Now that we've introduced what Angie's List is and given you an overview of its costs, let's tackle the big question: should you add Angie's List to your own personal list of information tools, or cross it off instead? Here are some points to consider, in order to help you decide.
Find all kinds of help in your area — Angie's List has listings for all kinds of different local service businesses, such as plumbers, veterinarians, painters, dentists, massage therapists, car repairers, and more!
Comprehensive reviews written by real people — Forget anonymous, polarized reviews that could have been written by company shills or competitors with a grudge. All reviews are written by paying subscribers or verified outside parties who have hired those companies before, and include in-depth ratings of a business in five key categories of service.
Hire help right from Angie's List… sometimes at a discount! — Some businesses on Angie's List will allow you to purchase their services right from their company page. You can also check out the "Big Deals" section to see who is offering services in your area; if you're an Angie's List subscriber, many of these services come at discounts of up to 70%!
You have to pay to get on the list — Though you can set up a business profile on Angie's List and browse the "Big Deals" section for free, if you want access to the directory of businesses and reviews for them, you have to buy a subscription.
Large gaps between subscription tiers — On top of the fact that you have to pay just to use it, Angie's List has three different subscription tiers that offer significantly different features. For example, if you go with just the basic-tier plan, you won't be able to look at healthcare-related businesses and their reviews, you will have limited customer service options, and you won't be able to look for businesses or reviews outside of the local area that you indicated when you signed up.
Made for the U.S.A. — Most businesses found on Angie's List are from the United States, and it is difficult (if not impossible) to create an account if you don't live in America. This is because Angie's List requires ZIP codes for many of its functions, and often won't accept other types of mailing codes.
The bottom line: 7/10
Angie's List is a difficult website to rate because, while it's good at what it does, whether you will find it useful or not depends largely on your social circumstances. The fact that all reviews are comprehensive and non-anonymous lets you get a better sense of what companies that you find on Angie's List are like, as opposed to a generic star-rating and either a few lines of praise or a long-winded angry rant. Plus, the ability to hire companies right from Angie's List — and often get a huge discount when doing so — is pretty nice. This is especially because you don't have to wait for other people to buy the same service before you get the discount, unlike on many other deal-of-the-day websites.
On the other hand, the fact that you have to pay just to use Angie's List can be a turn-off (although they are allegedly looking at revising this policy), especially when there are quality free websites like Angie's List, such as HomeAdvisor (for home improvement), out there. Also, the basic-tier services are pretty limited compared to what you get in plus-tier and premium-tier accounts, which cost significantly more money ($4-$21 for basic accounts, $30-$66 for plus accounts, and $60-$120 for premium accounts). And unless you live in the United States, you aren't going to find many local businesses on Angie's List, if you can even get an account on the website at all. If you live in Canada like us, for example, you may want to look into Houzz.com to solve this dilemma (assuming that you need help with home renovation or repair, which these sites specialize in).
Overall, if you have a small social circle that doesn't include many people or companies (or people who know people or companies) that you can rely on to do work that you need done, then Angie's List can save you a lot of time, money, and frustration. However, if you already have a core group of local businesses and acquaintances that you trust to deliver when you need a service performed, then Angie's List might not be worth the price of admission.
Of course, that's just our opinion. If you'd like to see how Angie's List works for yourself before you make a decision, then carry on with our course by learning how to sign up for Angie's List in our next tutorial.