation ©2017

10. Use Diamond Certified companies to ensure quality. If you’re a savvy consumer who expects quality and high performance, your best option is to work with Diamond Certified companies whenever possible. Each has been independently rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise® and is backed by a powerful Performance Guarantee, so you can feel confident in your choice. Before hiring, visit www.diamondcertified.org to see hundreds of Diamond Certified Company Reports, which give you the most accurate ratings and Deep Info available, including rating charts, verbatim survey responses, essential articles, a capabilities table, a Diamond Certified Video Profile, key photos and expert tips.