Consumers Corner # 30
With Angie’s List gone …
IT’S HARDER NOW IN PHILLY
TO FIND GOOD CONTRACTORS
By Jim Murphy
When my wife and I moved from the suburbs into center city some years ago, Angie’s List was a lifesaver.
Why? A number of families had lived in the house we bought. And while there, it seemed as if they had done little, if any, maintenance.
In our house (not the one in the photo, which is on beautiful Elfreth’s Alley), we found faucets soldered shut, an electric panel seriously overloaded, water leaking down inside walls during heavy rains and even a lamp duct-taped to the ceiling. (It fell and broke the first day we were there.)
We needed a lot of contractors
Not knowing any in Philadelphia, Angie’s List was our number one source. And almost everyone we used was excellent.
The annual fee was well worth the peace of mind we got from dealing with contractors recommended by neighbors nearby whose reviews we could read in detail.
Sadly, Angie’s List is now gone. HomeAdvisor recently bought it for over $500 million and flipped the business model on its head. Now more like the Uber of home service, it’s another business taking advantage of today’s gig economy.
You put in a request and people vie for your business. One Queen Village resident I know needed a plumber. He put in a request online and was amazed to get a call in minutes. Very impressed, he set up an appointment for 8:30 a.m. the next day, and cut short a breakfast meeting to be there on time. The plumber never showed up.
When the resident called 90 minutes later, the person’s explanation was he got busy. Guess he never heard of cell phones and letting someone know you’ll be late. The Queen Village resident got another plumber the old-fashioned way, one who actually showed up.
Is this a common scenario?
I don’t know, And I have yet seen any major national print media, like USA Today, the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times review HomeAdvisor.
But I have seen several TV reports in Colorado complaining about the use of unscreened contractors, and contractors who started a job, received some money and never came back. Sites with contractor comments about HomeAdvisor are equally negative
Interestingly, if you want to find reviews about HomeAdvisor, the site that pops up first is ConsumerAffairs.com.
It sounds like an official site. And the headline says, Top 14,209 Reviews and Complaints about HomeAdvisor. HomeAdvisor gets an average rating on it of 4.8 stars. You can find some negative reviews, too, if you really dig deep into the pages, but it is not easy.
Other views on ConsumerAffairs.com
TruthInAdvertising.org quotes a lawsuit made by Nordic Track against ConsumerAffairs.com, including this claim:
“In reality, ConsumerAffairs utilizes its computer resources in order to puff the reputation of those companies who pay for its services and to deliberately degrade the good will and reputation of those who do not.”
It certainly looked like a fluff website to me. And in a 2014 review of the companies listed on the ConsumerAffairs’ home page, TINA.org found this: all nonpaying members received negative ratings; and only one of 25 paying companies received less than three stars.
So getting an objective look at HomeAdvisor’s operation is not easy. To me, it’s one thing to get an Uber ride for 20 minutes … and another to have a person in your home you don’t know, and whose work can affect you and your family for 20 years or more.
Angie’s List was not perfect. Contractors who had positive reviews told me they were pushed hard for ads. But in general, it provided a very helpful service.
When I need roofing work recently, I was pleased with Yelp. And I’ve always used it for restaurant information and reviews.
So that’s where I’ll go to now for home repairs. Goodby, Angie’s List. Never Mind, HomeAdvisor. Hello, Yelp.
Dangerous dryer vents
Be sure to clean your clothes dryer vents regularly. If they become clogged, the vents can be a fire hazard. Besides causing 15,600 structural fires a year, 16 deaths and 400 injuries, clogged vents can cause poisonous gas fumes to back up in your house. And be sure to check that no birds’ nests or other debris blocks the dryer vent pipe on the outside of your house. If you can’t clean them yourself, call in a professional duct cleaning service. You’ll feel better and safer.
SUPER NOTABLE NUMBERS
Decline in 2018 Super Bowl TV viewers from the year before. The 103.4 millions viewers were the Super Bowl’s lowest since 2009. Those lucky enough to watch saw an incredible Eagles’ victory. Go Birds!
Number of Eagle penalties. The Patriots had just one.
Sack in the game, by Brandon Graham, despite 94 dropbacks by quarterbacks.
Nick Foles became the first player to both throw and catch a TD in the Super Bowl. His catch came on a play called the “Philly Special.”
Nick Foles’ career playoff rating. Brady’s rating is 90.9
The Eagles are the 20th NFL franchise to win the Super Bowl. Twelve teams have never won the Lombardi Trophy and four teams (the Browns, Lions, Jags and Texans) have never been to the big game.
The Eagles are the final NFC East team to win the Super Bowl. This division is also the first to have four Super Bowl winning teams.
Sources: Deadline.com and USA Today.com
Philly Fun Fact
A unique bas relief of George II, king of England when Christ Church was built, is visible on the outside of the building on Second Street. It’s just above the Palladian window. According to historian John Marion, the sculpture “is believed to be the only surviving outdoor depiction of any English royalty on any public buildings in what were the American colonies.”
“Elfreth’s Alley” flickr photo by jdv+ https://flickr.com/photos/john_vosburgh/6731471169 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license
“Go Philadelphia Eagles!” flickr photo by digitalART2 https://flickr.com/photos/digitalart/3206561822 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license
Jim Murphy is a direct marketing copywriter who has run his own consulting business since 2004. For nine years, he wrote and edited “Choices,” an award-winning credit union magazine with a circulation of 80,000. Jim is also a certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guide and writes historical articles for the Queen Village Neighbors Association magazine.
Any comments made are Jim’s opinion, and not necessarily those of the Old Pine Community Center.