Do tradesmen comparison & review sites actually protect customers from rogue tradesmen?
Unfortunately the answer to that one is No! Whilst many tradesmen on these sites are hard working and legitimate, there's plenty who are not. There are still many stories about unreputable tradesmen gaining access to post on these websites, this can include giving fake references, which lets face it, isn't hard for them to do. Some of these comparison sites are designed to let the customer rate tradesmen on their work and the service they receive once they complete a job but who's to say all of these customers are even legitimate customers? Anyone can go on and use these services. You have to remember that these comparison sites have now become a powerful marketing tool for tradesmen and builders alike, and some simply rely on their services to function as a business, some will do what ever it takes to get on them, potentially leading customers into a false sense of security just because they have made it onto such sites. While some of these sites may offer some peace of mind, it is most definitely not a fail safe.
There are many stories on the internet of unhappy customers who found tradesmen and builders on comparison sites and after complaining and leaving negative feedback, found themselves being ignored by the very sites that are supposed to be protecting them. It would seem that negative feed back rarely makes it onto the profiles of tradesmen who have left customers unhappy. You may ask yourself why? The reason is simple, these sites make money from every tradesman who registers with them, this is either monthly or annually and without them its goodbye subscription fee and goodbye profits. What company wants to loose customers and regular income? This is one of the main key factors that can put the trust element of these sites into disrepute. In 2014, the famous 'Checkatrade' made it onto BBC's Watchdog for some of their business practices and not so 'squeaky clean' tradesmen. Check out the video here!
Once again in 2014, another shocking story from a very disgruntled customer made it onto the well known MailOnline news website, who was it about? Yes you guessed it, Checkatrade and one of their tradesmen! - See the article here! This story may have you thinking twice about using these so called 'trusted' tradesmen comparison and review sites, where tradesmen are (always vetted).
Some may come to the conclusion quite quickly that these sites may only be interested in making money, what ever the cost to customers. There are many legitimate tradesmen out there who refuse to pay the type of fees that these sites charge and believe it when I say, they are most definitely not cheap!
You have to ask yourself, what's wrong with using a local company to your area, or one that comes recommended and has its own customers who can vouch for it personally, word of mouth has always been the best way to find reputable tradesmen and it is usually coming from friends and family, people whose word you can actually trust. To their own advantage, tradesmen comparison sites may just be feeding the very fear that some customers already have when looking for a reputable tradesman or builder and may make them feel that this is their only option to find someone reputable, this is of course not the case. As more and more crop up in what is now becoming a market place saturated with them, it's even harder to decide what one you should use, one that claims to thoroughly vet tradesmen or one that just offers you the cheapest quotes?
If you are going to use tradesmen comparison sites, remember that they are not all the same and some may not necessarily be on your side when something goes wrong. Don't just assume that because a tradesman company is on an comparison & review site it somehow makes them credible, that even goes for the comparison site itself.
This customer who posted on the MoneySavingExpert.com forum was definitely not happy with Trustatrader.com - Why you cant trustatrader.com
Be careful guys and girls!