More threads by Garrett Sussman

Mar 15, 2016
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Angie?s List Settles Suit Alleging It Manipulated Reviews for Profit


As consumers, we expect on online review sites to convey impartial, word-of-mouth opinions and ratings, whether we?re looking for a new restaurant to try out, a boutique bed and breakfast for our next vacation, or an electrician for a project on our house.

As business owners, we expect online review sites to offer a level playing field where we can rise to the top based on the merit of our products and services and the happiness of our customers, not our willingness to pay.
You can imagine how incensed both parties might be if they were to find out that the review site they rely on is manipulating ratings based on behind-the-scenes deals. They might even sue!

Well, a group of business owners did just that. Janell Moore, Michelle Zygelman, and Gary Glick recently filed suit as a class action against the major home services review site, Angie?s List, alleging that the company ?does not adequately disclose that it accepts advertising payments from service providers or that the payments may affect service providers? letter-grade ratings, reviews, and placement in search-result rankings.?

The suit has now been settled with Angie?s List denying the claims and admitting no wrongdoing, but ponying up $1.4M plus attorney?s fees to settle the suit.

So if you have had a paid account on Angie?s List in the past and are a potential member of the settlement class, you may have received a surprising email about it.

The entire contents of the email about the settlement can be read here.

What do you think? Will this story pick up steam, or will Angie's List escape their alleged manipulation of reviews unscathed?

Were the issues in this case any different than the ones in the lawsuits against Yelp that made similar claims?
Hey Tim, thanks for the comment!

The cases were very similar. The main difference being that Angie's List decided to settle, whereas Yelp went to court and won. Here's an article about the Yelp case from a couple years ago:

[h=1]Judge: There?s no proof Yelp manipulates reviews[/h]
Interesting that the courts ruling called the alleged manipulation as 'hard bargaining' when it came to advertising, and not against business regulations.

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