by Paul Alan Levy
When I was pulling together my recent analysis of Hadeed Carpet Cleaning’s assertion that its negative reviews had appeared on Yelp only after it pulled its advertising from Yelp, I figured that it might be helpful if I ran a cross-check against how Hadeed is portrayed on other web sites that address the quality of local businesses. As the blog post makes clear, Hadeed’s portrayal on the Better Business Bureau web site, and in the pages of the Washington Consumer Checkbook, was comparable to the reviews found on Yelp. The pervasiveness of these adverse consumer reviews make it hard to credit Hadeed's claim, which the Wall Street Journal published uncritically, that it was a handful of negative reviews on Yelp, from posters whom Hadeed claims may not really have been its customers, that drove Hadeed's business down by thirty percent. And not only has Hadeed not accused these sources of extortion, but neither one sells advertising to businesses, so it seems quite likely that Hadeed’s problem is neither malevolence on Yelp’s part, nor fake reviews from non-customers, but uneven service from Hadeed that produces genuinely discontented consumers.
I was a bit surprised, though, not to have been able to find any reviews about Hadeed on Angie’s List. Given Hadeed's claim to have had 30,000 customers per year, its absence from Angie's List was remarkable. I asked Angie’s List about the absence, but unfortunately I did not hear back until after I put up my article. An email from its customer service pointed me to this listing, which notes that Hadeed has asked Angie’s List to remove it from the database altogether. When I saw the listing, I could see why Hadeed wanted out – its average grade is C, and fully half of its member reviews give Hadeed an F.
My working assumption was that Hadeed must have wanted to get itself out of the database because it didn’t want to be subjected to any further consumer reviews. This conclusion would be consistent with the possibility that Hadeed's lawsuit against the anonymous Yelp reviewers was similarly designed to chill future consumer reviews. I was concerned, however, that Angie’s List might be unwitting facilitating Hadeed’s coverup about how consumers really feel about its services, by making it too hard for its own members to find out how other members had reviewed Hadeed.
I followed through by consulting with the Angie’s List customer service representative, who explained to me how other consumers could best search for information about Hadeed; I was therefore able to discover that Hadeed actually has three separate pages on Angie’s List, one of which was apparently created in November 2013, shortly after Hadeed’s October 18, 2013 request to have its original page removed from Angie’s List. (The third page was created in 2007, but was put in the Angie’s List “penalty box” when Hadeed failed to respond to a customer complaint in 2009). So perhaps the reason for removal was just to try to reinvent itself on Angie’s List, eliminating from view the many harsh reviews of its business over the past several years. And by allowing the creation of multiple listings, while removing Hadeed’s original page from full accessibility, Angie’s List may be unwittingly facilitating this strategy.
I tried to contact Hadeed, through its counsel, to ask about its request for removal from Angie’s List, but Hadeed was unwilling to respond.