Angie's LIST Guide to
How to report contractor disputes
Despite your preparations, it’s possible for issues to arise, putting you in conflict with a service provider. Whether an unanticipated cost, faulty equipment or a simple misunderstanding, conflicts can be unavoidable. Should you have a complaint that needs to be addressed, try following these tips to work toward a successful resolve:
When possible, complain in person. It’s easy to be ignored if you write a letter expressing dissatisfaction, and phone calls can often result in being placed on hold for an exorbitant amount of time. If possible, make complaints in person by visiting your service or health provider’s office.
Complain in good faith. Ever hear your mother say you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? Don’t come into the situation angry or thinking everyone is out to get you. Instead, come into the situation thinking your provider will want to work with you to come to a resolution. Be assertive in sticking to the facts, but show that you are willing to work with the other party.
Document everything. Be sure to document every part of the process, including every name, date, time and price that relates to the complaint. Documentation, such as receipts and written estimates, can be crucial evidence when trying to seek resolution. If a job was not completed or the work was performed poorly, take photo and video evidence to help prove your claim. Also, you should be ready to explain exactly how you want the situation to be resolved.
Explain the consequences. If the contractor’s response isn’t sufficient, explain what will happen if you don’t get action. If you have been a long-time customer, let them know that they will no longer have your business and you will not refer the company to friends and family.
Report the contractor to Angie’s List. A negative report will be visible for all members to see, and the contractor should know it will have a negative impact on future hiring decisions. Angie's List also offers its members a Complaint Resolution Process in which the Angie's List staff will help to resolve the dispute.
Report your contractor to the state. Your state’s contractor licensing board is a great place to start when hiring contractors, as it will help you check licensing, credentials and provide critical information about the details of the construction process, such as how much a contractor is legally allowed to charge for a down payment. This is also the place you can report your contractor should something go awry. Here's where to find information about your state’s contractor licensing board.
How Angie's List can help
We’ve seen our share of member complaints, from a wobbly doorknob on a recently installed door to issues needing addressed by a patient who recently underwent heart surgery. Part of the benefit of an Angie’s List membership is free, exclusive access to the Angie’s List Complaint Resolution Process. If you run into a problem with a service provider that can’t come to a resolution, an Angie’s List case manager will go to bat for you and help work towards a resolution that’s satisfactory to you and the service provider.
Who’s eligible? Are you an Angie’s List member? Have you submitted a report with a grade of C or worse for home, health or auto services that occurred within the past 12 months? Have you already made an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the issue on your own? If you’ve answered “Yes” to all these questions, you are eligible for the Complaint Resolution Process.
Angie’s List does not get involved with complaints that have led to litigation or have been ruled on by appropriate governing bodies, such as a state licensing board. All health-related complainants must be willing to sign a HIPPA waiver, which gives permission for an Angie’s List case manager to speak about the complaint with your health provider.
How does the process work? When beginning the process, you will be assigned a case manager, a real-life human being who will exclusively handle your case. The case manager will contact your service or health care provider with the complaint and desired resolution. Service providers are given two weeks to respond, and health providers have up to one month.
Your case manager will act as the liaison between the two parties, working to find a resolution that is agreeable to both. We’re not here to determine the “winner” or decide who’s at fault – we’re simply looking for the best solution for the situation.
Though the average time of the process is about a month, your case manager will stay on deck as long as it takes and is available by phone or email to answer questions throughout the process. Should you need immediate assistance, contact our Help Desk.
What happens when my case is resolved? You have the sole power to determine whether the resolution meets your needs or not. If the parties agree on a resolution, the member’s initial negative report is deleted, and the member has the chance to re-write the report, including information about a reached resolution. This is a way to reward those providers who do what it takes to ensure a happy hiring experience for Angie’s List members.
If for whatever reason a case is unable to be settled, the negative report will remain intact and be calculated into the provider’s rating. Certain cases may appear in the “Penalty Box” section of monthly Angie’s List magazines and online.
The Penalty Box
Complaints that come through the Complaint Resolution Process are assigned one of four statuses – pending, resolved, stalemate or Penalty Box.
Pending cases refer to cases that are in process. When providers reach the member’s requested resolution, cases are then resolved. Providers who decline to meet the member’s request, do not fulfill the request in its entirety or are unable to reach an agreement are considered stalemate.
Cases are put in the Penalty Box for one of three reasons.
1. The provider failed to respond to the assigned Angie’s List case manager.
2. The provider did not use the official form for their response.
3. The provider indicated they would work towards resolving the issue but failed to follow through.
Those who end up in the Penalty Box have a notice placed on their Angie’s List record and are excluded from category and keyword searches until they respond to the initial complaint. They may also be featured in the monthly Angie’s List Magazine or online publication.
Taking legal action
Although Angie’s List doesn’t give legal advice, the homeowner has the option to pursue legal action against a contractor. Depending on the amount of money involved, this might be done through Small Claims Court where the cost of litigation is minimal. Though the details vary from state to state, Small Claims Court is usually limited to disputes of a few thousand dollars or less. If the amount sought is loo large for Small Claims you would need to decide whether the cost of litigation is worth it to you.