Thumbtack

You really need to trust a service professional when inviting them into your home, because they could do just about anything, like steal everything, kill your family, or worse, use all your ice without refilling the tray. Know exactly who you're hiring, thanks to Thumbtack.Like a handsome lovechild of Yelp, Craigslist, and Open Table, Tack's a new free "marketplace for local services" that vets and verifies the backgrounds of providers (from contractors, to plumbers, to translators, to...bagpipers), allows others to leave testimonials, and lets you book appointments directly from their profile page, much like how Tila Tequila manages her love life. There're already 10,000+ listings, searchable by location, availability, cost, and (if applicable) if they'll travel to you or make you come to them; each provider's profile's filled out with a brief descrip (specialties, personal website, accepted payment methods, etc.), and a readout of Tack's basic background check, including stuff like a DOJ-verified name/zip code match, scan of the sex offender registry, and email & phone confirmation, making sure they're held accountable by verifying they're who they say they are, letting you feel perfectly safe about Bill Cosby trimming your hedges. You can also opt for their more-thorough check ($8-49), involving either a SS# confirmation and/or "electronic and physical National Criminal Check"; once you're feeling good about someone, browse their specific availability (via an iCal-like time-block widget), and either request an estimate/visit from them or book an appointment, and they'll reply to confirm and/or ask questions about the job, at which point you'll explain again, so there's no confusion, it's just "hand".If you're looking for something that's not listed, there's also a "wanted ads" section, where you can post your request for that perfect "certified electrician with residential experience, replaces toilet paper roll when finished".