One of the most unexpected ‘gets’ of our pre-departure life has been the addition of “Angie’s List.” You’ve surely seen the commercials (or fast forwarded through them).
With Angie’s List, consumers rate merchants and craftsmen. Nothing unusual there, except Angie’s List is a subscription service. That makes all the difference! It’s less likely competitor will trash competitor or a business will artificially pump it’s ranking, because doing so has a substantial monetary cost.
The Internet meme: when a service doesn’t charge, you are the product not the customer, applies here. You’re paying Angie. You’re the customer.
Yelp, for example, works the opposite way. Consumers get to leave and use the reviews for free, while Yelp sells advertising.
From eater.com: A Freedom of Information act request filed with the FTC has resulted in the release of nearly 700 complaints against Yelp over the past four years. The FTC blocked any identifying information from coming through, so it’s unclear who filed these complaints. What is clear? Plenty of restaurant owners are really, really, really mad at Yelp. Restaurants filed complaints accusing the company of filtering out positive reviews (thus skewing their ratings), of harassing them to buy advertising, of refusing to pull libelous reviews, and a whole lot more.
Here’s what we’ve found so far. When we choose based on Angie’s List reviews and let the merchant know how we found them, they consistently relate how good Angie’s been for business.
It’s also immediately obvious Angie’s List is a two edged sword. They understand Angie can take away as quickly as she gives. Once you get a taste of that extra business you don’t want to lose it.
Maybe we’re naive, but so far this seems like a good investment. We are heading to a city where we know few and no one knows us. Hopefully Angie will help.