In a Nutshell: The importance of choosing the right service provider, be it for home care or health care, is a lesson many learn the hard way. For over 20 years, millions of those consumers have used Angie’s List to share which providers were mistakes — and which were perfect picks. Free to join, search, hire, and review, Angie’s List has more than 700 categories of services and providers and over 10 million reviews from real people. Paid members can also enjoy the Fair Price and Service Quality Guarantees, which help protect your purchase. All Angie’s List members have access to exclusive savings from local providers, giving them discounts on the services they need.
It’s a funny fact of life that as soon as you mention you have a home repair project, everyone you speak with knows the perfect person to help you out. What they often fail to mention — but you quickly discover (the hard way) — is that “perfect” plumber is actually their ne’er-do-well nephew.
When it comes to your home — or animals, or autos — settling for someone with sub-par skills can have serious results. You may only have needed a leaky faucet fixed, but if that poor plumber plugs your pipes, you may wind up with more of a problem than you planned on.
One of the best ways to lower the odds of falling into the nebulous web of nepotism is to ensure you start with an honest review (not a familial one). For more than 20 years, consumers have been consulting Angie’s List for unbiased reviews of local services — some of them quite literally.
Angie’s List began in 1995 in suburban Ohio. Initially, it was literally Angie in an office, with a list, described a spokesperson. Angie had gone around, door to door, selling memberships, and gathering information from those people about the best companies they had used.
Members of Angie’s List would call Angie and ask for a recommendation, and Angie would consult her trusty list. Today, Angie’s trusty little list has expanded to include thousands of companies around the country across hundreds of categories.
Angie’s List has more than 10 million reviews, across 700 categories. The categories cover everything from home improvement to healthcare, with 400-plus home improvement categories alone. At the heart of Angie’s List is the consumer reviews — that’s where everything starts.
Save Time and Energy with Reputable Services from Peer-Reviewed Providers
True to its starting spirit, they take their reviews seriously at Angie’s List. Every member is asked to leave a review after they hire someone from the site (and even those not already on the list). Because each member is verified — and only members can leave reviews — other members can be sure they’re getting real reviews.
According to the spokesperson, when you get into the Angie’s List ecosystem you find that you rely on those good reviews to make those good decisions. The team feels it’s part of the Angie’s List way to not just come in and read those reviews and hire based on grades, but to report back so that the rest of the Angie’s List world can learn from you.
Both free and paid members can leave reviews of hired providers. Of course, the site doesn’t just encourage good reviews; they encourage honest ones. That means sharing the good and the bad. This means descirbing things like, “I hired someone, I had a great experience, and you should hire them, too.” It also means letting members know when you hired a service that didn’t turn out so well, to help others avoid the same mistakes.
Members submit more than 60,000 reviews a month. Those reviews range in length, with some reviewers waxing poetic on the merits of a company’s fantastic service. Others simply confirm the service was performed and leave a letter grade of A, B, C, D, or F (there are no E’s).
Get Prepackaged Deals from the Most Trusted Companies
Beyond finding the best companies, Angie’s List also lets members find some of the best prices through its exclusive offers. These prepackaged deals are for blocks of time or specific services, and offer discounts on a variety of local services.
Consumers can click the Shop Offers tab and are automatically shown all the offers in their area. Deals run the category gamut, from plumbing and HVAC repair to graphic design and website building.
Offers include things like two hours of handyman service or a flat-rate toilet installation. Members pay for the deal up front, then schedule the service with the provider.
According to the spokesperson, the deals are a great experience for members because a lot of those deals offer quality savings. They’re also a way to get a project done quickly and easily, as well as see how that company performs.
The deals are another example of the impact of company grades. Only those companies that obtain — and maintain — good grades are allowed to advertise with Angie’s List in any way; that includes the prepackaged deals.
The spokesperson said that the only companies that can participate in offering those deals — or advertise in the magazine or on the website — are those that have first earned good grades. And companies have to keep them. If they don’t keep them, Angie’s List will revoke their ability to advertise.
Know You Paid the Right Price with the Local Pricing Guide
No matter the service, of course, you should budget for your repairs long before looking for the best provider. To help you get a proper idea of what your needed service should cost, Angie’s List provides its Bluebook-powered Pricing Guide.
There are a lot of people out there who don’t know what certain services should cost, explained the spokesperson. With the Pricing Guide, you can use the drop-down menus to pick a particular job. Then, almost instantaneously, you’ll get back a range of average prices and the services included, based on your local market.
While the Pricing Guide isn’t all-encompassing — services requiring things like specialty skills or customized finishes may fall outside the average range — it can give you a good idea of what sort of budget you may be looking at.
For those who want some added price protection, it may be worth it to become a paid Angie’s List member. The Silver and Gold membership plans ($24.99 and $99.99 a year, respectively) offer the Fair Price Guarantee, which guarantees you won’t be stuck overpaying for a service you purchase through Angie’s List.
Silver and Gold members also qualify for the Service Quality Guarantee, which ensures you’re happy with the service you purchased from Angie’s List.
As the spokesperson described, if you want to come in and kick the tires, you might come in as a green member and do a small job, such as hiring somebody to mow your lawn, to see how it goes. On the other hand, said the spokesperson, somebody who is going to build a home or put on an addition that is going to cost thousands of dollars — the Silver or Gold membership fee isn’t a bad investment for the guarantees we provide.
Hire with Confidence with Help from Angie’s List
While we can’t all choose our family, we can choose which friends and acquaintances we attempt to saddle with our semi-skilled relatives — and the right choice is “none.” Instead of risking a nepotistic nightmare, millions of people turn to Angie’s List for unbiased reviews, from real people.
With over 700 categories of services, chances are pretty good you can find what you’re looking for on Angie’s List. But what if you’ve purchased a service that no one else has heard about yet and you’re keen to spread the word? You can do that, too. Anything you want to review on, within reason, will be accepted. If, over time, other members use and review similar services, a new category will be created.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.