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Christchurch mum keeps tradesmen honest

Christchurch mum keeps tradesmen honest's
Matt Burgess and Jan Parkin
Click to enlarge

11 August 2006

Christchurch mum keeps tradesmen honest

A Christchurch mum’s frustration over a plumber who never turned up at the agreed time was the catalyst for a website where Kiwis can read and write reviews of their tradesmen.

Launched just last week, is already showing that turning up late, not returning calls, and leaving a mess are the top three complaints kiwis have about their tradesmen.

But the main purpose of is allowing people to share the good news about their tradesmen with other householders. The site has already attracted 600 reviews of tradesmen from around the country, with more coming in by the hour.

Fed-up with the plumber’s continual no-shows, Jan Parkin suggested to her son that he and a friend design a website where people could review their tradesmen, both good and bad. Others reading the website could then be sure of hiring reliable people.

After a year’s development work her son Chris Parkin, and Matthew Burgess have launched the site, much to Jan Parkin’s delight.

“I told the boys to make it simple, so someone like me could easily use it,” she said.

At the business end of MyTradesman, spokesman Matthew Burgess said the reviews were carefully checked before they went on line.

“Every review that comes in is examined before being posted on the site. If we have any concerns we contact the reviewer, and if we’re still not happy we dump it. Tradesmen also have the option of responding to every review of them on the site.”


11 August 2006

What matters to consumers when dealing with tradesmen

In January 2006, we undertook a survey to understand what people care about when hiring a tradesman. Interestingly, of the 15 characteristics listed, the least important to consumers was a tradesman’s price compared to the competition. The most important were quality of workmanship, honesty, and value for money.

These results shaped the way tradesmen are reviewed on the MyTradesman site. Consumers rate tradesmen on the following five categories:

- Quality,
- Integrity,
- On Time,
- On Quote,
- Value for Money

A tradesman’s overall rating is the average score across these five categories.

Why consumers leave negative reviews

Over 90% of reviews on MyTradesman have been positive, but among the negative reviews received some patterns have emerged. The most common factors cited in a negative review are poor quality workmanship, poor communication, turning up late, and leaving a mess.

Our favourite reviews

Plumber in the South Island:

We got them in to fix our toilet. Firstly, the tradesman had to borrow our tools to do the job because he didn’t have the right ones himself. Then once he had completed the job, there was a puddle of filthy water around the toilet. He'd left our tools sitting in the wet puddle and when I asked him about it he said that wasn't his job to clean up.

An Auckland Electrician:

We use Craig and have been really happy. He’s remarkable – he goes the extra mile to get the job done right. We’ve recommended him to many people and they’ve always been really happy too. We had a major power outage in the holidays and the power company’s sub-contractors couldn’t fix it – but Craig drove 3 hours each way to look at the problem and got it totally sorted out. Really impressed.

A Wellington Electrician:

This was the worst tradesman we have ever come across. He was unreliable, slow, he underestimated and held up all our other contractors. I would suggest you think twice before using this man, there are at least 8 other people we know of that have had bad experiences with him!

From The Website

About Us

MyTradesman came about because Jan’s plumber was late.

Like many Christchurch home owners, Jan found hiring a new tradesman a bit of a lottery. Would he turn up? Would the work be up to scratch? Would the bill be what she’d expected? It was while waiting for the plumber (who never showed up at all) that Jan started thinking about other people with her problem. So she called her son, Chris. And Chris called his friend, Matt. And together they got to work creating an online community where Kiwis could share their experiences – good and bad – of tradesmen in their area.

"I just wish," Jan says, "that before I basically threw a dart at the Yellow Pages, someone had said to me ‘let me tell you about my tradesman.'"

So "MyTradesman" it was.

Chris and Matt started by researching which qualities people look for in a tradesman. They interviewed homeowners, landlords, and property managers and discovered that, among other things, few people cared if a tradesman was cheaper than his competition, that value for money was crucial however, and that the quality of a tradesman’s work is vastly more important than how well presented he is. From this research, Chris and Matt designed a rating system that could accurately measure the performance of everyone from glaziers to tree surgeons. Then they recruited web-designers and programmers to help turn it into a website.

After almost a year of hard work, we are proud to welcome you to Jan wanted there to be a place where she could find reliable, trustworthy tradesmen and MyTradesman is the first step towards that goal.

Chris Parkin is a former Wellington radio presenter; Matt Burgess is formerly from economics consulting firm CRA International in Wellington and San Francisco. MyTradesman is based in Christchurch.


What’s this MyTradesman all about then?

MyTradesman is a place where Kiwis can read and write reviews of tradesmen in their area. It’s completely free and you don’t need to be registered to read the reviews. You can find out what other people thought of that plumber or sparky you’re thinking of hiring right now, without having to fill out any forms. Easy.

What’s to stop tradesmen writing glowing reviews of themselves?

We are. While there’s no way to prevent it 100%, we have taken various precautions to eliminate ‘self-reviewing’.

Precautions? Like what?

Firstly, no one is able to leave more than one review for the same tradesman, so there is no chance of someone sitting down and sending 50 great reviews of themselves.

Secondly, you must be registered with a valid email address before you can write a review, that way we can contact you if we suspect the review is not genuine. Third, we record the IP address of all reviewers, meaning if somebody signs up multiple times using different email addresses from the same location we can be alerted. And finally, no review will ever make it onto the site without first being checked by one of our review editors. If they’re not happy, or feel the review is not genuine, they will contact the reviewer to discuss it and, if still not satisfied, will simply discard it.

Will the tradesman know it’s me who wrote a review of him?

No. When you join MyTradesman we will ask you to choose a User Name, like "RedHead" or "SpunkyDevil99". This is the only detail that will appear next to your review. The full name you give us during the Joining process is just so we can address you politely whenever we send you an email, and so we know whose name to write when sending our lucky winners an iPod.

What does the link "Tradesmen Claim this Profile" mean?

You’ll notice that whenever you look at a tradesman’s profile it shows their phone number and address. In addition to this, a tradesman can ‘claim’ his own profile and add more details – like a photograph, a brief description of his work and experience, or simply an additional phone number. Again, all changes the tradesman makes must be approved by our Review Editors before they appear on the site.

Nice feature. How much does a tradesman have to pay for that service?

Nothing. MyTradesman is a little different to other sites in that it’s completely free to use. The only thing we charge for are our banner advertisements.

If a Tradesman thinks a review of his work is unfair, what can he do?

He can respond to a review by clicking on the "Tradesman Respond to This Review" link. Then, so long as he is already a MyTradesman member, he can fill out his details, his position in the company and phone number, then write a response to the review. As with everything, his response must be checked and approved by our Review Editors before it appears on the site. If a tradesman is still not happy, he may email us:

Isn’t the name "MyTradesMAN" a little sexist?

We haven’t met many female tradespeople.

Well, I’m a female drain-layer, and I take great offense to the name of your site!

Please accept our humble apologies. We looked into "MyTradesperson", "MyTradesman-and/or-woman" and "MyGender-Non-Specific-Trade-Professional", but they didn’t have the same ring.

Fair enough. I like what you’re doing and want to reach your audience – can I pay to advertise on MyTradesman?

You can. We have a range of advertising packages available and because we’re just starting out, our rates are very competitive. Send us an email and we’ll get in touch to discuss which advertising option suits you best.

Should I review a tradesman or his/her company?

Good Question.

Thank you.

You should always review the company. Feel free to mention the name of the particular tradesman (or woman) in your review. All the tradesmen are listed by their company name, so even if you’ve always known your builder as simple Bob Smith, you will need to know the name of Bob’s company in order to review his work.

What do the stars next to the review mean?

When you write a review we’ll ask you to rate the performance of the tradesman in five categories - Quality, Integrity, On Time, On Quote, Value for Money. For each category you’ll need to give your tradesman a rating from 1 to 5 stars. We average all the values to arrive at the overall Star Rating.

How are the search results ordered?

Whichever tradesman has the highest average star rating is at the top. If two tradesmen have the same star rating, then the one with the most reviews will go higher.

I wrote a review a while ago and it still hasn’t appeared on the site – why not?

Perhaps your review was judged by our team of Review Editors to be slanderous – you can only review the performance of a tradesman, you can’t comment on him personally. For example, you can say "Bob Smith did a lousy job of my driveway" but you can’t say "Bob Smith is fat and lazy". Either that or the language or content of your review was deemed to be inappropriate for MyTradesman. Contact us if you’re concerned.

While I have found this FAQ to be comprehensive and helpful, I still have some questions/comments about the site. Can I drop you an email?

Please! We want to make MyTradesman as useful as possible and so your comments, suggestions and criticisms are always welcome.


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