As Amazon has grown into the towering commercial giant we all know today, one thing they’ve done exceptionally well is continue finding ways to expand and subtly redefine the scope of their services.
As many people have noted, Amazon’s obvious goal is to become the go-to resource for the vast majority of the average consumer’s purchasing needs from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep. So it’s no surprise that Amazon has made a serious move into the services market.
What is Amazon Home Services?
Amazon Home Services allows you to purchase the services of various local contractors through your Amazon account.
Many of the available services relate directly to items that are commonly bought on Amazon — like flatscreen TV mounting, assembly of various items ranging from grills to outdoor furniture, technical assistance like hooking up your home theater or other electronics, etc.
But you can also find services like landscaping, house cleaning, home improvement, and a variety of other things not directly related to the consumer goods you might expect to buy on Amazon.
The services broadly fall into eight categories:
- House Cleaning
- Home Theater
- Home Improvement
- Computer & Electronics
- Yard & Outdoors
- Business & Commercial
- Smart Home Services
Customers have two basic choices for purchasing services: either buy a pre-defined service with a price already listed, or submit a customized service request and receive quotes from local providers via email.
Amazon Home Services has grown since its inception in 2014 to offer (as you’d expect) a fairly broad range of services in different cities across the U.S. But since the services are performed by a limited number of independent contractors who are vetted and “hand-selected” by Amazon, not all services are available everywhere — especially if you’re looking for one of the more niche services on the website. And there are some pretty narrow niches covered, like WiFi Irrigation Controller Replacement or Heated Toilet Seat Installation.
Why Would You Use Amazon Home Services?
There are two main reasons that you might consider ordering your next home contractor service through Amazon: Amazon’s selectiveness in accepting providers, and the Happiness Guarantee.
Amazon’s Provider Application Process
Amazon seeks to operate as a filter, eliminating the unpleasant task of sorting through lists of unfamiliar contractors to find someone you can trust. Not everyone can sign up to be a provider through Amazon Home Services. Contractors first have to go through an application process, which according to the website includes “media searches, online interviews, and reference checks.”
The vetting process also involves a background check (including a criminal background check for any service provider that will be visiting your home, which is most of them) as well as verification of appropriate licenses and insurance where applicable. Amazon also claims to choose only the best and highest rated providers available in your area.
And while Amazon’s process certainly isn’t foolproof, it’s safe to assume that they take their vetting responsibility seriously, considering that they’re putting their own name on the line by placing their virtual stamp of approval on the contractors they partner with.
The Happiness Guarantee
Amazon’s Happiness Guarantee covers two types of unsatisfactory situations:
- The work performed doesn’t fulfill the final scope agreement, or
- Property or product was damaged as a direct result of the service
In either of these cases, Amazon works as an arbitrator to resolve any issues between the contractor and customer. If that fails, Amazon guarantees that your money will be refunded.
These are compelling reasons to at least give Amazon Home Services a shot, especially since the hassle of dealing with shady contractors (or those who simply do bad work) is for most people the worst part of trying to hire a service provider that you’re unfamiliar with.
Is There a Potential Downside for Consumers?
One potential limitation to consider is that providers and customers can only contact each other through email until 24 hours before the scheduled visit. At that point, Amazon releases the customer’s phone number to the contractor so that any final details can be ironed out.
Of course there’s good reason for this: Amazon doesn’t want contractors and customers finding each other on their platform and then agreeing to work with each other directly. Amazon Home Services makes its money through fees (taken out of the contractor’s earnings, not charged to the customer), so they have to make sure that both sides are dependent on the Amazon platform for communication.
But it also makes it potentially frustrating for customers who might feel they need to speak to the contractor directly in order to explain aspects of the job that aren’t easily expressed through email.
What Kinds of Contractors Should I Expect to Find on AHS?
If you’re wondering what kind of contractors you’re likely to encounter on Amazon Home Services, it might help to consider how the platform works for them.
On the positive side, being an Amazon Home Services provider is a relatively passive and hands-off way to receive actual customers. And Amazon stresses to contractors that contractors on their platform receive real customers, not just leads.
On top of that, providing services on Amazon gives contractors access to an enormous customer base. And Amazon is a name that most consumers implicitly trust.
On the other hand, some providers (especially established contractors) may balk at the fees, which typically run 15% – 20% of the total bill of services for each and every visit, even for repeat customers. Of course a smart business owner will know to compare this with the average cost to acquire a customer through traditional means, as well as the opportunity cost of the time invested to acquire that customer. So whether 15% – 20% is too steep is going to be up to individual providers to decide.
And just as the limited communication options are a possible sticking point for customers,
contractors may also find it inconvenient to not be able to qualify leads over the phone before committing to services. And according to contractors who have used the service, Amazon automatically removes email addresses and phone numbers from the emails contractors and customers send to each other through their platform, so there’s no realistic way to get around this rule.
Of course your experiences may differ, but a platform like Amazon Home Services seems likely to attract competent service providers who are comfortable offering bargain services. But it also seems unlikely to attract the “best of the best.”
Which brings us to the ultimate question…
Bottom Line, Should I Use Amazon Home Services?
That depends on your expectations.
The value proposition of Amazon Home Services is based on a few basic things: price, convenience, and security.
If you’re looking for value (read: low price) and don’t want to deal with the potential hassle of following up with a contractor who did subpar work, then Amazon Home Services might be perfect for you. Especially if the job you need completed is relatively simple, like mounting and hooking up a television or assembling a wooden desk.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for superior workmanship or services that are particularly challenging or complex, you might be rolling the dice — simply because that doesn’t seem to be the type of contractor that Amazon Home Services is designed for.
As they say, you get what you pay for. But maybe in this case that’s not such a bad thing.
Browse Amazon Home Services