posted: May. 19, 2013 @ 11:59a
I hope this is the right forum for this type of a post.
I just want to post on my experience of using Angie's List, and what I have learned.
In summary, I believe that unlike what is advertized, Angie's List is not a Consumer Friendly Review Site. It operates a rather sophisticated marketing machinery, and primarily is a paid Yellow Pages type service, using internet and direct mail as marketing channels, while disguising itself as a consumer friendly website.
First, my experiences.
On three different occasions, in three different metropolitan areas (Minneapolis / St Paul, MN; Indianapolis, IN; and Northern NJ, NJ / NY), I signed up for Angie's List. In all three cases I was looking for local business reviews, and each case, a google search for a SPECIFIC business resulting in a link from Angie's List to be at the top, advertising (falsely, as I will find out) that Angie's List has reviews on THAT SPECIFIC local business. The businesses searched were: (a) gutter cleaner and mold cleaner in Minneapolis, for a really needed service, (b) kitchen contractor in Indianapolis, as a test, and (c) mortgage broker in Northern NJ, for really needed service.
In each of the three cases, based on Angie's List claim that they had reviews for a specific contractor, I signed up, paying for the 1-month fee ONLY, in order to have access to the full website. In all three cases, it turned out, that they did not have ANY reviews for the specific contractor, despite advertising so earlier. Bait and switch? You decide.
Having paid for the monthly service in the first two cases using a one-time credit card, I simply let the memberships expire (easy enough, right?). However, both during membership, and after membership, Angie's List relentlessly spammed my (already-spammed) e-mail account, sending tons of unsolicited ads from various businesses I had no interest in dealing with. In the first two cases (Minneapolis and Indianapolis), I had signed up for relatives (I myself live in NY / NJ). In the third case, I signed up with my own address.
In the third case, I had to make a phone call to cancel, as (a) the auto-renew option was forced on me, and (b) there was no easy way to cancel otherwise. I canceled within about 20 days of signing up. First of all, cancelation was not that easy. Second, they did not extend the courtesy of refunding the entire amount, but rather, only pro-rated for the remainder of the month, even though I explained to them that I got ZERO value from them. And third, after I told them that I firmly believed that they had done a bait-and-switch for the third time, they had nothing to say, kind of like it was not news to them at all.
About a month after canceling the third service, I received a paper brochure from Angies, "Angies List New York City and New Jersey Edition, May 2013", which is basically a collection of unsolicited advertising.
There are basically 2-3 completely USELESS "articles", and then after that, we have page, after page, after page of relentless advertising from local businesses I have ZERO interest in. You want some examples? Here we go:
- Laser Skin Rejuvenation from Dr Glenn K* of T* F*, NJ,
- Implants and Dentures from Dr. Edgar A*, DMD, of some town in Middlesex County, more than 50 miles away,
- tons of kitchen remodel advertisements (I have a brand new one),
- tons of painter advertisement (I don't need painting),
So my conclusion is as follows: Angie's List is a sort of a new age Yellow Pages / useless Entertainment Book type of service, but CHARGING consumers anywhere from single digit to double digit dollars per month, while claiming to be a consumer focused business review / referal system. I can't comment on the quality of actual reviews, but you are welcome to search the web with appropriate search terms, and reach your own conclusions.
I thought this would be useful for FWF community to know, given how much house maintenance / repair, mortgage broker discussion topics we have.