When fellow consumers talk, you tend to listen.
Whether they're talking about a roofing company you shouldn't hire or new piece of technology that is highly touted and equally overrated, sometimes the best way to determine if you're going to hire or buy, respectively, is to hear it from someone who has been there and "done that."
Various renowned and respected web sites are quick to serve up ratings, reports, rants and raves about a plethora of businesses that they've come into contact with, and whether you should ultimately consider to use these same service or purchase these same products.
Anyone who has ever uttered or conveyed a horrific story about a construction company that showed up, tore apart their house and never came back or the latest and greatest baby product that promised practicality and efficiency and instead turned into a hundreds of wasted dollars.
Those trepidations and bad experiences have ushered in a plethora of consumer and user advocate sites such as Angie's List, Yelp and Porch.com, which allow users to express how they were treated by professionals in the hopes of warning other customers to forgo this person or that business. Angie's List isn't all bad reviews, and actually makes it a point to highlight the companies that do their jobs well.
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As much as these sites seem like a godsend, one question still abounds: can they honestly be trusted? That's a inquiry worth pondering for more than just a few seconds, if you think about a pay site such as Angie's List. The company has come under scrutiny for unfairly accepting advertising dollars from businesses and thus making them a higher priority than others on their site. If Angie's List is supposed to offer unbiased reviews and reports, how is that possible if a company is paying them for advertising space on the site? That would suggest that if said advertiser gets a bad review, Angie's List might be inclined to leave the bad reviews tucked aside so the public never reads them.
You could make that argument for other comparable sites in addition to Angie's List.
You might be better off with sites like Care.com or Cricket's Circle when you're interested in services or products. Care.com is an interactive web site where families can hire caregivers, baby sitters and tutors for kids, among other services provided by the site.
Care.com differs from advocate sites in that professionals looking for jobs can create a profile, and Care.com offers interested consumers the opportunity to check the validity of that information through a variety of background checking steps.
Cricket's Circle isn't quite the mirror image of Care.com and instead helps moms and dads who are about to welcome a new baby to the family decipher which products are best for them. It's free to join and doesn't immediately push would be parents into buying the most expensive items, suggesting that they're not exactly driven by the highest bidder, such as the way Angie's List allegedly picks favorites.
Any time you're in the market for goods or services, you rightfully want to get it right on your first try if possible. Sites that advise you in one direction or another are ideal, but approaching them cautiously and optimism might be the difference between being scammed and savoring a job and decision well done.
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