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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Unfair Business Practice -- UPDATED

UPDATE: I have gotten a comment from someone who actually uses this service and it was pointed out that my story had some pretty major misinformation that I wanted to get corrected:
Angie's List DOES allow companies to respond to businesses to respond to comments left about them. I did not know this since I could not access the site without purchasing a membership.
As such I have struck out the portions of the post which refer to this misinformation.
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Welcome to Angie's List: The Best Source for Local Home Improvement Contractors!

I saw this commercial on television and decided to check out Angie's list -- it looked interesting ... like a Better Business Bureau with people personal opinions - cool.

Okay, I wanted to see if my dad's business was on there --- I'll be honest ... but it wasn't the only reason.

Well I watched the promo animation on the website and it said that it didn't accept any adverts from the reviewed companies so it was unbiased -- cool I can live with that .... its kind of like Consumer Reports, I trust most of what they say.

So I clicked "join now" ... and found they have a frickin' FEE!!!!

Just under $8 a month!!! Yes you read that correctly -- someone has figured out how to make money off something you can get free with a single phone call to the BBB or by simply asking a company for references.

for those doing the math that is .... $96/yr -- but they give you a discount and charge you the cheaper rate of $59/yr. A fee which they will automatically take off your card each year....they do have a 110% moneyback guarentee -- but only if you have an annual membership. for those using the monthly service -- tough luck, no refunds!!

wait it gets BETTER -- they have a one time $15 sign up fee ... this is for EVERYONE - no matter the plan. I assume it is for setting up the auto payment plan .... but they don't really give you any other choice!!

So who watches Angieslist??? Who will post whether they are a good business or a RIP OFF??? They certainly won't - although even if they did ... you wouldn't know until it was too late! (that is you would already have paid for your membership)

save youself some money and go here instead:
The Better Business Bureau be sure to choose your country before entering the zipcode though -- there is something going on with that particular webbot.

but hey - its free.
They do take 'memberships' from businesses which promise to abide by the BBB quality of standards and dealing with customer complaints.
This does NOT mean however that if a company isn't a member that they let it slip....

Even if a company is not a member of the BBB they will try to help the complaintant. They will try to negotiate/mediate a settlement that is satisfactory to both sides.

But to pay for the same info??? where the business CAN"T defend itself??? No that's not right!!!

That's not fair.

Yeah give the people a place to tell others about their experiences, but if there are complaints you HAVE to (at least morally) give the businesses a chance to counterpoint ... otherwise it is little better than gossip.

You remember gossip .... it runs rampant in every high school across the nation and causes harmful effects that can't be so easily repaired.
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