ServiceWhale Says You Can Now Buy Home Improvement Services Online, Is that True?
Thanks to the amazing growth of the internet and technology over just the past decade, we can now easily and conveniently buy clothes, medical supplies and even groceries without ever leaving our homes. In some cases you can even make an appointment in the salon or with your doctor with just a few simple clicks of your mouse. But what about services for your home? So far there hasn’t been a similar process for home improvement projects, that is until now, say the creators of a new service called, ServiceWhale.
You may argue that this isn’t new because you can already search online for a contractor in your area, or check out their reviews on sites like AngiesList. Although that’s true that he internet has made it at least somewhat easier, what we’re really saying is this: Wouldn’t it be great if ordering a home improvement project to be done, such as installing a new HVAC system, was just as easy as buying a new pair of earrings, or as ServiceWhale says, a new pair of shoes? I’ll answer that for you and for me, yes it would. According to ServiceWhale, that’s exactly what their website is able to do. They call it, “The first true marketplace for home improvement shopping.”
They wouldn’t be the first in the online home repair and improvement industry to have tried to make the process easier for shoppers, but they are one of the first in how they have created their site to show you the prices in real time. This grabbed our attention of course and we decided to go check it out for ourselves and review ServiceWhale to see just how it works, if it works, and whether or not you should try it out for home repair or improvement projects.
How Does ServiceWhale Work?
If you’re not already familiar with how other home improvement and repair online services work let’s first explain that process so that you have something to compare this one to. Let’s say you’re looking for someone to install a new fence for you. If you choose to check out contractors on sites like Porch.com or HomeAdvisor, previously called ServiceMagic, you will check some boxes as to what your project involves and then you will be told that a few contractors will now be given your inofrmation and will call or email you. They will contact you to either give you an estimate over the phone, or set up a time to come to your home to do it. This process usually ends up in a lot of phone calls and even more emails that can get annoying quite fast.
If you choose instead to try AngiesList, a site that claims to give you honest and true reviews of the contractors, you will actually see the contractor’s information and get to choose them, however, to get this special service you will have to pay a monthly fee and there are many complaints online from both homeowners and contractors on how this process is not actually fair or true.
So how is ServiceWhale different? As we found out by going through the process on their site, as we also have done on AngiesList and the others earlier mentioned, ServiceWhale not only provided the contractor info and reviews, it also immediately gave us the amount it would cost us. And better yet, it did so without charging us a dime and without giving all of our info to the contractor. We liked all of that very much.
How’s the pricing work? ServiceWhale has set up their model with the contractors in a way that they are able to take the information you provided and then give you a real time price, not an estimate, an actual price that you can book right then and there while you’re looking at your screen.
We did note that there were two different options as to the pricing though and these were either, “Order Now” or “Lock in This Deal.” Reviewing the site and asking questions led us to find that clicking on Order Now means that this price is guaranteed and you’re locked in and it’s a done deal, in essence you have purchased that service just as you would have bought a pair of jeans on Amazon. For “Lock in This Deal” (which some contractors may opt to use), according to ServiceWhale this means that the contractor wants to review the deal, perhaps verify a few details etc, and they have 24 hours to do so. Either way, the price you’ve been shown is now locked in and you’re set to go.
As for actual payment that will be handled between you and the contractor, however, if you do need some assistance, such as financing, we noticed that there is some help you can get through the site with LendingClub to finance the project.
What if you like to negotiate and haggle? We found that you can do that as well with a feature that lets you ask for a price you’re more comfortable with, the worse the contractor can say is no, so it’s worth a try. A good time to use it may be if you happen to see that the price differences between contractors is quite big and you’d prefer one over the other. For example, you get two contractors that say they’d charge you $800 and $1000 for the same project but the higher charging contractor has better reviews. You can ask if he or she would come down in their price to better fit your budget.
How Do You Use ServiceWhale
We found it to extremely easy to use their platform, danyone can do it and all you will need are a few details such as room measurements etc. The etc is depending on the type of job you’re hiring to have done. The video below shows how quick it was.
Here’s the process: You go to their website, input your zipcode, choose what type of project or service you’re needing done and then just answer the questions they’ve set up to be able to give you that instant price.
Next, you will be asked to either login with Facebook or provide an email address and phone number, but none of your info will be going to the contractors until you want it to go to them. We did receive an email from ServiceWhale after trying out their system that asked if a contractor could contact us. We had setup a fake job for the purpose of our review. We spoke to SW and they told us, as we thought, that this email is from them and not from the contractor. We can accept or decline and the contractor will not have our information either way, until we’re ready for them to have it.
The next phase you will be at will be the actual contractors in your area that you’ve been matched to as well as the prices. From here you can now check out the contractor better through their profile, look at the service agreement, look at the quote details, request a different price, and more.
Aside from the actual quote details given on the Quote Details screen, you can also find in this screen the actual service agreement (see image earlier in article that shows “Quote Details” sample page), what you and the contractor have agreed upon for the price given, the date to start, and other important info that is good to check out before you click on Order Now or Lock in This Deal.
Should you want more information from the contractor you can request that the contractor contact or visit you, or you can contact them as well from the order screen.
What We Loved
We loved the instant price being available to us, and we loved not having to pay some sort of fee for this. Aside from the instant pricing, we also really like that there is a concierge service. Once you’ve registered with their website you’ll get a call from them to offer you assistance with the whole ordering process. There’s also a chat button on the site should you want instant help. This is definitely an above and beyond step that’s rarely, if ever, seen in an unpaid service.
Another thing that we found to our liking is that you’re not actually stuck with the deal should you change your mind. Even if you did click on locking in the deal, you can still cancel it. And since there’s no money down and there’s no penalty for changing your mind, it does indeed make the whole thing risk free, as they claim on the site.
As for how they choose the contractors, we also inquired about this as it is an important part of why any of would choose to use one site over another that provides us any help in this area. Like other sites, they way that they vet the contractor is that the ensure that the contractor is in good standing with the BBB, verify that the contractor is licensed and then provide to you as well the Google, Yelp and internal reviews from current customers. They also will mediate and work with you and the contractor should there be any issues.
What’s Not to Love….Downsides
As with all reviews we are thorough in our look for the good, the bad and even the ugly. For ServiceWhale we found 99% good, 1% bad, and 0% ugly. The 1% “bad” we speak of though isn’t really “bad,” meaning it’s not a negative against how they perform, it’s more of a downside. This downside is that their services are currently only available in the Philly and New York City metro areas.
They are of course looking to extend this to eventually be offered throughout the entire U.S., but as for when that may happen it’s not totally known. For those of us that cannot use them yet but look forward to as soon as they’re available in our area all we can do is follow them on Facebook, Twitter or here (bookmark us), and watch for updates.
While you wait for them to come to your city, you could take advantage of a part of their site that is available to anyone anywhere, and that is their reminders settings. These are great and something all homeowners should use if they want to keep their home running at their best. They have reminders you can set up for your air filter, cleaning and maintenance of appliances or you can create your own reminder as well.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a state they have contractors already set up in and have a project you need done, we highly recommend using ServiceWhale. In fact, we recommend it over any other site in the same arena.
This is of course our opinion of their service, so we’d love to hear yours too and so would our readers. If you’re lucky enough to live in a state that they provide contractors in and you try out their service, we hope that you’ll come back here and let us know how the experience was. We’re hoping it’s as good as we think it is!