Angie's List; Angie has a list of trusted contractors supplied and
reviewed by her customers. Sounds marvelous. A contractor cannot buy their way on to the list. That sounds good
because "paying money" to be on the list would clearly compromise the value of the list.
Clearly adding that element to the mix would be a mistake. Ok makes sense.
Angie charges contractors on the list for placement.
Wait, what?! Angie sets the order of contractors that they refer to their customers by how much the contractor
is willing to pay Angie. So... if the best contractor is unwilling to pay more than the worst contractor the best ends
up at the bottom of the list. If the best are in fact even on the list good luck uncovering them. Uh oh, it's
starting to look like there is more than one way to use "paying money" to
compromise the value of the list. Good job Angie's List. Maybe we should make a list of our own;
1. Angie's customers supply
the contractor info on the list.
2. Angie's customers supply the reviews of the contractors on the list.
3. Angie's compromises any inherent value in the list by ignoring customer reviews and substituting
Angie's own pay for placement scheme.
What? It appears Angie's List is a thinly veiled data mining operation that charges
customers for the privilege of supplying data to Angie's List. How much are you willing to pay for that? Should
you really trust data mining operations using anecdotes and testamonials of total strangers to find services?
"Consumer Reports" on Angie's List
Shady online services and gimmicks are
plentiful. We can now add pre-screened contractor services to the list. Online pre-screened
contractor websites can have celebrity affiliations and catchy names such as home advisors (formerly servicemagic), angie’s
list, expert service- this or home pro -that. These pre-screened contractor
websites exist primarily to generate advertising revenue on a nationwide basis. In this way they are the
same as the Service Directory of a local periodical, the yellow pages or any other advertising medium, only larger.
They differ in marketing strategy and the collection and proprietary use of your personal information.
The pre-screened contractor service sites are virtual environments expressly designed to create
a false perception of consumer protection. These companies market themselves as an informed method
to match customers with pre-screened contractors. This is, at best, nothing more than a shrewdly constructed
illusion. The truth is these contractor matching companies are self-promoting advertising directories
with astonishingly little knowledge of the services that they refer. They possess no proprietary ability
to actually assess an acceptable level of competence and absolutely no power to enforce professional standards of performance
and behavior. The façade of consumer protection is a clear misrepresentation.
The contractors are
usually charged on a per lead basis (home advisors (formerly servicemagic) and others). Additional
fees are required to receive a “preferred status” (placed at the front of the line). The
referred contractors are not required to possess a valid license for the requested service. The “preferred”
contractor status is actually determined by the amount of money the contractor pays to the connecting service with no direct
accountability for actual project qualification, performance or craftsmanship. In this context the relationship
between the ad agency and the contractor service clearly represents a conflict of interest for the consumer. The consumer
is still required to do the same real world screening that is always necessary prior to hiring a contractor service.
The matching service may paint a rosy picture of customer commitment but a quick read of the “terms and conditions”
define their level of professional integrity and accountability and should not be taken lightly. Consumer-to-contractor
prescreening service providers offer no written guarantee that contractor members will perform as expected, or that licensing,
insurance coverage and good standing as a service provider are still valid at the time of hiring. When
the inevitable problems arise the internet can always be used as a veil of concealment leaving the customer without
acceptable recourse. The inherent conflict of interest and clear lack of accountability requires
that all pre-screened contractors or services be subjected to a much higher level of scrutiny.
Should you trust these services to competently
As the construction industry continues to stagnate fraudulent contractor
activity is on the rise. A growing number of fraudulent contractors obtain money upfront from unsuspecting
homeowners and then disappear before work is completed, or even begun. Contractor connecting websites are
not staffed to provide the most up to date licensing information and demonstrate a complete disregard for accurate trade qualification.
Incompetent prescreening does not offer the consumer protection; it creates greater hazards of risk.
This careless prescreening is a very unreliable way to gauge a contractor's professionalism, credibility, and reliability
as a service provider - even at the time of membership. A consumer interested in house
painting cost or a cabinet refinishing estimate could easily be connected with a Plumber convicted of contractor fraud by
any of these websites. In the end the consumer is left with the responsibility to do the real world screening,
while the website collects money from the consumer or the contractor or both. Checking licensing
and qualification requirements is an important first step in hiring a contractor. The most accurate source
of this information is the (CA) Contractors State Licensing Board; see the “A Better Source” section below.
What about the Guarantee?
The latest gimmick to reinforce the illusion
of consumer protection is a “Service Guarantee” of $500. Your ability to acquire
the “Service Guarantee” amount could be the least of your problems when placing your trust in these websites.
Their message is crystal clear; these services should not be trusted for projects in excess of $500. Interestingly
enough a licensed contractor is not required for a project of $500 dollars or less.
The most important questions of all: Q. Do these websites actually provide the level of screening
you need? Do they intend to be responsible and accountable in your time of need?
All that is required to answer
this question is a thorough reading of the “terms and conditions of use”. This is where you
will find all the important legal disclaimers that clearly state their commitment to be unaccountable when
the chips are down. Consumer-to-contractor prescreening service providers offer no written guarantee that
contractor members will perform as expected, or that licensing, insurance coverage and good standing as a service provider
are still in tact at the time of hiring. The answer to both questions is a resounding NO!
Do “hand picked” reviews and testimonials
promoted by the website give a clear informative representation of the professional quality of a service?
exist for self-promotion acting as the middleman between you and the contractor with the express purpose of generating revenue.
All you need to know is this obvious fact; the more money a contractor pays; the greater the promotion, the higher
Click this link to read complaints from consumers and contractors
A Better Source for Residents of California
The State of California provides a much more effective
method to determine the qualification of contractors. In California all contractors must be licensed
so pre-screening is a matter of checking the license number and the appropriate classification of the license.
For example our license no. is 516158 and our classification is C33. The license status
and the classification of a contractor should always be checked. The classification check
is an important step because it will allow the consumer to eliminate companies and individuals who may contract work outside
of the trade that they are actually licensed to perform. This is a common practice among general
building contractors and contractors with a “D” level license. General building contractors
are usually licensed for framing and carpentry and are restricted to contracting projects that require more than two other
specialty trades other than their own or unless the general building contractor holds the appropriate specialty license
or subcontracts with an appropriately licensed specialty contractor to perform the work. The “D”
classification is even more restrictive. These contractors cannot perform any trade that is covered by
any other specialty license. As you can see neither of these classifications allows for performing the
work of a “C33” Painting and Decorating contractor. It is obvious that the screening process
of an online contractor clearing house is of no value when compared to the easily obtainable information provided by the State
of California Department of Consumer Affairs.
Qualification is an important place to start.
RS Turner Painting has the ability to support our commitment to a long term consistent level of craftsmanship with
references and a body of work. Our client references include professionals intimately familiar with the
industry who have used our service over the course of many years. These home/property owners graciously
refer their family, friends, co-workers and customers without solicitation. This kind of recommendation provides a much better
view of a service. Our professional relationships demonstrate a long-term commitment to quality service.
is the best choice for all of your painting needs.
CA Roseville El Dorado Hills Loomis Folsom Granite Bay Fair Oaks Rocklin Citrus Heights Carmichael Arden Sacramento
and surrounding communities.
bob vila expert renovation contractor services angieslist.com home
advisors (formerly servicemagic.com) merchantcircle.com contractorreviews realtor.org contractors.com
Service Guarantee house painting estimates cabinet refinishing pre screened contractors information everycontractor advertising