SPARKS

Should we ditch review sites?

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HaMuch.com owner Tarquin Purdie believes online reviews for tradespeople have become “worthless” and should be ditched.

His HaMuch.com site shows details of how much tradespeople charge in your local area and had previously accepted reviews and stars out of five – which are now being deleted from the website.

Many popular websites who charge for job leads offer feedback and a marks system.

But Tarquin believes that customers can end up being fobbed off with poor tradespeople who “game the system”. He also believes that good tradespeople who stick to the rules can be punished by unscrupulous homeowners.

“The review system has become a sort of two-way intimidation,” says Tarquin. “Tradespeople pressure customers to leave a good review and even offer cash discounts as a part of this. Customers ask tradespeople to include extras, heavy discounts or endlessly snag before agreeing to leave good feedback.

“A good tradesperson can be ruined by one bad review, but a poor one can just bribe their way to positive feedback. It has become a bad joke. And one that many of these companies profit from. It’s time for homeowners and tradespeople to leave them behind.”

Websites such as TripAdvisor and Yell.com have recently been rocked by claims of fake and paid-for reviews and Tarquin believes that the same problems may dog some of the trades review sites. He is now calling for the industry and customers to re-think how they work together in an honest way.

“The review system has become entirely worthless,” he says. “Although tradesmen and women are paying a lot to be a part of it. The problem is that there is no real way of checking that the work has been done, if it is any good and whether bad reviews have been removed at the request of tradespeople, who are the paying customer for review companies.

“To be effective, the system requires a regulator, although I’m not sure these companies would be willing to stump up for that. False reviews are like fake news, but no one is taking any action to either regulate or clean up the sizeable builder review industry.

“We only welcome builders, plumbers or electricians who are clear and open on price and who are willing to show customers prior work.”

HaMuch.com guide to finding a good builder without review sites

  1. Work out your budget and choose a tradesperson who can meet it via HaMuch.com
  2. Ask to see previous work, preferably in your own neighbourhood
  3. Get a quote from two or three different businesses
  4. Read the small print and check what is included in the price
  5. Ask what guarantees are included and for details of membership of professional bodies

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