Tuesday, February 22, 2011

We can learn from Angie’s List

You’ve heard of Angie’s List – the subscription based rating service that assigns letter grades to contractors based on performance.  I had heard of Angie’s List and decided to buy a year’s subscription after moving to San Antonio, TX.  It has proven to be a valuable resource, and one that can have broader implications.

The American populace suffocates under needless regulation – rules that promise to protect us from Visigoths and fly-by-night contractors.  Many states have enacted laws requiring practitioners of countless trades to obtain professional licensure in an effort to protect the needy.  While the rules may weed out a few bad seeds, these laws usually do more harm than good.

Often, licenses require a minimum number of educational hours, or the passing of a exam before obtaining the blessing of the state.  These rules force practitioners to spend valuable time away from their trade and depart with their hard-earned money, while doing little to protect the public.  Many professions grow large and lobby state legislatures for even more stringent minimum standards in an attempt to thwart competition.  These rent-seeking lobbyists serve only to drive up costs for consumers and ultimately reduce quality and standards on their products and services.  I propose to replace this distorted system with something akin to Angie’s List.

Angie’s List allows consumers to grade the services they receive from contractors.  Angie ranks providers based on customer feedback, and potential customers can peruse the rankings and read full reports at anytime.  This information is much more useful than knowing a contractor passed a test and obtained a license from the state.  Instead of abdicating our responsibility to the state, let’s make an effort to be responsible for our own decisions.  

I give Angie’s List an A+ for advancing the interest of the consumer.

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