Readers of my publication probably realize that we’ve helped multiple roofing companies build their online presence, grow their local search, and drive leads for their businesses. You may also remember that Angi (previously Angie’s List) was a key client who we assisted with their search engine optimization regionally. Back then, the focus of the business was driving consumers to use their system to report, review, or find services. I had incredible respect for the business and the founders – and we helped them dramatically grow their business.
For more than 18 years, Angie’s List had never shown an annual profit, and analysts thought valuations of the company were unrealistic. In 2017, Angi shifted from a consumer subscription business to lead-generation for companies listed in their reviews. In 2021, they rebranded, revamped their website, and launched a new app hoping to penetrate the home services industry further. There’s little doubt that there was more revenue opportunity on lead generation than in the flat fee subscription business that grew Angi’s brand so dramatically.
But I believe they just went too far.
A Growing Problem With Fake Leads
One of my local Indianapolis roofers spends quite a sum of money with an annual contract with Angi to drive leads to his business. I’ve been working with Bob and his family-run business for years and he was a good friend even before that. Recently, Bob noticed that he was getting more and more fake leads through Angi… and the good leads with large jobs started to slow. I won’t disclose Bob’s monthly commitment to Angi, but I can tell you that it’s a sizeable contract. In three months, he received 72 fake leads – each one taking away attention from his business.
Bob began speaking to me more about it and tried to complain to Angi… but his complaints went unheard. He’s noticed that his representatives started turning over more often as well, adding to his frustration. All this at a time when roofing and siding opportunities were skyrocketing with the home services boom associated with the pandemic.
Angi Business Complaints
Angie’s List was built on word-of-mouth in central Indiana and was a beloved brand by the families that used it to hire local businesses. I met with the board multiple times and they absolutely understood what they were selling the public was trust… a huge issue in the home services industry.
In fact, I had one significant contract with Angie’s List before they went public just to do forensics on work that a firm had done for them to ensure that everything was on the up and up. The leaders of their company risked nothing that might tarnish their brand or put their customers at risk.
I no longer believe that’s the focus of the organization. And it’s having a dramatic impact.
In fact, in February of 2022, the Better Business Bureau revoked Angi’s accreditation due to failure by the business to adhere to the BBB requirement that Accredited Businesses meet and abide by certain standards.
The Final Straw: Angi Roofing
Who is the most reviewed roofing contractor with great reviews on Angi in some geographic regions? You may be surprised to find out that it’s Angi Roofing.
As Bob was putting out quotes and meeting with potential customers, imagine his surprise to find out that the company he was paying for leads was in direct competition with him. That’s right… Angi was acquiring leading roofing companies in certain geographies and driving the leads directly into their own company.
According to The Motley Fool, this started last year.
Hanrahan said that the business, now known as Angi Roofing, is growing fast, is already available in about a dozen markets, and will soon be in five more. Roofing has a lot of the qualities that work in the company’s favor in a category, including a high average order value and a large addressable market, which he estimates at $50 billion.
The Motley Fool
To state that my client is livid is probably an understatement. Angi never contacted him and told him about the acquisition, never informed him that they were driving leads to their own business, and never told him that he was most likely getting the leftovers. Bob has pursued legal counsel and is looking to immediately get out of his contract with Angi.
Do a search in some cities in the midwest on Google Maps and you’ll see that Angi is starting to take over local map packs and promoting Angi Roofing. And, of course, they’re promoting these businesses as the most reviewed roofing contractor out there… well duh… that’s why you bought them.
Where’s The Federal Trade Commission?
A quick look at the Angi site and you won’t find any conspicuous disclosure of this financial relationship. If I had a circular relationship where I was indicating to consumers I was a trustworthy influencer providing independent reviews of businesses… but I was not disclosing that I was driving all the revenue in my own pocket, I would think that’s quite deceptive and warrants an investigation.
You won’t find any such disclosure on Angi’s home page nor their Roofer search:
So the country’s largest influencer on home services is not conspicuously disclosing to consumers that it’s driving leads to their own business, not disclosing to their business customers that they’re not competing with them, and no one is even questioning this?
This is unbelievable.
But Is It Illegal?
I’m not alleging that Angi has done anything illegal here. I’m just bringing this to everyone’s attention and I believe the media and the FTC should take a much deeper look at this. On its surface, it’s my opinion that this is deceptive advertising. At a minimum, I believe the lack of disclosure shows incredibly poor judgment by the company.
I could never trust a review site where I believe I’m getting independent resource recommendations – to find out that the recommended company Angi itself. And as a service provider, I’d never pay for leads from my direct competitor!