The web has become filled with contractor review and connection resources. The two biggest services, with around 40 million combined registered users, are Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor.

Both sites are designed with the customer in mind. All you have to do it sign up for free, fill out the search criteria for the services you’re seeking, and review a list of rated companies and contractors in your area. But how do you know if these site reviews are trustworthy? Below, are a few things to consider when using these sites:

What verification methods they use for listings and reviews

You should always consider how the listings on sites like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor are verified.

HomeAdvisor verifies its contractors by doing criminal background and Social Security checks. It also checks for civil lawsuits or judgments filed against the contractor that happened up to one year prior to them signing up with the service.

Angie’s List relies more on verified customer reviews to identify reputable contractors. All members on the site must verify that they are not part of the business they are reviewing, and the companies themselves cannot issue a review. The site also does not allow anonymous reporting of a business and uses technology to catch potential conflicts of interest.

How Better Business Bureau ranks the service

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been one of the most trusted consumer watchdog organizations in America for over a century.

The BBB grades businesses on an A through F grading scale:

Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings are not based on customer reviews, according to the non-profit, but are instead calculated by the number of complaints filed against the business and the size of the business. If a complaint is filed with the BBB, they take into account whether the complaints were resolved, if the company made a good faith effort to resolve them, whether the complaint failed to be resolved, and the age of the resolved complaints.

Other factors that the BBB uses to rate a business include:

  • Type of business
  • How long a company has been in business
  • Whether the company has transparent business practices
  • Whether a company honors legal findings
  • Whether it is fully licensed
  • Whether it has ever had a run-in with the government due to suspicious advertising practices or trademark infringement

Whether some businesses are getting preferential reviews

When considering the trustworthiness of contractor review sites, remember that all reviews may not be not created equal. Sometimes business interests can come ahead of the intended service.

In 2019, the non-profit Consumer Federation of America reported that Angie’s List gave preferential treatment to businesses advertising on its site. They found that all of the “top-rated pros” listed on the site were also advertising with the site, according to CBS News.

Angie’s List disputed the Consumer Federation of America’s claims, but the fact remains that these sites are not only in the business of connecting customers with contractors; they are also in the business of making money from advertisers. The trustworthiness of their services is ultimately up to you. If you find a contractor with great reviews on any site, but after contacting them, you get a bad vibe, move on to another listing. Ultimately, you have to be comfortable with that contractor you’re working with, and no matter what a review says, the choice of services is yours.

Which reputable alternatives to the bigger sites you should use

Remember, there are always alternatives to the bigger-name contractor review sites. If you find a listing on Angie’s List or HomeAdvsior, and want to see what other sites have to say, there are plenty of resources out there.

Here are just a few: