Posted in Avoid rip offs, Consumer Protection, How to Hire a Contractor

Avoiding In-Home Appointment Scams

It’s a typical scenario: the phone rings and on the other end is an appointment setter announcing she represents a home improvement company working in your area. She asks you a few questions and sure enough, her company can have a salesman come out to meet with you about your project. 

The happened to my elderly mother, who had a visit from the salesperson who spent two hours in her house for a high pressure sales call for a patio enclosure. It seems the older one gets the more the phone rings with cold-callers wanting to sell you something! 

Fortunately she didn’t sign a contract but unfortunately not before he got her ID and Social Security number to check her credit for instant approval. 

With a swift search I found out this is a slick operation that prays upon unsuspecting elderly people. He left no business card, no written estimate or company brochure.  That was suspicious. It’s unnerving to think my mom willingly gave out her social security number so easily to a company she had no knowledge of prior to the cold-call. It happens all the time to senior citizens. 

I called this company back, (thank you Caller ID), after I heard about this from my mother. The man who answered refused to identify his company name or contractors license number until I revealed our phone number first and he ended up hanging up on me when I asked why is it so difficult to tell me what the name of your company is. 

The reason why the person working in the cold-call center wouldn’t reveal his company is that they have several company names they operate under. It’s a nasty truth that when a construction company gets so many complaints and they lose their license, they start up again under another name, all those sales people move over to the next company and so it goes, they reinvent themselves several times over with the same scams under different names. 

What to watch out for when you get a home-improvement cold-caller: 

  • A legitimate construction company won’t be cold-calling you for work. Be suspicious and not so willing to accept an in-home appointment from a cold-caller.
  • Do not agree to an appointment with a cold-caller without first checking them out to see if this is a legitimate contractor in good standing. Tell them you’ll call them back, if they are not legitimate like the company that came calling at my moms,  they will hang up with you and not reveal their information. 
  • Ask the cold-caller for their company name, address, web-site, and most importantly their contractors license number so you can check them out before an appointment. 
  • Contact your local state contractors board’s web site. You can search by contractors number or business name. You want to check out the contractor’s company to see if they are in good standing or not. Google the company name or phone number to see what pulls up. Usually that will lead to Yelp reviews, Rip-Off Report or Reverse Caller Look Up information. If they don’t look legitimate, you’re probably right. 

Ways to identify a reputable construction company: 

  1. They identify themselves by business name when you call them. This should be simple enough but oddly the bad companies won’t tell you their name. Wow!
  2. They willingly will provide a contractors license #, a business location, and referrals when asked. Legitimate companies proudly will show you a copy of their license in their presentation book with photos of their work and referral letters from previous clients. 
  3. They maintain a local business address and may invite you to visit  them if they maintain a showroom to display their products. Other legitimate nationwide construction companies may not have a local showroom but maintain a website to review their services and products and the salesperson will bring an array of samples with him or her to the in-home appointment. They will also provide excellent customer service with telephone agents willing to help with any questions you may have before or after an in-home appointment. 
  4. The salesperson will furnish a written proposal with a price, a description of the work to be done, a lead time for the work and materials included in the proposal. This proposal will be left with you at the time of the visit or they will leave a brochure and a business card while they work up a proposal back at the office and get back to you on a timely basis. 
  5. If they offer financing, they will provide you a copy of the finance paperwork. 

And lastly, no matter how excited you are to get started; always do your research first. 


Posted in Consumer Research, Kitchen Sociology, Kitchen Trends, Men in the Kitchen, Style Notes

He Said, She Said

In an article, He Said, She Said, published at, July 21, 2010, it appears stereotypes about what women and men want in kitchen design is not that different, at least not in the upscale market.

Click the Link below to read what the results of  Top 5 Items Desired in an Ideal Kitchen and the Top 5 Words Associated with an Ideal Kitchen. Where men and women differ in opinion, according to the survey,  focused on cabinet organization and performance. Women it appears in the survey are focused on cabinet storage solutions; while men focused on performance of appliances. While I can certainly sympathize with one dear male reader who would beg to differ with this part of the study, who shouted out one Sunday morning from his kitchen in Minnesota,  “a pan! a pan! I would give anything to find a pan!” His attempt to make a Sunday breakfast became a blog topic and he wrote about the trouble with kitchen cabinet organization. I would say that both men and women would both agree roll out trays and pot and pan drawers are highly desirable interior cabinet features to include in a kitchen remodel.

What can we learn about this study? In our changing economy, the study reveals that at least in the upscale market, one of the motivating factors for these homeowners, who know they couldn’t sell right now if they had to, have made their minds up to stay put.  This is a market to sell to homeowners who are digging in and improving their homes instead of moving.

Article Source:

Posted in Consumer Research, Ethics in Blogging, Ethics in Interior Design, Happenings around the Blog, Hot Topics, Who Knew

A Cautionary Tale: Identity Theft on the Internet

Things are not what they appear to be on internet blogs. I send you over to Nicolette’s, “Comfort and Joy” Blog, to read her eye opening experience.

Of Scruples, Scams, Divas, and My Evil Twin

“Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!”

Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17.
Scottish author & novelist (1771 – 1832)

photo credit: Daniel Rozin’s Weave Mirror

Posted in Consumer Research, New I Phone App, Planning, Style Notes, Who Knew

A new design app for your phone.

Who knew that phones would be able to do so much? Now you can have a personal design assistant right at your fingertips. Created by interior designer Mark Lewison, Mark On Call™ for the Apple® iPhone and iPod Touch, lets the interior design professional, their clients—and do-it-yourselfers alike—plan, preview and carry out their design visions while staying organized and within budget.

So many convenient apps, I may have to say goodbye to my crackberry.

Posted in Consumer Protection, Consumer Research, Manufacturer Recalls, Refrigerators, Safety Features

Viking Range Corporation Recalls Built-In Refrigerators Due to Injury Hazard; Doors Can Detach

This just in from the CPSC.


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Office of Information and Public Affairs Washington, DC 20207

June 16, 2009
Release # 09-242
Firm’s Recall Hotline: (888) 345-2650
CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

Viking Range Corporation Recalls Built-In Refrigerators Due to Injury Hazard; Doors Can Detach

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Viking Built-In Side-by-Side Refrigerator/Freezers and Refrigerators with Bottom Freezers

Units: About 45,000

Manufacturer: Viking Range Corporation, of Greenwood, Miss.

Hazard: The refrigerator’s doors can detach, posing an injury hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Viking has received about 57 reports of doors detaching, including four reports of injuries involving bruises, broken toes/fingers, and strains. Also, several incidents of minor damage to floors and counters have been reported.

Description: This recall involves Viking built-in 48-inch wide side-by-side refrigerator/freezers and the built-in 36-inch wide refrigerators with bottom freezers with model and serial numbers with date codes listed below. The refrigerators come in stainless steel and various colors and wood finishes and are built into the kitchen cabinetry. “Viking” is written on the front of the refrigerator. The model and serial numbers are located either behind the produce drawer or on the ceiling of the interior of the refrigerators. The 42-inch wide or freestanding refrigerators are not included in this recall.

Model Numbers Starting With Date Codes
VCSB481, VCSB482, DDSB482, DFSB482
DTSB482, DDBB362, VCBB360, VCBB362
DFBB362, DTBB362, DTBB363
All units
VCSB483, DDSB483, DFSB483, DTSB483 Date codes before 030104
VCSB483D, DDSB483D, DFSB483D Date codes before 030105
VCBB363 Date codes before 102005
DDBB363 Date codes before 112305
DFBB363 Date codes before 041006

The first six numbers in the serial number are the manufacture date of the unit in [mm][dd][yy] format, e.g., serial number 051903G0000000375 was manufactured on May 19, 2003 and serial number F01250210170 was manufactured on January 25, 2002.

Sold by: Appliance and specialty retailers nationwide from July 1999 through April 2006 for between $4,725 and $6,400.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Consumers with recalled refrigerators should contact Viking immediately to schedule a free in-home repair. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled refrigerator if the door isn’t sealing properly, is sagging, or fails to open and close properly. If the door is functioning properly, consumers may continue to use the refrigerator until it has been repaired.

Consumer Contact: For more information, contact Viking toll-free at (888) 345-2650 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit Viking’s Web site at

CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about it by visiting

Send the link for this page to a friend! The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. The CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals – contributed significantly to the decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC’s teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To join a CPSC e-mail subscription list, please go to Consumers can obtain recall and general safety information by logging on to CPSC’s Web site at

Posted in Consumer Protection, Legislation, NKBA

Oklahoma is OK.

Congratulations Oklahoma!

No longer illegal to use title “Interior Designer!”

Members of the Oklahoma design community:


On May 12th, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry signed SB 592 into law. This bill amends the current title act which previously restricted the use of the title “interior designer.”

Continue reading the whole article click here.



This is great news and another victory in erasing the damage done to free enterprise and the public’s right to choose who they hire as a designer. The problem with design legislation is that a small segment of the Interior Design community would rather maintain a single point of entry, passing the NCIDQ Exam, to allow one the privilege to call oneself an interior designer. 

With respect to the two most technical challenging rooms in the home, kitchens and bathrooms, the National Kitchen and Bath Association, NKBA, has function and safety guidelines that NKBA trained kitchen and bath designers follow. No legislation needed!

ASID and IIDA’s argument for limiting who can call themselves an Interior Designer stems from their principal argument in concern for the public health and safety. Not a shred of evidence has ever been presented which would warrant a conclusion that the unregulated practice of interior design places the public in any form of jeopardy. As it is, in residential design, some homeowners will put themselves in jeopardy to save a buck by taking on home improvement projects without consulting with an NKBA trained designer, without pulling permits and without licensed contractors. This is precisely where professional design skills, made accessable for the working class, are needed the most. Professional design services should be more accessible to the public, and yet the very groups, ASID and IIDA, who strive to impose regulation on an entire profession in the name of protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public stand to do more harm to the public than good. Restrictive licensing laws will limit the right of the public to retain the services of a designer of their choosing and restricting NKBA members from practicing their profession. The pro legislation group will continue to bombard our legislators with arguments about their importance in protecting the public’s health and safety, (proven immaterial) and the importance of education, (they do not recognize other educational tracks), and disparage unlicensed designers as not taking their career seriously, (who has the right to make that assumption that because one does not hold a license means he or she is not as equally impassioned, experienced, or educated?)

Nonetheless, every year we see this small segment of the Interior Design community continue it’s efforts,
state by state, spreading disparaging claims about their non-licensed design associates, bombarding our legislators with arguments in favor of changing legislation to prevent designers to use this title without a license. Their arguments continue to have flaws. The problem is that there can be no single point of entry into the profession. One size does not fit all by passing the NCIDQ exam. The educational requirements for licensed commercial interior designers is immaterial to the educational requirements for a residential kitchen and bath designer or to that of a restaurant/commercial kitchen designer. Least of all, the NCIDQ is not a measure of proving professionalism, nor talent. The most famous designers did not need an arbitrary test to prove their competency in the profession. If the First Family can choose an unlicensed designer, it should be good enough for the rest of America. A growing number of professional and business organizations oppose design legislation. The whole idea to add another layer of government bureaucracy to protect the public is duplicitous to codes already in place. ASID and IIDA are the only groups imposing their legislative force to limit other educated and experienced designers from practicing. The NKBA is not seeking legislative action to restrict licensed interior designers from designing kitchen and bath interiors before proving their competency by passing the CKD/CBD examinations. Although maybe they should as I have come across plenty of dumb designs from ASID licensed designers. The NCIDQ examination is flawed! It does not adequately test competency to become a kitchen and bath designer. To pass the NCIDQ exam costs thousands of dollars and several more years in education and intership under a lisenced interior designer. My efforts and clients would be better served by taking educational courses that would directly benefit my career, such as Certified Aging in Place certification made available by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry or becoming a LEED Certified Designer.

The push for Interior design licensing has become a very devisive topic within the design community. It is anti-competitive and anti-consumer and an absolute waste of taxpayers money to impose licensing laws. Let the public choose who they want to hire.

Here is the NKBA Position statement:

Approved February 29, 2008
Position Statement
National Kitchen & Bath Association
The National Kitchen & Bath Association (“NKBA”), as the leading trade and
professional organization in the kitchen and bathroom industry, takes seriously its
role in educating our members and the public at large of the importance of
retaining the services of a professional designer when contemplating new or
remodeled kitchen and bath projects. It is only through education of the public
that they become familiar with the services that a trained kitchen and bath
professional can offer, and determine for themselves the level of skill and
expertise that is required to meet their needs and budget. Because of this, the
NKBA is justly concerned about the efforts of a small segment of the interior
design community, primarily those belonging to the American Society of Interior
Designers (“ASID”), to limit the right of the public to retain the services of a
designer of their choosing and restrict our members from practicing their
profession, a profession in which we have been engaged in for many years
without complaint or concern by the public. As a result of the limited success that
those interior designers have had across the nation, and our belief that their
anti competitive efforts will continue in the future, the National Kitchen & Bath
Association has developed this Position Statement to make clear where we stand
on interior design licensing and how this organization will react to any further
attempts to restrict the profession.
ASID has for over 30 years, conducted a campaign through local coalitions to
convince a small but vocal part of its membership along with various state
legislators that there is a desperate need for interior design licensing to “protect
the public” from those designers who they have decided are unqualified and who
do not meet the self-imposed standards which they have arbitrarily set. They
have had some qualified success in obtaining licensing laws, primarily due to the
fact that such efforts went largely unnoticed by the design community at large.
Members of the National Kitchen & Bath Association generally historically were
not concerned about “titling” laws – regulations that merely restricted the ability to
use a term such as “Certified Interior Designer” or “Registered Interior Designer”
– since our members did not consider themselves “interior designers” and had no
desire to use the regulated term. In fact, under the broad definition of interior
design which these bills regulate, our members do provide interior design
services and would come well within the proscriptions of the law. 

687 Willow Grove Street Hackettstown, NJ 07840
Phone: 908-852-0033 Fax: 908-852-1695