Ever since I moved to the bay area and joined Aster, I have started listening to KQED in my commute. The best thing about public radio stations is that they you don’t feel like ripping your hair out just listening to commercials. They do have some advertising, but it usually doesn’t show up on my radar.
Over the past few weeks, one particular commercial caught my attention: the one for Angie’s List. The ad proclaims Angies List to be the go-to destination for customer reviews on movers, painters, lawyers, doctors and more. What a great idea, I thought. So one day as soon as I got home, I decided to check them out.
The first thing that hit me was that it is a paid site. I would need to sign up as a member and pay subscription fee. Bummer! Don’t get me wrong, I think websites reserve the right to charge for whatever services they want. But in this case, I did not really see the value that Angies List itself was adding.
According to them, here are the top 3 reasons why I would use Angies List (as seen in the quick tour):
- Service providers don’t (or can not) pay to appear on the list
- They receive over 5000 reports each month
- They have information on over 250 types of services
Hmm, lets see. AFAIK, service providers don’t (or can not) pay to appear on either Yelp or Craigs list. I’m pretty sure Yelp receives way more than 5000 reviews each month. And both Yelp and Craigslist have more than enough categories as far as I am concerned.
At the end of the day, the value of the site like Angie’s List, depends on the quality of the reviews. Since the content is user generated anyways, I don’t see how Angie’s List can claim a higher quality than Yelp reviews. Just becase I paid a hefty fee does not incentivize me to actually write a detailed and thoughtful review. In fact, since I paid, I just want to get access to lots of high quality reviews, not worry about writing them.
I have seen “Yelp loves us” badges on several restaurants. I have yet to see an Angie’s List badge anywhere. On Yelp, because it is open to anyone, people are recognized for their reviews. What is the reputation model in Angie’s List?
I digged some more on their website and found these nuggets (non-italicized text is mine):
Angie’s List is better than free review sites:
- No anonymous reviews. Really? In some sense, Yelp reviews are not anonymous either. On the other hand, if you are going to force me to reveal my real name etc on the site, I would consider it a loss of privacy. Besides, what does this buy us?
- Certified data collection process prevents companies from reporting on themselves or their competitors. Any details on what this process is? A closed system is not necessarily a good system. There have been many cases where customer issues were resolved or a problem was addressed due to the public nature of Yelp.
- Our Complaint Resolution Team will intercede if a project goes bad.
- Companies respond to reports, so you get the whole story. Which companies? Is there a partner program for providers? I thought you couldn’t pay to be on the list?
And there’s more:
What you get:
- 24-hour access to reviews on AngiesList.com. Wow, the Internets have arrived. Are you listening Yelp?
- Live support through our call center. Ok, this one might actually be a useful value-add.
- Award-winning Angie’s List magazine. What does the magazine add beyond the website? I don’t want to be party to more paper wastage. I already get enough catalogs as it is.
- Access to our Complaint Resolution Team.
- Discounts from highly rated service companies. What is the business model here? Why/how would companies know they are highly rated, unless they sign up as well? Why would they offer discounts?
Overall, I just don’t see why anyone would use their service. If you have used Angie’s List, I’d love to hear your opinions on how it compares to Yelp or even Craigs list.