My story of how Angie’s List handed over my contact info to an angry vendor
I used to wonder why reviews on Angie’s List were almost all overwhelming positive straight A reviews. After writing my first review, I now know: Angie’s List gives vendors the information they need to harass people who don’t give them good enough reviews.
The story as brief as I can keep it: I called a locksmith that I found through Angie’s List a few weeks ago to have the locks on my newly-purchased house rekeyed. When the locksmiths got there, they said that the locks that I had were low quality and suggested I replace them. I took their word for it and had them replaced with the supposedly-higher quality locks, but it made me less than happy, because it meant I ended up spending twice as much as I thought I was going to.
I hadn’t written any reviews on Angie’s List before, but I kept getting emails from them prompting me to write reviews and even got a phone call from them. So I figured I’d finally write a review of this locksmith. I gave them all As except for one B on pricing, mentioning that, while I felt that the locksmiths were being straight with me, it made me feel like I’d been upsold.
Now, while I was happy with the service, I gave them this slight blemish on the review for two reasons:
- Because ever since joining Angie’s List, it annoyed me that almost all of the reviews were straight-A reviews, which is basically worthless. Surely there was SOMEthing that was less than perfect.
- I was writing the review for other users, and I felt that people calling this locksmith for rekeying should be prepared to potentially spend more money. Maybe it’s a good thing to get advice on what to do about your locks, but it’s still something that I felt worthwhile passing on.
The day after writing the review, I get a call on my cellphone from the owner of the locksmith company. The fact that he would call me about the review was unsettling enough, but he kept talking about how they would never “upsell” someone and while they appreciated the good review, they felt that it was unrepresentative of their company. He wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise, talking over my attempts to clear up what I meant and getting increasingly agitated. When I finally got a word in, I told him that I had written the review for other users and thought they might find that helpful. He repeated his rant and so I hung up on him.
I was pretty rattled and really angry. If he was this worked up over an almost-perfect review, what would he have done with bad reviews? And these guys are locksmiths! They not only know where I live, they know how to get in my house!
I immediately wrote to Angie’s List, asking them “How did this vendor even get my contact information? Is that something that they can get through Angie’s List?”
Just after I sent the email, I figured that what must have happened is that the vendor was able to piece it together: he looked at the date the service was provided, looked at his records and figured out that it was me. Surely Angie’s List wouldn’t give him my contact info, right? Wrong. This was the email I got back from them (emphasis mine):
Reports may not be submitted anonymously. This is one of the many steps we take to ensure the authenticity and honesty of the feedback we post. When a member shares their service experience with us, the report becomes accessible to all members in their chapter. However, we only share the member’s name and address with the service provider if they request it.
They ONLY share the name and address?! Why should they be sharing anything at all? I’m fine if they let the vendors respond online, but they should not be providing anything about me to vendors. I understand the necessity of requiring that reviews have a date the service was performed on, but why make that exact date public? And I get why a review site would need to verify that an individual is who they say they are, but why is there any need at all to share that with vendors?
Even beyond the lack of security and privacy you have on Angie’s List, this makes the review part of their site totally worthless. I don’t want my information to be shared with vendors, so I won’t be writing any more reviews. And why would anyone?