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For those of us used to shopping online, the process of hiring someone to work on your home can feel awfully last-century. If the professional you're considering has a website — which isn't guaranteed — a smart buyer will still take any testimonials posted there with a grain of salt.
Independent review sites exist, but most offer their own frustrations. For example, Angie's List requires a purchased membership to view reviews, while Yelp has been plagued by allegations that it manipulates reviews. Not to mention, there's the often frustrating process of trying to determine exactly how much a specific vendor charges for the services you need.
Now, Amazon is looking to shake things up with Amazon Home Services, a new service that connects consumers with professionals that provide services ranging from the mundane (like house cleaning and appliance repair) to the highly unusual (like aerial yoga and goat grazing).
Amazon has done their best to make it as straightforward as possible. Select a category (like plumbing) and a service (like toilet replacement or clogged drain repair). Once you choose, it will take you to a page with a suggested professional and their price estimate for that service. From there, you can click to view other available professionals and their price estimates. You can also read reviews for any pro that has services available. Once you choose a professional, you'll be offered a calendar of appointment times to choose from.
While neither the price estimate nor the appointment time are 100% guaranteed, Amazon claims that 3 out of 4 customers are able to book their appointments in their preferred timeslots, and 9 out of 10 see no change between the estimate and final price. (You'll have a chance to confirm both with your chosen professional before work begins.) Of note, you don't pay the professional until the service is complete.
Since the service launched only recently, reviews are thin on the ground, but if this service catches hold that could change quickly: the ability to quickly browse prices and reviews for a variety of professionals isn't something any other major site offers for free right now.
What reviews do exist are largely positive. Amazon has vetted all the professionals on the site and claims to have only invited those who "have a strong record of service quality," have passed a background check, and have any required trade licenses and insurance on file with Amazon. (If you are a home services professional, you can apply to be listed.)
Plus, Amazon is bringing its legendary customer service to the table, backing these vendors with its Happiness Guarantee: "If you're not 100% satisfied, Amazon will make it right or give you a full refund."
Even if you choose to go with a professional not listed on Amazon's site, the service could still be useful to you by providing you an easy-to-access list of what others charge for the service you need — helpful when you're trying to gauge whether a price you've been offered is reasonable.
Amazon says this service is "currently available" in 30 major cities across the country, from Los Angeles to Orlando. But limited services are available in many other cities and zip codes. Visit their page and input your zip code to see what (if anything) is available near you.
Are you excited about Amazon's new service? Do you think it's something you'll use? Let us know in the comments.