Over the years I have talked to thousands
of customers at this point, and one of my first questions is how did they hear about us or what other sites did they use to find contractors? The typical response is they used places like HomeAdvisor or Angie’s List. Every so often we hear customers saying they found us on Google.
So why are so many people using HomeAdvisor? Well, its because they are a huge company, and people think because of their size they must be reputable right? Wrong. HomeAdvisor is a company that was once called service magic. This company use to call us hundreds of times a month in hopes of selling us their leads. This was back in the mid 2000’s, roughly 2006-2008. However, service magic was sued in a class action lawsuit about shady business practices. In fact, they were selling leads to contractors that were not even real. And they would tell all contractors that they were only selling the leads to 3-4 contractors at a time. However, they even the real leads they would send alerts to hundreds of contractors and as soon as a lead would be sent they would collect a commission. This wasnt a small commission of $1-15 that google charges. It was a whopping $100-150 per lead depending on what category you were in. That means if they send the same lead to 50 contractors they could make potentially $7500 off of one lead. This was extremely unethical and the FTC stepped in and shut them down.
Service Magic went through a massive class action lawsuit and in just a few short years, they re-branded and became HomeAdvisor. They spent more money on internet traffic and marketing, and spread their horizons to television. However, their business practices did not change. They continued to do the same things, like sending leads to multiple contractors the only difference is, now they send leads to unqualified contractors to make up the difference in what they used to make. Because the FTC limited the amount of clients one lead could be sent to and restricted any fake leads. HomeAdvisor decided to use their abrasive sleazy cold calling telemarketer skills to lure in new businesses. In fact, most contractors that are on HomeAdvisor have no real internet presence and have only been in business for 1-2 years. Home advisor targets mainly new business owners and they rarely go after contractors that have been in business 10-20+ years. Just visit the Better Business Bureau and look up Home Advisor – they have over 1000 reviews most of which are a 1-star. This is right off the BBB website about HomeAdvisor:
In fact the state of California is suing HomeAdvisor yet again!
The following describes a pending government action that has been formally brought by a government agency but has not yet been resolved. We are providing a summary of the government’s allegations, which have not yet been proven. On March 14, 2018, the San Francisco District Attorney has entered a complaint for permanent injunction, civil penalties, restitution, and other equitable relief against HomeAdvisor Inc. et al. The complaint alleges that HomeAdvisor used radio and television ads that misled consumers into thinking service personnel hired through the platform have all passed criminal background checks. The district attorney is seeking a permanent injunction that would require the defendants to stop making false and misleading statements, as well as civil penalties and restitution. A preliminary injunction date is set for April 12, 2018. This matter is pending.On May 30, 2018, The San Francisco Superior Court granted a preliminary injunction requiring Homeadvisor to stop airing misleading advertisements that allegedly imply that all personnel entering a consumer’s home have passed a background check. https://sfdistrictattorney.org/sites/default/files/Document/2018-05-24%20Preliminary%20Injunction.pdfIn response to these charges, the business provided the following statement:”HomeAdvisor feels it is important to provide some context and a short response about this matter, which only relates to the State of California. First and foremost, the action does not allege any problem with HomeAdvisor’s background check program (described here https://www.homeadvisor.com/screening/ ), that HomeAdvisor failed to conduct appropriate background checks, or that anyone was actually harmed by someone who was not background checked. Instead, it alleges that California consumers may have been confused by some of our television or radio advertising about the scope of the background check program, even though the San Francisco District Attorney has failed to identify a single California consumer who was misled after more than a year of investigation. Further, we note that a California court already denied the San Francisco DA’s initial request for an injunction based on the same allegations, and we are confident that the court will rule the same way on April 12. We are proud of the service that HomeAdvisor provides and stand behind our advertising.”https://www.bbb.org/us/co/lakewood/profile/contractor-referral/homeadvisor-0885-22000608/details#all-alerts
Pattern of Complaint
BBB files indicate that this business has a pattern of complaints concerning product, refund, customer service and billing issues. Complaints submitted to BBB allege the following:
- The leads received by the business customers (Service Professionals) are “bad” or “poor” quality, including leads with invalid contact information, leads not relevant to the industry, or leads outside the customer’s service area.
- When requesting refunds for leads, customers are told they do not qualify for a refund even though the leads meet the criteria that would allow for a refund.
- Customer accounts are charged without consent or while they believed their service to be paused.
- When signing up for services, customers allege that they are told that spending limits could be set for leads that would not be exceeded. Although a spending limit was set, customers were charged over that limit and told the limit was a reference point.
- HomeAdvisor staff are difficult to reach, “rude” or “harassing” in tone, and refuse to cancel accounts causing additional charges to the customer without their knowledge.
A company that has this many issues, will send you unqualified contractors. Because if they are contiuing to fake the leads and like noted above “poor” quality leads that means as a consumer what you will get is a service pro that is either not qualified to do the work, or is desperate because he is a new business or a business that cannot create his own business reputation. We have also heard from customers that many of the bad reviews that they have left contractors have been disputed and removed. Its very similar to using ebay. When you leave a some bad feedback, Ebay will make you jump through so many loopholes for this bad feedback to stick, most consumers just give up because it isnt worth the hassle.
Recently Angie’s List has acquired HomeAdvisor and they will merge and be called ANGI HomeServices. Which is yet another shady merger to run away from their bad reputation. Angie’s list is no saint either in this industry. They us to be a review site specifically for contractors. It was a good place for consumers to look up contractors and see who are the best in the area. Well, those days are long gone. Angie’s list is no different than HomeAdvisor. They charge contractors to create profiles then sell them leads (most of which arent even related to their business). They make consumers fill out a form which makes them jump through a series of steps, only to then tell you they will send some contractors your way. The era of due diligence is slowly dissipating. All companies are making it impossible for the consumer to have an unbiased view of a contractor. Because either the contractor has paid for his position and Angie’s List actually protects any bad reviews a customer may have. Or the contractor is so new, the customer has no way of knowing who they are hiring. Either way, this lead that connects the contractor with the consumer is not beneficial to the consumer.
The only way to truly know what customers have to say about consumers is going to sites that dont sell their contractors their profile and reviews. This is through platforms like Google my Business, Google Reviews, BBB, Nextdoor, Yelp, Facebook business, etc. Place where profiles arent bought and reviews arent filtered like they are through all these other lead sites.