The changes come after an I-Team 8 investigation uncovered a flaw in the system that allows contractors to retain positive grades for work they complete, but doesn’t always penalize them when consumers pay in advance and the work is never started.
Here’s how it works:
Angie’s List allows paying members to review contractors, companies and even physicians by giving them letter grades and written comments.
The I-Team 8 investigation examined hundreds of pages of reviews from various contractors and found that in some cases, customers were indicating that work was never done even though some paid money in advance for services. Angie’s List says those reviews should have been considered “work done.”
Why is that significant?
Because Angie’s List ranks contractors by letter grade and gives more weight to those letter grades based on completed projects. So if customers are paying money in advance and no work is ever done by a contractor, those reviews aren’t counting as much – allowing contractors to hold onto inflated grades they perhaps did not earn.
In response to this finding, Angie’s List conducted an internal audit within the past 90 days and discovered that this is happening in almost 1 out of every 100 cases, according to Angie’s List spokeswoman Cheryl Reed.
“Let me be clear, reports where money exchanged hands are intended to be ‘work done’ reports,” said Angie’s List Founder, Angie Hicks, during a recent sit-down interview with I-Team 8.
Hicks, who co-founded Angie’s List with CEO Bill Oesterle, says she is willing to make changes and plans to add a pop-up window and additional follow-up emails to help guide consumers when they make reviews. Additional emails will also be sent to anyone who provides a “C” grade or lower to a contractor or company, regardless of whether work was completed or not.
Within 10 days, Angie’s List says it will:
- Making that policy more clear
- Reach out a second time to offer help to consumers who have a bad experience
- Review its records to see if there are other cases that were mistakenly marked “work not done.”
One of the businesses examined during I-Team 8’s investigation was Carmel-based Green Frog Restoration, which was given a “C” by Angie’s List under the roofing category – that ranking including five “F” grades in the past year and one “A” from 2013.
Despite five “F’s,” Green Frog Restoration was showing it had a “C” ranking from Angie’s List. The same company was given an “F” ranking by the Better Business Bureau.
Barbara Duke knows what grade she would give the Green Frog Restoration. When asked, she said: “The F.”
Duke and her husband, Robert, said they were contacted by Green Frog Restoration, who asked if they could fix their roof, siding and shed following a hail storm. The Dukes said they agreed and signed a contract, turning over an insurance check worth $10,000.
“They come and got the check and then we didn’t hear anymore from them,” said Barbara Duke.
Barbara says she calls the company once or twice a week but no one answers. No one answered the door when I-Team 8 showed up at the Carmel business office listed as the company’s address. Our repeated phone calls were also not returned. An office manager at the business complex said she had not seen the tenants in a month.
Randy White also lost money to Green Frog Restoration.
“Whatever grade is below F, that’s what Green Frog should get,” White told I-Team 8 by phone.
When I-Team 8 notified Angie’s List that both White and the Dukes had paid money in advance but never received services, a spokeswoman confirmed that there were other similar instances and said that the company’s rating should be a “D.”
This isn’t the first time Angie’s List methods have been questioned. A federal lawsuit filed earlier this year alleged that contractors and companies can improve their position by paying advertising fees on the website. Angie’s List sought to have that case thrown out and a spokeswoman denied the assertions, saying that contractors and companies who advertise are held to a higher standard and are required to give discounts. Spokeswoman Cheryl Reed did not dispute, however, that discounts offered by the highest-rated companies are often at the top of Angie’s List.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Angie’s List plans to make significant changes to its review online system in the next 10 days.