Why Is Angie's List Spying On Me?

James tells Consumerist that he tried Angie’s List, and wasn’t thrilled with the experience. He was surprised and displeased, however, when a representative from the service reached out, called him, and asked him some questions about the professionals he had searched for. Would you have reacted the same way?

I had a really weird experience yesterday and thought that this would be of interest. I signed up for Angie’s List a month or two ago; I figured for a buck or two a month, it was worth trying out. My experience to date had been mediocre — kind of like Yelp for home improvement and doctors, but with fewer reviews (I don’t consider fewer than five reviews to be useful, and many – especially the doctors – had only one or two, if any). After signing up, I talked to friends who had (or had heard about) similar experiences – unless you live in a huge metro area, there just isn’t enough information. I’d signed up for two reasons – looking for a landscaper to do some work, and looking for a doctor. I did some searching, and found a landscaper who I think will work, but haven’t had any work done yet. I looked at a few doctors’ reviews, generally thought “meh”, and logged off. I hadn’t really thought about my subscription for a few weeks until I got a phone call yesterday from an “Unknown” number (i.e. it showed up as “Unknown” in Caller ID without a number). When I answered, the conversation went like this:

“Hi, this is [...] calling from Angie’s List. Is this [my name]?”
(Did I put my phone number in when I signed up? That’s weird) “Yes, yes it is.”

“Some members were looking for more information about providers in your area, and we wanted to know what you thought of them”

“Uh, okay.”

“[name of landscaping company] – Have you had any work done by them?”

“No, I’ve just set up an appointment.”

“[name of doctor] – Have you seen them?”

“No.”

[she rattled off a couple of other doctors I'd searched for. I hadn't seen any of them so I said no]

“Is your email address still [my email address]“

“Yes[*]“

“and you still live at [my physical address]“

“Yes”

“Okay, thank you for your time. Please don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions”.
[*] – No, I generally don’t give out information on the phone — especially in a situation like this — but I don’t see much harm in confirming stuff they already know.

Yes, I’m aware that something like Angie’s List can save and analyze the searches I’ve done. But for someone to call me and solicit opinions — particularly for medical professionals — goes WAY over a privacy line. I mean, I was just searching for GPs, but if I was searching for a specialist of a sensitive nature — an oncologist, a urologist, a plastic surgeon — I would certainly NOT want to be contacted about my searches.

Angie’s List, you’re overly aggressive and creepy. I’m leaving you.

I can’t help but wonder: would James have been more or less comfortable if the service had e-mailed him asking about his experiences? Or does the human contact element of a phone call make this seem more personal and then more invasive?