New company to combat 'crooked servicemen'
In a move aimed at revolutionizing customer service in Israel, a group of twenty-something Israelis has launched a Jerusalem-based ranking company that will amass the customer satisfaction ratings of local service companies around the country, and then connect homeowners to the best service professionals in the field.
The company, called "Midrag," or "Rankings," which opened its office in the city's Har Hotzvim hi-tech center this month, is the brainchild of 28-year-old Noham Ohana, who, like many others in the country, long ago tired of the lousy service provided by the moving company, the painters, or the plumber.
The idea behind the company – which is based on two existing Internet-based American ranking companies set up in the last decade – is seemingly a consumer's dream.
For an NIS 4 monthly fee, members are urged to call the ranking company, instead of flipping through the yellow pages, both before and after every home service they require, be it a plumber, mover, electrician, carpenter, or some two dozen other service providers.
Upon calling the company, members will be provided with the names of the highest-ranked professionals in the field – based on the recommendations of fellow company members – both in terms of quality of service and fee.
By calling after receiving service, members will themselves be able to rate workers both in terms of job satisfaction and the price charged for the service. The rankings will then be added to Midrag's database, and averaged in with the latest 10 scores the particular service provider's company received.
"We all know from our school days that once you are graded for something, you do it better, and here members will be able to directly influence the ranking of service providers for thousands of other potential customers," he said.
The service providers recommended by the company to the public at large will be required to pay Midrag a commission.
Cognizant of the company's potential for English-speakers yearning for good service, Ohana said that callers can receive – and give out – service providers' rankings in English.
The idea about how to combat years of overcharging and poor service finally came to the business major as he lay in ambush one night in Gaza during his army reserve service.
"It is at such moments – unless a terrorist shows up – that you can think most clearly," he recalled at a recent Jerusalem gathering.
Then and there, Ohana decided that something had to be done.
He had read the newspaper investigation about how a reporter with a trouble-free car was told by eight of 10 auto mechanics that her vehicle was in need of major repair; he had heard of the movers that left a family's furniture outside the building of their third-floor apartment because "they had to go"; and had witnessed first-hand how a painter charged double and triple the agreed-upon sums for painting the doors and window-frames of an apartment which "weren't included in the price."
"How can these people still be hired? Why should everybody accept that service in Israel has to be bad?" he wondered to himself, a thought that he carried over until coming up with the company, whose Web site (www.midrag.co.il) is currently being built.
Ohana's dream is that one day millions of Israeli families will eventually be signed up to the service, and his company will be able to provide rankings in 200 fields. But for now, he has almost 2,000 families signed up on the company's trial-free pilot program, which will offer rankings for several dozen of the most popular service fields.
"My dream is that in another 10 years, the next generation of Israelis will have to look in the dictionary for the meaning of the Hebrew slang for crooked serviceman," he said.