Amazon now offering home services: Amazon.com strapped on a home improvement tool belt this week, with an announcement that the site will now help users find pros to get things done around the house.
The online emporium that helps its affiliated sellers get even the most obscure products to a buyer's doorstep has been expanding its list of services with data storage, movie streaming and more. Now Amazon can send people to those same doorsteps to assemble a new treadmill, hang flat-screen TVs, clear clogged drains, repair a heating system or paint the bedroom.
Amazon Home Services will be competing with go-between sites like Angie's List, Home Services Pro, Home Advisor and others that promise to make it easier to find the right person for the job, usually at the right price.
As with similar sites, Amazon Home Services pros can compete for a customer's business through pricing and their availability. But Amazon isn't charging a subscription fee as Angie's List does. And it spells out exactly how it checks out its service providers in ways other sites don't.
Amazon is counting on convenience craving customers who want to know the price up front. Some pre-packaged services are offered at set prices, and there's a price-matching guarantee on those services. More than a dozen custom-priced home services.. interior design, yard maintenance, pest control, window washing are also are available. (Curiously, beyond having someone bring in weed-clearing goats, the list also includes acrobatic silk aerialists who might swing from the ceiling and twirl themselves up using lengths of cloth.)
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According to Amazon, its hand-picked professionals have a record of service quality. "We screen through a combination of media searches, online interviews and reference checks." While any home service provider can now apply to work with Amazon, all will be subjected to a 6-point criminal background check and must keep proof of licenses and insurance on file with Amazon. Business registration, liens, judgments, bankruptcy status and more are checked for participating providers on an ongoing basis, according to the site. Providers also must "meet ongoing performance targets" including responsiveness, quality work and positive ratings.
And then there's the "Happiness Guarantee." According to the site: "Our goal is to make sure you're 100 percent happy with any service you've purchased from Amazon Home Services. If the work was not completed to your satisfaction and you're not wearing a gigantic smile, let us know and we'll work with you and your pro to help ensure the job gets done right." If it can't be done right, a refund is the next step.
Don't get excited yet. Not one New Jersey city is listed among the locations to which the service is presently offered. While a search with a central New Jersey ZIP code did pull up a number of mostly assembly services available, the return for searches for more heavy-duty jobs like housecleaning or drywall repair was most often "We're sorry, no pros near."
Customers pay for the work once the job is completed, and Amazon collects a fee of 10 to 20 percent of the charges from participating service providers.
The full roster of home services will include lessons (music, language, yoga -- including aerial), automobile repair, lawn and garden help and computer- and electronics-related repairs and service. Amazon says it is constantly adding providers and services and that those in New Jersey and other areas not yet fully served should "check back frequently for updates."