HomeAdvisor is one of the leading contractor referral sites for consumers.
It's a way to check out businesses that have been vetted and meet certain standards.
The service is free for consumers, but contractors pay each time HomeAdvisor sends them a potential customer lead.
One Valley viewer and contractor questions how the company procures the leads they sell.
In an email she writes, "my husband owns an electrical contracting business. HomeAdvisor charges us for each lead they email our way. Over the last couple of months we have received an influx of leads that say they have no idea how their personal information was sent to us."
She says many don't become customers. Either way, they still have to pay for the lead. But here is what she calls the misleading part: most of the customers say they didn't even contact HomeAdvisor.
Her email goes on to say, "each lead coincidentally has the same story; they called a phone number from a Craigslist that advertised 24/7 electrical, handyman, HVAC etc. services. They are asked for their name, address and contact information and are then told that a technician will be in touch with them shortly."
She wonders if Homeadvisor is getting leads by placing ads on Craigslist, then turning around and selling them for top dollar to contractors?
We checked it out.
The advertisement she sent us is for Affordable Handyman on a Craiglist page for Grand Rapids, Michigan.
But cross-referencing the number throughout Craigslist, it also shows up in handyman ads on the Craigslist Phoenix and Tucson pages.
We called the number and spoke with a man named Lucas. He said the name of the company was Handyman Services and asked a few questions about the work that was to be done.
He then asked for the name, email, phone number, and address of the property that was to be worked on.
Lucas finishes the call by saying someone would call back in 24 hours. An email comes over almost immediately, but not from Handyman Services. It was from HomeAdvisor with contact information for contractors.
Several additional emails follow, including one from a contractor who says they were matched "through HomeAdvisor."
We called on other ads with generic-sounding names like Total Home Services, 24/7 Handyman and Affordable Handyman.
They worked the same way: respond to a Craigslist ad and get a reply from HomeAdvisor contractors.
So, we asked HomeAdvisor if it is using Craigslist ads to generate leads that they sell to contractors?
A spokesperson says no.
The company released this statement:
"HomeAdvisor does not use Craigslist to generate leads to be sold to contractors, though we do partner with select businesses to help their homeowner customers connect with our large network of skilled and screened pros. This particular company violated our terms and conditions and is not upholding the business standards and practices we have put in place for these partners. We take this very seriously and are taking corrective action."
We asked for further clarification but did not get a response.
However, the ads we pointed out to HomeAdvisor are no longer on Craigslist.
So contractors and consumers, has happened to you? Let me know.