get an opinion…

dripping faucet

Image via Wikipedia

James from Zes Bro Plumbing fixed a trio of seemingly small issues today. Water leaked from the shut-off valve of the toilet in our main floor bathroom. The tap in our master bath had been slow-dripping water for some time now. And the outdoor spiget alongside the house was missing a piece which connected to a hose. I’m thinking the construction crew that remodeled our kitchen/dining room a few years ago might have removed it when they were contracted to also build steps leading down the adjacent slope.

James, the plumber, did an outstanding job, informing me of the structural issues and what he planned to do to repair the problems. If there were options based upon price, he would tell me what they were and allow me to decide between them. Because we’ll be remodeling the master bath next year, and to some extent the main bath, I went with the cheaper solutions. James agreed with my decisions.

In order to repair the outdoor water faucet, James had to run to the hardware store for a part. He indicated he would be gone 25 minutes, and he was true to his word. Several minutes later, he had completed all designated tasks. Plumbers aren’t cheap, but I thought his charge for parts and labor of $291 for 3 hours work was fair. My husband agreed. It wasn’t the nightmare that others have complained about when repairmen have greedily charged exhorbitant rates. And when they’ve got you “over a barrel,” what can you do but pay up, or go 9 rounds in a confrontational match.

Image representing TripAdvisor as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

Whenever I require something, from a hotel to a repair person to a furniture mover, I troll the internet looking for reviews. When we’ve traveled to another state or to Europe, I have spent many a day and night winding my way through Reading others’ reviews of hotels, scenic sights, and restaurants, saved me the aggravation and expense of buying into something I might regret. Of course no two people are exactly the same in their likes and dislikes, but most people want pretty much the same when it comes to basics. It’s usually the extras where we might differ. Give me clean, good value, good attitude. Helpful, friendly, charming, quality are the added perks for which I’ll pay a little extra. TripAdvisor lets me decide where I’ll spend my money.

yelp inc magazine

Image by calmenda via Flickr

Yelp is another internet tool that offers the opinions of real consumers, like you and me. And unlike Angie’s List, Yelp is free. That’s where I searched for a review on a plumber I had thought of using. The company had a coupon in the monthly ValPak envelope I get in the mail. I’m glad I turned to Yelp, before calling Southwest Plumbing. Of the several complaints, the main ones were that the workers often arrived late for the job, and the prices quoted were excessive. One was for $1,345! And the homeowner sounded unprepared for that figure, whatever it was he was having done.

Better Business Bureau logo.

Image via Wikipedia

It’s highly doubtful that I would hire someone “blind,” or travel somewhere without first doing extensive research. I can always count on TripAdvisor and Yelp to assist, any time of the day or night. They’re on-call, 24/7. And if they don’t have what I need, I just google what it is I’m looking for, or look on the Better Business Bureau’s website. Their info is not as great as the first-hand reviews available from TripAdvisor and Yelp, but anything is better than nothing.

 feel better knowing someone’s been down that road………before me  ………….hugmamma.   

a little of this…a little of that…

Haven’t shared trivia with you in sometime. Thought you might be interested in the following regurgitated facts from experts in the field.

…from I was surprised to learn that what I thought would cause food poisoning insofar as perishable items are concerned, was incorrect. Mayonnaise may not be the culprit, but protein sources might. 

best egg salad sandwich ever, flying star, Alb...

Image via Wikipedia

Can mayonnaise in egg salad make you sick when it’s warm out? Karen ( the virtual food safety rep) says people often think mayo is the cause of foodborne illness from chilled foods such as chicken, tuna and egg salad or on deli-styled sandwiches. But since mayonnaise is made with acid (vinegar or lemon juice), it tends to prevent bacterial growth. Usually it’s the meat, poultry, fish or eggs in a sandwich left unrefrigerated for more than two hours that becomes the medium for bacteria to grow.

What about leftover fried chicken? According to Karen, food left out of the fridge for more than two hours may not be safe to eat. At temperatures above 90 F, food shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour. If you have any doubts, throw it out.

When you’ll be in the great outdoors and a cooler chest isn’t an option, Karen suggests packing such items as fruits, vegetables, hard cheeses, dried meats, dried cereal, bread, peanut butter, crackers and bottled drinks. 

…from Jackie Keller (nutrition expert/licensed and certified wellness coach: Debunks popular myths.

My Weight Loss Coach

Image via Wikipedia

Myth: Detox diets jump-start weight loss. I advise against detox diets, as they can cause the body to go into starvation mode and slow down the metabolism. If you want to cleanse your body, eliminate bad-for-you, processed foods and replace them with nutrient-dense foods.

Myth: Cutting carbs will help the pounds come off. The weight loss that low-carb dieters achieve in the first two weeks of carbohhydrate deprivation is measurable and not surprising. Carb-cutting will cause the body to shed water weight, as carbohydrates are stored in the body with water. That water weight will come right back on, and such a yo-yo weight loss is counterproductive and bad for overall metabolism.

Myth: Fat is the enemy. Research shows that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats–which are found in foods such as fish, olive oil, avocados and walnuts–can actually improve levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce the risk of heart disease. These healthy fats can aid in weight loss and even delay hunger pangs when consumed in appropriate amounts.

…from David Horowitz (leading consumer advocate) @ Warns against scams. In my February 27, 2011 post, “ever have one of those years…?” I talked about the first one. So trust me! It can happen to you.

Image by biggraham via Flickr

A message flashes on your computer screen: “Warning! Your system requires immediate anti-virus scan.” A free scan is offered. What do you do?
This incredibly common scam is almost guaranteed to occur as you use your PC. Upon first look, it would appear that clicking “No thanks” would be the right solution. Wrong. Clicking anywhere in the on-screen alert can open the program further or direct you to a website you have no interest in going to. Worse, clicking anywhere in the on-screen alert can instantly infect your computer with a virus that can be difficult or even impossible to remove. (It cost me $199 to have Tech Pros remove it.)

The solution is to hold down the Control and Alt keys and hit “Delete.” Once the application tab pops up, select “End Task,” then do a full scan of your computer with the anti-virus software you already have. (That’s exactly what the expert at Tech Pros told me…after I paid the $199.)

You are in financial trouble, and as a result your credit is suffering. You have been approached by a variety of services offering to repair your credit. What do you do?
Although many companies offer to repair damaged credit, it can be difficult to tell which are legitimate. The most common scam involves a company advising you to stop paying your creditors and deposit money into a special account instead. In reality, the debt-settlement company withdraws fees from your account for “services,” long before it negotiates with your creditors, if it negotiates at all.

If these companies send you an unsolicited email or advertise on the radio touting a stellar track record, it may be a scam. Stick with a legitimate nonprofit counseling outlet with an established track record, and always try to negotiate directly with your creditors first.

Ebay Explained 2006 (KLCC)

Image by liewcf via Flickr

You have made an online purchase and the item never arrives, or the item is not what you thought you were buying. What do you do? 
If you made the purchase from a reliable company, review the return policy and keep all receipts once you ship the items back. …However, if you made the purchase through a third-party entity on a website such as craigslist or eBay, the solution can be  bit more complicated.

Eiko's credit card

Image by eikootje via Flickr

Look for telltale signs of a scam before charging your credit card. For example, buying tickets can be risky, as scammers often change one digit in the theater address or the ticket number, tricking you into buying tickets you think are real, only to be told they are fake once you try to enter an event.

Beware of merchants who provide you with only a cellphone number; they do this because cellphones can’t always be tracked. Look out for sellers who ask you to wire money, retail websites that don’t list an address or a phone number, and companies that don’t have much of a presence or any reviews online. These likely are scams.

…more than enough…to contemplate…hugmamma.