My favourite books

Dear friends,

I have always been an avid reader. However, despite the extra free time due to physical distancing, I have found it very difficult to focus on reading anything that is not COVID19 related. Finally this week I decided to open up my eReader and I downloaded some new books. I am happy to report that I have rediscovered my love of reading and can’t wait to dive into my next one.

For the sake of your mental health, I strongly recommend to try to take a break from COVID19 worries and to pick up a book to read for pleasure. It is an instant mood lifter and the best form of escapism.

Here is a list of the best books I have read over the past few years. If you want to learn more about each book, please click on the link which will take you to their Goodreads page.

The criteria to make my favourites book list include:

  • Well written
  • Captivating plot and characters
  • Not too gruesome
  • Ends in a satisfying way
  • Over 4 stars in GoodReads (or very close to 4)

(Note: these books are mostly fiction.)

I will continue to add books to this page as I recommend them, so please visit often!

By the way, if you don’t have an eReader yet, now might be the time to buy one. I have a Kobo and a Kindle (I prefer the Kindle as it carries more titles). EReaders allow you to download the first few chapters of a book before you commit to buying it.

Please share your favourites in the comments below so that I can read them and maybe add them to my list!

The Heart’s Invisible Furies
All the light we cannot see
The Goldfinch
The 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo 
The Perfect Couple
The Alice Network
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
The Power
The Secret Wife
The Marrow Thieves
Tell no one
Big Little Lies
The Air You Breathe
Where the Crawdads sing
The song of Achilles
Daisy Jones and the Six
The 100 year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared
An American Marriage
The Silent Patient
Educated
Dear Wife
City of Girls
Beautiful ruins
The Testaments
Swimming with Horses
Fall on your knees
Cutting for Stone
The Secret Life of Bees
The Book Thief
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Glass Castle
The memory keeper’s daughter
Room
Mister Pip
Middlesex
The Poisonwood Bible
The Help
The Birth of Venus
The Book of Negroes
A complicated kindness
Long bright river
Followers
American Dirt
Lullabies for little criminals
Nothing to see here
Recursion
Becoming
A fine balance
The invention of wings
An absolutely remarkable thing
Ask again, Yes
Little Fires Everywhere
The Henna Artist
The Vanishing Half

A visit to the Ron Clark Academy

rca

(Photo credit: Ron Clark Academy)

Every now and then you have an experience in your life that has such an impact on you that you feel at a loss for words. As I sit in the Atlanta airport now waiting for my flight back to Toronto, I’m trying to process the past few hours that had my emotions fluctuating from anticipation to delight to incredulousness to gratitude to hopefulness and finally, to tears of joy.

main-header-favorite-crop

(Photo credit: Ron Clark Academy)

You see, I just completed a full-day teacher-training session at the Ron Clark Academy in inner city Atlanta. Now, if you are an educator, you have probably heard of this school with its outstanding academic reputation and significant social media presence. It was created by two teachers, Ron Clark and Kim Beardon, who had a revolutionary idea: to create a school where academic rigour meets compassion with an emphasis on producing graduates with strong leadership qualities. Oh, and they made it a fun learning environment too, by encouraging dance, songs and chants to complement the classroom experience and to drive home the lessons taught. The school has 120 students: 4 classes (5th, 6th, 7th, 8th) with 30 students per class.


(RCA video collaboration with Ludicrous for Super Bowl 2019)

If it sounds too good to be true, it almost is. It’s a very strange sensation because you find yourself experiencing the day almost in a dazed state, as you try to absorb all the details of this spectacular school. It’s like a fantasy come to life: a school so special that you couldn’t even imagine it in your wildest dream.

Atrium and Stairway

(Photo courtesy JeDunn.com)

Upon entering the school’s front door, you (along with hundreds of other educators, called “Guests”) are met by a live school rock band and dancing students, teachers and administrators who greet you warmly with smiles. You are whisked inside and you are immediately struck by the decor: Modeled after Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School, there are massive dragons, suits of armour, and windy staircases everywhere. The four House plaques are prominently displayed on the walls, and students are immaculately groomed in crisp, clean uniforms. The students appear to be almost too happy and charismatic to be believable, but over the course of the day, you realize that everything about this school is 100% authentic.

(Ron Clark, charismatic principal of the RCA and creator of the viral Instagram hashtag #GradingPapersChallenge)

The first session of the day is in the gym with Mr. Clark who talks with a charming southern drawl and explains the genesis and philosophy of the school while thoroughly entertaining us with hilarious anecdotes about students, teachers and parents. He is, hands down, one of the best speakers I have ever seen, often reminding us about the importance of raising the bar of expectations in our classrooms and building strong relationships with students and their families. He recommends visiting students and their families in their own homes at the beginning of the year to get a sense of their environment and to let parents know that “As a team, you and I will work together to ensure that your child will achieve success.”

Math

(Mr. Clark’s math class. RCA teachers and students often stand on tables to make a point or talk to each other.)

When the school tour begins, the visiting teachers are split into groups and ushered into different classrooms to watch RCA teachers and students in action. It’s a smooth transition, with guides leading the way like clockwork. In every class we visited, we were invited to join the students to solve problems together and to discuss the lessons taught. Eventually it dawns on you that not only are these students delightful, polite, gracious, and kind, they are also brilliant, eloquent, articulate and self-confident. In all of the classes I observed, the teacher was merely a mediator or instigator, posing questions to the students and letting them figure out the answers on their own. The students (NOT the teacher) would explain to their classmates the solutions they came up with and their classmates were invited to critique their solutions and to add suggestions of their own. RCA students are extremely supportive of one another and constantly cheer each other on and offer encouragement. I’ve never seen anything like it. This is student-centred learning at its very best.

Screen Shot 2019-02-02 at 1.22.31 AM

(My lunch companions, Zoe and Zoey. Students at RCA have to earn their personalized jackets by being exemplary students.)

At the end of the day, all visiting teachers were invited to hurl themselves down the blue RCA slide to become “Slide Certified”, with loud music, dancing, and celebration all around. The farewell school song the students sang for us at the end brought me to tears as a small girl who introduced herself as “Halle, as in Halle Berry” clasped my hands and danced with me, truly exemplifying the warmth of the RCA family.

Screen Shot 2019-02-02 at 1.25.51 AM

(Me and my dancing partner, Halle.)

There is so much more I can write about the this unique school. But friends, it really has to be experienced to be believed. Please do not wait for a reason to go to Atlanta. Book your trip today and allow your eyes to be opened to what every student, teacher and school has the potential to be. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed and it could very easily change the way you teach forever.

(House dance competition at the end of the day.)

Watch the short documentary above about “The Amazing Shake”, a competition started by the Ron Clark Academy.  This competition places an emphasis on teaching students manners, discipline, respect, and professional conduct. Students prepare by learning the nuances of professional human interaction such as how to give a proper handshake, how to “work a room,” how to give a successful interview, and how to remain composed under pressure.

5 Tips for Live Sketchnoting

screen shot 2019-01-16 at 9.28.23 am

(This post originally appeared on DitchThatTextbook.com)

Live sketchnoting (doodling while someone is talking) is the most challenging form of sketchnoting. It is stressful at first, but it gets easier over time with practice. Here are some tips for live sketchnoting:

  1. Before you begin, draw a banner, maybe a portrait of the speaker/teacher, the date and place. This will settle you down and get the creative juices flowing for sketchnoting.
  2. You don’t have to write down everything, just capture the parts that stick out for you. Capturing ten to twenty points of the talk/lesson is fine.
  3. You can add more doodles and embellishments later such as icons, containers and frames, banners, arrows, dividers and fancy fonts.
  4. Don’t stress! Sketchnoting is supposed to be fun! Don’t worry about quality of your sketchnote, just get the key points down and enjoy the learning process. Over time with practice, you will find live sketchnoting easier and easier.
  5. SHARE your sketchnotes! I enjoy live sketchnoting during keynote addresses in conferences. When I’m finished, I share my sketchnote as a gift with the speaker who is always delighted to receive it. With the Procreate app that I draw with on my iPad, I can export the sketchnote as a video from the beginning to the end of my drawing. In iMovie, I can then add music then upload to YouTube. To see a YouTube playlist of my live sketchnotes, visit bit.ly/SylLiveSketchnotes.

If you (and your students) want to get started sketchnoting right away please visit sylviaduckworth.com/sketchnotefever for 21 free sketchnoting lessons. Please share your sketchnotes on social media with the hashtag #sketchnotefever!

For more tips and tricks for getting started with sketchnoting in the classroom, please check out my new book,  “How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students, available on Amazon. The book includes access to an online database of sketchnoting icons and many scaffolded activities to introduce sketchnoting to your students.

Available now!

Happy sketchnoting!

XXOO

Sylvia

Sketchnoting World Tour 2019

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 4.59.13 PM

Dear sketchnoting friends,

After a successful 6-city 2018 Cross-Canada Tour, I am beside myself with excitement to announce my Sketchnoting World Tour 2019!

Here are the stops so far (more dates to come):

1. Wednesday, April 10, Auckland, NZ,  Orewa College. (Click here for flier)

2. Saturday, May 4, Aurora, OR,  North Marion Intermediate School.(Click here for flier)

3. June 4, Fayetteville, NC, Cumberland County Schools Educational Resource Center. (Click here for flier).

4. Saturday, Nov. 2, Hà Nội, Vietnam, Concordia International School. Click here for flier.

5. Saturday, Nov. 9, Singapore, Singapore American School. (Click here for flier)

Please click here to read more about the workshops.

Please click here to register for a workshop.

Please click here if you are interested in hosting a full-day sketchnoting workshop at no cost to your school.

Please click here if you would like to invite me to conduct a sketchnoting workshop in your community.

Please click here to be notified if a sketchnoting workshop comes to your area.

I sure hope to meet you in 2019!

XXOO

Sylvia

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 12.41.37 PM

 

 

ShadowDraw App

Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 4.03.53 PM

mine

A few months ago I saw the coolest thing on social media: an app that teaches the user how to draw simple drawings by tracing the lines drawn by an artist.

The app is called “ShadowDraw – Learn How to Draw, a free app with in-app purchases. I was mesmerized.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I received an email from Marty McDonough, the creator of the app,  asking if I would like to be a featured artist. I was super excited to contribute to this unique teaching resource so I submitted some Winter Holiday sketchnoting icons. Well, today my first drawing bundle is ready to purchase!

Instructions:

  1. In the iTunes store, download the ShadowDraw app (for iPads only).
  2. Do the opening tutorial.
  3. Tap Menu
  4. Browse tutorials
  5. Tap on “Sketchnoting for the Holidays/ Sylvia Duckworth”
  6. “Get book for $1.99USD/$2.79CAD” to learn how to draw 25 different holiday icons.
  7. On the right, tap on the icon you want to learn how to draw > Start drawing!

If you like my lessons, check out the other lessons by featured artists including Graham Shaw (yes, THAT Graham Shaw from the popular YouTube video with 23 million views)! You can read about the other artists here who have all contributed to this wonderful app with Holiday-themed drawings and more.

Have fun learning how to draw with the ShadowDraw app!

XXOO Sylvia

5 Ways to Create a Doodling Culture in your Classroom

(This is a cross post from a guest blogpost for Alice Keeler.)

5 Ways to create a doodling culture

Sketchnoting, or visual note-taking, has so many benefits for students. Many studies have proven that images are considerably more effective than words when it comes to memory retention, comprehension and motivation. There are psychological benefits as well, because sketchnoting has a calming effect similar to meditation and listening to soothing music. Sketchnoting also allows students to see the bigger picture in the concepts they are studying, to make connections in their learning, and to display their learning process.

Before you begin sketchnoting in class, however, it is extremely important that you set up a doodling culture so that your students understand that IT’S OKAY TO DOODLE!

This is very counterintuitive for most teachers who feel that in order for the student to truly absorb the material being taught, they have to be looking at the teacher. This is a mindset that is very difficult to get over for teachers and for students, but with consistent reminders that it’s okay, sketchnoting will soon become a natural and normal part of your daily class routine.

Here are 5 good tips to create a sketchnoting or doodling culture in your classroom:

  1. Remind your students over and over again that it’s okay to sketchnote in class as a form of note-taking, planning, processing information, and keeping engaged in class.
  2. Provide paper/pen/pencils/notebooks/digital devices for sketchnoting.
  3. Model sketchnoting yourself by doodling with the students and displaying your sketchnotes.
  4. Spend 5 minutes a day with your students to focus on building their visual vocabulary. Visit the #SKETCHNOTEFEVER resource page for 21 free video lessons.
  5. Encourage your students to share their sketchnotes. Create a space in your classroom/class website to allow students to do this. Celebrate their amazing progress as the school year goes on!

For more tips and tricks for getting started with sketchnoting in the classroom, check out my new book, “How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students”.Available now!Happy sketchnoting!

XXOO Sylvia

 

All 21 #SKETCHNOTEFEVER lessons!

LAST DRAW

At the beginning of the week when the #SKETCHNOTEFEVER lessons were coming to an end, I challenged participants to create video montages of all 21 lessons that they completed. I loved the variety of mediums they used. Check it out!

1. Jennifer Leban (@mrsleban)

Twitter video

2. Alexis Snider (alexissnider15)

Adobe Spark Video

3. Anette LeFave (@mrslefave)

Smilebox video

4. Sarah Fromhold (@sew1080)

YouTube

5. Tiffany Eliot (@kindertechtiff)

Instagram video

6. Amber Grohs (@amber_grohs)

Twitter video

7. Merri Lea De Witt (@dewit_teachn)

Book Creator

8. Mandi Tolen (@mandiTolenEDU)

Twitter video

9. Kimberley Kidd (@MrsKKidd)

Twitter video (Part 1)

Twitter video (Part 2)

10. Kimberly Cantrell (@mskcantrell96)

Twitter video

11. Katie Cahill (@kcahill79)

Twitter video

12. Margaret Sisler (@techymargaret)

Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 9.57.44 AM

(All 21 lessons on one image, made with a yoga laptop/tablet,  windows 10 and

13. Traci Stubenrauch (@tpstube)

YouTube video

14. Courtney Adams (@cadamslpms)

Apple Clips

15. James Allen (@TLJamesA)

Twitter video

16. Kristi Daws (@kristi_daws)

Twitter video

17. Abbey Thomas (@mrstechpig)

Twitter video

18. Juli Chang (@juli_sassy2ndgr)

Apple Clips

19. Monica Roveri (@monica_roveri)

Twitter video

All participants received a certificate of achievement for completing all 21 lessons:

certificate

Thank you to everyone who participated in this challenge. If I didn’t see your entry, or forgot to include it above, please DM me on Twitter (or email me) and I will add yours right away! Also please contact me if you completed all 21 lessons so that I can send you a certificate.

And the winner of the draw to win a copy of “How to Sketchnote” is….

A very special shout out to Lisa Stevens, from the U.K., who wrote a blogpost  and was a very enthusiastic #SKETCHNOTEFEVER participant, having completed all 21 lessons as well!

A reminder to all readers that even though the #SKETCHNOTEFEVER campaign is officially over, I do hope that everyone will continue to post their sketchnotes using the hashtag so that we can celebrate everyone’s creations.

Happy sketchnoting!

Sylvia

 

End of week 3 #SKETCHNOTEFEVER

As the 3 week launch campaign of “How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students” draws to a close, I am still incredulous at the level of participation of teachers, students, and families from all around the world!

People were tweeting and posting on Instagram and Facebook every day. Here are just a few examples:

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 5.36.20 PM

Congratulations to three #SKETCHNOTEFEVER participants who won a copy of my book after a random draw:

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 5.49.29 PM

Week 1: Ashley Sonkin

Week 2: Merri Lea DeWit

Week 3: Manuel Herrera

We have ONE MORE DRAW: Create a video or montage of ALL 21 #SKETCHNOTEFEVER lessons that you completed for another chance to win a copy of my book! The winner of this bonus draw will be picked on Friday, Nov. 16, so make sure to submit your videos/montages before then on social media with the hashtag #SKETCHNOTEFEVER!

LAST DRAW

After what seems like an excruciatingly long wait,  my book will finally be released tomorrow (Nov. 13) and it is my sincerest hope that the #SKETCHNOTEFEVER community will continue to post their #sketchnoting journey, with or without the  #SKETCHNOTEFEVER lessons! To continue the learning, please consider purchasing my book which has tons of lesson ideas and scaffolded activities to introduce sketchnoting, as well as access to a members-only databank of close to 300 sketchnoting icons.

If you haven’t ordered the book yet, it’s not too late to take advantage of the early order bonuses which will still be available until Nov. 20:

PURCHASE BONUS OPTIONS 

  1. Order the book before or on November 13 and you will receive 3 bonus posters plus a special VIP invitation to a live 1 hour webinar with me.
  2. Buy the book November 13 – 20 and you will receive the 3 bonus posters.
  3. Buy 20 or more copies and you will receive the three bonus posters above, PLUS a private 30 minute webinar with me.

Once you have purchased the book, please email me at sduckworth100@gmail.com to provide your proof of purchase and to receive the bonus features.

Happy sketchnoting!

#SKETCHNOTEFEVER

Oh my, what a week it has been!

On October 23 the book campaign for “How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students” (release date Nov. 13, 2018) was officially launched.

Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 7.59.39 AM

After consulting with EdTechTeam Press author and lead editor Holly Clark and author and marketing guru Trevor Mackenzie, we brainstormed on a 3 week campaign to get people excited about sketchnoting and #SKETCHNOTEFEVER was born!  (To the uninitiated,  sketchnoting, or visual note-taking, is an effective and fun way to take notes using doodles and text.)

Every day for the past week I have been posting quick 3 minute lessons on my website and asking participants to post their drawings on social media using the hashtag #SKETCHNOTEFEVER. The response has been phenomenal with more than 2000 tweets and many more on Instagram and Facebook. Teachers told me that #SKETCHNOTEFEVER hit hard in their classrooms and even at home with their own children!

Photo courtesy @itsmrsking

@caroreinck

Photo courtesy @caroreinck from Singapore

Photo courtesy @wheeler_laura

Photo courtesy @mrsstack205

Photo courtesy @virtualgiff

This week I also threw a “Book Reveal” party for some of my Toronto area teacher friends where we opened the first box of my new book. It was the first time any of us (including me) had seen the book and we were all thrilled to see the final product!  Thank you so much to friends Jason Trinh, Larissa Aradj, Kim Pollishuke, Jen Giffen, Laura Collins, Diana Mancuso, Shaki Ravindran, Julie Millan, Stephanie Signer and James Trood (not pictured) for coming to my place to celebrate this moment and for documenting the event with photos, videos and social media posts.

Photo courtesy Larissa Aradj

To celebrate the end of the first week of #SKETCHNOTEFEVER I drew a name from a list of more than 200 people who contributed photos of their drawings and Ashley Sonkin from Texas was the lucky winner to receive a copy of my book. Congratulations, Ashley!

I can’t wait to see what the next week will bring. If you haven’t done so already, please join in the fun by adding your name to the mailing list to receive the daily sketchnote lessons in your email box. To get caught up with all of the lessons, please visit bit.ly/sketchnotefever. It’s never too late to join!

XXOO

Sylvia

PS. To pre- order “How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students, please click here. Special purchase bonuses are available until Nov. 13. Please visit bit.ly/SylBook2 for more info.

Appliance RepairMan or Appliance Repair Team or Appliance Repair Guy or Service 4 Appliances Scam: How to get your money back

Screen Shot 2018-09-08 at 1.07.20 AM

Dear Reader,

I sincerely hope that you’re not here because you have fallen victim to ApplianceRepairman.ca (or ApplianceRepairTeam.ca or Appliance Repair Guys). But if you are, there is hope. I was able to get most of my money back within a week by following the steps as outlined below.

If you have not heard of this company before, let me fill you in. They operate in the GTA (Toronto), Hamilton, Barrie and Oshawa. They have another website, Appliance-Repair-man.ca  that operates in Guelph, Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge. They are based in Concord, Ontario (89 Connie Crescent, L4K 1L3) and owned by Idan (Dan) Vidoser and operated by Chen Kochavi.

This is how they operate:

  1. They charge $80 to send a technician.
  2. The technician will look for a minute at your broken appliance and then state that in order for him to get a proper diagnosis of the problem, he will have to open up the machine and that this is considered labour so you will be charged extra for it.
  3. He will draw up a contract/waiver for you to sign outlining the “labour” charges and the cost for each. This is what mine was, for a broken washing machine:
  • Watering system: $112
  • Mainboard/Timer: $98
  • Safety system: $70
  • Total: $280 (Bizarrely, this is the total that is calculated with every complaint I have read about, no matter what the appliance)

4. He will tell you that he will deduct the $80 initial fee if you give him the go ahead to service the machine. You do the mental math and think “$280 – 80 = $200. Worth it to get my machine working again”. You sign the waiver.

5. He spends about 10 minutes doing something with the machine (Not sure what. Mental note: always watch what your repairman does) then comes out of the laundry room and states that you need to buy a replacement part at an exorbitant cost (ex. $408.88 for a latch and lock assembly which is $97.33 online). Oh, there will be labour fees on top of that.

6. When you balk, he claims that he warned you beforehand about additional costs and you shouldn’t have signed the waiver if you weren’t willing to spend more money to get it fixed. And that collections services will come after you if you don’t pay what you owe right now ($280).

7. At this point, you will pause and wonder “Is this guy a scammer? But he seems nice! Well, it’s a lot of money, but I guess this is how most companies operate (NOTE: It’s not). Plus, I did sign the waiver so I’ll do what decent people do and honour the contract”. You give him your credit card (P.S. big mistake) and he rings it through. If you’re really unlucky, he will have convinced you to order the “needed” part, too. (Thankfully, I didn’t, but retrospectively, I should have told him to take a hike and sent him away with no payment whatsoever.)

8. He leaves. You are $316.40 dollars poorer and your machine still doesn’t work. You go online and your stomach sinks when you start to read the abysmal reviews and articles written about this company:

As of today:

  1. Homestars: 552 negative reviews, .6/10 rating (that’s less than 1/10 btw)
  2. Better Business Bureau: “F” rating
  3. Ellen Roseman/Toronto Star article, 2014
  4. Ellen Roseman/Toronto Star article, 2019
  5. YorkRegion.com article, 2015
  6. HamiltonNews.com article, 2015
  7. TrustPilot reviews: 92 reviews, 100% bad
  8. ApplianceRepairGuys.org: 35 bad reviews (Same company, different name)
  9. SiteJabber: 28 reviews, all bad
  10. CBC News article
  11. Google reviews: 102 bad reviews (google “ApplianceRepairman.ca reviews”, scroll down to the right, click “View all Google Reviews” (Later note: It looks like the company has disabled Google reviews since they are no longer visible).

OMG, you think. I got hosed. Big time. How do I get my money back? You call your bank right away. They tell you there’s nothing they can do. You call the company and they tell you the technician honoured the contract you signed, so, sorry. They might offer you a $35 refund if you call more than once.

I decided to follow the advice found on ApplianceRepairGuys.org, a website set up by another victim of this company. He suggested filing a consumer complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario .  Wisely, the crooks at ApplianceRepairman.ca will respond once you set the ball in motion here because they do not want to be shut down.

Before filing a complaint you must write a letter to the company. Email the letter to info@appliancerepairman.ca and in the subject line write: Complaint about service done: CONSUMER PROTECTION ONTARIO (this will get their attention). Note that you don’t actually have to file a complaint just yet. Write the letter first and send it off, then wait to see if the company responds. 

In your letter to the company, make sure you describe your intention to file a complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario and outline how much money you want back from them. Also give them a time limit to respond (I gave them 48 hrs but they responded the next day). Click here to read my letter.

The company will state that you must sign a waiver to get your money back which is basically a gag order for legal proceedings (which I will completely ignore if ever asked to testify against them). You can try to insist that you won’t sign it until you get your money back but you won’t be successful. They will tell you that you will receive a cheque within 15 business days once the waiver is signed. I recommend that you insist that the money be put back on your credit card (not a cheque) instead and tell them they have 24 hrs to reimburse you or you will proceed with your Consumer Protection Ontario complaint. Here is where you need to take a huge leap of faith: You need to give them your credit card number again before they can process the refund. If you prefer, ask them for a mailed cheque, but you risk having to chase them down for it. I gave them my credit card number and received the refund immediately after sending them the signed waiver. I called my bank right away and made sure that the funds had indeed been credited back to my card. Phew, nightmare over.

So there it is. It was 5 days of pure hell, but a lesson well learned. Never again will I let a service person into my house until I do some research on them.

Here are some questions I have left to ponder:

  1. How do the employees at this moralless company sleep at night?
  2. Why does VISA allow this fraudulent company to have a merchant account?
  3. How has this company been allowed to operate for 5 years now?
  4. How many thousands of customers have they ripped off?
  5. Why are victims powerless to shut them down?
  6. Why isn’t Consumer Protection Ontario stepping in to protect Ontario consumers from this company, as they are mandated to do?

I welcome your comments below. Good luck with your efforts to get your money back if you are a victim. Please let me know how it turns out.

PS: I filed a complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario even though I got my money back and I encourage all victims to do the same. This way the government might finally pay attention to this scam. Here’s their number: 416-326-8800/1-800-889-9768.

I also filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau of Canada. This organization will not help you get your money back but they will help investigate fraudulent companies. Click here to file a complaint.

By the way, the week after I wrote this blogpost I hired an honest repairman, Yevhen Pankratenko, to fix my washer. He repaired it for $85 (including the cost of the visit), proving that the ARM “technician” was a complete scam artist.

Blogpost update, May 7, 2019: Julian Sakinofsky is a Toronto lawyer who is preparing to take legal action against ARM as he is also a disgruntled customer. Please fill out this form to help us collect evidence against them. Please note that CRITICAL MASS is required to put them out of business, so we need your input!!!!

Blogpost update, Aug. 16, 2019: A group of us have sent a letter to CBC’s Marketplace, GoPublic CBC and W5 CTV for more media coverage. Please let me know if you want to be involved in this story by emailing me at sduckworth100@gmail.com.

Blogpost update, Oct. 30, 2019: A disgruntled customer contacted me and said that she had success getting her money back from her bank (TD) after filing a complaint with Consumer Canada