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Blockchain might beat crooked contractors

Mar 26,2018
Brothers Frideric and Alexandre Prandecki’s journey to success in the home repair business started with a simple problem - their air conditioner broke in the Las Vegas heat.

Rather than scan the local yellow pages, the brothers called in a repairman with a five-star rating through the Google for Work platform.

“A guy comes in, big company, with his gadget and says, ‘Your AC unit is down, shot broken, you can’t even fix it, don’t repair it,” Frideric Prandecki said in an interview in Seoul. “I can give you a call, it’s $5,500 for a small unit.”

The evaluation sounded fishy to Prandecki. He called another independent repairman named Nicu, who had a license but wasn’t well-known on the contractor listing sites. But Nicu turned out to be just the guy for the job.

“He came to the house, he checked this, checked that and looked at the air filter, which is stupid by the way, and our air filter was dirty,” Prandecki said. “He changed the air filter and cold air started blowing.”

The brothers realized that they had stumbled upon a business opportunity - connecting honest repairmen to customers.

The Prandeckis’ business, Bob’s Repair, which introduces honest, skilled contractors with affordable rates to customers, grew steadily since they founded it.

Since then, Bob’s Repair has handled over $1 million in transactions and facilitated more than 50,000 service calls.

One of the barriers to solving the problem of overcharging customers is the nature of popular contracting platforms such as Angie’s List, Home Advisor or Google for Work. Because contractors are the main fee-paying customers of those sites, reviews posted on those platforms often can’t be trusted.

“Home Advisor or Angie’s List will take down bad reviews if there’s a big complaint,” Prandecki said. “The only contractor that’s good is the person that pays [the most].”

The company is adopting blockchain technology to further improve transparency for customers, who are often taken advantage of by unscrupulous contractors.

“There’s a big issue where there’s a lot of fraud,” Prandecki said. “They’re overpaying for a simple repair or a toilet installment or an AC unit.”

Prandecki believes the solution to this problem is blockchain. In a blockchain-based system, once a transaction is made and the review for the service is posted, the review will remain visible and can’t be removed or altered.

“Someone said my business plan would never work because contractors won’t want anyone to know how much they’re charging,” Prandecki said. “That’s a lie.”

Prandecki believes that successful blockchain services will combine blockchain with traditional businesses. That way, customers can directly experience the advantages of blockchain in their daily life - like when they need to call a handyman.


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]


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