SF District Attorney

San Francisco District Attorney Boudin Announces Settlement with Angie’s List, Inc. Over False Advertising Claim Regarding Background Checks

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Rachel Marshall, (415) 416-4468 / Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org  

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced the settlement of the District Attorney’s Office’s civil false advertising case against Angie’s List, Inc., a home services website that provides a crowd-sourced online directory of local businesses and contractors.  In the case, the District Attorney’s Office alleged that, during 2016, Angie’s List’s website and television advertising misled consumers into believing that Angie’s List background checks included all workers of listed businesses who entered into their homes.  Instead, Angie’s List only background checked the “owner, relevant manager or principal” of the business appearing on Angie’s List, meaning that the actual individual contractor or worker coming into people’s homes would not necessarily be background checked.  The settlement includes both compensation to customers as well as a permanent injunction to safeguard the public from future misrepresentations.

“This settlement protects consumers who make important safety decisions about whom to allow into their homes,” said District Attorney Boudin.  “Rather than providing accurate information so that consumers can make educated decisions about whom to trust, Angie’s List’s advertising misled consumers.  I commend the hard work of our attorneys in bringing about this settlement to protect San Franciscans from further deception.”

As part of the settlement, Angie’s List has agreed to repay 50% of new member subscription fees to customers who subscribed for its services while Angie’s List was running the misleading ads, from June 23, 2016, and February 8, 2017 (currently estimated to be $225,000).  Angie’s List has also entered into a permanent injunction that will prevent it from misleading customers regarding its background checks in the future, and will pay $50,000 in civil penalties for its unlawful practices. 

A stipulated judgment formalizing the agreement was signed yesterday by the Honorable Ethan P. Shulman, Judge of the San Francisco Superior Court.  The District Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecution worked on this case, with Assistant District Attorney Alethea Sargent as lead attorney.