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The Sneakiness of HomeAdvisor

February 4, 2019

Over the last ten days, I have been confronting issues related to a power surge that shot through my home on January 26, 2019, and also discovering that rats built a nest in my water softener system. (They ate the wiring, including part of an electrical wire connected to my water pump.)

In addressing the plumbing issue on February 03, 2019, I found myself in need of a plumber. (Beware of disturbing water bypass valves that have not been called upon to actually bypass water for over a decade.)

I don’t like using the internet to try to locate local home repair businesses. I used to like it, but then came the likes of HomeAdvisor.

Now, what you should know is that I did not realize I had chosen to use HomeAdvisor. However, in November 2018 as I was searching for a local business to bush hog the back of my property, I learned that there are fake business websites, like “Bob’s Bush Hogging,” which advertises being local to Covington, Louisiana, but offers contact by internet only– no address or phone number– and which are fronts for HomeAdvisor.

So, okay. Bob wants only contact by internet, which I did– including providing a brief summary of the work I wanted done.

I entered my info, including address and phone number, and wrote that I was seeking a price quote on the cost of bush hogging the back of my property.

I never heard from Bob. (He was probably busy operating his local bush hog businesses in Madisonville, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama, and Roanoke, Virginia, and probably just about any city that one might enter as a google search with the words, “bush hog.”)

But I did receive a phone call from a man with a lawn care business located about 15 -20 miles away. In his voice mail to me, the man asked for me to return his call and to tell him what kind of lawn care I needed.

He had no idea that I was looking for a quote about bush hogging.

So much for “Bob’s Bush Hogging.”

I also received an email from HomeAdvisor about “my request.” In fact, I received daily emails for a few days in a row pushing me to contact the lawn care business provided by  HomeAdvisor.

I did call the man, and in that call I discovered that HomeAdvisor sent my contact to him– and that HomeAdvisor charged him $25 for the lead.

Here’s the clincher:  He does not do bush hogging and never did.

“Bob” knew my request was specifically for a bush hogging quote, and Bob HomeAdvisor sent my request to a business that was neither local nor capable of satisfying the request, all while charging an unfortunate small business $25 for a false lead.

So, back to my issue of needing a local plumber.

I thought of using the internet.

Then I remembered Bob, and decided I’d rather go a tried and true route: the personal referral.

Which I received from a friend.

And now, plumbing is fixed, and the new water softener system has been rat-proofed to the best of my ability.

As for HomeAdvisor:

I did not appreciate being stealthily directed to HomeAdvisor.

What I have discovered is that HomeAdvisor chooses to identify itself only in fine print below the “send” button. That is sneaky:

By submitting your info on this form, you are agreeing to be contacted regarding your service request by means of telephone, email, or text including using pre-recorded or auto dialed phone calls or text messages to the phone number you have provided, including your wireless number, if provided. Consent to content doesn’t require you to purchase service. Please note you may be matched to one of our trusted partners HomeAdvisor. By using this service, you are bound to HomeAdvisor Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

What is also sneaky is that “one of our trusted partners HomeAdvisor” never clearly identifies the “our.” One has no idea who “our” really is– except that “our” is really only HomeAdvisor.

I also feel for the small businesses that are being charged $25 apiece for referrals that may have nothing to do with the services they offer.

Too many levels of self-serving scam, all leading back to HomeAdvisor.



  1. Lisa Mcgehee permalink

    I used home advisor for an electrician and he was amazing. However he did tell me that he had to charge me more due to home advisor charging him for the referral. He gave me his card and now I call him directly.

  2. Christine Langhoff permalink

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there seems to be an edu-business parallel.

    For example,you know, when the phrase “time on learning” suddenly seems to be in everyone’s lexicon, but wasn’t 4 months ago? Then you find that one edu-gadfly or another has a new edu-business funded by the usual suspects, addressing, guess what? “Time on learning”. And there’s a website, and a Twitter and half a dozen or more folks (with a ratio of diversity) under the “About Us” tab, but not a one has any experience teaching, aside from TFA.

    So it’s an entire non-profit, doing nothing really, but getting referrals for their services – a whole bunch of people with six figure salaries, but the rats are still eating out the plumbing.

  3. Lance Hill permalink

    “Charter” repair businesses: All marketing, no real service. Of course, TFA kids might be qualified for lawn mowing. I’m a former gardener and I think I could train an Ivy League graduate how to push a mower in 8 weeks. Maybe.

  4. what a sad story.

    now that we are all tied to the Internet, it turns out that there are many businesses that snatch your request.

    I made reservations to stay at a hotel in San Francisco, and discovered later that i had registered with

    if you choose a restaurant in most big cities, your reservation will be snagged by Open Table.

    I assume they all get a cut of money that belongs to the proprietor.

  5. There’s another scam site like this called Thumbtack where hairstylists and makeup artists have to purchase tokens to send quotes even though there’s no guarantee anyone you send a quote to will book you.

  6. IRA SHOR permalink

    I ask for referrals on repairs from local hardware store.

  7. Laureen Mayfield permalink

    I had a similar issue with HomeLight. They advertise they will send you the names of the three top real estate agents in your area to sell your property. The fine print says they receive “a fee” from the realtors. The reality: before they sent me the names they had the realtors sign a contract that HomeLight would receive 25% of their commission if they sold the house! Now, those top realtors are not willing to negotiate their commissions because HomeLight gets 25% off the top. Beware!

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