One of my best money-saving tips that I give is to use the resource Twin Cities Consumers' Checkbook or Angie's List. Either resource, but especially Twin Cities Consumers' Checkbook, can steer you to reliable service providers that will perform quality work at a reasonable price. Whether you need a car mechanic, auto body specialist, heat and air conditioning contractor, or computer repair shop, the two services provide online ratings or in Checkbook's case, a print magazine as well.
Checkbook rates local companies. It also has an occasional phone special of $28 for two years (4 issues) as well as online access so if you need that auto repair shop STAT, you can go online today after you pay up. The normal price is $34 per year but ask about specials.
I like Checkbook more than Angie's List because Checkbook is a non-profit. Its ratings come from its own subscribers as well as Consumer Reports' subscribers. It usually won't list a company until at least 12-15 people have rated a company. Checkbook does its own price comparisons.
Angie's List gets its ratings from its subscribers too, but it lists all companies, even if only one person has rated a company. In fact, I think too many of Angie's List's ratings are based on five or fewer ratings. The ratings are like polling. The larger the sample size is, the better. In that case, one good review or one bad review doesn't skew the results as much. Angie's List also accepts advertising revenue from companies that get higher ratings, which I think is a conflict of interest.
Angie's List was running a special when I called Friday. Instead of $76 annually, it is $59. You can also buy a one month membership for $23 and $7 per month after that. Angie's List is an online only service. One advantage of Angie's List is the larger number of service categories that are rated, including some esoteric services such as chimney sweeps.
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