By Jim Fitzgerald

Cincinnati, Ohio – Long before we ever had a business, my wife and I belonged to Angie’s List as consumers.

[Full Disclosure: Now that we have our own business, we have a business listing on Angie’s List, and we buy advertising from them. And, every year we’ve been in business, we’ve been named a Super Service Award winner in one or more flooring categories. However, we are not compensated by Angie’s List in any way for anything, including blogging about them. They have no idea, as far as we know, that we are even writing this blog post. We do admit that we are big fans of Angie’s List.]

Back when we were in the corporate world, we would be transferred every few years. Repeatedly finding ourselves in a new city where we hardly knew anyone, we faced a daunting challenge whenever we needed a repair person. It was scary.

So we joined Angie’s List as consumers way back in 2004. We’ve had wonderful luck with our service people ever since. As a rule, we only use highly rated Angie’s List businesses. The customer reviews have turned out to be remarkably accurate.

By using the List, we’ve never hired an incompetent or crooked home services person, and that’s saying something. The the Better Business Bureau says there are more complaints in home services than in any other BBB category.

Why is Angie’s List so reliable? I think it has do to with their two-Website approach. That’s right, Angie’s List actually has two Web sites. One is the consumer Web site. The other is the business-owners’ Web site.

When a consumer submits a review using the consumer Web site, Angie’s List first thoroughly examines it to verify its legitimacy.

Then, Angie’s List sends the review to the business-owners’ Web site. This version of the review includes the consumer’s name and address.  (Consumer’s are told on their Web site that the business being reviewed will be told who they are.)

The business person, on their Web site, can check to make sure the review is from an actual client. And, the business person can write a “company response.” The business person submits this response to Angie’s List for examination.

Only after this second examination is the review posted to the consumer Web site for all to see. (Of course the name and address of the consumer are removed from this published review since the consumer Web site is very public.)

Because of this unique approach (I assume it’s patented) it is difficult if not impossible to submit an anonymous review through Angie’s List.

As another safeguard, it is against the Terms of Service for a business to compensate a customer in any way for their review. Businesses aren’t even allowed to buy an Angie’s List membership for their customers. The customer has to buy their own membership.

Is it still possible to get fake reviews on the list? Probably. No system is foolproof. However, I believe the fake reviews are few and far between.

I also believe that Angie’s List has done something almost miraculous: it has made the work of home services guys absolutely transparent.

In the old days, a home remodeler could rip you off and only your friends and family would hear about it. Now, how a home remodeler treats you can be reported to all of the Angie’s List subscribers in the area.

For the Cincinnati metropolitan area, the last time I checked, that’s about 80,000 households.

By the way, here is a cool trick to ensure you get outstanding service: just tell the service person that you are an Angie’s List member. Suddenly that person gets the feeling that 80,000 local households are looking over his shoulder!

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If you live in the Cincinnati, Ohio, metro area and would like an award-winning flooring company to assist you in finding the floor of your dreams, please call our 24-hour appointment desk at 513-729-7499. We look forward to working with you.

If you are in another part of the country, there is probably a Floor Coverings International near you.

Jim Fitzgerald is the marketing director of  Floor Coverings International, Cincinnati East, located in Cincinnati, Ohio.