Research Report - Angie's List

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Basic Info

Angie's List was born in 1995. The idea was simple. It was like a club and you paid annual member ship fee (it was$45/yr) to read reviews. The members share the ratings on service providers. The model worked at that time (info was not readily available back then) and all the revenue were from the members so it stood on the members side. Later it changed the business model and the majority of the revenue is from service providers now . The membership fee later dropped to ~$10/yr (it varies by region) and recently they introduced free tier.

Pros

  • It has a lot of service providers and many of them have reviews
  • Sometimes it has good deals on services (you need to do enough research to determine if it is good or not. Someone bought the $899 new water heater installation service but it turned out to be ~$1800 when the contractor came)

Cons

  • Biased audience: paying a fee to read reviews? It is ridiculous in modern age. The audience is only people who are willing to pay. It recently introduced free tier but changing the image will take a while. In this sense Yelp is much better.
  • Big myth: if you pay the reviews are more trustable? Not really. The membership fee was only ~$10/year. A contractor would pay small cost to have people write fraud reviews. There is not good way to find fraud reviews.
  • The reviews are not trustable. You don't know who wrote the reviews. Angie' List can manipulate reviews easily without being found. It has less negative reviews compared to other web sites because Angie's List share your info with contractors and people are concerned about warranty etc. People can write fraud reviews easily without being found.
  • The search result doesn't tell you who are paying to show up at the top. Good service providers who don't pay might not even show up on the first page. Yes you might still find good contractors but most likely you are paying more than what you should pay.
  • Many small & good service providers are not even listed or don't have reviews. e.g. DHS heating, ECI, Horizon Landscaping, D. Young's Plumbing Inc, Dean's Plumbing, E & T After Hour Repair, Your Inspector Inc…
  • Angie's List is on the contractors side since its revenue is mainly from contractors.
  • Bad user experience. It doesn't really care about users. Just two small examples. #1 no way to edit your reviews. #2 click 'Add Review' on a service provider page you assume you can write a review for this SP but it is not.

Editor's biased comments

Try not to use it if you have choice or use it if you really know what you want to do and understand Angie's List very well.