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Angie's List Review

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Angie's List
Slogan Educate your guess.
Type Domestic Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Founded 1995-04-26
Founder Angie Hicks
Headquarters 1030 E. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46202
Key people William S. (Bill) Oesterle (Chief Executive Officer), Angie Hicks (Chief Marketing Officer)
Industry Information collection and delivery
Revenue $14 mil (est.)
Employees 400
Parent Brownstone Publishing, LLC
Contact {{{contact}}}
Reference {{{reference}}}
[1][2][3]


Angie's List is one of many companies which aggregate consumer reviews of local service companies and which have been described by the New York Times as "a glorified version of Yellow Page listings."[4] Angie's List is unique, however, in that it charges consumers to see reviews,[5] reflecting their belief that charging consumers "adds credibility to the information."[4] Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the company was founded by Bill Oesterle while Angie Hicks worked as an intern in 1995. The company modeled the list after Indianapolis' Unified Neighbors.Template:Fix As part of its public relations strategy, the company tells the story that Angie Hicks, who earned an MBA in 2000, went door-to-door in Columbus, Ohio signing up members and collecting ratings on local contractors.[3] In 1996, Angie's List purchased Unified Neighbors and relocated the company from Columbus to Indianapolis. As of January 2007, the company serves 124 U.S cities[6] and provides reviews of companies in more than 250 categories. 2008 brought the addition of the medical industry to the List, including doctors, dentists, hospitals, and insurers.[7]

Details

Angie's List grades companies using a report card style A through F scale using consumer reviews.[2] Revenue for Angie's List comes from fees paid by its members and from advertising. It claims to only accept advertising from companies that have a "B" rating or higher.[8] Not all reports submitted by members are used in establishing a company's rating as Angie's List employees "are skilled at picking out would-be saboteurs" who would distort a company's rating by submitting a negative review.[9]

Although all of the member-provided ratings and reviews, once published, are viewable by other members, Angie's List currently offers no provision to allow members to publish a review of the Angie's List service itself.

Angie's List's stated policies prohibit contractors from paying to be on the list, adding their own names, or reporting on their companies.[10] A blog entry[11] quoted in Newsday, however, demonstrates that it would be easy for business owners to get around this prohibition:

"Let's say that I'm the business owner.... If I can create a fake e-mail account and use my home address (or my neighbor's address) so that Angie's List doesn't know who I am, then [$5.95] a month is a pittance for being able to enter a review of my own business. So, their whole 'we charge a small fee to keep the reviews honest' thing doesn't work ... but it sure does help bring in revenue without worrying about advertising." Actually as a friend of an ex employee, I can tell you this will not work exactly. It is true that a company might be able to try this, but, if you've ever see the actual on line list, it would quickly be realized that even if they did -one false report won't do anything at all. It takes 'several neighbors points of view" to make it work, and there are other things in place that make "false reporters" immediately stand out. Without giving all the tricks away I can tell you it won't work like a "free" list will in the manner you indicate. Also, it is more than $5.95 per month (outdated info) -they also have an initial sign up fee, which makes it more advantageous for most honest people to sign up for the whole year, and most do. Someone who spends $17.95 for one false report has just wasted their money. Angie's List members can tell right away. Companies that do try to cheat, immediately find out that their attempts have been futile, and they get miffed about not being able to "cheat their way to riches". The nice thing about Angie's List is that it isn't just ONE neighbors voice over the fence, it's like getting 5-20 neighbors telling you -"yeah, this company did a great job" -it's an overall picture of a company's business practices. I have a membership and I love it, and I love the peace of mind it gives me when I need some help.[12]

In response to such criticisms, Angie's List states that an employee reads every report as they come in to check for abuse and inaccuracies.[3] Angie's list also explains that they ask each member submitting reviews if they are affiliated with or compete against the company that they are reporting on,[13] and that a member can only report on a company once every six months.

According to the New York Times, for companies like Angie's List the number of reviews of businesses in many cities and their suburbs is thin and there are more business listings in cities where the review company has been operating longer.[4] Like many of its competitors, Angie's List has paid people to submit reviews through programs such as its Angie Cash fundraising program, which was discontinued in March 2006.[14] Angie's List has not released data on the number of consumer reviews it receives per company listed, but it does report receiving approximately 5,000 consumer reviews each month.

Legal controversy

According to the Washington Post, two Angie's List members who submitted negative reviews about SCS Contracting Group to Angie's List have found themselves sued for libel by the contractor for millions of dollars in damages. One of the Angie's List members being sued put it this way, "If [contractors are] able to sue, then the value of Angie's List depreciates…People aren't going to be willing to submit reviews if they could be threatened with a lawsuit."[15]

Financial information

Because it is a private company, Angie's List is not required to release its financial information to the public. However, according to information released by the company, it had an estimated $58 million in annual revenue in 2008 generated primarily through advertising in its newsletter and by charging members $7.50 a month, or $59 annually.[6] Additionally, Angie's List sells advertising to contractors with a "B" rating or higher. This allows Angie's List to increase revenues by acting as a marketplace receiving revenue from both subscribers and contractors. Angie's List has not publicly disclosed its annual expenses or overall profitability data.

References

  1. ^ {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  2. ^ a b {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  3. ^ a b c Duros, Sally. "Mining gold from Chicagoans' word of mouth", Chicago Sun Times, 2007-01-05. Retrieved on 2007-01-29. 
  4. ^ a b c Darlin, Damon. "Let's Say Your Toilet Backs Up. How Do You Find a Good Plumber?", New York Times, 2006-08-05. Retrieved on 2007-01-10. 
  5. ^ Template:Citation/core
  6. ^ a b Murphy, Tom. "Angie’s to-do list: doctors; Service ratings firm explores expansion into health care", Indiana Business Journal, 2007-01-20. Retrieved on 2007-02-01. 
  7. ^ Daniels, Mary. "5 Things to Know...about home warranties.", Chicago Tribune, 2007-01-14. Retrieved on 2007-01-29. 
  8. ^ Tribble, Sarah Jane. "Angie's List earns an "A" for filling consumer niche", Seattle Times, 2006-08-28. Retrieved on 2007-01-10. 
  9. ^ "Angie’s List: Metro shoppers’ best friend", The Detroit News, 2006-12-07. (English) 
  10. ^ "Angie's List helps you choose a contractor", KVBC, 2006-07-10. Retrieved on 2007-01-29. 
  11. ^ Original blog entry
  12. ^ May, Liisa. "All You Need To Know On The Web", Newsday, 2007-01-26. Retrieved on 2007-02-05. (English) 
  13. ^ Template:Citation/core
  14. ^ Angie Cash at the Internet Archive
  15. ^ Template:Citation/core

External links

Name: Angie's List


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