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Angie's List. Is it worth it?

Posted by bec1977 (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 16, 13 at 13:01

Hi everyone. Once again I am planning to have some work done on my house, new sidewalks, new kitchen floor, etc.

My question is, has anyone used Angie's list to find reliable contractors? Is it expensive to join? Is it reliable? We live around a somewhat large metropolitan area so it can be difficult to really know who you are getting. Any advice would be appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

We used to be AL members but found it was not worth it; we've learned that barring word of mouth ( which is the best way to find a good contractor), as long as the person is licensed ( which you can easily check online yourself), has an established business, is not evasive with references ( for recent work done) and you feel he/she is the right person for the job after talking to them ( believe me, you can quickly sense who won't be!), you'll do fine.

We went through Houzz and Yelp as well and got 5 ( yes, 5!) private contractors to come over to give us estimates - all had rave reviews and all turned us off, lol.

We ended up with Lowes!


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

While not perfect the Better business bureau is useful and free. bbb.org


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I can't say whether it's worth it for everyone, but I found a plumber on Angie's List with whom I am very happy. I took the top three listings and had them come out for a bid. While all three seemed technically capable, I found one plumber particularly responsive, reasonably priced, and pleasant. Without Angie's List I probably would not have known where to start.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

We're building a house - GC'ing it. We joined AL, but also checked the BBB, used word of mouth, etc. Some of our new neighbors are in the trades (electrical, etc); one evening dh and I spent some time with our neighbors and discussed our house plans, they gave us bids from their companies and also gave us names of other potential subcontractors...I confess that I also looked up potential subs on Facebook - even looked at their personal pages that were public. I think it's good to use all resources that are available to you, including AL. And as a previous poster said - follow your instincts.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I found the contractor for our kitchen on AL and was very happy. Found someone word of mouth for our master bath and was not happy. Our friends went with their neighbor's recommendation for their MB, as opposed to our recommendation of our kitchen contractor, and it ended badly and they wished they had gone with our contractor. So word of mouth isnt always reliable. You kind of take your chances either way. I was happy with most everyone from AL except a painting company. It is kind of expensive for our area--$80 a year--and we will cancel now that most of our work is done. I live in the DC area, and one thing I didn't like is they would have companies on there from Baltimore and cities on the other side of DC from us....way too far for them to travel to get to us. In large areas like this it should be split up by county and you pay a lower fee I think.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I know - the AL directory - or whatever you call it - is kind of inaccurate. I'd ask for subs within a certain distance from here, maybe 25 miles away, and get listings from 50 miles away. I think the businesses can pay to get more prominent listings - it isn't entirely unbiased. Some of it was kind of frustrating. And I agree - word of mouth isn't always terrific, either. Our neighbors told us that a certain very local company was bad, and from that part of the conversation, I felt like I was back in junior high talking about who the "nice" classmates were! Ugh.

I also visited the president of our local chamber of commerce. Of course, this is a *very* small town - the guy has his own small business and knows a lot of local people. He gave us some leads as well.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I've been glad to be an Angie's List member. I live in NYC, where there are lots of contractors, and I've been glad to have some sort of guidance. I don't find it as easy to get word-of-mouth people. And one of the word-of-mouth people made more trouble for me than it was worth--the job was WORSE when he was done. I had to do every part of it over myself.

Only one of the people I hired through Angie's List turned out to be a dud. And he was only SORT of a dud. And he didn't have a lot of reviews anyway.

Everyone else was really great.

I don't think the BBB is all that helpful for what I want--they really only handle things if a contractor turns out to be a crook.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I have been a member of AL for 9 years. I use it to check out everybody I hire. I just used it to find a lawn service last week. It's only $40 a year in my area. Too cheap not to have!


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

Bit of a pattern here--urban areas give AL enough input to make it worthwhile, plus there are too many contractors to check most out by word of mouth.

Less populated areas, like mine, AL may have too few to no entries. Word of mouth, especially for weeding out the undesirables, can be more reliable, especially since reputation is a live-or-die issue here, unlike metro areas.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

My opinion is similar to clg7067 - it is relatively inexpensive and gives you some options that I have found very helpul. To be honest after about a dozen times using AL, we did almost get screwed by on of the contractors that was very highly rated. I think the problem was really the repairman (it was a large company) who hope to get a commission telling us our a.c. system needed major repair so wouldn't it be better if we purchase new. ....yada, yada...
Anyway, bottom line, you stilll have to be careful. We live in Texas where unions aren't common - from what I understand talking with someone from my church who lived in Chicago, he said tradesmen were way more competent there than they are here because licenses were taken seriously. So whether you think AL is worth it or not may make a difference where you live. I don't think I will ever quit them though I have noticed that I don't seem to be finding "jewels" as often. I joined them when they first came to the city before the big guys/companies hadn't figured out ways to get good reviews on AL. It wouldn't surprise me if they hired people to write good reviews for them now (I suspect this on Amazon too). So I mainly use them for the smaller companies.
Anyway, AL is good but you still can have some problems now and then if you don't do homework or get multiple bids.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I've been an AL member for a little over a year. I've used one person through AL, a guy to pressure-wash my patio. It's not a high-risk job, but he was good and his pricing was very reasonable. I forgot a bit about AL until I saw they'd automatically charged me for another year. It's about $25. I made a note on the calendar to cancel next year before they charge me again. I don't really see a huge value in it.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

We joined when we bought a fixer-upper (rental) and have had amazing results -- used it to find a stone mason to fix a rock wall, foam insulators, drywallers, electrician, plumber, mason to rebuild the chimney, lead inspector. All were fantastic, delivered great work at a great price. Many requested that we leave a positive review on AL, which we happily did. I can say confidently that we could NOT have renovated the house without AL, as we did not live in the same area as the home we were renovating, and word of mouth would not have worked. Our "plan" was to look at the reviews, make sure the reviews were left over a long enough time span to appear "authentic" (e.g. months apart instead of days apart), and that they had a significant quantity of reviews, though our chimney mason had only one and he was great (he now has two -- including ours). Money well spent, I think we paid $35 for two years. What's that 1/2 hour of most tradespeople's hourly wage? Well, well worth it.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

Thanks everyone who replied. Sounds like most of you find AL helpful and it doesn't seem expensive at all.

I HAVE found that word of mouth isn't always helpful. But then again if someone told me that a contractor did a poor job for them, I certainly wouldn't hire that one. Just good to have another tool.

Thanks all!


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

Ditto to the comments of kris_ma, very good experiences using AL. However, the business had to have an overwhelming number of positive reivews over an extended period of time. Used them to select my independent granite fabricator who was outstanding. Also for drywall repair, lawn sprinkler repair, furniture repair, fireplace repair and cleaning, and carpet cleaning. I do resent their charges in the large metro areas, such as mine.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I've been very happy so far. I hired two people via AL, and both were excellent, both in terms of work and price. Make sure to read the reviews carefully to see to what extent they even apply to your job and also to see what is criticized. Some people's negative criticism was ridiculous, so could easily be eliminated.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I'm the cautionary tale for AL. I won't go thru the whole saga, but have posted elsewhere here about it in detail if you care to read. We picked a contractor in large part due to its phenomenal reviews on AL - super service, all As. With one exception, which I read but didn't worry too much about because there were ore than 100 ecstatic reviews, many of which I spot checked to make sure they weren't one-offs and possibly made up. The contractor sold the AL reviews heavily. I checked other sources but ultimately knew I was staking a gamble, but ultimately in our high-priced area, we are not new to getting overcharged.

Long story short, it ended badly - almost exactly like the one awful review that had been posted - a supervisor who goes missing, the company head pleading medical problems, and attempts to extort more money from us. And when the contractor himself finally pulled the plug (thankfully, miraculously) and offered to give our large deposit back, it came with a release form that specifically includes a non-disparagement clause. If his check actually cashes, I may try to indicate some kind of warning for other AL members. But I may not, for fear of being sued or harassed. I suspect this guy is not the only creep who preys on clueless homeowners via AL. If you know how to work the system, it can be used to make a bad or inexperienced contractor look like he is a superstar. Just be forewarned.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I haven't used AL for years, but I did when it first started here and consisted of a printed booklet. I had mixed results. I found one plasterer that I have used repeatedly; but another repairman tried to sell me unneeded work, and a different one somehow knew that I had gotten his name from AL when I hadn't mentioned that -- which convinced me that he was new to the business and his recommends had come from family/friends/himself.

As others said, it is a place to start.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I also have not found AL to be very helpful in an area that is not very heavily populated. Few reviews, and many are for companies too far away. Also, I believe their "deals" and "offers" are nothing more than marketing tools. My DSis (who does live in a large urban area) uses AL almost like Groupon, and I don't think she is necessarily getting quality. The top-rated kitchen designer in my area offers $1,000 of cabinets for $599. Well, I want the best price/deal, without having to commit upfront for a "$599 coupon". I found this company to be pleasant, probably reliable, but their quote was TWICE that of several other companies I contacted -- for limited choices of mostly Chinese cabinets! However, once someone buys the "deal", they are probably likely to go through and order the kitchen from them. Buyer beware!


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

We bought our house in Seattle 1.5 years ago and joined AL about the same time. All in all it's saved us money, but probably mostly because we found an awesome accountant who doesn't over charge. House wise, we used AL to find a floor refinisher, lock smith, electrician to repair our vintage 1956 stove, and fence builder. It certainly gave us more confidence in our picks. Considering consumers provide all the reviews, the price is annoying. But all in all it's been cost efficient and useful for us. We'll probably continue our membership for a few more years.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I've never used Angie's List, but have used Yelp to find a lot of my contractors. That's always my starting point. And it's free.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

Personally I think AL is a complete ripoff and I am amazed that it somehow marketed itself into a multimillion dollar business. I live in a city with about 100k people and I tried AL before I renovated my kitchen. I could not find any reviews on local business, so maybe if you live in a large city, it might be useful. Even then, I wouldn't put so much confidence on one or two reviews. It could have been written by owners or friends. I cancelled the subscription the same day and asked for a refund, which they obliged.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I found several terrible contractors and two did not even pay sales tax and were in trouble. I paid for almost a year and there was no one any good in my area despite the good reviews. It was not worth it to me. To be fair, one was good at his job but did not have time for me and then I found out hadn't paid his sales tax. The other hadn't filed in years and needed my help. I did not feel comfortable using him to do my floor but maybe he would have done a better job than the terrible guy I chose that was a referral. When I do my floors now, I visited stores and found a store that does good work, has good reviews and is local.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

There reoccurs, from time to time, inquires asking opinions regarding "service providers."

A subscription fee, really, are you serious!
If you do not know any of the people who have published reviews, have you asked yourself, "whats the credibility."

The BBB also solicits "contributions" and the more you contribute, the higher the rating.

On several occasions my customers had asked if they could post a review on Angies List, YELP and other social networks regarding our relationship.

I ask them to do everything in their power, short of suicide, to resist that temptation.

In the 35+ years I've been involved, my primary source for contractor referrals has been; http://www.thebluebook.com/
They self-police.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I would never use Angie's List, the BBB, Yelp, etc. as the basis for choosing a contractor. It's all too random and too easily manipulated. Besides, my standard of excellence and someone else's standard of excellence may be miles apart.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I've had a very good experience in a big city and double check the references against other internet sources. The "Big Deals" are great ways of sampling the work ethic and quality of a company's work also. Although even that can be spotty depending on the person sent. However it is a nice way of sampling and building up a list of trusted workers if you are new to an area. For example, I found an electrician who is picky enough to make sure that every screw slot was vertical even in the ones that could not be seen. Guess who I will be calling for future work? He was really happy that I noticed, he said no one ever did.

There are definitely companies that flood AL with fabricated references and AL has not been very responsive to an email that I wrote about my suspicion of fabricated references. They did say they would check into it but no futher followup and the references have not been removed.

So not fail-proof by any means, but well worth it for me.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

You can find coupons online for discounts. I think I paid $16 for the year through paypal with the discount. I research my people on there and have found some good people. It has paid for itself (literally). Im having a spray foam contractor come out on Monday the 23rd to do my roofline on my house. They had good reviews and in the end, the best price of the 3 companies I had quote. Then I asked for the AL discount they offer. 5% off saved me another $300.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

bump


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

We used Angie's List a few yrs back to make a list of contractors to call for estimate. Of the 10+contractors we called, only 4 came back to give an estimate and two were so high(like 100% more) we couldn't justify them, We were ok with the guy we chose(but we found him from reviews on a local forum) but he didn't have many reviews on AL. What I found annoying was if you click on a company's profile and don't leave a review, AL's people will call and call again(thrice in a week or so). That got old fast and we didn't renew again.
But it is good to try it out to see what is there. There are coupons available all the time for the first yr.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I only have had one experience and it was through my friend. I was working with her on putting in concrete floors and she found someone on AL who had stellar reviews. He was TERRIBLE!

Check out his caulking job! It looks as if a three year old did it.

I know, this is only one person out of many that are probably great but it has definitely made me very weary of AL.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I think it's good to weed out the bad guys, but I'll be cautious in the future about the ones with an over abundance of A+ ratings, and rave reviews. I'm glad you all mentioned that. Perhaps my own contractor slanted their own ratings.

My current contractor has over 40 A+ ratings. They told me they are booked out until well into next year - so yes, their business has blossomed as a result of AL.
Almost all of the reviews state how caring they were, going above and beyond, and how the owners were always around supervising and making sure everything was 100%, and what great communication there was.

While their workers are really good people, (except the idiot plumber who placed my valve for tub/shower very low down, and then proceeded to cut a stud right out of the wall when my husband took too long to find a 2x4 piece for him).

I find myself communicating with the workers more than the contractor. I don't think he's been here to oversee anything at all since the job started. So, while the job is going good except for that one problem - which he didn't offer to correct - I wouldn't give them an A+ with the gushing comments.
Could be their business is expanding too fast for them to keep up with.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

Perhaps homeowners here would be interested in the other side of the story. I have been a contractor member of www.homeadvisor for five years or so and have earned a 4.63 customer satisfaction rating out of a possible 5.

The great thing about homeadvisor ratings is that you must have been a contractor's customer in order to rate the contractor. This makes value for prospective customers because unlike the reviews on a company website, I can't have my brother-in-law post nice things about me. Another advantage for me is that unlike Yelp, if someone thinks my prices are too high, they don't get to say anything because they weren't my customer.

If homeadvisor called me today and offered to remove my "3" ratings I would not let them. I love my "3's". I show up at jobs and customers say something like. "I read your reviews. What was with the lady with the caulk?" I just shrug my shoulders. Customers take my side when it comes to the occasional turd. An occasional poor review adds credibility; anything else violates the laws of probability.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

Perhaps homeowners here would be interested in the other side of the story. I have been a contractor member of www.homeadvisor for five years or so and have earned a 4.63 customer satisfaction rating out of a possible 5.

The great thing about homeadvisor ratings is that you must have been a contractor's customer in order to rate the contractor. This makes value for prospective customers because unlike the reviews on a company website, I can't have my brother-in-law post nice things about me. Another advantage for me is that unlike Yelp, if someone thinks my prices are too high, they don't get to say anything because they weren't my customer.

If homeadvisor called me today and offered to remove my "3" ratings I would not let them. I love my "3's". I show up at jobs and customers say something like. "I read your reviews. What was with the lady with the caulk?" I just shrug my shoulders. Customers take my side when it comes to the occasional turd. An occasional poor review adds credibility; anything else violates the laws of probability.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

you can do a 30 day trial for free. i did that to see if it had enough info in my area. we live in upstate ny and yelp is nonexistent. i use it all the time and have had very good experiences. you need to read the reviews and look at the review totals. imo 3 good reviews doesn't mean much but 100s of good reviews would be impossible to attain if the contractor was incompetent.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

It has proven very useful to me. I live in a fairly urban area and have had a lot of work done this past year. The economy hasn't flagged here, especially in construction, so it's hard to find anyone to do anything, period. AL has paid for itself.

That said, you have to dig for the good contractors. I dislike the fact that AL lets contractors pay a fee to be listed higher or offer a coupon. I am going to check out homeadvisor.com and bluebook.com. I do think AL is too commercial and I know I have to be suspicious of their motivations.

Incidentally, I posted "first reviews" for a couple of my favorite contractors that I have worked with for many years over multiple projects. I thought I was doing a favor, but they didn't really thank me. They got a lot of annoying calls from AL thereafter, and both said they just did not need more work, could barely service the customers they had, and hated fielding the requests from new clients. I am going to go back in and try to delete those reviews.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

Though as I posted above, I find AL very useful, doesn't mean I am thrilled with everything. I have been with them since they first came to our city. One example of problems that happen is that I had a wonderful experience with a tree-trimming company and I was the one responsible for adding them to the AL database. They probably didn't even know what it was when I did that. I gave them a glowing report.

A couple of years later, I was going to hire them again for another job and find they are about three times more expensive at least according to their bid. Success often spoils company. That is why I never use the ones that have the most reviews even if good reviews.

Sort of like the stock market, you want to buy when they are low (and new). If you wait too late, then you are not getting that great of a deal. As they grow, they often have to totally reorganize their business, hire new people and buy new equipment. This means it is basically another company than that which you originally hired.

Because business sense is not that easy to come by, most of the time, the new company they have become is not as good as the old one (and I don't judge just by price).

And like some of those new tech companies in Silicon Valley, the original company you gave a glowing review for got tons of business, made some nice money and has sold the company to someone else - no longer the same company at all though has the same name.

Success can definitely spoil a company. So let the buyer beware. AL is good but in some ways has caused a new problem that people need to watch out for. But I don't plan to terminate my membership anytime soon. I just know that there is no substitute for doing homework, getting references, getting multiple bids (this last one I hate the most).


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

A cautionary tale about Angie's List.
I used it to find a contractor for my bathrooms. Glowing reviews, reasonable price (did get other estimate; they weren't that far off, just didn't like the other guy who kept telling me how dated everything I had was). Hired A.L. guy. It was an awful experience. Wrote an "F" review; it was posted. BUT, now the fun begins. AL runs interference between you and contractor and helped negotiate a settlement. He paid it (4 months after he agreed to) and the bad review went away and I was invited to submit a new one, with at least a "B" rating. I know I could have left the bad review and not gotten any money back but money won over principle. The good part of A.L. is that I got a small amount of the cost back (5%) and they helped with that. The bad part is I would never trust the reviews again as I now know the bad reviews can be deleted for a price. Just my experience. If you live in a metro area (I don't) and a contractor has lots and lots of reviews, it might be worth it, but I would always call for lots and lots of references.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I used Angie's list once for furniture repair and needed to call the police. The source I have consistently used for many years is Consumer Checkbook. They take no ads and have been highly reliable. They serve a number of cities, including The D.C. area and Chicago.


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RE: Angie's List. Is it worth it?

I used Angie's list once for furniture repair and needed to call the police. The source I have consistently used for many years is Consumer Checkbook. They take no ads and have been highly reliable. They serve a number of cities, including The D.C. area and Chicago.


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