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Members sue consumer ratings site Angie's List over fees

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Angie’s List, the website allowing members to post and access reviews of businesses they patronize, is accused of taking its own customers to the cleaners.

A lawsuit seeking class-action status in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana alleges that Angie’s List automatically renews membership fees at a higher rate than customers are led to believe, calling the practice a “systematic and repeated breach of its membership agreement.”

The complaint was brought by Marie Fritzinger, a Philadelphia resident who said she’s been a paying member of Angie’s List since 2007. 

Fritzinger is represented by Irwin Levin, managing partner at Indianapolis law firm Cohen & Malad, who has earned a national reputation for class-action lawsuits.

Indianapolis-based Angie’s List has more than 1.2 million paid members in about 200 local markets.  In 2011, it collected membership fees of $33.8 million and total revenue of $90 million.

The complaint alleges that Angie’s List, while reserving the right to modify membership fees and billing methods, is not authorized by contract to charge members who are renewing their subscription more than the stated membership fee. Members provide a credit or debit card that Angie’s List keeps on file to allow for automatic renewal later.
 
“In breach of the plain language of its membership agreement, Angie’s List instead automatically renews its members pursuant to a distinct–and more costly–'membership renewal fee,'” according to the suit.

Fritzinger alleges the company does not disclose the renewal fee anywhere in its materials.

The complaint also alleges that longer-tenured members are hurt by a 2010 change in the Angie’s List business model in 30 of its most-mature city markets. That change gave members the option of limiting memberships to one of three categories–auto service providers, home contractors and health care providers–or purchase a bundled premium membership for all three categories.

The suit, filed in August, says Angie’s List renewed more-tenured members at the premium rate without notification.

Angie’s List has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit. It sought and received an extension from the court to respond by Nov. 2.

“We don’t comment on litigation,” said spokeswoman Cheryl Reed. “We’re vigorously defending against this suit.”

The suit alleges breach of contract, deception and unjust enrichment. It seeks an unspecified award of three-times the financial damages incurred under a count alleging deception for allegedly mis-applying credit and debit cards to collect the unauthorized bundled membership fees.

Angie’s List has not posted a profit since founded in 1995 and last year lost $49 million.

Company management and analysts nevertheless have said Angie's List is on track to be profitable by 2014 as it builds critical mass in national markets.

The company is pouring massive amounts of money into television advertising, fueled by $72 million in proceeds from an initial public stock offering last November.

Older markets, such as Indianapolis, tend to generate the most revenue for Angie’s List.  Generally the older the market, the higher the membership fee–roughly $63 a year in Indianapolis versus around $30 a year in a newer market like New York City.

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  • Bogus Companies on AL
    I paid a company on AL to do a job for me. Turns out that it was the worst job ever & I asked for my money back. I was refused. After doing some research to file a small claims law suit, I found out that this company is not registered with the state, never has been , and is dong business illegally. This info came directly from the Secretary of State's office in my state. The reviews on AL were fantastic. I am really thinking that the reviews are not valid. How can a business that really is not a business be on AL? The BBB is not much better. I have worked for 2 companies in my life that were the most unethical rip-off's I have known. They both had A+ ratings with the BBB. If you pay your fee, and agree to settle any disputes that you might get, you get a good rating, even though you still continue the same business practices. I quit both jobs because I couldn't work for such people who cheat others. I won't renew AL. You can get the exact review, word for word, on yp listings that have reviews for free. Anytime you say you have honest reviews from honest people, there will always be people & companies who will prove you wrong.
  • It's a racket
    Angie's list collects fee from members for the privilege of providing content, and collects fees from other members who wish to read that content. If that's not a racket, I don't know what is. Michael Corleone would be envious of that business model.
  • Learn something
    Did you know every advertiser on Angie's list has to pass a background check? They also have to be licensed and insured. They also have to have a minimum of two reviews and an A or B grade. They also have to offer a discount or coupon for Angie's list members. If you own a home an actually do home improvement projects like a successful person , Angie's list is so damn valuable it's unbelievable. Ever though about it that way buddy?
  • Dude
    Dude they have over 4 million customers. They take your customer list and see if any of them are on their customer list, thus making them MUTUAL CUSTOMERS. They only contact the mutual customers because they are PAYING Angie's List for a membership and have given them rights to contact for new reviews. Think before you speak.
  • completely miss leading
    I started doing advertising through Angie's list in March of 2014 after receiving many calls and emails. They said " Mr.Myers we have over 100,000 members in your area. If you sign up with us for 120.00 per month for 3 townships, and you can choose what townships you want and we will put you on front page. Sounds good, right? I chose the townships and they said now there is 15,000 possible new customers. Great, I am on the front page, my phone will ring. After 2 months of not getting one call. Keep in mind Angie's list calls you ever week trying to sell you more ads. So, I complained. They said give us all your current customers info and we will help you get more reveiws. I said no way! I would loose customers if they knew I was giving out all their info. So another month goes by, with only Angies list calling trying to sell me more ads. I complained again, and they said it is my fault I am not getting calls because I didn't give them customer info. They recommended i cancel and then hit me with another 340 fee. I am out about $700, not one new customer. They make it sound good till you get locked in. NEVER TAKE LOCAL ADVERTISING ADVICE FROM A COMPANY THAT IS MANY STATES AWAY. RIP off Artist
    • Agreed
      I totally agree. Angie's List sucks.
    • Don't Cancel
      You do not need to cancel paypal. You gave Paypal permission to pay from your account on a revolving basis, whether you intended to or not. All you have to do is just revoke that permission. Go to profile>My money>My pre-approved payments
    • Paypal
      You do not need to cancel paypal. You gave Paypal permission to pay from your account on a revolving basis, whether you intended to or not. All you have to do is just revoke that permission. Go to profile>My money>My pre-approved payments
    • Put it in writing
      Always put your requests in writing. Do not rely on telephone cancellations, as a conversation can always be denied. Send it certified mail.
    • You can request otherwise
      I work there and you can request for your credit card to be taken out of our files. If you ask, we have to do it. If there's something you don't like about a company, just call them and ask how your account can be set up differently. Usually there are options and we're happy to do it for you if you're nice about it.
    • contractors in nutley nj
      Fritzinger is represented by Irwin Levin, managing partner at Indianapolis law firm Cohen & Malad, who has earned a national reputation for class-action lawsuits.
    • MYBIDSPACE.COM
      Try mybidspace.com, where it's always free to list and bid on any project you can think of. We currently have a project to build a home in Chicago! We are only 2 weeks old and already have over 125 contractors registered. No project too big or too small. www.mybidspace.com
    • Lack respect for their customers!
      When Angie's list started their Auto Renew, I do not recall getting a notice. I'd been a member since their early days. They use to send an email ASKING if we wanted to renew and for how many years. But to switch to auto renew, and with no notice to us except for the charge showing up on our bills, THAT is going too far. And I made a point to cancel before the next renewal date!
    • Same here
      I was also charged via paypal. I had no idea it was happening. I am cancelling paypal as it appears to be another way to lose money without my knowing about it.
      • Paypal WILL auto renew
        Paypal gave Angie's List my renewal payment so I cancelled both companies. Ha!
        • Al rocks!!!
          No Brandi, YOU are completely WRONG!!! Louis is right, from another Louis. AL rocks!!!
        • AL Is A Scam Business Model
          Has someone put "idiot pills" into the drinking water or something? Why would anyone EVER pay a company to use your own reviews of other companies and make millions off of what you wrote? What kind of a bass ackward business model is this? Now you're all going to pay money to find businesses that are reviewed by people you don't even know who write reviews? And you don't think that companies can hire "third parties" to join AL and sites like them to write positive reviews for their businesses? This is totally stupid! You're paying for things that are already available for free. Why would you want to give your hard earned money away to someone who uses your reviews to make her a millionaire? When do you start believing that your reviews weren't worth anything? They should be paying you for your reviews, not the other way around. The idiocy of the people simply astonishes me.
          • BBB no longer holds any weight with me
            Seriously I see the BBB on any business ad and pretty much ignore it, being one whose case was supposedly "closed" was a farce really. Had my new roof installed this month last year 2013 by Home depot, and the leaks are all over the place same month 2014 and I have been getting the run around since the first rain after the installation till this day for the $18,000 piece of crap and its "closed" at the BBB? I will never believe those who have the power to shut the consumer up in their hands that way or any verbally expressed good faith measures taken by a company to resolve anything. In fact I just emailed Home depots expediter (assigned me) by email that I no longer want those Wednesday phone calls. The only thing that can be said for them is that they call every Wednesday but do nothing (at all). I told them please do those call backs by mail because then you just add (openly so) to my proofs that you intend to do nothing (even as you have done nothing). Showing that on paper works for me (not against me) whereas a mentioned phone call from them (to me) leaves doubt that I am (as a customer) being reasonable and also that attempts by phone which were being made on their part (are sincere) when they are not. Angies was actually 300% more helpful in letting me know how their own remediation works then the BBB ever was. After all I don't hang out at the BBB griping about services every day because I tend to take losses below $1000 and will sometimes bite the bullet on them but I opened up my mouth and gave a voice to one with Home depot for nearly $18,000 (a roof one year later is still leaking from the time of install) and 6 attempts on their part to fix it and has developed three leaks this month and buckling under the very little snow we just got in SC as I type). And I contacted the BBB only at the advice of my own township just to mark (with them) I had a dispute with them already (and only because I was receiving letters of extension pushing it back 90 days, and again I received another letter for 90 days just recently. Meanwhile the damages to my home are growing, I was so not prepared for this kind of service by Home depot (not at all) they aren't even riding on the fumes of their former good reputation (no not anymore). Gullible me. I honestly cant help but change my mind and believe the BBB has some kind of corrupt relationship with some businesses or something. Like its some big marketing game or something. I don't know just sure feels like BBB makes it easier for them by making it difficult for the consumer (through obscurity). Because I know I wasn't given any link to the very dispute I had opened, I was also led to believe by the expediter assigned to me (even by Home depot) was who was to respond (to me) because of my BBB complaint. And I was under the impression all the departments in Home depot (being notified) shared information on a particular dispute within the company (wrong!) Its compartmentalized for a reason to shuffle you around, and wear you out, it works for the corporation and against the consumer (which you soon find out) which is why (after such an experience) you read folks completely frustrated with them. And the crazier sounding ones begin to sound sane, and you just feel sorry for the more oblivious ones who didn't sit on their installs long enough to tell anything beyond how fast it was all done and just how "perdy" it is. But anyway the case I opened was supposedly closed early January 2014 without any other communications, no wonder it was so soon after the Home depot expediter was far more short in getting rid of me, because when the BBB pen hits the paper (or rather their keystrokes the internet)they can point to that and say, "See? it was an opened and closed case", and they just play stupid to the rest. Which also can give other consumers a false sense that a company is so willing to work with this mediator and resolve customer complaints when it absolutely does not, not always, and my case is one of those. I hope more consumers expose the BBB whereas they might tend to walk away looking at the BBB as their last hope but seeing how these things are wrapped up (agreeing in themselves only) that this is all just bogus. I will no longer believe that anything shown as closed with the BBB has closed anything for any consumers regardless of what it prints. Or that Home depot ever did anything for the paying consumer (in any way). Just saying, I had no contact with BBB after I had initially opened a case save some passwords to go where? No where I could find, I couldn't even search their site to my own opened dispute. When I addressed them on this later they were just like, sorry but you didn't respond, its "closed". And honestly this kind of confusion is just so difficult to address (with all its ins and outs)but later coming back to this email from the BBB (after adding in these passwords) its asked me (after showing it was closed) if anything further could be added (and I did just that) which was more new roof leaks. And when calling them on this move to close it prior and the whole obscurity issue they ignored addressing that mail. they are just another business that boasts itself but deserves its bad marks for that against the consumers. Angieslist makes it possible for the consumers who are shut down (in giving other consumers warning).Or just have a hard time getting in between lame attempts in reconciling anything as far as I can tell. Angies list (even in their emails for remediation) are clear and far more helpful then the BBB. The BBB just comes off (now) as settling in on itself and riding off of a former reputation (even as Home depot). Businesses get can get that way sometimes till the word gets out that all that is a crock now.
          • Unfair
            I forgot to add to my previous comment that when I refuse to sign a new contract and pay them more money, in my opinion, that is the straw that broke the camels back!
          • Unfair Practices
            I was a member on Angie's List since 2008. I have over 260 A+ reports and 3 c's. I paid them over $10k to advertise with them just so I could build up my business which I have done very successfully. One day in the summer of 2013, I got a call stating that they were going to pull my company ad because they found out I had a legal case going on for which I have never been found guilty. A large company is being sued on behalf of the injured party not me. At no time did I ever lie or misrepresent my company or myself. Over the next nine months, after several phone calls and email attempts to Angie's List to try and the bottom of this issue, I finally got a rejection phone call in January 2014. All I can say is be very careful when you sign up with them. Don't succumb to their high pressure from their sales staff to pay extra money for advertisements on their site. If you do get on the site, do good work, get A+ ratings and then customer referrals will follow automatically.
          • Misrepresentation
            Angie's list will eventually be sued so much for fraudulent representation that they will be gone. They say you can't pay to be on Angie's List but they constantly call & use sleazy sale tactics trying to get companies to advertise with them. They claim you'll get your business noticed if you pay! It's just worn at the core. Not to mention anyone-even a competitor can have someone ruin your reputation. We have an A+ BBB rating & survive by our reputation yet we have had people leave long scathing reviews over free consultations! We did no work with this client yet they impact our business as it draws attention & people get scared. It's crazy & unfair. In due time there will be a class action law suit against their practices, I'm sure!
            • please!!!
              I know for a FACT a friend of mine whos ratings were the best in his field, straight A's and im talking 20 ratings, the conman convienced him to do a big deal,promised massive growth, the catch my friend asked for a reasonable amount because he does his own work and had his clients, the salescon sold over 100 coupons, when he called the rep informed him that it was up to angies list the amount sold, also, they did not inform him after the discount he gave the customer, angies list took dome of the remaining monies left over, which left him around 100.00 per job, when unable to get to everyone he started getting bad reviews, also an angies list customer opps customers 5 if I recall told him they wanted a refund without giving him a bad review, the rep said unless they rated him with an f review there would be no refund, when he confronted a rep he was told it was an experiment, at his reputation on the line, and they never informed him, but, with that being said looks like angie her ceo and 3 others are in alot of trouble for FRAUD, hmm looks like they dont represent the consumer after all so they burn the consumer, the stockholder and good business owners I repest good,and there workers well right hand knows what the left hand does, hope they sue them slam them and close them down.
            • YOU ARE WRONG
              I'm sorry Louis, but you are completely WRONG.
              • I think you got it all wrong
                If you really want to know, AL is the only place that makes it a point to KNOW the people that are reviewing, not psuedo-anonymous like Yelp or other sites where you can ruin a business without standing next to your evisceration. It makes total sense for a user to trust the reviews. over half of yelp's reviews are generated by overzealous business owners, who either write glowing recommendations of themselves, or trash their competition in their local markets. Kudos to AL for keeping it honest. The fees they charge, well, you don't have to pay it if you don't want to, but your grades are based on user rankings, not pay.
                • You are right
                  You have that right! That is what I don't understand! I use those sites & I feel the reviews are pretty accurate. There is no way I am paying to submit or read a review!
                  • I would FAIL them!
                    If I as an advertiser were able to grade Angie's List using the same criteria customers use to grade me, I would give them an F. Do they return calls promptly= F Over saturate advertising so there is little value for my money= F Courtesy= F Knowledgeable and helpful= F Honesty and Integrity= F Result of the services I pay for= F Will I renew with them (NO)= F
                  • All About The Money
                    Since Angie's List has gone public, it's all about the money. From how they renew subscribers to over saturating their site with excessive offers from any company willing to pay up to playing some great smaller businesses against each other and forcing them to cut their margins forcing many those companies to abandon their efforts with Angie's List. You are not getting the best anymore, you are getting the ones with the deepest pockets. I don't like them anymore, to me they have sold out their integrity.
                  • No Angie's List for Me
                    This website was good at it's onset, but really it is not valid at this date. It's a business trying to make money. Trust me, don't listen to ANYTHING on this site. check by word-of-mouth. We've had some real losers thanks to this site. NO THANK YOU---save your money.
                  • Did you know this?
                    Angies List also partners up with contractors under various advertising packages, which are supposed to get them on the 1st page for their AL Clients to view when looking for a contractor with a good rating. So, in essence, the contractors are giving them money for ranking to sweeten the deal. Not only that, but AL calls every contractor and basically gives them the option of "accept our deal or loose your ranking". I know because they call me every week trying to get money out of me. I consider this to be unethical because, despite my excellent ratings, I can't compete with the contractor that has lower ratings, but pays AL on the side to bump them up to the 1st page.
                    • Yeah, That Called False Advertising
                      The problem there is that at some point one of your so called employed advertisers will let the cat out of the bag and you and their false claims will be deleted.
                    • anyone can review?
                      If I started a company and wanted biz and really wanted a good reputation on AL for my company, I would just pay 100 ppl to sign up and give me great reviews this is cheap advertising
                      • Payment Structure
                        Doing business with any business that REQUIRES you put your Credit Card on file with them is a RED FLAG! Never do business with a company that requires your CC to be on file with them.
                        • Fraudulently take $ --Watch your credit card statements and BEWARE
                          I was not happy with the contractors we got from Angie's List so wanted to cancel (one contractor messed up our deck and walked off during the job --represented himself as the owner of a company--ended up he had no one working for him --he came alone except a day when he brought a man he picked up on the corner). I looked at when my subscription ran out and it was January 2014 and it would renew at $38 ---that is what it said and still says on my Angie's List account. I noticed that was a alot more than I originally paid to join. I put a note on my calendar to cancel in December. ---Meanwhile in May of 2013, I see a $79 charge hit my American Express. I called Amex and they are reversing the charge. Sounds like this is an issue they are very familiar with. --While Angie's List was a good concept, it is a shame that it has become what it is ---unethical company with illegal billing practices.
                        • pediatricians
                          Alyssa Guernsey died as a result of abuse. The doctor who never reported her abuse was a recommended pediatrician on Angie's list for 10 yrs.
                        • A scam from the start
                          This public company loses money in each market and hopes to make it up by going national. For consumers and vendors it is a total scam, like the worst fitness centers, plus other nuances. And a new mother is going to pick her pediatrician using Angie's list? What people could possible not have friends who can refer you to contractors? Ads are embarrassing. Like on this blog, contributors are not vetted for shills or actual customers of those reviewed. And AL went public with all these obvious and known practices. Anyone using this service for any substantial work would be so unreasonable and unsophisticated about the quality of the work, delays or added costs, their expectations could not be met by honest vendors. For smaller jobs, why pay this much for a $75 job?
                        • using Home Depot /Lowes
                          BTW...you can always get a contractor guarantee by Lowes or Home Depot. These are big companies they hire contractors with reputable resumes. There could always be a few exceptions, but I rather trust these big corporate companies than AL, who doesn't guarantee the work. WHY WOULD ANYONE BOTHER USING AL AND PAYING A FEE IS BEYOND ME....
                        • People are stupid using AL
                          You are kidding me...so many people using AL is a total joke. Doesn't anyone know how to search using Google, Yelp, to find good service. AL is a total scam. Paying for this service is silly.
                          • There is a way
                            if you arranged payment with PayPal there's an easy way to cancel
                            • Livid!!
                              This now amounts to a scam with what it takes to stop the account. There is no warning that your account is going to auto-renew and there is no way to delete your billing information. This is a company that touts saving you from the scamming practices of others. They have no regard for whether you are satisfied or not so why would you trust their advice?
                              • Angie's doesn't allow negative reviews
                                When I posted a negative review of a solar panel contractor I have since learned has a notorious record, Angie wouldn't hear of it. Said that I had violated a term-of-service which I could not find. Angie is a part of the problem. The one institution I think you can usually rely on is the Better Business Bureau. You probably shouldn't do business with a home contractor for instance without checking your local BBB first. They won't charge you a cent, and if your contractor isn't listed, there's probably a good reason. You would think Angie would find this suspicious, but the word their guy told me on the phone is that it's irrelevant to their review. Our exchange was heated. I admit I was the one doing the yelling... mainly because by then I realized I had been ripped off by Angie's List as well as by the original party whom I complained about on Angie's List.
                              • Ripped me off, too!
                                They ripped me off for two years worth of fees that were double what the normal annual fee is. I never wanted to renew. I told them specifically that I didn't want to renew and to not automatically charge my credit card. So I caught this year's theft by Angie, but I didn't catch last year's and now I am out $108. On top of that, it's a terrible service. I found a terrible drainage contractor and a terrible landscaper through them, and I also found, but did not hire, a very creepy, unlicensed and unscrupulous building contractor on Angieslist. Who screens these contractors??? Now we use HomeAdvisor -- free and very good. I hope Home Advisor puts this scam outfit into bankruptcy. Then there is the junk mail: mountains ands mountains of junk mail that I have begged them to stop sending. Geeze, this company is awful.
                              • My comment below
                                My comment below is in response to 10+ year Member's comment.
                              • busineses & people
                                Busineses and everyday people don't think. They are paying out all this money and getting very little benifits if any. Angie is worth in excess 50 million dollars. There is one gal that is reaping max benifits. If as Robin Williams would say your all lambs.
                              • Angie's List Used To Be
                                I was a member of the list for several years beginnning in 2000. I for several years was very happy with the service. I used several vendors with good credentials on the list and had great result. However, a couple of years ago I noticed the price jump for membership and declined to renew. At first Angie's felt like a locally run neighborhood organization but in the last few years it has begun to feel more like a corporate giant.
                              • Can't cancel
                                One of the ways Angie's List scams people is by not accepting cancellations prior to renewal time, probably hoping members will forget to cancel or may not even be aware of the requirement to cancel before the renewal date. I called customer service and was told I'd get an email reminder a month before renewal time. They outrightly refused to mark the file to indicate I didn't want to renew so I'm thinking this is an integral part of their business plan. I used a specific debit card to start that account and as renewal time came, I depleted the balance to just a couple of dollars. Sure enough Angie's List tried charging the account but were unsuccessful. They tried three different days in a row.
                              • I am shocked
                                I can not believe people actually pay for this site. It is like paying for Classmates when you have FB for free. I really do not get it. From Yelp, to Google, to a variety of free review sites all over the internet, being a member of this Angies list seems not only lame, but very stupid as well.
                              • ripoff
                                Angie's List is a rip-off. I signed up, paid my money, only to find out that it is hard to navigate, and then I can only find out about certain services, and have to pay more $ if I want to know about a caterer and a dentist, for example. What a rip-off, I'm embarrassed that I fell for it.
                              • Angie is a ripoff and liar
                                She says you can't pay to get on her list. I was told by them that as a painting contractor that I wouldn't get any work if I didn't pay. She charged me $300 per month and did not get me one job. If I cancelled it would cost me $900. Contractors don't waste your money. Better to do sponsored links. They were hard to work with and unreasonable. Once they get your card you are screwed.Run! Don't use them.
                              • False Advertising
                                I'd like to see a class action lawsuit against them for false advertising. They claim that no contractor pays to be on AL. This is a blatant lie. My former employer is a general contractor. I told him AL was a scam. When his advertising contract came up for renewal, I urged him not to waste the money on AL. He ignored my advice and paid them $12,000 to be at the top of their listings for a year. The funny thing is that this contractor is unethical, violates all sorts of laws, and yet he's "endorsed" by Angie's List as the cream of the crop. Why anyone wouldn't simply go to Yelp is beyond me.
                                • Just claim lost card
                                  Just call CC company and tell them you lost your card. They will issue you a new one with a new number.
                                • Almost a complete scam
                                  I have been paying for this service for almost 6 months not and generated $0 income. Here is what they do not tell you: No matter how much you pay, your number of good reviews is what gets you customers. I have less reviews than my competitors so they said you will be above them if you pay us. While this is true, all business goes to the companies that has the largest number of good reviews. So what is the point of paying for advertising? If you have many good reviews customers will be calling you. If you do not, and you pay for advertising, customers will be skipping you and calling the companies with the most reviews. There is a 35% cancellation policy (any company that has this knows they have a bad product). When I called for help, they tried to sell me MORE advertising saying what I am paying for does not work for me so I need to pay for a "Store Front" advertising as well!! Crazy people! In short, it was a very costly mistake.:mad:
                                  • reply
                                    Yes newspapers don't run ads for free but most online sites do. They also don't charge you more than just the one time ad fee no fees to be the top ad or have special bold font...newspapers also dont build business by claiming to be free when they are not.
                                  • Wrong Issue
                                    The issue here is not cheap customers paying for access. It is a customer being told a fee is one thing then being billed a higher amount with no warning. A company guessing your new expiration date. A company who runs their whole business on the claim of companies not being able to pay their way up. Yet they do.
                                  • How many folks are having issues with Angies list referral services?
                                    Hello there folks, How many folks are having issues with Angies list referral services? On or about a year ago today a representative solicited a call to me for a three month trial to Angies list referral service. Although I thanked him for his time and informed him my sons do my advertising on line as they are both web designers, he still persisted saying what have you to lose, he said please give us an opportunity for three months to earn your trust, if you are not 100 percent satisfied simply cancel. He was pushy but courteous and polite, so I agreed. After the three months I inform an Angies list rep by phone I wished to cancel their services. They said that hated to see go and that the fella who contacted me was no longer with them however they would honor his commitment. It has been over a year with a minimum of 5 phone calls to Angie list representative along with at least 4 managers all of whom have assured me that my listing and billings would be canceled. Angies list continued to bill me through my Visa credit card. I have filed fraud with Bank of America 3 times and have finally had to resort to canceling a visa card to finally stop the fraud and harassment from Angies list referral service. I have now received a letter from collection agencies which states I owe Angies list $200 dollars for past services. I have been in Business for 30 years and have yet to stumble on or be conned and cheated and annoyed to this nature, which borders on criminal and fraud. How many other small business owner have suffered the same type of harassment case such as mine and are there any attorneys willing to open a class action suit against Angies list if so please contact me. It not the money I am concerned with it’s the fraud which goes far beyond the measurement in money in true and honest business practices. Kirk Giordano
                                    • Angies list doesn't care-adds con movers
                                      In 2009 I hired R & M Moving company and Angie Morris at keller williams realty which were both scams,Ms Morris did not advise me that this moving company was thieves and liars. R & M moving company owner Rose's husband had 5 prior felonies that I did not know, dealing in stolen property, burglary of a residence, grand theft of a firearm, marijuana charges and burglary. The moving company is now with an A rating.These companies took my belongings, laughed in my face when I was signing the check and takes advantage of people. Florida is not a good place to hire some moving compainies. R & M moving company lied to the police and could care less about the customer all about money, greed and disrespect. Do not hire them as angies list is also corrupt. Do the packing yourself. These type of companies should be in jail/Rikers prison
                                      • Angie's List is a Rip-Off
                                        I have never understood why anyone would pay to use Angie's list when you can get local reviews for free on sites like Kudzu and Yelp!
                                      • Rip off
                                        I was under the impression that once you signed up and paid you would have access to everything on their site. Wrong. I have to pay an extra $15 to see reviews of the medical professionals in my own city-when I tried to access them it says the health block of my city I couldn't access. I emailed them to cancel my subscription and I plan on calling them tomorrow to tell them what I think.
                                      • The case has merit
                                        A $49 million loss on revenues of $90 million for what is essentially a virtual internet-based business? Something does not add up there. I would add that, according to my own experience, Angie's list is guilty of questionable practices. It kept my credit card number on file without being authorized to do so, and I had to demand that they purge it when I found out about it. This is not acceptable.
                                      • Why pay for it?
                                        Why in the world would anyone pay to express their opinion about someone? Sounds crazy to me. No wonder Angie's List isn't profitable. I'm surprised they've made a cent. How often do you need to get a recommendation on a firm, anyway? Not often, I'll bet.
                                      • AL credit card update
                                        Holy Crap! Because of this story I went back and read every word of the Terms and Conditions on Angie's List. You're correct. We are in credit card prison thanks to Angie. Even if you don't change your expiration date with them they will change it for you, probably guessing until they get it right. Now there is credit card fraud!!
                                        • A Much Needed Service
                                          Angie's List has lead me to several excellent businesses I otherwise wouldn't have found. This is the first place I look when I need any kind of work done, services, even products. Too many times I've been screwed by plumbers and other service related companies. So far I have no problem with Angie's List. I hope they continue as such. Conversely, I wouldn't be shocked if they went greedy and I had to drop them. This is the way of business.
                                        • Free Advertising
                                          I think it's funny you complain about paying for advertising then calling it a scam. Do you work for free? Try asking the YP or newspapers to run an ad for you for free?
                                          • Wisernow
                                            Thanks to all of the above. You have confirmed my suspicion that Angie's list is a ripoff. I will continue to ask neighbors and tell them when I am pleased with a service.
                                          • Angie's List is not for me
                                            I have years of experience with Angie's List as a local plumber in Seattle. They have gotten money out of me and gave nothing in return except much trouble from customers that tend to be pretty passive aggressive. Angie's List get paid on both ends - Any contractor listing you see is only visible to you if the contractor is paying Angie's List through the nose. My cost for Angie's List "hot leads" was $300 each. Testing Angie's List cost me $7000 over two years. While paying such high costs for leads may work for a major construction project , it won't work for a service call where we charge by the 1/4 hour. Google clicks have gotten as high as $38 per click here in Seattle when the search term used is "plumber" or "plumbing". On the average it takes 15 clicks to get a call. Do the math on the cost to the guy ringing your doorbell. Angie's List cost per job performed was 75% of my company's average invoice total (about $400). My company does over a thousand jobs a year. Any homeowner service using this advertising method is paying way too much to maintain any integrity in the service. This type of advertising creating an incredible amount of pressure to convert to a commission-based high profit business model for basic traditional services. If I pay Angies List hundreds of dollars just to ring your doorbell how can I treat you fairly when your plumbing problem requires an hours work? I can't so I cancelled my advertising contract with Angies List. Angie's List uses a unique money making model that actually is a kind of pyramid scheme. They put all the local harvested contractors into their listings but you only will call highly rated ones. In order to be highly rated you must pay Angie Thousands of dollars a year for position in order to be seen AND time in grade is required to accumulate favorable reviews. Only a dozen or so can be in that position. The homeowner only calls the ones at the top so all new advertisers must invest thousands on continuing annual contracts to play the game on Angie's List. My solution was to put up a free local business directory with the policy of no shills, no fake listings, no paid advertising just so my neighbors and the local small businesses here in Seattle could find each other. (www.SeattleOnly.com) It may take a while for the new directory to get any real traffic as it is dependent upon local participation by local businesses and consumers. In my opinion, it is time for both local business and consumers to get control over how we find our services and customers as the marketers are hijacking the business to consumer relationship and forcing costs so high that nobody can bear the costs. Question: Why should we need out-of-state corporations to connect homeowners to services down the street? Surely there is a simple, inexpensive way for us to know our neighbors and small businesses. We all need to put a little thought and effort in that direction.
                                          • Proof is in the Pudding
                                            No profit since 1995 - END OF STORY! Wile E. Coyote will catch the roadrunner before this company is successful. Ever heard of Yelp, Google, or Yahoo? If Angie's List showed any signs of profitability, they would swoop in and offer the exact same service for FREE, thus sinking Angie back into oblivion. I'm not a fan of giant companies bullying everybody, but it is reality. This stock will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, be worth buying. EVER
                                          • First Page
                                            My company is regularly on the first page for our category search, almost consistently. While we get several, and I do mean SEVERAL, sales calls from AL to advertise with them, we have never paid them a dime. We instead use their FREE paper review sheets, hand them out to every client, and ask them to submit, whether they are pleased with our work or not. Yes folks, free, snail mail, actual pieces of paper, that you print, from a printer, can be mailed in by the consumer, and that consumer does not need to be member to do this. So that means, a company that pays $0 and a consumer that pays $0 to AL, can rank a contractor high enough to be on the first page almost daily. Get your facts straight people before falling victim to the AL hate hype. Now granted, we do not have a membership, (I am a GC and know the right contractors already), but the higher prices in the mature markets make sense. If a consumer is buying into a mature program with hundreds of thousands of ratings in their markets, they can and should pay more than a consumer buying into a new market with far less ratings, as the service is worth less in the new market.
                                            • Angie's List Nightmare
                                              I was charged a year or so ago through the Angie's List automatic renewal program--and the fee was just as others have described--much higher than my original membership fee. They had added onto the basic fee an additional charge for medical reviews that I had not requested. I called them to get it straightened out and it took months. I made at least five phone calls to their company to get it reversed. At one point, after refunding the original charge, instead of charging the actual price, they made up a number, based on the last four digits of my credit card number and charged me that amount! It was ludicrous. From the time they went public, their service went south. I told them I would write a bad review of their company through their own system if I could. I did threaten them with a bad review on Facebook and suddenly they were able to address the problem. I requested a free six-month membership for my pain and suffering and they gave it to me.
                                            • Look at this shiny object
                                              Interesting that another Angie's List employee would make another pitch for the company while skirting the issue. What was the title of the article?????
                                            • Read and ask questions people. Use your noggins before you go knockin.
                                              I've been a member for more than years. It has saved me thousands by finding the right contractors and avoiding the problems that I experienced prior to being a member. Time and again when I have funny feelings about a contractor, those feelings are validated when I see a terrible rating on Angie's List and read the detailed reviews submitted by other members. I then use the list to find the best and have NEVER had a problem selecting from the first page of search results online or using providers listed in the monthly magazine. A lot of the complaints listed in this message post could easily be resolved if consumers were smarter (as Angie's List attempts to enable you to be) and would read. You should always read any agreement before clicking through online or signing. In regard to Angie's List, you would see their auto-renewal policy as well as instructions for opting out of it by emailing your request or calling them. I prefer to talk to a live person, so I opted out of auto-renewal in a phone call years ago, and now I receive a letter each year in the mail that states my options and costs. I review my options and consistently decide that the small $60ish yearly fee is well worth it to avoid flying blind when hiring someone to do work in my home. With all the robberies, murder, home invasions, and other shady crime out there ever increasing, you have to be VERY careful about who has access to your property and belongings, and my home and safety are not something I’m willing to risk. Also, Angie’s List clearly posts policies on reporting as well as paid advertising. Any company who maintains a positive rating and a minimum number of recent reports can opt to advertise. This is paid marketing. From what is stated online and in Angie’s List’s own magazine, these providers must maintain a positive rating (A or B, as averaged by verified member reports), and if their rating falls – their ad is pulled. I’ve seen this happen. Angie’s List will also help you if you have a problem with a company and they post their excellent results for all to see. It is by far the most unbiased ratings service I’ve used, and the fact that a provider can see who is reporting on them brings more credibility because the reports can be verified. “CatLady85” can’t go in and file false negative or positive reviews anonymously, because a name and contact info can be verified by the company and by Angie’s List. I’ve even had providers call me after reading one of my reports to thank me for taking the time to submit feedback, and also to offer resolution to minor issues I’ve noted in my feedback. You have to remember the difference is you are paying for quality. FREE sites out there are funded by the companies on those lists, which is why they are free to you. Any company can be rated on Angie’s List without paying a dime, it is up to you as the consumer whether you use an Angie’s company that advertises over one who has a good rating but does not advertise. All are listed with detailed reviews from members who have used them. It sounds like some of you are confusing Angie with the BBB. I used to own a business and the BBB would always tell us how if we paid our $400+/yr we would NEVER be in bad standing with them. Not so with Angie. A friend of mine used to advertise with Angie, he was a roofer, but had a few bad crews over several consecutive seasons and negative reviews stacked up. This was during hail damage, when many local contractors were forced to take on subs to keep up with the work. He was paying Angie’s List more than $10,000/yr for his advertising and they pulled his ad because his rating fell and he was not able to resolve some of the issues. I believe he is since back in good standing and advertising again, but I will have to sign-on and check his current rating to be sure. He never said an ill word of Angie’s List, only that he would be more careful of who he hired for his crews to get his rating back up and keep it there. From my personal experience, their call center is staffed by some of the most friendly Indianapolis residents with strong focus on customer service. If you ever have questions or trouble finding what you need online, they will give you names and contact info of companies for your need right over the phone. You can even share feedback with them by phone and they’ll do the typing for you! Sure, things have changed a bit over the years, as with any company as they grow. However, they haven’t skimped on customer service in their call center and are always looking to improve. They’ve made many improvements to their site and magazine over the years, many as a direct results of member suggestions. Take your chances with hiring strangers if you like… Or, choose to be an informed consumer. I prefer the latter. I’m happy to keep paying the small membership fee to find excellent tradesman and avoid the headaches that I read about in the experiences of others. Fortunately, the headaches and financial losses I’ve experienced due to poor tradesman are now a distant memory. I promise you, once you’ve had a bad experience and feel ripped off in the slightest, you’ll understand the value in spending $60/yr to avoid those types of feelings and troubles. Best to you all.
                                              • Hello Mr Morrison
                                                J. C. Morrison. That doesn't ring a bell. I've been in the local business area for a while. I've not heard of you in the area. Do you need a few reports? I can help you. Interesting that you are so pro (with some hinted "balance") Angie's List. You are even gathering helpful information for them. Mr Moooooooooorison ...
                                              • Typical Indiana co.
                                                Chalk up another white collar fraud under the watch of Mitch Daniels. You voted for him, deal with it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! has he returned the Durham donation yet???? NO!
                                              • Objective?
                                                I once gave a contractor a B rating and shortly thereafter the contractor called me to complain about my rating. I was appalled that Angies List provided my contract information to contractor.
                                              • Alternatives
                                                Try Buzzjoy.net. Local owners with great ideas, growing like crazy from honest feedback, no fees to be at the top you have to earn it.
                                              • whitewashing
                                                Oh, they absolutely do whitewash bad reviews. Twice I had critical reviews of companies with "A" ratings that seemed to be their "favorites." Both times, my reviews were never posted. This includes once where, at the same time, I posted critical reviews of the company and the subcontractor - only the one for the subcontractor ever showed up! That, combined with their unscrupulous auto-renew policies, made me say "Angie's List: F."
                                              • Sympathetic
                                                We are long time members dating back to the original Unified Neighbors days. We've noticed over the Angie's List years a culture change toward being more mercenary and profit motivated, less service oriented. Reminds us of our experience with satellite radio for our car where it is very difficult to cancel once they have your credit card number.
                                              • Fair Warning
                                                I warned people, over and over, that Angie's List was a scam. Angie looks into the camera and swears "No one can pay to be on Angie's List" and that is totally misleading. I was told by an Angie's List Employee that I would need to "pay more" if I wanted my company listing to appear on the first page of inquiry when someone is seeking a recommendation for a contractor. The whole sales pitch had the same odor as a ripe out-house on a hot July Evening. This is one court case I would love to attend, but I am guessing it will be settled out of court, so the facts can be buried from public view. If you own stock in this company, you were directed down a pathway that separates a fool from his or her money. Subscribers got hosed, contractors who were dumb enough to pay for their name to appear on the first page of recommended contractors truly deserved to get hosed, stockholders got hosed, and now the general public will hear the rest of the proverbial story. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
                                              • Irony
                                                I appreciate the irony of the banner ad letting everyone know Angie Hicks is speaking at the Women of Influence recognition breakfast.
                                              • Local Contractor
                                                I understand the concerns regarding the membership fees, which to me seem exorbitant. That being said, there is a lot of competition for the contractors, and I doubt if anyone has been able to "jack-up prices" because of their reviews on Angie's List. My clients have reviewed my work and have provided truthful reviews and some helpful criticisms. I hope that you will be objective in your critiques of the vendors being reviewed. I have never heard of Angie's List white washing any critical review. I am not saying it can't happen, as their are unscrupulous people working in every industry, I just am not aware of this as a normal practice at this company. Also remember that as a vendor, we are outsiders looking in, and are kept at an arms length when it comes to client reviews and our responses to them. We are held suspect until we can prove we did the job correctly, on time and on budget. Members have what seems to be an automatic innocence, while the accused an automatic guilt until proven otherwise. That is as it should be. I wonder if there are any suggestions for how such a service could be improved?
                                                • Angie List Mystery?
                                                  The implication that AList endorsements or critiques are not trust-worthy suddenly brings a question to my mind on an incident that happened to me within last 2 years--as follows: I had massive slate roof,copper gutter damages in hail-storm and my insurance company (in the past trustworthy)did not want to pay the very high ($180,000 plus estimates I got from local,trust-worthy slate-copper expert companies--and kept pressuring me to use a company they recommended--local,name begins with a C but I am omitting. Finally, I gave in and accepted adjuster's recommendations BUT STUPIDLY WITHOUT CHECKING THE ROOFER WITH BBB OR ANGIE--!!! Within the first weeks I was so shocked at C------Roofing's lies, shoddy untrained illegal workers that I STOPPED THE WORK, demanded and got expert proof the firm was a}on the very lowest D list or whatever with Angie's because of multiple complaints of illegal or dishonest sub-contracting, misrepresentations of slate quality, on and on.Then I checked and found 37 law suits or complaints on file--demanded and got intervention via my insurance company --but by then I was trapped into letting the shoddy roofer finish but only under protest because by this point no reputable roofing co. would assume the liability. I now have a shoddy $110,000 slate,gutter nightmare because even with 2 yr. warranty I WOULD NEVER HAVE C------ROOFERS BACK ON MY PROPERTY. But until this story, I never questioned why when I first called Angie List to check they shared the negative rating and even documented law suits filed on problems identical to my own--WHICH FORTUNATELY I GOT IN WRITING! Yet when I called again short time later A.List responded it had "no information" on this very same company and would NOT confirm what it had provided both verbally and in writing on this firm's misdeeds and miserable record and complaints!! I was puzzled then--but now wonder even more why a firm was black listeed with validated complaints --and only weeks later white-washed perhaps. Any one out there able to explain or ?
                                                  • We deserve better
                                                    This practice started under Scott Brenton the former COO. Its illegal and I was suprised the "company" would do it for short term dollars at that type of risk. Now how about those tax dollars that were spent on what Bill had no problem saying - "additional revenue for advertising" on a stage with the Gov Daniels and the mayor. We spent $24 million of our much needed revenue on a ponzi scheme that is sure to fail. Gov Daniels is hiding out at Purdue. Where is Bill going to go?
                                                  • Funny..
                                                    ...that Angie Hicks shows up in the ad on the left margin as the featured speaker for the upcoming Women of Influence breakfast.
                                                  • HISTORY question?
                                                    I am stunned at not just IBJ story but of the additional damaging (but totally credible) email commenhts which in themselves provide grist for an IBJ followup--so here is some history which may be foggy but: Long ago a man named Bill Corbin started a homespun service UNIFIED NEIGHBORS, which is exactly the service which Angie's List purports to offer (if my memory is correct.) It not only grew under Corbin but actually won some media awards for its objective and well-documented consumer protection-service but I don't recall the exact years. Then when Angie's List emerged (again year uncertain) I assumed it was based on or somehow linked to Unified Neighbors, hence I subscribed annually for what was a modest subscription fee (don;t remember) and kept paying yearly noting but not really thinking about the fee growth. I was shocked recently when my subscription had to be changed to a new address at the $70 I think fee--but even more shocked at the facts these user comments reflect. Can IBJ followup and clarify? Or does any reader know the genesis of Angie re Unified Neighbors? Perhaps a story in itself?
                                                  • Angie's List is a SCAM
                                                    If you think paying $30-$60 for membership fees is bad, try paying the $30,000.00 they want companies to pay to be on their list & to advertise with them! Angie’s List is a SCAM, you have to PAY to be on their list plus you have to PAY to advertise & you have to PAY to be a member…..It’s just a money making SCAM!!!
                                                    • Bad reviews
                                                      From the comments below and the calss action lawsuit, I wonder if analysts will change their expectations. This sounds like a recipe for disaster. It may be that to meet analyst's predictions, the company had to change its business model, part of which includes increasing fees without proper disclosure and offering customers the opportunity to opt out.
                                                    • also heard...
                                                      I've also heard that if a vendor pays $400 he will appear in the beginning of a member's search. I haven't been very impressed with Angies List and I've been a member for two years. Just because they have good reviews, vendors think they can jack up their prices. If they get bad ones, they can reopen under a different name.
                                                    • Membership is too expensive
                                                      I am a longtime Indiana subscriber. I just checked my bank account on line and discovered I had been charged $88.50 for a renewal membership which is exhorbitant. I will be cancelling my membership.
                                                    • Are you familiar with Quickbooks subscription?
                                                      This sounds like busineess models from operations like Intuit. Not commenting on the legal status or method .. the fine print is critical, but not widely read or understandable by the "users" repair-persons etc .. who make use of the service ..this is a hard one ..
                                                    • Tip of the Iceberg
                                                      I have been a member of Angie's List since their first enrollment and was pleased for the first several years to be able to have 'insider' screening of vendors and felt the candid information was worth more than the membership fee. In recent years, Angie's began disclosing the identity of reviewers (without notification or permission) when requested by the vendor, so that leaving negative comments leaves us vulnerable to hostility and/or retaliation by said vendors. Their main revenues seem to be derived from the vendor ads and coupons - and the List now sorts by the coupon offers unless the member changes it to another type of sort. Also worrisome is the denied ability to delete credit card information from ones account in the on-line "My Account" option. You may change the card information, but cannot delete and/or eliminate the auto-renew. I have supported this local business for its entire existence, but can no longer justify doing so.

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