Angie's List?
April 2, 2008 12:02 PM   Subscribe

angie's list?

I'm interested in hearing about people's experiences using Angie's List. It's touted as a help for locals but the company is headquartered in Indiana and their NJ (where i live) office is in Manhattan.

I wanted to give it a shot, but balked at the fees. I want to use it or another unbiased site for business and service reviews.

Any suggestions?
posted by Paleoindian to Shopping (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I signed up when we moved into our first house in a new city... Since the content seems to be mostly user generated I've found the usefullness to be spotty at best. Now that my free account is about to expire (you get a year) I've started getting calls from an 800 number. I don't answer these calls (cell phone minutes) and no message gets left. But googling the number reveals that it's Angie's List calling, probably to upsell me to a paid account. Not cool!

Of course, this is just my opinion. YMMV, depending on your location/market.
posted by dryad at 12:11 PM on April 2, 2008

I can only speak from secondhand experience, but a co-worker here in St Petersburg, Florida, joined it and used it to find contractors to build an addition onto their house. She said it was worth every penny.
posted by willmize at 12:12 PM on April 2, 2008

We use them for home improvement needs. We are generally satisfied with the results. Where they are located shouldn't matter to you since the reviews come from customers.
posted by mrbugsentry at 12:15 PM on April 2, 2008

probably to upsell me to a paid account

Actually, when we answered the calls, we found out that it was because they were lacking in certain categories in our area, and wanted to know specifically if we had any recommendations for them. So we took a few minutes and talked to the guy, gave him two good recs and two warnings against people we'd never use again. So while the upsell is possible, there's also the chance that they really need to know about a good pet sitter (or spa service, or whatever is lacking in your region.)

To the OP - Angie's list is only as good as the other people who use it in your region. We've found it to be incredibly useful for finding contractors _period_ - not just good ones. (We had a really hard time finding someone qualified to work on a residential slate roof in our area.) I've been frustrated though that some of the categories aren't as deep as I'd like them to be.
posted by librarianamy at 12:17 PM on April 2, 2008

I tried Angie's List in Los Angeles late in 2006. It was too new here (1 year?) to have many useful reports. They were good about refunding the membership cost.

I'd try them again if I was starting another project. Just ask them how long they've been active in your area, 3 or 4 years should provide more depth.
posted by Fins at 12:21 PM on April 2, 2008

I own a Personal Computer service business in the Twin Cities that is listed on Angie's List, and every (Angies List-referred) customer I asked who expressed an opinion said that they found it very useful to them and well worth the cost.

However, I am less-than-pleased by the barrage of spam and phone solicitations I (as a listed business) get from them, pressuring me to buy advertising in their media or Angies List logo merchandise.

On the other hand, they have given me much positive exposure after some of my clients have written positive reviews on their site, resulting in more new clients.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 12:25 PM on April 2, 2008

We signed up for Angie's List to help us find a contractor to completely gut and remodel our kitchen, and add a half-bath. While actual construction hasn't started yet (waiting for materials to come in), so far every interaction with our choice has been stellar. They even ate most of the upgrade cost when we had to select a new countertop material due to the original one being discontinued (our new selection was a bit more expensive). We never would have even heard of this company without Angie's List.
posted by spinturtle at 12:26 PM on April 2, 2008

Like others said, it depends on how much info there is in your area. I would also think about how long you've lived in the area and how many people you know - if you can find other sources of referrals from people you know, that may work better.

In my area they don't have a lot of coverage, so I don't find it incredibly useful. They also do several other annoying (to me) things: most of the user entries ARE FORMATTED IN ALL CAPS; they frequently send email; they send a paper newsletter.

Note as well that Angie's List may not be completely unbiased - it all depends on what people choose to write about, and there are rumors that contractors game the system.
posted by betterton at 12:29 PM on April 2, 2008

Yeah, that ALL IN CAPS thing, I think, was a legacy of some conversion they underwent - at one point I had to go in to their website and edit my company profile information to correct for capitalization. Also, as a service provider, I always treat my Angies List clients with KID GLOVES because they have the power to mess up my stellar rating on the site.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 12:36 PM on April 2, 2008

We have used it twice and had terrible results with highly rated people (and I mean wife in tears every night, fire the guy kind of terrible for one of them).

One of the issues that seems happen is that there is no defense against being sued by people who you give bad ratings to and therefor people are only honest to a point. I actually contacted the list about liability for bad reviews and the answer was "people have been taken to court for bad reviews and we don't help you with any sort of defense. But please be honest and tell people about your bad experience." So I posted nothing about either bad experience.

At the same time, I have subitted reviews for 2 contractors that we have used and they seemed very appreciative once they were notified.

I also have some friends who have their companies listed and they think it is the best thing since sliced bread.

So, that said, I am letting my membership expire.
posted by GrumpyMonkey at 12:41 PM on April 2, 2008

librarianamy: Actually, when we answered the calls, we found out that it was because they were lacking in certain categories in our area, and wanted to know specifically if we had any recommendations for them.

Ah.. good to know. Perhaps I'll take the next call (if there is one) and see what's up.
posted by dryad at 12:41 PM on April 2, 2008

It seems like a good idea in theory but I found it absolutely useless when looking for Boston area home contractors.
posted by bondcliff at 12:47 PM on April 2, 2008

Cleveland, OH here:

While I initially winced at the membership fee, I went ahead and signed up since I'm a first-time home buyer.

While just browsing, you can get alot of good information on the contractors listed, including whether or not they use subcontractors, which take Visa, discounts offered, etc. They even offer a link to that company's page on the BBB website.

I've found myself using the list to get a general ballpark price for services. As in "Hey, what would it generally cost to have someone come in and reinsulate my attic?"

Whenever I submitted a review, I was able to type in nice, regular case.

I've never been spammed or phone-solicited by them either.
posted by xena at 12:48 PM on April 2, 2008

I'm using it right now for the Minneapolis area.

It's been excellent - 2 great recommendations so far. Worth every dime.
posted by unixrat at 12:49 PM on April 2, 2008

Regular price for the yearly membership is $47 (for me in Raleigh/Durham, anyway). When you consider the cost of a bad contractor, who you picked out of the yellow pages eenie-meenie-minie-moe style, and who charges you too much for bad work, $47 per year sounds really, really cheap.

I used the list for one big project before, and it went well. I'm about to fork over nearly $20,000 to a contractor for some home improvements. Since they're highly rated on Angie's List, I'm much less worried about the work than I otherwise would be.

The problem is that without Angie's List, where do you get unbiased information about contractors? I don't know of any free sites, though someone should start one.
posted by Dec One at 12:54 PM on April 2, 2008

We used the free account for a year and found a great chimney sweep and an excellent refrigerator repair company. I'd likely balk at using it to find a company for a major project (remodel or some such) just because there seem to be a lot more reviews available for smaller project categories. I thought it was especially useful in our situation as we were the first homeowners in our peer group and couldn't rely on our friends for these sorts of recommendations. We do get at least monthly emails from them "reminding" us to resubscribe which we will likely do in the event that we need to use their resources again.
posted by rosebengal at 1:12 PM on April 2, 2008

I have been a subscriber for years and it has been helpful to me. Like others have said it depends on the network effect; if they have don't have a lot of ratings then they are not much help. I have done remodels with and without Angies List vendors and the Angies List people have always delivered while without has been spotty.

Be aware that some people do not like being listed in Angies List because they are doing things on the side or not union. Two of my favorite tradesmen are this way and rather have their stellar service be shared by word of mouth.

One bad vendor experience is all it takes to make the fee worthwhile. If you are a new landlord it is well worth the fee.
posted by jadepearl at 1:37 PM on April 2, 2008

We signed up for a month subscription to try it out. I could tell contractors were in there paying attention and fighting negative reviews, which gave me a somewhat skeptical feeling about it. I also saw the reviews were written in ALL CAPS, which was annoying.

This is kind of bad, but I just used the firefox extension scrapbook to save all the names of services I thought we would eventually want to use and then I quit paying.

I would have kept paying if I liked it better.
posted by mgogol at 1:45 PM on April 2, 2008

I used the free subscription offer and while it was generally helpful to me (S.F. Bay area), I elected not to renew once it expired. That was two years ago, and I still receive regular spam from them touting the list. Their spam servers apparently work overtime, and indefinitely. I cannot recommend them for this reason, but the actual content of my local reviews was OK.
posted by mosk at 1:57 PM on April 2, 2008

In my city there are plenty of reviews and I have found it helpful. I wish it could make the process of actually talking to and negotiating with the contractors easier, but that's the new homeowner in me talking.

My current annoyance with them is that your monthly fee only allows you access to your local list. Sure, I can see trying to keep people from buying one account that everyone they know, across the country, can use. But sometimes you want to be able to check the list in another area - maybe you're moving there, or you just need to find a service provider there.

I did notice that they recently added the capability to add access to another city. I am struggling with hiring someone long-distance right now, so I clicked the link to sign up. They want $20 additional per city. I balked, but went ahead because I'm desperate. Then I was required to enter an address in the new city (what? I don't even live there!) At that point their system choked on my credit card and I couldn't even go back to fix it, so I gave up.
posted by cabingirl at 2:04 PM on April 2, 2008

A lot of it depends on how willing you are to do things yourself. If you're the type of person that does their own home renovations, Angie's List will be a waste of your time; if you're like me, however, and your house needs new laminate floors but the concept of hanging a towel bar gives you the night sweats, Angie's List is great.

As with all review sites, you need to be able to separate the legitimate complaints from the people who complain just for the sake of it; I have found Angie's List to be quite useful. I've used vendors I've found there on three separate occasions and have had a good experience each time.
posted by pdb at 2:07 PM on April 2, 2008

It probably does depend on your area. For whatever it's worth, I used it in Pittsburgh to find a local tree removal service and was very happy with the results. I have not yet had occasion to use it for anything else, because I already had good electrician/plumber/mason recommendations from a friend who was a general contractor.

If there's a free trial, I'd give that a shot first to see what the coverage is like for your particular area.
posted by Stacey at 3:36 PM on April 2, 2008

It was useful for me when we were doing a bunch of little jobs last year. One highly-rated company turned out to be terrible, amazingly terrible, report-them-to-the-city kind of terrible, but I used it for about five or six other contractors and was satisfied.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:57 PM on April 2, 2008

As an alternative, you might try; they do list contractors and home's a listing of contractors in the Seattle area, to give you an example.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 9:49 PM on April 2, 2008

I second They're the free version of Angie's List. It's a good alternative to what you're looking for.
posted by smersh at 2:09 PM on April 3, 2008

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