Curiously, WCTY has failed to upload the archived video of last Monday's Metropolitan & Economic Development Committee meeting at which the controversial subsidy was approved for the second time with only one dissenting vote after the full council sent it back to committee earlier this month. Advance Indiana is told representatives of Angie's List were asked to comment on pending litigation filed by consumers and shareholders against the company, but they refused to discuss them. Most recently, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the company's members in the state of Pennsylvania alleging the company engaged in a scheme to defraud its paid members by making them believe they were receiving an unfiltered, consumer-driven rating service for service providers. Instead, the lawsuit alleges that Angie's List manipulates service providers' reviews, ratings and search result rankings based on advertising fees paid by the services providers. The company has never turned a profit during any calendar year of its two decades of existence despite its growing revenues driven by the advertising fees it collects from service providers, which is more than triple what it collects in membership fees from consumers.
UPDATE: The Indianapolis Star has a story up now on the latest class action lawsuit against the company, which begins:
With a critical vote on a tax-incentive package looming, Indianapolis-based Angie’s List has been hit with another class-action lawsuit, the company’s third in four years.
And unlike past allegations, this complaint cuts to the heart of the company’s chief selling point — the trustworthiness of its consumer reviews.
Filed March 11 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the lawsuit alleges that Angie’s, an online consumer review service, manipulates company ratings that are sold to its subscribers as impartial user reviews.
It does so, the lawsuit claims, by giving paid advertisers preferential treatment, such as boosting their visibility on the site and suppressing negative reviews.
“Angie’s List does not help members find the ‘best’ service provider, but rather the one who paid the most money to Angie’s List,” the complaint says. “This certainly is not ‘always placing the interests of the consumer first,’ ” as the company says in its public filings.
Debra DeCourcy, an Angie’s spokeswoman, said it is company policy not to comment on pending litigation. The company’s lawyers have not yet filed a response in court . . .