December 22, 2010 7 Comments
Today I am writing about my personal review on Angie’s list. This is just like another review that shows up on Angie’s list about other business.
Angie’s list is a online business review service site that claims to be on the customer and consumer side. They will let customers to post good and bad reviews. My first impression about it is it must either be a very successful business or it is ripping the customer off because of the frequency of TV commercials I see on TV.
I then go online and do some research, trying to find out which of the above case it is. It appears neither case by my standards.
According to online resources, Angie’s list has received funding of USD $35 millions in 2008, another 18 mil in november 2008, 2 rounds of $22.5 Mil and $2.5 Mil in 2010. So what does it mean? It means that the company is not yet making a healthy profit and is still relying on Investor funding after almost 16 years in business. It appears to me that they are still looking for a successful strategy to monetize. I think these are great information (or not?) for me to understand better the background of this business and gives me insights that why they are doing something that doesn’t make sense to me.
First of all, I myself am not a member of Angie’s list because I wouldn’t pay for something I can’t even see how it works. And Angie’s list is not a site that I can take a peek at or run a test query to verify its usefulness.
However, I had an opportunity to look at how it works while a friend of mine is using it to look for a indoor painter in the area. Of course I am not going to miss this opportunities to check out what the buzz is about.
Test 1 : Verifying good businesses
I moved to my ‘hood’ about 2 years ago. Back then I used a few contractors in my area and I have done a lot of research around the neighborhood, reading reviews online like everyone else =) , asking via my company’s internal mail list. I had some success and found some good services.
So the first thing I asked my friend to do is to look for these good services that I had. What I found out that only 1 out of the 3 services that I looked for are in the top 5 of Angie’s list’s recommendation. And what shocked me is that one of the known bad companies are shown up high in the list on all three queries we submitted.
I tried to look at the reviews on my good companies and why they weren’t listed higher, it appeared to me that all three good businesses didn’t have any or enough reviews by their customers to boost them up. However, the bad contractor that I had do have a few glowing reviews that I can’t believe in at all.
I am curious about these results so I try to find out why in my own ways. For one, I emailed my good businesses and ask them what is happening. I got replies from two of the 3 businesses, and here are their replies.
“We were contacted by Angie’s List a few times before telling me that one of my customers wrote a nice review for me, and they asked me to verify the review. After some understanding about Angie list, I found out that it was purely a sale call that asks me to pay hundreds of dollars a month to advertise. After knowing that, I said Thank you. I remember one thing the sales implied is that it is difficult to boost up my ranking on the queries if I don’t encourage my customer to post more and advertise with them. I am not interested in this service, and basically don’t care if there is any lead from it. “
And here is from my 2nd good business
…. I don’t have a high ranking because I do not pay them money to rank higher. Angie’s list has been known to be a problem to honest contractors like us. To them, you are not a great business if you don’t pay them.
I was indeed quite surprise to read these two responses because I have also thought businesses endorse angie’s list because of the leads. It appears not.
Test 2 : Bad Contractors?
So now I guess why good business don’t have good rankings. so what about bad businesses?
Fortunately, I had only one bad contractor, which happens to be an auto mechanic that I used. I tried to locate the contractor and I found that it has over 10+ great shinning reviews. It looked suspicious to me and I read some of the reviews. Call me weird, I have a feeling that those are staged.
Also, even though this company has lots of good reviews, but the number of reviews is not near the number of good reviews of some of the mechanics that rank much lower than this one. I am thinking something not obvious is here, either this bad mechanics paid more than the other one to have a higher ranking, or Angie’s list is having some strange or flawed algorithm to rank the mechanics. I won’t have an answer for this, but until then, my bet is on the former.
So what is next?
At this point, I think I have lost interests in exploring more and find out how Angie’s list works. however, top of my head, I see a few problems with Angie’s list.
I have written a 2nd review on Angie’s List.