When Lauren and I bought our first home in 2010, we entered the brave new world of home improvement and repair. From issues with the new home that came up during inspections to surprise repairs (a leaking pipe in the basement, two busted appliances, no hot water, a broken kitchen faucet, to name a few), we quickly got used to making frantic calls to contractors. Fortunately, we were smart enough to sign up for Angie’s List, a subscription review service for home contractors and healthcare.
Here’s a bit about Angie’s List to help you decide if the service can help you. (An important note: Angie’s List is an affiliate, meaning if you sing up through my link I get a few bucks in my tip jar. If you choose to support Money Under 30′s free content in this way, thanks!)
What is Angie’s List?
Angie’s List is, according MSNBC, “the behemoth of online review sites”. The subscription-based Website collects consumer reviews on businesses–everybody from contractors to house cleaners to lawyers to primary care physicians.
So far, we’ve used the service to find:
- Chimney sweeps/masons
- Appliance repairmen
- Landscaping and lawn care
- A new dentist or doctor
- Power washing services
Why use Angie’s List?
For me, Angie’s list is worth a few bucks a year to know that, when I need a new kind of contractor, I’ll get a good one rather than taking my chances with the “online Yellow Pages” of a Google search.
But Angie’s list does cost money — between $10 and $30 a year depending on the size of your local market. So why pay when there are free reviews all over the Web? A couple of reasons:
No anonymous reviews. Each of Angie’s Lists’ million+ members ID themselves, and staff (reportedly) vet the merits of each review.
More quality reviews in one place. Hotels aside, finding quality reviews of local businesses can be tricky. Angie’s List puts all the reviews for your region at your fingertips.
One thing that surprised me when I signed up is that that I was still seeing ads…on a paid service. Kind of annoying, but according to Angie’s List, the site only accepts advertising from companies that have received an A or B rating from reviewers and, even then, only if the company offers subscribers a discount. According to the site “…any time [a business'] rating falls below a B, the offer is revoked. Service companies and health professionals are not obligated to advertise, nor does their decision to advertise affect their Angie’s List rating.”
Aside from finding great businesses to use, the Angie’s List “Penalty Box” feature may be able to help you resolve disputes if you have a problem with a service provider. The site also has a magazine, several blogs, and a 110% money back guarantee. Another feature, “Angie’s List Live”, is a real-time search report reminiscent of screens in Google’s offices displaying live random searches from all over the world.
How much does Angie’s list cost?
Angie’s List offers monthly, annual or multi-year subscriptions for access to reviews on home and lawn contractors, health professionals, or a bundle of both. The actual costs depend upon where you live. Angie’s List is most expensive in large markets where they have the most reviews, while they discount smaller markets.
SAMPLE SUBSCRIPTION PRICING FOR AN ANGIE’S LIST BUNDLE
Pricing as of March 19, 2014 is subject to change. Check the Angie’s List Website for current prices in your area.
Is Angie’s List worth it?
If you spend $20 or even $50 for a year’s subscription to Angie’s List but end up hiring somebody you know will do a good job for a fair price, I think the site is a tremendous value.
The only downside to Angie’s List that I’ve noticed so far is that for a contractor to appear in your searches, they have to have at least one rating from another Angie’s List user. This is less of a problem in saturated markets (Portland, Maine is admittedly a tiny one), but for some searches I might only have two or three rated contractors out of the dozens that might be out there. But again, that depends on your market.