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Could a 'free quote' cost your rights?

Posted at 6:00 AM, Apr 25, 2019

You may be signing up for a free quote for a roof repair, window installation, kitchen cabinets, or black mold removal but you could end up with fewer rights if things go wrong.

ABC15's Let Joe Know team found at least two dozen websites that look like they come from local contractors but actually lead back to HomeAdvisor.

We found in the very, very small print on each of the websites there is a paragraph that says in part "by using this service, you are bound to HomeAdvisor terms of service and privacy policy."

Playing by their rules and you may not even know it.

One of the most concerning could be number 19 on the list: Agreement to arbitrate all disputes.

It says in all caps "YOU GIVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO GO TO COURT," and submit to forced arbitration instead.

Remington Gregg with consumer advocacy group Public Citizen says it's a process stacked against consumers.

"A lot times people don't understand the full extent of it," he says.

"You probably will lose because on average consumers lose 93 percent of the time," Gregg says.

In this case you're signing a contract without actually signing a contract, when all you wanted was a free quote.

So why is the HomeAdvisor connection to the websites so hidden?

It's a question we asked last year when we found the company posting Craigslist ads that didn't disclose it was actually affiliated with HomeAdvisor. At that time the company said it didn't use Craigslist but it had partner companies that violated its rules.

The ads were quickly taken down quickly.

The company has a similar explanation this time around releasing a statement:

"HomeAdvisor often partners with businesses to help homeowners connect with our large network of skilled and screened pros. This particular company has violated their obligations to clearly display their relationship with HomeAdvisor and the fact that customers are being matched with HomeAdvisor service professionals. We take this very seriously and are taking steps to address the issues."