Angie's List member says service is key

Angie's List member says service is key

Maybe one reason Bob Steel cares so much about customer service is that he always aimed to do his best for the folks on his St. Louis postal routes.

In fact, it was while the now-retired mailman was still on the job that he discovered Angie's List, which he credits with helping him make good hiring decisions on doctors, plumbers, tree experts, auto shops and more. Steel says he became curious when he delivered the online consumer-review service's monthly member magazine to one of his route customers. "The customer actually let me keep the magazine and re-deliver it the next day," he says. "These are the things people will do when postal carriers get along well with their customers.”

Reading the magazine, says Steel, “I was impressed. So I jumped on board.”

That was in 2004, and the 69-year-old Steel retired not long after joining Angie's List. He stays busy walking with his wife, JoAnn, and dogs Lance and Tim, riding his bike, lifting weights and taking occasional classes. He takes care of his house and property, often using Angie's List to find service providers to help. When he’s looking for new companies to hire or he wants to review a service, he calls Angie's List.

Steel tends to hire carefully and to give positive reviews. He’s provided about 40 reviews on service providers in more than 20 categories, from a dog trainer who worked with one of his beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs to the plumbing company that replaced the water pipes in the basement of his 1935 house.

In just the last year and a half, he's written reviews on a broad range of service providers: doctors (ear nose throat specialist, dermatologist, optometrist and allergist), computer tech support, accountant, satellite TV, auto inspection and more. Some of the companies he's hired are fairly typical, such as the tree service that babies his Bradford pear. One is rather unusual: For about $500, Steel hired a local "auto advocate" to handle his most recent car deal. "He came and got my car and went to the dealership to bargain the trade in for me," Steel said in his review, which gave the service provider an A rating. "All I had to do was show up and sign the paperwork. He saved me over $2,000 on my new car purchase!"

An outgoing, affable guy, Steel's comfortable with computers but prefers the phone. “I like the personal interchange,” says Steel, who would give Angie’s List Member Services an A for consistently good service. The feeling is mutual, says Lake Wilson, an Angie's List employee who's taken calls from Steel. "He's so friendly, provides a lot of feedback and the way he found out about Angie's List is so unique," Wilson says. "He's an average guy, but he's our perfect customer."

Bob Steel, avid Angie's List member:

What constitutes good service

“Professionalism; being cordial and on time. Having a reasonable price is important but not at the top of my list. I will pay more for good service. With our basement project (upgrading the plumbing system), I had three bids, but I didn’t take the low one. I hired who I felt comfortable with.”

Benefits of membership

“It gives you a little clout,” he says. “The more consumers get involved, the better the List works.”

Advice for new members

"Stay busy and contact Angie’s List if you’re thinking of having anything done on your house, your car, whatever. Look it up; Angie’s List probably has it.”

How he'd rate if mail carriers were on the List

“At the top. I was dependable. I was caring. I went out of my way to talk to people. There were people I would look after. One gal, about my mom’s age, she’d have me bring in her trash cans and sometimes ask if I'd move this or that thing. I would always do it and she’d give me a soda. One time, she gave me cash and two salamis, two or three feet long, and asked me to mail them for her. What could I say?”

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