Monday, September 9, 2013

Lists that Recommend Contractors -- A Cautionary Tale

by Kate Collins

Update: I've been cautioned that if I use the name of this actual list, I may be in for some revenge, so I will refer to this as a Site that Recommends Contractors, or STRC.

I've never used a site like STRC, nor will I ever, after hearing what happened to my neighbor's daughter.

This young woman hunted for a contractor on such a List and found three names with excellent reviews. She called the first one, asked him some basic questions, and was completely turned off by his answers as well as his poor attitude. She told him no thanks and moved on to the next.

Later, she filled out the review that she was supposed to complete and was honest about her interview with the first contractor. Soon she received a call from the contractor who told her to change her review before it ruined his business (which, by the way, all came from STRC referrals.) She told him no, hung up, and he called right back. Not only did he continue to call her, but also emailed her, a constant barrage that got so threatening, she feared he would hurt her -- and so she took down her review.

She started investigating at that point and discovered that THIS LIST  sells their information to anyone who pays to list with them. So this deranged contractor bought the poor young woman's contact information so he could intimidate her into taking down her review. She also discovered a host of similar stories from STRC "survivors" on the Internet. Her experience was far from unique.

How many things do you see wrong with that picture?

First, I would call it an invasion of privacy to have STRC sell my private info to the very people I'm reviewing. Second, if someone pays to be listed on STRC and then can harass anyone who puts up a bad review, would you trust that you were hiring a reputable person, knowing his/her bad reviews may have been pulled? Third, the young woman should have called the police. But she feared retaliation, so she kept mum.  Isn't that sad?

I hire people based on word of mouth reviews. I would never trust a website that sells its private information to the business people I would be reviewing.

How do you feel?