Sears site invites trades to bid on your home repairs

A gutter sags, the doorbell quits working, or birds build a nest in your chimney - who are you going to call? The torments of a homeowner are relentless, and good, reasonably priced help scarce. Sears has created a new web site, Servicelive.com, that proposes to hook you up by using a bid model, kind of an eBay for home repairs.

The site works this way-
  • ServiceLive gathers, prescreens and approves a roster of service providers
  • The homeowner creates an account, deposits money in it adequate to cover the cost of a project
  • The homeowner then posts the project and the price he is willing to pay; the service providers bid on it. Low bid wins
I have many reservations about this service model, however. Sears has not impressed me as a company that has the right experience in this area. Angie's List, maybe. The BBB, maybe.

Who screens the service providers? How often? Against what standards? How are disputes resolved? Sears states that it vetts the providers with criminal, civil and vehicle background checks, as well as user satisfaction comments.
Do I trust Sears to hold my money in escrow until the job is done? Are they paying interest on my dollars? The amount is charged to my credit card at the time I post the project, so I'm paying interest on it right away. Sears has the use of that money until I decide to release it at the completion of the project.Sears also charges me a $10 fee to post a job.

What about change orders? What about disputes? The company states it MAY provide LIMITED dispute resolution assistance to parties who agree upon it. If they don't? Look out, small claims court.

For such a program to work, there needs to be an adequate supply of providers to establish competition, a broker that both homeowners and providers trust, and enough customers to make it worth the provider's while.

Sears claims to have 20,000 providers on its roster. Time will tell if homeowners respond enough to make it a viable proposition.

Note- a representative of ServiceLive has responded to my concerns. See the comments below for this reply.


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