Searching for a Contractor? Why you Shouldn’t Trust (Or Pay For) Online Reviews

Category: Tips

There are many websites to help homeowner’s research contractors. Some sites say they prescreen contractors and make recommendations for select home improvement professionals. With so many sites offering advice, which one offers the most effective and unbiased means of researching?

  • Yelp


In the past few years many were using Yelp to read reviews about contractors. It has been widely reported that Yelp reviews are unreliable. It’s been proven that business owners pay “reputation management” companies to post fake reviews. It’s also been uncovered that Yelp extorts businesses by posting only negative reviews unless Yelp is paid monthly by the businesses. Since the public has become more aware of Yelp’s unethical business practices, traffic has declined by 35%. Financial analysts are recommending an immediate stock dump, stating that soon Yelp will be irrelevant.

  • Angie’s List

Angie’s list charges both the homeowner and the contractor for services you can get for free. It is true that it’s free for a contractor to be included on Angie’s list. However, the contractor’s contact and business information will be buried unless that contractor pays a large fee. In addition, the contractor must pay a percentage of every job they get as a result of an Angie’s list referral. The contractor may be forced to include these expenses into price of the homeowners’ project. Angie is in both the homeowner and the contractor’s pocket. Last year Angie’s list earned $130 million from contractors all buying their way to the top of the list. Angie collected $47 million from homeowners for information they could get for free. When a contractor buys their way into a suggestion, is the consumer really getting a wide variety of options to review if only contractors who pay fees are visible? Angie’s list claims they screen the contractors they recommend. This statement is 100% false.


  • HomeAdvisor

HomeAdvisor, 1800contractor and Service Magic are all the SAME COMPANY, promoting the same contractors that pay them a fee to be on their list of endorsed contractors. The general public assumes that 3 separate companies have recommended a particular contractor. The reality is that one company is being paid by a contractor to recommend them on multiple review sites.

  • CSLB

The CSLB will give you general information about California contractors. This information is vital when selecting a painting contractor. This site answers important questions such as ~

Does the contractor hold the appropriate license and insurance?

Is the business owner the license holder or does he pay an employee to allow him to use their license? (This tactic is used by franchise owners who bought an established name brand but have no actual painting experience themselves)

Has the contractor violated any codes?

Has their license been suspended for unsafe or fraudulent practices?

This information is very valuable but doesn’t give the customer knowledge of previous client’s experience with the contractor.

  • Google

The most widely used search tool is Google. The top half and the right side of every Google page is all paid placement. Studies show most consumers ignore these ads, citing these ads manipulated search results. Large franchises pay hundreds of thousand per MONTH to rank at the top of Google. Small businesses struggle for valuable internet real estate below these corporate giants. When operating expenses are high due to advertising expenses, the cost is passed down to the consumer. San Diego homeowners tend to select local painting contractors rather than a “chain” These local businesses get lost under painting companies with enormous advertising budgets. When using Google as a search tool keep the “Goldilocks” factor in mind. Companies that are always ranked on the top of the page paid their way into that spot. Companies listed on page 3 and after have yet to prove their value and haven’t earned credibility yet. A contractor who is consistently on page 2 or 3 shows they are steadily growing and earning consumer trust without gimmicks and cash.

An organic internet search is still the best way to research a potential contractor. Maverick Painting recommends that a homeowner ignores the ads, paid placements and paid referral services. A reputable contractor earns their rank by length of time their website and business have been around. Google lists sites that have the most informative content higher. If a business creates a page and never updates it, Google will rank a site with more current information higher. Basically, Google places more value to companies that have a consistently fresh website and provides useful information.

Tech Savvy Consumers are aware of rampant fraud and distorted reviews.

Homeowners are responding to this obvious manipulation by finding other sources for researching home repair services.

Lawsuits, FCC complaints and Supreme Court rulings have all devalued referral site’s endorsements.

Experts predict review sites will shut down by 2016

Angie’s list to disappear by 2016 ~

Yelp Near Death ~

New Generation Leaving Yelp



Review the Reviewer

Before you trust the recommendation of a contractor referral service, research their reviews.

You can read Yelp reviews on Yelp. More than half of reviewers gave Yelp 1 star. Not surprisingly, Yelp filtered 7,315 reviews of their own company.

These sites are FREE. This means the information is unbiased and accurate ~

Trust First Hand Information

The most effective way to find an honest Painting Contractor in San Diego is old fashioned word of mouth.

General Contractors, Interior Designers and even paint supply stores are great sources for referrals

Above all, recommendations from friends, family members and co workers are the best place to start. If you go to a friend’s house and love the fresh paint job that rejuvenated their home, find out who their contractor was.

It’s a great idea to follow up your friend’s referral with research on the internet. Remember to use caution when reading online reviews. Internet research in conjunction with firsthand experience is the best way to find a reliable painting contractor.

Visit Maverick Painting’s profile on Pinterest.

If you are searching for a trustworthy San Diego Painting Contractor, then please call 760-274-3373 or complete our online request form.

Add to RSS Feed Add to Technorati Favorites Stumble It!