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Should you Trust Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor?


Imagine you’re getting ready to do a huge home renovation. You have the idea, the finishes, the money - now you just need a contractor. You have no idea where to find a contractor, but you do know that sites such as Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor offer a plethora of local companies just waiting to do business with you. Plus, these companies are offered through a well-known, trusted site - so they must be legitimate, right?

Not necessarily.

Both Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor come with a long list of warnings and bad reviews if you simply type their name and reviews into Google. 

Let’s start with Angie’s List. 

A new survey from Consumer Reports states that while companies don’t pay to be listed on the site, they CAN pay to appear higher in search results - which Jeff Blyskal, a senior editor for Consumer Reports, says compromises the validity of the system. 70% of Angie’s List’s revenue comes from advertising - that is, advertising from the companies that they rate.

“If you’re looking for a contractor, you’re only going to look at the first page or two. That skews the ratings,” he said. “It’s about who advertises. I don’t think they’re being straight with the public on that.”

While that feels dishonest enough, HomeAdvisor is worse.

When contractors apply to HomeAdvisor, they are screened according to the basics - meaning HomeAdvisor checks to make sure they’re licensed, insured, not sex offenders, etc. However, after that initial screening, the contractors are never screened again. It doesn’t matter how long they’re listed on HomeAdvisor. This means that if a civil judgement, a massive lawsuit, some sort of law violation, or anything like that occurs, HomeAdvisor will NOT report or update the profile to reflect this.  

But if you decide that’s okay with you or you do your own outside research about a company you find on HomeAdvisor and decide to proceed anyway, does it get better? Not really. Once HomeAdvisor connects you with a contractor, they wash their hands of the transaction. If something goes wrong with your project, or if the contractor breaks contract, takes your money and runs, or anything of the sort, it’s between you and the contractor. HomeAdvisor, despite being the company that offers these contractors, will not get involved. They claim that they MIGHT offer dispute resolution services, but they have zero obligation to do so.

Searching the web proves pages and pages of one star reviews from people concerning HomeAdvisor, both contractors and clients alike. Contractors claim that after they sign up and pay a large fee to be a part of HomeAdvisor, HomeAdvisor send them fake leads.  

These are reviews from the Better Business Bureau. None of them appear to be favorable about HomeAdvisor. Nicole T. says:

“HomeAdvisor prays [sic] on small business owners. They charged me $287.99 to become a member. I continued to be sent and charged for leads that I didn’t accept. Leads that were accepted were dead ends. Calls, e-mails and text messages to perspective clients went unanswered. HomeAdvisor promised to provide credits for the charges and when I inquired they denied agreeing to do that and would only provide me a $50 credit for over $600 in dead end leads and leads that were never accepted.”

And Craig S. simply states:

“This is a total scam. A company that extorts money from their contractors.”

And looking from a consumer stand-point, Roger D. says:

“Homeadvisor referred a home design company and I paid out $3,500 for house plans. The plans are nearly useless and home advisor refuses to step in to fix the problem. Homeadvisor makes their money from their contractors not from me so they don’t care about me. Homeadvisor will go so far as to remove my negative complaints so they look great.”

So while HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List appear to have an easy-to-access, pre-screened list of trusted contractors, we aren’t so sure. We’re willing to bet there are a good chunk of awesome, reputable contractors on those sites. But is it worth the risk? We don’t think so.