Have you ever had a nightmare with a contractor, mechanic, or dentist? I’m sure we’ve all had a bad experience at some point in our lives, and it’s probably because you picked someone random, rather than from a referral. If you’re planning to spend a sizable amount of money on things like home repairs, home improvements or medical expenses, you’ll want to know that you’re not wasting your hard-earned cash.
Angie’s List was created with this in mind, and features reports and ratings from consumers who have used the service providers that they are reviewing to let others know if they should trust them. Because it’s not a free service, let’s take a more in-depth look at how it works so that you can assess whether it’s worth the expense.
Service providers with high ratings can advertise through discounts
Because being able to advertise through discounts is considered to be a privilege, only service providers who average A or B ratings from Angie’s List members are given this opportunity. If any service provider sees their average rating fall below a “B,” this privilege is taken away.
Service providers can’t pay for good publicity
Although non-members can submit reports, only members can submit gradings and have an effect on the average grading of service companies, and there are procedures in place to ensure that service providers can’t sign up for an account with the intention to making themselves look better. These procedures have been given the thumbs-up by BPA Worldwide. Likewise, service providers can’t pay to be displayed at the top of search listings.
No anonymous reviews
Even non-members don’t have the luxury of being able to post reviews without giving their identity. This makes it less likely that fake reviews will be posted, especially alongside the paid membership.
Live representatives are available on the phone if you run into problems or have any questions while using the site. The number for the call center is toll-free. If you’re not sure whether there will be enough reviews for your area to make the membership fees worthwhile, you can call and ask.
It’s not free
To use Angie’s List, you’ll need to sign up for a monthly or annual membership plan. Aside from the phrase “Angie’s List is better than free review sites” on the How It Works page, the fact that this was a paid service wasn’t made immediately obvious. It was only when I clicked on the Join page and started the registration process that I was made fully aware that I’d have to pay to use the service.
The cost varies depending on where you live, but you can expect to pay a bit more if you live in a big city. You can save money by becoming a member for multiple years (1 year or more) but it all depends on how much you’ll use the website. On top of the monthly or annual membership fee, there is also a one-time activation fee of $15. This is only due once, assuming that you don’t cancel your membership and sign up again at a later date.
Initially, I opted not to continue with the registration process when it was confirmed that I’d need to sign up for a paid membership plan. A couple of hours after clicking off the site, I received emails prompting me to sign up. I did decide to do this later, but I found this irritating.
Once I was signed up, I did a couple of searches to see what was being offered, but I didn’t make contact with any of the service providers that I came across. Not long after, I received some emails asking if I’d been happy with the service providers, which also encouraged me to post a review of their services. I didn’t do this, because I hadn’t actually used the service providers in question and had only used them to get a feel for the site.
A Google search for Angie’s List revealed that other members have actually been called with similar questions, which I find interesting, because I’m no fan of unsolicited calls. As far as I can tell, this kind of communication is perfectly acceptable under the terms and conditions when you sign up, but it feels disconcerting that your searches and activity are so heavily tracked, though I suppose this is partly necessary for the success of the site and its members’ participation.
If you live in a big metro area, you’ll probably find plenty of reviews to help you make informed decisions. If you live in a smaller area, the number of reviews is likely to be much less and there may not be enough information to help you. If you’re someone who doesn’t undertake a lot of home repairs and home improvements and tends to see the same doctors and dentists on a regular basis, I’m not sure that an annual membership would be very cost-effective, particularly if reviews are sparse for your area. Because of this, free alternatives like Yelp may be the better option for you.
On the other hand, if you’re going to be needing to do lots of research into companies in these kind of areas, you’re going to get better value for your money. There doesn’t seem to be any option for a free trial to test how useful it might be so if you’re not sure, you might be better off trying free competitors like Yelp or Craigslist before you decide to take the plunge. Just keep in mind that those may not be as reliable and geuine as Angie’s List.