Risky Business: Angi’s Biggest Problem Is Itself—But Is It Worth Trying?

Hiring contractors to work on your home can be an overwhelming task, and Angi.com promises to make it easier. But does it?

By Meghan Wentland | Published May 31, 2022 2:58 PM

Angi Review

Photo: depositphotos.com

Leaky sinks. Overflowing toilets. Rotted deck boards. Anyone who owns a home or lives in a space they own and need to maintain knows the list of things to do can be endless. Even for handy people, going to the home improvement store for supplies and finding the time to prep, perform, and clean up after these everyday maintenance tasks—never mind larger projects like window replacement or patio building—can seem impossible, and for those who aren’t DIY types, it can be tough to even know where to start. Angi, a ZIP code–based directory of professionals in dozens of categories across the country, promises to make the search for professionals simple and easy. It provides the information customers will need to make an educated choice and facilitates the quote process, hiring, and payment processes. To test the accuracy of these claims, I approached Angi from a customer’s perspective and searched for professionals who could tackle projects that need to be completed in my home: carpet replacement, plaster ceiling repair, and a one-time house cleaning.

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At A Glance

Angi Review
Photo: angi.com

Our Verdict: Angi.com can help clients find the contractors they need with no fuss through a platform that is easier to use and far more informative than the old-fashioned yellow pages or a random internet search. While Angi is a great resource for those who want to hire excellent local services and support small businesses, there are some pain points throughout the customer journey, and clients should understand the risk they may be taking when hiring through the platform.

SPECS

  • Type of service: Everyday, outdoor, exterior, interior, renovations
  • Scheduling: Online
  • Service area: 50 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Guarantee: Varies by provider
  • Customer support: Phone

PROS

  • Customers can filter by project and choose from local professionals
  • Customers can obtain quotes or bids within minutes
  • Streamlined and user-friendly website and app
  • Comprehensive resource center organized by project type

CONS

  • Name, phone number, and email are required to browse local services
  • Persistent follow-up emails and calls

Angi Review: Claims

Angi promises assistance in matching homeowners seeking services with the local professionals who are best suited to meet their needs. Offering service nationwide, the website provides an easy-to browse interface that is organized by project type—or for those who would rather get started right away, it offers a simple “Tell Us What You Need” series of questions that will lead the user right where they need to go, regardless of whether the project is a small repair or a major renovation. The service is free, unless users choose to upgrade to the loyalty program for enhanced services and discounts.

The company also offers a platform for service professionals to register with Angi and become Angi Pros. It becomes a platform for professionals to advertise, generate leads, book, schedule, and be paid for services while maintaining their online profile and controlling what potential customers see. The platform offers quantitative metrics to maximize advertising, along with space to post photos of completed work, solicit reviews, and receive push notifications when customers have expressed interest.

Angi Review Photo 1 - Landing Page

Photo: angi.com

Angi vs. Angie’s List

Angi began as Angie’s List. For 25 years, Angie’s List existed as an online directory of contractors available to perform services inside and outside the home. The space permitted users to submit reviews, but beyond that, Angie’s List was just that—a list. Especially for homeowners who weren’t necessarily familiar with what they needed or how to evaluate a potential contractor, the list was helpful, but it really only covered the first steps in recruiting help on a project.

In March 2021, following the home improvement boom fueled by the pandemic, Angie’s List rebranded as Angi. It transformed into a more complete platform for customer inquiries and needs, including parts of the customer journey it hadn’t developed up until that point such as scheduling, booking, and payment. For contractors, it included a business management service.

Also noteworthy is the Angi and HomeAdvisor merger. In 2017, then-named Angie’s List acquired HomeAdvisor and both companies were brought under one umbrella. The ANGI Homeservices, Inc. parent company settled on keeping the name of the company (though altering it slightly) due to brand recognition. Essentially, this brought two service bases together to meet the needs of more people, reach a larger audience and pool, and provide even more services to clients and customers.

What You Can Book on Angi

Nearly every type of professional you would need for work on a property is available through Angi. Painters, builders, and house cleaners, and even some of the best home organizers are available to provide quotes.

Menus branch down through categories: for example, drywall and electrical servicing can all be located under the larger umbrella category of “Interior,” while deck repair, for example, is found under “Exterior.” “Lawn and Garden” covers, as the name suggests, any services related to the lawn and garden along with land surveying and pool installation. A miscellaneous “More” category demonstrates the range of project size: basketball hoop installation, junk hauling, and septic tank service and replacement sit side by side there.

Angi is a great place to search for professionals to work on small projects or projects for which the services available tend to have a more restricted, more local service area (as opposed to having a national presence). Some of the best mattress cleaning services, best basement waterproofing services, best lawn mower repair services, best power power washing companies, and best deck repair companies can be found on Angi. In the “Lawn and Garden” category, the best poison ivy removal services, best sod installation companies, best tree removal services, and best gardening services can also be found based on one’s zip code.

How It Works

Customers have several options for finding a contractor. Angi presents searchable categories, popular projects, and articles to help customers decide what they might need. The easiest path to a contractor match is to answer the question “How can we help?” on the landing page. The site will gather information from the customer, match the customer’s needs and location with its database, and offer local contractors that seem to fit. Customers can read about individual contractors, read reviews, check on the contractors’ licensing and specializations, and click to request quotes from individual contractors or Angi’s selections.

Angi Review Photo 2 -How it Works description

Photo: angi.com

Each contractor on the results list includes contact information, licensing information, and any specialties the contractor offers. Angi also has helpful badges and notations, letting customers know if the contractor is new to Angi, if they’re an Angi Approved business (which means their service is verified and well-ranked), or if they are Angi Certified. Angi Certified is the highest ranking Angi offers: It indicates that the contractor maintains an average rating of three stars or higher in customer reviews, that the business’s owner or principal has passed a background check within the last 2 years and upholds all appropriate state licensing requirements. Only an Angi Certified business can pay the platform to advertise services and discounts.

As customers consider the different professionals, they can read customer reviews of each contractor that are vetted by Angi. Each submitted review is verified; the service checks the review for authenticity, publishes only reviews of clients that Angi confirms actually hired the professional in question, and publishes reviews regardless of whether they present a positive or negative picture of the contractor. Reviewers must provide contact information to Angi when submitting a review, though that information is not necessarily published.

Should the customer choose Angi’s Contractor, a selection at the top of the list simply called “Angi Appliance Repairs,” “Angi Handyman Service,” or “Angi Painter,” for example, they can book online immediately (without waiting for a response) and pay a refundable deposit. Angi will then locate a recommended contractor who can work with the dates the customer has requested, book the service, and handle the payment through Angi Pay, a credit card or a digital wallet, or finance the cost through Affirm, a partner website that allows customers to stretch financing over 6 months. Booking and paying through Angi provides access to the Happiness Guarantee, which provides limited coverage in case there’s a problem with the work.

It is then up to the contractors to email or call the customer with quotes for the job. Contractors may request more information or require a visit to take measurements and look at the job before committing to a quote. Customers then have the option to pay through Angi Pay or hire the contractor directly.

Business owners and contractors can create a free Angi Ads account to list information about their business. Angi provides a number of marketing tools and metrics to help business owners promote their services and transmits lead information when a customer selects the business for a quote. The business can then contact the customer to request more information and bid on the project. Pro accounts can also integrate with QuickBooks accounts to make bookkeeping simple.

Contractor Background Checks, Insurance, Training, and Certification

Angi provides information on licensing, certification, insurance, and training where available, and performs background checks on the principal or owner of any business that wishes to be listed as Angi Certified. In order to advertise or offer promotions or discounts on Angi, businesses must be Angi Certified, so this background check policy applies to many of the businesses on the service. Angi stipulates that the background checks are performed only on the business’s owner or principal, not on every employee of each business, and recommends that customers do their own legwork to inquire about each individual business’s background check policies before hiring. Angi also notes that the licensing and insurance information on their site is self-reported by the business, so customers should independently verify that information as well.

Membership and Cost

Angi provides two levels of membership. The first is a free membership, which provides no cost benefits but allows users to store project details, search details, and contacts with professionals on the website or app. The next option is the Angi Key membership, which costs $29.99 annually and offers a 20 percent discount on many services, online scheduling, exclusive members-only deals, and coverage under the Happiness Guarantee, which provides a limited guarantee on “Book Now” services up to the cost of the services plus limited damages.

Angi Review Photo 3 - angi.homeadvisor happiness guarantee

Photo: angi.com

These two options are available to new Angi subscribers. For those who held Green, Silver, and Gold memberships from the Angie’s List era, those memberships are still renewable with the benefits and costs indicated on their member service agreement. Those details are not available to non-legacy subscribers.

For business owners and contractors, Angi provides free listing but charges when leads are generated and transmitted to the business. The cost of the leads is variable, and there’s no set formula that is easy to access; contractors will need to speak with sales representatives to understand their specific costs. Payment for the leads is not related to whether or not the potential customer hires the contractor.

Customer Service

Angi’s Customer Support is offered via direct message through a membership, via telephone for those who have a Gold Membership, and through several FAQ pages organized by subject. Angi guarantees service that is booked and paid for through Angi, with limitations, after any damage has been covered by the customer’s homeowners or renters insurance. Claims must be filed within a certain time frame (timing depends on the type of project and how it was paid for) through an email-based claims process and review. Different guarantees are offered for Angi Project Advisor Services and HomeAdvisor Concierge services based on the service.

Putting Angi to the Test

In order to test Angi’s services, I requested quotes for three home projects. The first was a carpet replacement in three bedrooms, a hallway, and a staircase. The second was an unusual project: a plaster ceiling repair, which initially seems straightforward, but my home has 75-year- old radiant heat pipes embedded in the plaster ceiling, making the repair quite challenging. Finally, I inquired about a one-time whole-house cleaning.

Navigating Angi’s Website

The Angi.com home page prompted me to create an account. I initially bypassed this, and could execute a search, but without an account you can’t see the details of the contractors in the results list, so I backtracked and created a free account. The landing page offers many helpful options: I could simply type what I wanted into a search box, browse popular projects, click on project categories, browse current promotions or deals, or read advice and articles about common home projects and what they entail. There are handy project pricing guides that provide a rough price range for your project and offer a few local contractors who might provide the service. This array of options is very appealing: If a customer isn’t sure exactly what they’re looking for, there are plenty of places to look for ideas and guidance, but if they do know what their goal is, they’re able to bypass extras that might feel like a waste of time to peruse. It’s also a risky place for a homeowner to linger—as my eyes slid over the various projects, I kept thinking “Oh, that would be a good project to cross off the list…” as my mouse drifted toward clicking on projects that aren’t a priority. There are a lot of ideas, which is great, but that can lead to project creep, so be forewarned. I had to force myself back to using the search bar.

My search for carpeting replacement was straightforward. Angi’s interface guided me through a series of questions geared toward narrowing the focus of the search, which is commonly called the customer “funnel”: What is the time frame of the project? Was I project planning and budgeting, or ready to hire? How many rooms need carpet? How large are the rooms? To determine if I was just looking for installation or also looking to purchase the carpet, I was asked for clarification. Finally, I was presented a box into which I could type the details of the project request. After clicking through that box, Angi made a final request: The engine wanted my address, phone number, and email address. I will confess that I balked at this because while I had already entered my email address, I wasn’t sure I was ready for contractors to know my exact address and full contact info. This is a genuine concern for some people; someone looking for newer, safer windows and doors or a locksmith may not wish to announce the location of their currently less-than-secure home to a group of unknown businesses and unfamiliar faces. In the end, I entered a cell phone number and my street, but not the house number. I felt I could share the rest of the information with the contractor I hired. Then, up popped a list of contractors in my area.

Angi Review Photo 8 - request quotes.choose contractor

Photo: angi.com

The ceiling repair search was a little more complicated. “Ceiling repair” wasn’t initially an option among the service choices, so I searched for “ceiling repair replace,” but the results were completely unrelated. I switched to “ceiling” and got more targeted results, but the questions the engine asked were clearly collecting information about a drywall or acoustic ceiling, neither of which applied to my project. I clicked back to the search page (an easy single click) and found a category for plaster repair, which was the correct direction to choose. Because it was a repair, the first question was whether or not the repair was an emergency. Initially I said yes, which funneled the search directly to contractors with immediate availability. I didn’t actually need emergency repair, however, so I returned to the question and said “no.” The next questions covered water damage, the size of the area needing repair, the depth of the hole in question, and whether or not the job would be part of an insurance claim. When the box appeared inviting me to add detail, I specified the issue with the heat pipes and the plaster, and clicked to submit the response. Again, I entered my street name without the house number and shortly thereafter viewed a list of potential contractors.

The house-cleaning request followed a similar trajectory: The questions were specific (was this a move-out? Post-disaster? Recurring service? One-time clean?) and also addressed the frequency of cleanings and how many bedrooms and bathrooms would need to be cleaned.

Overall, the process for entering information was clear, specific, easy, and direct. As someone who tends to agonize over giving the most correct answer to a question, I appreciated the simplicity and the fact that in many cases there were a few preset answers to choose between.

In each case, the list of contractors the engine generated was headed by an Angi contractor, which provided an estimate of the service cost and an option to book right then and pay a deposit. Anyone who needs service ASAP may like this option, because it eliminates the need to wait to hear back from contractors with costs and quotes and lets Angi make the choice of the actual contractor for you. It’s streamlined and fast, and for many people this will be a great option that takes the hassle out of comparing the costs and schedules of several contractors against each other.

Angi Review Photo 5 - Save time, book with AngiAngi Review Photo 5 - Save time, book with Angi

Photo: angi.com

Underneath the Angi option were a couple of Angi Certified contractors, one or two Angi Approved contractors, and in two cases, a New to Angi contractor. Clicking on each of the contractors opened a window where I could read information about licensing and specialties in a consistent format that made it easy to compare. I was pleased in each case to see the names of contractors I recognize from local signage and work vans I’ve seen around the area; these aren’t no-name companies who have paid for widespread advertising and sponsorship. They’re small local business owners who in some cases actually live in my neighborhood, alongside small and larger chains or national companies that provide service across the country. While the list wasn’t extensive (initially), I appreciated that the engine had offered up the four or five contractors who best fit my needs. After I clicked on the contractors from whom I wanted quotes, I was offered the option of viewing a few more contractors to add to my list.

One drawback to the list: While the carpet cleaners and house cleaners were a mixed bag of large and small, local and national companies that all focused specifically on my projects, the ceiling repair list was a little more complicated. The first two listings were for plasterers, which was ideal. The rest were for drywall repair, and nowhere in the list of skills or experience did the listings mention plaster. This would be fine if I wanted the whole ceiling torn down and replaced with drywall, or if I wanted a drywall ceiling installed over the plaster, but I need the plaster repaired by a skilled plaster worker. I know there aren’t that many people who still do that kind of work, but I’d rather have two focused options than extra unrelated contractors thrown in to make the results list more substantial.

I received emails with quotes or inviting me to contact the contractors with more information within a day. Interestingly, I received more phone calls than emails: contractors left messages introducing themselves, giving me contact information, and explaining how they quote, schedule, and book. I spoke with several of the contractors and received quotes for services that were all within $25 to $30 of each other for the carpet replacement and cleaning (with the caveat that the carpet replacement cost would depend significantly on the grade of carpeting I selected, but the contractors were able to ballpark the cost based on my description of what I was looking for and said they’d write up a quote once I selected the products). One of the plasterers was scared off by my explanation of radiant heat (he’s not the first). The other asked if he could do some research and get back to me, which I agreed to—I’d rather have a contractor who wants to make sure they know what they’re doing before they accidentally puncture an aging copper pipe in a plaster ceiling. That’s the contractor I’ll go with. My dealings and conversations with all of the contractors were pleasant, prompt, and nonaggressive; they were happy to provide more information and set up meetings or have me text or email photos and measurements.

But Is Angi…Too Aggressive?

Angi, on the other hand, got pushy—quickly. At first I was surprised that the contractors were calling rather than emailing or messaging, and then I looked closer at my email inbox. I received no fewer than 16 emails from Angi in just over 24 hours. Several were offering coupons or discounts, but most of them were encouraging me to choose Angi’s Book Now service for my convenience and to let Angi do the work for me. Many began with “Still thinking about your…project?” Well, yes, I was, because it had been less than a day since I asked for quotes. Others were adding new professionals to my list of quote options.

It was, frankly, overwhelming. The email soliciting appeared aggressive to the point where it was almost off-putting. I visited the Email Preferences page to see if I could unsubscribe but found the only email I could choose not to receive was the Angi Newsletter. The barrage of emails made it very difficult to sort through to find the ones that contained actual information from contractors I had contacted, which was both annoying and counterproductive. After such a smooth search and quote request experience, the follow-ups felt like a waste of time that was hindering my contractor selection. I felt like it was not worth canceling my account over, because the service is genuinely useful, but I did create a new email address to use only for Angi and changed the contact information in the account so my regular email box doesn’t overflow.

Angi’s Redeeming Quality

That being said, the My Projects page is extremely helpful. It organizes resources by project request, then lists the contractors that were in the results list in three categories: those from whom I’d requested quotes, and those from whom I’d heard back. Once I selected a professional to hire, it offered me the opportunity to add a review. Payments through Angi Pay were straightforward and also tracked through the My Project Page, making it easy to keep everything in one place, and I can see how the page will assist in good record-keeping for home maintenance projects as well as serving as a sort of Rolodex of contractors I’ve used, trust, and can recommend (or not).

Angi Review Photo 4 - Project tracking

Photo: angi.com

Using the App

Angi.com advertises that “The Best of Angi is on the app!” and that’s absolutely right. The app is sleek, intuitive, and makes connecting with professionals a one-touch action, whether it’s calling, messaging, emailing, or making a payment on the go.

Angi Review Photo 7 - App screenshot of results

Photo: angi.com

The My Messages feature is only available on the app, so even if a customer sends Angi a direct message from the website to ask a question, they’ll need to use the app to view the response. In addition, contractors may use the Message feature to communicate with clients, not realizing that the client may not have access to the messages if they aren’t using the app.

Communicating with Customer Service

Customer Service was a dual-edged sword. On one hand, most of the questions I had were answered on the well-developed FAQ page, where the answers were thorough, complete, and well-organized.

Unfortunately, finding the FAQ page wasn’t as simple as one would hope. I occasionally saw links to Customer Support when I wasn’t looking for them and thought that was where to find it, but often when I was actually looking for the help pages I couldn’t find a link.

The page that offered methods of contact included a link to send a direct message, which worked smoothly and quickly. It also listed a link to learn more about the Gold plan for one-to-one support. I would have liked to try speaking with a customer service representative, but that’s not an option unless one upgrades to a Gold membership—which is a Legacy membership only available to former Angie’s List members. Clicking the link to learn more was a dead end by leading to the “Manage Account” page. This was confusing because there are numerous pages featuring an 800 number to call to speak with a representative and the business hours during which representatives were available. When I called to ask what the difference was between the types of assistance, the representative was unsure.

The website also notes, in the Member Benefits FAQ page, that a complaint resolution service is available to Gold membership holders. As no new members can choose that level of service, there’s a very real question for new customers as to what happens if a job is poorly completed, or not completed at all. The best recourse at that point for a customer is to contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and lodge a complaint against the contractor. While Angi’s purpose as a third party is to do a basic vetting of the contractor and connect customers with the contractor who will best serve them—not to make the final decision about which contractor to hire—it’s troubling that the company seems to take such a hands-off approach to mediation. And it’s equally, if not more, troubling to realize that it doesn’t look like Angi has updated the FAQ pages since the company changed the structure of its account types, rendering much of the FAQ section useless or outdated.

Angi.com Reviews by Customers

A search for “Angie’s list complaints” or “Angi complaints” both lead to Angi.com, as the rebranding has conflated the two. This is important, as the rebranding included the incorporation of HomeAdvisor and the addition of a whole suite of services and new policies, so many of the complaints prior to the rebranding may no longer apply to the company as it exists now. Most of the negative customer reviews at the Better Business Bureau and websites such as Sitejabber and TrustPilot are focused on individual contractors, not on the Angi platform itself. There are several, however, that stipulate that when a contractor failed to show up or provide the service contracted for, as well as in the case of discrepancies over payment, Angi was conspicuously uninvolved in the dispute. In fairness, Angi does offer an option to pay the contractor directly through Angi, and those claims will be handled differently, but there’s no clarity on exactly how. However, it is worth noting that while there are more than 1,200 complaints listed on the Better Business Bureau’s website, only four are listed as unresolved. Angi’s customer service team is prompt in its response and attempts to resolve complaints made with the BBB.

However, also worth noting is that Angi is not, at the time of this writing, accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Its accreditation was revoked in February of 2022 because the company was sued in the State of California, charged with misleading customers into believing that it had completed background checks on contractors when it had not. Angi decided to enter into an agreement to pay damages. Entering into this type of stipulation violates the BBB’s code of conduct, and Angi accreditation was removed. Angi is fairly clear in its FAQs that it only background checks company owners, not all contractors, so while it’s a concern that the company isn’t BBB accredited, all customers should take care to properly and carefully vet anyone they’re inviting into their home.

On the flip side, positive reviews from customers noted the ease of the process: no need to make dozens of calls or send emails, responsive contractors who were prompt and neat, and long-term connections with contractors who fit the bill. Several noted that the site had prompted them to add a project to their plans they thought would be more than what they needed, but the availability and responsiveness of the contractors made the process easy.

Contractors reviews are mixed; smaller companies seem to feel that Angi generates good leads, but they bristle at having to pay for poor ones and don’t like the fact that there is no easier way for them to respond to bad reviews because of Angi’s policy that they’ll post all reviews in an unbiased fashion.

How Angi Stacks Up to the Competition

Angi’s largest national competitor was HomeAdvisor, who provided similar services on a slightly less-friendly platform. Together they’re a powerhouse. Other companies such as Porch and Thumbtack have better ratings with the Better Business Bureau and fewer complaints, but they include a much smaller network and may not be available in all areas. Porch’s partnership with the BBB does, however, connect users to accurate information about the contractors on its site, which may be comforting to users who are lukewarm on Angi’s background checking. Sites such as Houzz offer some similar services, but they tend to be more focused on product sales and advertising, so they don’t offer the same tracking and recordkeeping services that Angi provides. Yelp, a very popular review site that also offers customers a facility to search for service providers, has a reputation for collecting unnecessarily caustic reviews with no attempt to validate them or at least make certain that the reviewer actually interacted with a business representative, which makes Yelp less appealing to contractors, especially small businesses who don’t want to risk their business because of a single negative review. All in all, each of the competitors has positives and negatives. For customers who are prepared to receive extra emails and do their own homework on the contractors, Angi provides a more comprehensive search engine and a wider range of expertise than the competition.

Should You Use Angi as a Customer?

Angi has a lot going for it: A clean interface, a stellar companion app, and what appears (so far in my testing) to be some great professionals using it as a platform on which to advertise the full range of their services make it appealing. Some of the complaints do bear consideration; it seems that while Angi is making it easier to search for contractors and contact them, a fair amount of legwork is still necessary on the part of the customer. The fact that many of the FAQ answers are more than a year old and that the clarity of the membership options and customer service and help options are unclear or outdated is also a concern. That said, using regular search engines to hunt for a contractor who might be able to help, reaching out, waiting, only to find out you’ll need to start again because they can’t take on your project is exhausting and frustrating. For customers willing to take a little extra care in questioning the professionals Angi recommends; do their own checking into the professional’s license, insurance, and rating with the Better Business Bureau; and create a new email box to handle the onslaught of emails, Angi can save a lot of time and effort and connect them with and support small businesses that may have not appeared in a traditional search.

We independently reviewed this service by weighing the company’s claims against first-hand experience with its site and professionals. However, due to factors such as franchising, human error, and more, please note that experiences with this company may vary.