Value of Angie’s List?
March 30, 2012 12:06 PM   Subscribe

If a vendor is listed on Angie’s list, does that IN ITSELF carry weight with you? Why? And as to the reviews, pro or con, how do you know they’re not fake?
posted by LonnieK to Work & Money (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've always just assumed that Angie's List was useless because the only place I'd ever heard of it before you posted this question was in television commercials.

(My logic being that if they have to invest gobs of money in television commercials because people don't find the site useful enough to mention it to each other, it's also probably not attracting a significant volume of unpaid reviews either. I also have never come across a link to the site while doing online searches for reviews based on keywords I think a thorough review would have in them.)
posted by XMLicious at 12:27 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Any business can list themselves on Angie's List.

As with any sort of reviews site, it certainly can be gamed. Offering customers a discount for a positive review is a common practice.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 12:29 PM on March 30, 2012

For me, no, having a listing on Angie's List does not in itself carry any weight. The reviews are the key. How do I know if they are fake? The same way I do on any other review site: I look at the entire body of reviews, I don't give alot of weight to any one particular review, and the detailed ones get more weight in general.
posted by cabingirl at 12:33 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

> If a vendor is listed on Angie’s list, does that IN ITSELF carry
> weight with you?

No and it shouldn't. What if they are listed on Angie's List but all they have are horrible reviews? That wouldn't be a good thing.

> And as to the reviews, pro or con, how do you know they’re not fake?

Reviews could be fake. But someone who is probably not with the listed company would've had to add them into Angie's List in the first place. Once they're in there it's quite possible that someone associated with the company could ask people that he knows have an account with Angie's List to give him a good review even if he/she sucks.

> Any business can list themselves on Angie's List.

Wrong. Any member of Angie's List can list any business that they use and think others would like/dislike. The users of Angie's List are the customers not the businesses.

It's possible to game any system. I'm more likely to use someone on Angie's List if they have a lot of reviews, spread out over a long period of time and in the reviews they provide detailed information about their experience. And even then the Angie's List reviews could be just one part of the overall review picture. You can use all of the reviews from all of the resources at your disposal to decide whether a vendor is worth taking a chance on.

I don't have an account. My parents do. We live in the same city so they let me use their account. I think I've used Angie's List three times when I was looking for a service provider to fill a niche that was somewhat out of the ordinary. All three times I have had good experiences.
posted by dgeiser13 at 1:05 PM on March 30, 2012

I think it carries a little weight when a company takes the initiative to make it even possible to comment. If they're actually reading the page, even better.
posted by rhizome at 1:11 PM on March 30, 2012

ah, hadn't read dgeiser13's.
posted by rhizome at 1:12 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

The users of Angie's List are the customers not the businesses.

They are not supposed to be. Gaming yelp and Angies list are extremely common things to do. It happens so much that nearly everybody should never rely on the reviews on those sites unless there are hundreds or thousands of reviews. And then, only look at them in aggregate.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:23 PM on March 30, 2012


I list businesses (clients) all the time on here for review potential. In fact, I just created one for myself as an example.

You're correct in that businesses can't pay to be on it; that's a misleading statement by them, being that the profile I linked was absolutely free to start. Unfortunately, it's things like this that lead people to believe that it's somehow better than any other review site.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 1:31 PM on March 30, 2012

To answer the original question, no, the fact that they're just on there is meaningless. The measure is the ratings, the number of the ratings and the nature of the reviews that people post.

You don't know whether a review is fake or not, but in the aggregate you should be able to see trends, both as to positive or negative issues. In my experience, vendors are extremely concerned about the quality of their Angie's List reviews, and my guess is that very few, if any, of these reviews are fake. It also seems unlikely that businesses are paying to be members in order to post reviews in a significant quantity, but maybe the subscriptions are cheap enough these days that that's a possibility. Obviously, others feel differently.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 1:39 PM on March 30, 2012

According to the wikipedia entry for Angie's List, at the end of 2009 there was at least one city where the yearly membership fee was only $10. Consider that relative to the size of the marketing budget of even a small business.

There are also companies that make and sell "persona management" software for en masse impersonation of internet editors and commenters.
posted by XMLicious at 2:05 PM on March 30, 2012

I've always just assumed that Angie's List was useless because the only place I'd ever heard of it before you posted this question was in television commercials.

This... so no, no weight for me. I've never used it, so I don't know if the fake ads exhibit the same level of fakery that other sites with user reviews can/do. But FWIW, I take anything I read on the internet with a grain of salt. My experience has been that people are most likely to put the word out when something terrible has happened, less likely when the experience was great, and least likely when it was average.
posted by sm1tten at 4:50 PM on March 30, 2012

> I list businesses (clients) all the time on here for review potential.

Wow, my apologies. A few years back when I was working for myself and I was told the only way I could get my companies name in the database was if an Angie's List user added me. Apparently things have changed.

> They are not supposed to be.

Yes, they are supposed to be. When Angie's List first started out the people who used the list to find a service had to pay a monthly fee to see the list and by paying that fee they could also add and review services that they themselves had used.

If the users are the one who pay the fee and business get on the list for free that makes the users the customers in my book.
posted by dgeiser13 at 5:54 PM on March 30, 2012

When I bought my home, I got a subscription to Angie's List for a year. I think it was just an impulsive, "BUT I NEED SOMETHING BETTER THAN YELP!"

I hate it. At least in every category I've looked in, they only have a few businesses listed and reviews like "I gave them a D because I didn't get a quote the next day, but I didn't use them so I don't know." Whu?

And then, Angie's List called me. Not emailed. Called. In the middle of a work day. "We saw that you were looking at windows. Who did you use and how would you rate them?" Oh creepy.

Then, a few months later, they called me again, "We have members looking for reviews in the following categories" and then quizzed me on my doctor, my dentist, painting services, etc. etc. and for my review over the phone. It was weird and pressurey and intrusive and seemed like they were desperate for data.

So, given that, if I saw a business listed on Angie's List, it would make me think it was more popular/less shady than if it didn't have a listing, *except* if it had a low rating. I wouldn't put much stock in the reviews and ratings, however, since I'm assuming most reviews are oddly coerced the way mine were.
posted by Gucky at 10:15 AM on March 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, maybe Angie's List in my region (Minneapolis-St. Paul) is better run than in some other areas. I've used it for years, a few comments on my experience...

Plenty of ratings by other users in the categories I've needed, for example, locksmiths, roofers, garage doors, plumbers, mechanics. Note you would not get Angie's List results in a Google search as it is a subscription only service, login required.

Looking at the overall rating and reading individual's comments helps distinguish between seemingly justified bad reviews and people with unreasonable expectations. Reviews are linked to paid accounts (sort of the MetaFilter model), so shills can be detected. Way better than other ratings sites where all you need is a keyboard and a free account (much like how MeFi is superior to newspaper website comments sections). The overall reviews of businesses I have dealt with almost always match my personal experiences.

Getting caught gaming the system gets businesses banned & publicly shamed. There was a local example of someone who opened an account to badmouth competitors.

I have received calls from Angie's List trying to drum up more reviews, once I was too busy and told them so, once I provided a review of the provider I had used. The phone agents were polite and not super aggressive.

Back to the question, simply being listed is useless, I only give it weight if there are multiple reviews. I trust that reviews are not fake due to the combination of site moderation, subscription requirements, the ability of the service provider to respond\challenge reviews, and the nature of the writing in the reviews sounding like how real people talk about services.
posted by superna at 4:41 PM on April 1, 2012

I joined Angieslist, haven't found it terribly useful, and will not renew.
posted by theora55 at 10:27 PM on April 1, 2012

My business is listed on Angies List, and has been for years. From my perspective, subscribing as a homeowner is useful and worthwhile for the following reasons:
1) As a business owner, I am extra careful to ensure excellent service and prompt, positive resolution of any dissatisfaction my customers experience when I know the are Angies List members. I won't say something dramatic like "I live in holy night-sweat terror of a negative review on Angies List." but if I did it would be only a moderate overstatement.
2) My parents subscribe as well and the information available through their membership is very useful compared even to standard word-of-mouth, ads, or other old-school means of vetting contractors. If you find someone with numerous positive reviews and a long history, you can be certain that you are hiring someone who is in the habit of doing right by customers.
3) Yes, the system can be gamed. But gaming the system would be so expensive, ineffective, easily detected by attentive consumers, and risky I'd be surprised if it was a significant factor on Angies List. Businesses are explicitly told not to post self-reviews, and expressly forbidden to offer incentives to customers for positive reviews. These and numerous other terms of service govern a relationship heavily weighted in favor of Angies List, Inc. Listed businesses need Angieslist far more than Angies List needs any specific business.
4) You cannot buy your way onto the list but you can buy your way up it. My business pays to advertise on the list website, and offers a coupon to members. That entitles me to a slot at the top of the list. That slot is explicitly shown to be "paid for" so members know I paid to be there, but the visibility combined with my excellent and lengthy review history still gets me a LOT of new customers. "Normal" listed businesses, who do not pay for ads, are listed in more-or-less random order, so the top unpaid listing cannot be construed as the listing with the best or most numerous reviews - you have to do some homework to find the most-reviewed or best-reviewed businesses, but I believe the reviews are almost entirely genuine. Fake or irrellevant reviews can be easily detected by reading the body of the review, and there is a process for reviewed businesses to post a reply if they wish to comment on a given review.

All-in-all, if my parents were not already subscribers I'd probably get myself a membership, as we have a number of projects planned for our home in the coming years. Obviously, if you're not planning any home-improvement or other in-home work in the near future, the site will have limited utility for you.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 11:03 AM on April 2, 2012

« Older Elephant ear, or what?   |   Help my sing to my baby! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.