San Francisco District Attorney Files False Advertising Suit Against Homeadvisor
News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2018
SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT ATTORNEY FILES FALSE ADVERTISING SUIT AGAINST HOMEADVISOR
San Francisco — Today, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced the filing of a civil false advertising case against HomeAdvisor, Inc. and its parent company ANGI Homeservices, Inc., for broadcasting false and misleading radio and television ads to consumers in violation of California law.
"California business laws are designed to protect consumers and promote an honest and fair marketplace," said District Attorney George Gascón. "Companies like this offer a convenient service, but they also introduce strangers into our homes. They must operate their businesses in a way that is within the parameters of the law and not misleading."
According to the complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court, HomeAdvisor's ads provide false and misleading information about the background checks that HomeAdvisor performs on the service providers that are sent to customers' homes.
HomeAdvisor, which describes itself “the operator of the largest home services marketplace across the globe,” broadcasts ads representing that service professionals retained through HomeAdvisor, like plumbers, electricians, painters, and housekeepers, have been background-checked.
HomeAdvisor’s ads feature homeowners who tell viewers, “With HomeAdvisor, it’s easy to find a local pro that I can trust–because they’ve been background-checked,” “They do background checks so you know you can trust them with your home,” and “As a single mom I have to be careful with who I invite to my home.” In one ad, a man explains why he feels comfortable having contractors he finds through HomeAdvisor come to his elderly mother’s home when he is not available. “They are background checked. . . . If anything comes up with my mom's home and I'm not available, HomeAdvisor always is.”
HomeAdvisor’s advertisements, according to the complaint, are likely to make consumers think that the service personnel hired through HomeAdvisor who come into their homes have passed criminal background checks.
According to information obtained by the District Attorney’s Office, the truth is very different: the only person who undergoes a background check is the owner/principal of an independently-owned business. HomeAdvisor does not perform any background check (not even on the owner/principal) when the business is a franchisee, dealer, or independent contractor of a larger national company or corporate account advertising on HomeAdvisor.
The District Attorney’s Office filed the Complaint on March 14, and has asked the Court for a preliminary injunction against the advertisements. The Court has set a hearing for April 12, 2018.
The suit seeks a permanent injunction requiring HomeAdvisor and ANGI Homeservices to stop violating California law. It also seeks civil penalties for these unlawful business acts and practices, and restitution.
Please see the enclosed Complaint for more information.