The roof was missing shingles.

There were three layers of shingles, and whoever nailed on the last layer racked it, meaning that he or she stacked the shingles to lie on top of one another. The roof was also missing drip edge and ice-and-water shield. Plus, there were exposed nail heads. As a result, the roof was sliding off the house.

I scoped out the roof with a camera and a crowbar in hand, and began lifting shingles and taking pictures. At the time, our company was running what’s called a “Big Deal” promotion for a roof inspection with minor repairs via Angie’s List. This particular homeowner called in response to that promotion.

The repairs associated with the promotion were minor touch-ups such as nailing down loose shingles and replacing a pipe flange. The cost of the inspection was $99, which—after Angie's deducted its $50—doesn’t cover gas and a technician’s wages.

New Roof for $99

A day or so later, I sent the homeowner my 12-page report, complete with photos and a recommendation. Here’s the recommendation: Replace the roof. No stopgap measures were going to give any extra life to this thing—it was shot.

The homeowner responded by saying that our contract—i.e., the Big Deal promotional ad on Angie’s List—obliged us to fix his roof. Essentially, he wanted his roof completely fixed for $99. I responded with a letter reiterating that the roof was beyond repair and offered to refund his $99 and give him the report for free.

Soon after, the homeowner contacted the president of our company. The president told him that he’d seen the photos I'd taken and that there was nothing to be done but to replace the roof.

Mixed Blessing

Angie’s List has great leads, but it’s also a mixed blessing. Soon after the roof debacle, the homeowner wrote a scathing review of our company on Angie’s List. He said that we had no intention of ever making any repairs and cited the fact that I went on the roof with a camera rather than tools. The gist of his message was that he hired us to do repairs that we refused to do.

I responded with a rebuttal on Angie’s List, laying out my case. The homeowner called Angie’s List to complain about my rebuttal, and it went into dispute. While in dispute, the rules required that his review would stay up and my response to it would come down.

I was understandably furious and called Angie’s List to complain. I spoke with two different reps. The first told me that I had more than enough great reviews and that one negative one didn’t matter. Soon after, I was told that our company’s next Big Deal promotion had to be approved by a committee because of the negative review.

The second account rep told me that I had two choices: I could bury this with more good reviews, or I could get this guy to change his mind. I pointed out that nothing was going to change his mind and that I would be a fool to get up on that roof and touch anything because once you do you own it.

Common Sense

You get one or two of these types of homeowners a year, and no matter what you do, there’s no pleasing them.

Our company spends thousands to be on Angie’s List, and the homeowner spends $20 or $30 a year to belong to the site. And yet, Angie’s List won’t back up the contractor—even though it agrees that we’re right.

Curious about other remodelers' views on Angie's List? Check out this recent article and join the discussion—more than 200 comments have been posted on the subject.