Angie's List: Inaccurate Reviews And Busted Stock
The Better Business Bureau has been doing it for years. Your courthouse can render complaints containing them. And you probably have spoken to enough local confidants that can render the same results. We're, of course, talking about aggregating customer reviews for public display or simply 'discussing the pros and cons of business ethics', the business model that Angie's List, the company that hasn't profited in 17 years, believes is her own. Started in Columbus, OH by going door-to-door collecting customer reviews of local contractors they've hired, the company currently based in Indianapolis, Indiana has seemingly cornered the market in allowing people to sound off on contractors, social workers, dentists, bakeries or whatever business they've experienced in the past...for a fee.
You've seen the commercials touting customers are able to 'find the right contractor to do the job you need'. The things the commercial won't brag too heavily about, however, are the fees involved in doing so. And the fact that businesses, in retrospect, indirectly pay to be on Angie's List. The business model is relatively weak considering it was re-branded from Unified Neighbor, an old-school platform that aggregated the same information except using current technological platforms. Here's the whole enchilada behind the review site:
If you decide to replace your roof, and pay the fee for Angie's List reviews on local contractors, you will surely find someone to do the work. You'll read the reviews, make an educated decision, and eventually hire the company. Said company works on roof, takes 15 days longer to complete process and finally finishes the job. You leave your 'C' review in hopes to wake others up to their lackadaisical work ethic. Unfortunately, those with an "A" or "B" rating are invited to advertise and appear within the first page of search results to assure continued business; if you're a school teacher, two A's and one C nicely come out between a B-A (if graded on the curve). Why mention this? Simple: two of said company's best buddies can pay the small fee, leave their good review under the radar and get reimbursed by said company.
On the flip side, competitor companies can literally bury their competition 'under the radar' by inviting customers to increase their value while demoting (albeit incrementally) their competition. They can pay each other off. And you, the customer, just paid the membership fee just to have inaccurate information presented before you. Not to mention getting your membership fee refunded has been known to pose issues if problems arise with your membership or a review.Continued on the next page