When you need to hire a plumber, electrician or someone to fix your failing air conditioner, most of us try to check reviews to see if they are any good.
The quickest thing is to check their Better Business Bureau rating, but with so many businesses getting an A rating these days, it's tough to decide which business is better than another.
In addition, the BBB does not list lengthy customer reviews in most cases.
As a result, Angie's List in recent years has become the go-to site for extensive customer reviews of local services.
Unfortunately, until now you had to pay to read those reviews by becoming a member for $30 to $80 a year.
That has now changed.
Free Reviews for Everyone
As of July 1, 2016, Angie's List has changed its business model to allow everyone to access basic reviews for free.
I checked it out, and you get to read dozens of reviews on hundreds of local service companies from customers who rank them from A to F. Yes, you can even access the D and F ratings, which can be a real hoot (though the criticism is sometimes the result of a misunderstanding).
Fortune Magazine says Angie's List is doing this not out of the goodness of its heart, but to expand its customer base and get more people to hire a contractor directly through Angie's List.
The company now makes most of its money through contractor advertising and getting a small cut each time someone hires a preferred contractor by going through the site.
Fortune also says Angie's List is facing growing competition from Yelp, Amazon and other sites that offer free reviews of services without requiring you to pay for membership.
What's the Catch?
The only catch is that you must first register for a free, or "Green" entry level membership. You will have to give Angie's List your zip code and email address, but that's about it.
You do not have to give a credit card number, and you not required to use their preferred contractors.
CLICK HERE to read Angie's List reviews.
So give it a try, so you don't waste your money.