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Article source: What is Angie’s List and How Does It Work? by TechBoomers.com

We’ve all had this dilemma — the car is making a scary noise, the furnace won’t turn on, or the toilet has sprung a leak. You need to hire someone to fix it, but don’t know where to start. Who can you trust to do the job well and charge a fair price? In the absence of a personal business relationship or recommendation from a friend, you can be left in the position of guessing — and hoping for the best.

It’s not always easy to find reliable help. Maybe you’re new in the area or never had a need to hire someone for the task at hand. Or maybe you’re just wary because you’ve gotten burned by hiring unknown companies in the past. The internet is a great resource for looking up people and services in your local area, but the question remains: Who can you trust?

Enter Angie’s List, the professional business directory and review portal created by Angie Hicks. What sets Angie’s List apart from other review and directory websites (such as Yelp, for example) is that all business reviews are written by invested users or verified outside parties, instead of an anonymous passerby. This means you can trust that a review is from someone who has actually done business with the company — not just a random person trying to cause trouble or play out a grudge, an employee trying to make the company look good, or a competitor trying to run a smear campaign.

4 ways to use Angie’s List

1. Search for different types of businesses in your local area.

Once you sign up for an account on Angie’s List, you’ll have access to its business directory. A basic membership is free; paid memberships offer enhanced tools and benefits. In addition to looking for companies by name or type, members can sort and filter results based on ratings, location, or availability. Another helpful feature is the ability to hire many listed companies without leaving the directory, sometimes at a discount.

2. View comprehensive information about a business, including reviews and ratings.

When you find a company on Angie’s List, you’ll see basic contact information and business descriptions, plus things like the company’s rankings in different categories of service, how many Angie’s List users have posted reviews, and the number of disputes between the company and an Angie’s List user. You can also take an in-depth look at users’ reviews to see exactly what was good (or bad) about their experience.

3. Write your own in-depth review of a business you have used.

Have you had previous experience with a business that is listed on Angie’s List? Share your experience by giving the company a ranking from “A” (best) to “F” (worst) for their overall work, plus five key service categories: price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality, and professionalism. You also have the option of adding other details: Did they do the work that you asked for? What did they specifically do (or not do)? Would you hire them again?  All of this adds up to a comprehensive review and rating that more concisely tells the tale of your business relationship with a company, instead of one-dimensional star ratings or long-winded, angry rants.

4. Hire recommended businesses… sometimes at a discount.

Whether or not you are a paid member of Angie’s List, you can make use of the “Big Deals” section to find and hire local businesses in your area… sometimes at discounts as high as 70% off. Unlike other deal-of-the-day websites like Groupon.com or WagJag.com, you don’t have to wait for a bunch of other people to buy the same service… you can book your appointment shortly after you purchase a deal.

Need help using Angie’s List to find the right help at the right price? TechBoomers’ course on Angie’s List will show you how to sign up for an account, search for local businesses, view or write ratings and reviews, and hire businesses through the “Big Deals” section.