Since the sour economy has taken its toll on most advertising budgets, many looking for leads for contractors have become reliant on Google Maps and Google Places marketing platforms to promote their businesses for free. According to many of the contractors I talk to these two methods of free advertising has been a huge hit.
But all that came under fire last week when Google launched their “Instant” search results. If you are not familiar with the new way Google displays results as you type, check out my short video here and Google’s video here.
Is there a savior for local search? Introducing Thumbtack!
What is Thumbtack?
From the site:
Why can you go online right now and buy any product you want but you can’t do the same for tutors, handymen, dog walkers, or other local services? Thumbtack is changing that.
Thumbtack isn’t like typical local search directories that simply return business listings with ratings and reviews, leaving you no better off than the paper Yellow Pages.
Instead, Thumbtack gives you the ability to vet, contact and book service professionals the moment you find them.
At Thumbtack, we understand that hiring service professionals requires a high degree of trust. This is why we go out of our way to make sure that our community is held to the highest standards and that you have all the tools you need to feel comfortable hiring someone online.
Thumbtack helps you get the job done at the time and place you want, with someone you know you can trust.
What I like about Thumbtack
Between the background checks and user reviews, this site should become (if they market it correctly) the go to site for both consumers and tradesmen to come together. I am however a bit cautious because Thumbtack is a free service for both contractors and home owners, which can lead to user manipulation, so I hope they have some type of mechanism in place to prevent fraud from both sides of the fence.
Where I see other problems
Site usage and integration – Thumbtack is coming late to an already crowded party. With services springing up all over the place, I hope these guys have the marketing chops to get the word out, and once they do, to have the tight controls in place to maintain user integrity. In the end, I don’t think contractors trying to market their businesses have anything to lose. With Google screwing around with your search results almost daily, you might as well give another resource a try if for no other reason than its free!
What to do next?
Well, you could always add your site to Thumbtack, but before you do, you should ask yourself, is your site ready to convert the traffic it gets? Or do you think you need to take a good hard look at what you currently have? If you aren’t sure where to start, maybe a website review is a good idea. This will help you start with a baseline and improve your site’s ability to move people through the sales funnel. In fact, if you need a website review, we can get one done for you in less than a day or two. That way, you can start making the changes needed to help move the needle on your sales. So if you are interested in a website review, click here for more details.
Tired of depending on services like Thumbtack or Manta for traffic?
How about generating your own leads with a new website or a website redesign? Hit me up in the contact form below and let’s talk about how to generate new business for you!
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118 responses to “Review: Is Thumbtack an Answer To Google Instant For Contractors?”
I gave thumbtack a try and think the site stinks. Their search feature does not work at all. I tested it with various search queries and they came back totally in-congruent to what i was searching for and the parameters which i set.
I was searching in certain cities and the results would have that city mixed with cities way out of my area and search.
As a consumer this is when i hit the back button. I went back and tried different “search options” and the results got worse. I selected that only I would travel .25 mile and I got out of state results.
As a business; they do not post your website link because of “bots” I was told. So what? that is what spam filters are for and bots are a part of the internet. The website is a main landing place for a business and if it becomes disconnected it is worthless and all the business had to rely on is the profile on Thumbtack.
My opinion is that thumbtack is next to worthless. As a consumer I would much rather rely on Yelp as it gives excellent search results. Or even Angies list. As business it does not get a “totally worthless” opinion because it is not a negative thing to have a profile on their site. But I will not count on any potential clients finding me through it.
Sorry to let you down! We’re working hard on all fronts, but we know we’ve still got lots to improve, particularly when it comes to search.
One thing we do differently than Yelp is that we return results based on travel areas and not just where a business is physically located. When you search for “Plumbers in Sacramento, CA” we return all of the available plumbers who are near you and all of the plumbers who have a travel area that includes you. Unfortunately, this information is tough to convey which leads to some of the confusion you experienced. Something we know we can get better at!
We delivered over 30k leads to our merchants last week. We know we’re not perfect, but I think we’re an increasingly valuable resource.
First of all, thank you for taking the time out from what I am sure is a pretty busy day to stop by my little corner of the world and addressing one of my reader’s questions! You welcome anytime!
I think that thumbtack is less than worthless. I am a business that set up an account with them and got tons of worthless “potential clients” that wanted quotes, not one of them ever followed through with the quotes. Even worse yet… I, as a business, have to pay for every quote that I submit, which never brings a return. So I tried doing the unlimited monthly option for $25 which only brought more chances to submit quotes that never went anywhere. All that to say… I spent more money than I made just to advertise on this site. I know my quotes were low enough and I had a fully set up profile as well as a link to my website. I know that my business is in fact not the problem. Quite honestly…I think that none of the “clients” that requested quotes were even real.
!!!!Thumbtack is a waste of time!!!!
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. However, it seems to me Thumbtack did what they were supposed to do in your case which was get the phone to ring…the rest is up to you to close. Maybe I am wrong, but it you can’t close 1 in 10, it might be time to look at your sales call process.
Let me first say that I hope I don’t come off as just someone who complains just to complain… I hate complainers. however when I feel very strongly about something… I like to share it so others dont make the same mistake.
I’m assuming the phrase ” get the phone to ring” wasn’t literal but that’s the thing, there was never any contact at all with the clients what so ever. As others have said as well, they don’t tell you that there is any charges for these leads. They do actually say that it is free to advertise, which is miss leading. Then you are charged for these leads that don’t go anywhere. I know that I had probably 30 leads (at least) that I never even got a return email from let alone a phone call. The leads don’t even give you the customers contact info to make an attempt on the lead. Further more they say that the leads you get if the people contact you directly are free… well, I never got a single one of those. I have worked in the customer service industry for over 15 years. If I had ever received a call from a potential customer, I would have taken at least one customer out of 10 let alone 30.
After paying for the one month unlimited leads. I was then charged automatically for the next month which is not very clearly stated.I found out that after the fact. So I called and left a message on the very hard to find number and over a week later I was called back. The man said he would refund the money in which I was charged for the second month. It then took over a week to get the refund processed.
I’m saying all that to say that Thumbtack looks to be helpful but is not at all. I don’t like the way the business is set up and how unclear the details are. At least Angies List and Craigslist are honest . It is a waste of time to set it all up and then find out you have to pay to get these “leads” that, for myself, go no where. I would rather spend the money I spent here on flyers and postcards to send out in the weekly mailing.
Sorry if I seem just a bit on the bitter side.
Thanks for stopping back.
“They do actually say that it is free to advertise, which is miss leading.” I can’t disagree with that at all.
“If I had ever received a call from a potential customer, I would have taken at least one customer out of 10 let alone 30.” – OK, I got ya.
“I’m saying all that to say that Thumbtack looks to be helpful but is not at all. I don’t like the way the business is set up and how unclear the details are.” – Many people have said here that they didn’t understand the T&C, and the CEO has commented here a lot, so I would have hoped they would have listened. This post is the #1 ranking post on Thumbtack reviews, and has been viewed more than 16k times. That is a lot of people they could have made happy or pissed off, depending on how they handle their business.
“Sorry if I seem just a bit on the bitter side.” – Not at all, and even if you did, that’s what the post is here for, so no worries! Thanks again for stopping by.
: I have been on Thumbtack now for over a year. I have had many leads. The first lead I had was a guy in NYC looking to get his bathroom remodeled. As soon as I walked in the door I realized this was a phoney lead it was just so obvious. It was the middle of NYC upper east side top real estate in NYC.. there was some in kid in there telling me ” yea I just want my bathroom remodeled .. just give me your cheapest price get some stuff from the Home Depot….. seriously if Thumbtack has to stage leads I think they should make them more realistic… I think it was just an introduction to make me try and believe in this whole thing. Anyway since then every lead I recieved maybe 20-30 ( i stopped counting) seemed to be nonexistent people never returned message so I had to constantly get my money refunded. The last lead I got was another person IN NYC telling me they had a condo in NYC and they wanted it renovated. Of course I checked out the address and found out the person did not even own it…LMFAO.. You Know what? Maybe Thumbtack should hire me at least I can stage these phoney leads and make them more realistic
I signed up on thumbtack.com a while back for my architectural consulting and services as a wedding officiant in NYC. It’s FREE to post….but not really free to use. Initially, if you try to contact me for my services, I will receive your email thru thumbtack.com. You would think that is all good and service provided. NOT TRUE. In order for me to reply to accept/inquire about service, I have to provide thumbtack my credit card info, and agree to either a flat charge to respond, or an 8% fee if I land the job. From a marketing stand point, I feel “things” have been mis-represented. My flags are up and wonder about if this is a scam or not. Still on the fence and have not been able to get any legitimate work through them as of yet.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. That is a great point to consider. Let us know how it pans out. 8% sounds like a lot to take off the top in a down economy, is that a flat rate?
Sorry for the confusion, JLow! It’s still 100% free when you get contacted directly on your Thumbtack profile. However, when we bring you a potential customer that found us through a landing page or another merchant’s profile page, then you have to select a payment option before you’re able to contact them. We know the copy on the site isn’t the best, and we’re working to improve it.
Hope this helps clears things up!
I have also been less than impressed with thumbtack. Today, for example, I received an e-mail stating that I am rated”#1 among Top Rated Massage Therapists in Seattle.” When I clicked on the link provided in the e-mail I appeared at the top of the list, but only after an eerie pause, during which another business shows up in the top spot. Naturally, this made me curious, so I navigated the site differently. When I typed in the URL they provided in their e-mail, omitting the tracking information in the URL they provided, I show up at number 16 on the page. This appears to be a bid to get me to add an “Elite Badge” to my website to promote them. Sorry, thumbtack, I’m not biting.
As a user of the site, I am put off by the wackily irrelevant search results. Seems to be no correlation between the ZIP I enter and the results I see. Not very helpful for a local search.
What you thought was “tracking code” was actually the code that tells the page which sort to apply (top rated, most reviewed, most vetted, most affordable, most popular). Top rated is the default sort. There are a lot of different dimensions that consumers care about, and we want to help our members promote themselves however they stand out.
As for the search, we know it needs some work! You see results from more than the zip you entered because we return both the merchants who are in your area and the ones that are willing to travel to you. This isn’t how most local directories work (because they don’t have travel radius data for all of their merchants like we do) and we need to make it clearer to users what’s going on.
Hope this addresses your concerns!
I would have to agree with you in your review of Thumbtack.com. I think in time it will become a very useful site as well. They seem to get it, whether it be online marketing or just smart SEO and I have no problem with their search. It does show businesses servicing the area. I am not at this point too thrilled with their leads notifications for our plumbing business (they tend to be Craigslist posters looking for a cheap, unlicensed plumber) but I could see how this could work well for other businesses and free lancers. I do think their Craigslist autoposting is a great idea and would like to see them expand to Ebay and Backpages. I do get tired though of having to add my phone number to their copy each week.
What I like best about Thumbtack is that they are not afraid to try things and are not content to be another boring listing directory.
As for the badge service, I can understand Larry’s skepticism and the badge should take you to your business actual listing in the Thumbtack directory, but I don’t see any scam and I don’t have a problem with Thumbtack using this strategy to build backlinks but they need to improve their strategy. Just bury the badge on your site or blog, don’t put it on page one.
Thumbtack has done a very poor job of explaining their Badge. I could find nothing explaining it on their site or in my searches to find what Thumbtack Elite was all about and why our business had been awarded Elite Membership status. That is how I arrived here. By comparison, if your receive a Angie’s List Super Service Award you are among only 5% of the businesses in your category on Angie’s List to receive it, that is a badge worth displaying and receiving.
It looks like Marco Zappacosta is monitoring this stream so I hope he will clarify all of this.
First of all, thanks for stopping by and commenting! Secondly, you have some fantastic insight into the system and I know Marco Zappacosta, Thumbtack’s CEO stops by here occasionally so maybe he will comment on your recommendations as well. Good stuff and thanks again for stopping by.
Thanks for the kind words! We’re striving to be much more than another listing directory.
We’re working hard to increase the average quality of requests that we generate — we know we need to get better. Over the coming months you’ll see much more and better information tied to each lead we send your way.
Clearly we need to clarify our badge system! It’s been added to our never-ending to-do list.
The feedback is much appreciated!
[…] Ever hear of Thumbtack.com? You can read a review here. […]
I recently received a lead from Thumbtack. Normally, there is a $4 or 8% charge for the lead. This time around though I received a note near the “Contact Customer” button on the Thumbtack page stating that this contact “was on the house” and the message would be delivered for free. So I tried it, and my message did not go through. (Just got a “error processing operation” without any explanation).
Next morning I receive a message from Thumbtack stating that my message didn’t go through as I need to pay the flat fee now or pay commission fee later.
The original message saying this message was free is certainly deceptive.
I’m sorry for the confusion, but we’re not aiming to deceive at all!
Your first lead was absolutely free, and unfortunately it seems like a bug in our system caused it to go awry. Most leads that we will send you in the future will not be free, but each one is offered on an opt-in basis, and you only need to pay for the leads that you want.
To learn more, please visit: http://www.thumbtack.com/leads-program
We appreciate your business and hope to be able to continue to serve you!
As a residential designer, I have used Craigslist for 10 years now, and I also used Service Magic (for only a year – which included getting 1 job for $3,000, but spent $800 in 25 leads that went nowhere).
Two issues/questions about Thumbtack:
1) How is Thumbtack and better than say Angie’s List, Craigslist, or Service Magic in leads department? From my experience with two out of those three, most people are simply looking for the lowest price. You can do that all day on Craigslist. I guess what I’m saying, is that there need not be another platform for the same old service. In fact, I received a lead under one of my email addresses to join Thumbtack (a “free lead” according to Heather), and I responded right away. I waited 2 days before I received an answer that the home owner already found a person to do the job. I was never offered another “free lead”. That’s extremely suspicious.
I don’t mean to sound cynical of the whole “leads” business in general, but in my limited experience I’ve found that it takes a lot more time and effort (which equals money) to get fees back for false leads and to be paying to offer “Walmart prices at garage sales”.
Today I went to my google places account and I saw some images I had upload to my thumback listing, those pictures had a link to Thumback site. I assume the pictures were uploaded into google places by Thumback. The issue I have is that if customerse are finding my business on google places which is free, and for some reason decide to click on the images ( which redirect to Thumback), I will be receiving the lead from thumback, so if I want to contact the client I will end up paying for the lead, something that initiated from my free google listing, the same applies for the listing in craig list, which is free, but is linking to thumback.
I just deleted my thumback account, this kind of behavior doesn’t seem right. I understand that you have to advertise your site and the services, but is not ok to use the companies free listings to get clicks directed to your site, and then sell the leads.
I will ask the people at google places to delete the pictures thumback uploaded with the link to their website. For now the images still on my google places account, and since I deleted my thumback account, they are being offered to contact other similar service providers. Not right in any way.
Sorry for the confusion, but we do not charge for leads when a consumer contacts you directly on your Thumbtack profile no matter where they click-through from.
To learn more, please visit: http://www.thumbtack.com/leads-program
Google Places uses our content in much the same way they use Yelp’s and many other data partners.
We appreciate your business and hope to be able to continue to serve you!
I do respect the fact that Marco comments on the concerns, now it is time to do something about it. Don’t impose your link into our Google Places Page with out our concent and do not send our potential customers to our competitors! That is a simple, respectful request from your customers. If we are going to participate in your service, you should treat us with respect! Thank you!
Carolina, you are so right! I had the same concern and it is totally justified. Thumbtack does place their name on your images and creates a link to their site in your FREE Googles Places Listing! Then the customer goes to their site and filles in their information and what they want. That information not only goes to you, but all other cleaning businesses signed up with Thumbtack!!!! So your Google Places Page is giving your competition your business. Not right! Not so easy getting that image off of your Google Places Page either. I loved Thumbtack, until I found this out. I was recommending Thumbtack to all of my friends and business associates until this. Thumbtack should not send your leads to your competitors. That is not fair business practice. Not to mention the fact that it was a FREE lead to you and because they IMPOSED their link into your Google Places Page it then becomes a paid link! That should be changed. Good luck and I hope that Thumbtack changes their process. Have a great day!
I don’t think you understand how your FREE Google Places content is populated. GOOGLE PULLS THIS INFORMATION FROM THE WEB. Thumbtack can not “create a link to their site in YOUR” Google Places listing. GOOGLE DOES NOT ALLOW THAT. It is Google that is doing that.
Your Google Places listing is not giving your business to your competition. If a customer clicks your listing, reads about your company, then decides to research you further, and happens to go to your Thumbtack page and decide they would like a bid from many people in your industry, THAT IS NOT THUMBTACKS fault, any more than if the potential customer found your listing in the Yellow Pages (like anyone uses those anymore) – and saw all your competitors listed there and decided to give them a call for a bid. There is no difference.
If a person Googles “Plumbers” in your area, and all the Google Places listing come up – including your competitors, and that person decides to call your competitors, that is not Google’s fault.
I believe a simple solution would be to CLAIM your Google Places listing, and upload 10 images (the max). Then Google will not need to scrape content from the web.
Another Solution would be for Thumbtack to make it a choice for you to have your THUMBTACK PAGE Indexed. Thumbtack can very simply “no index” your profile page if they wanted. I personally think any business owner that opts into something like that would be ignorant though, because you are then giving yourself one less chance to show up on Google.
BTW – Thumbtack wants as many visitors to their site as possible, just like you do. That is probably the reason they try to get your profile page indexed. It helps them, AND YOU.
Again – Thumbtack is not submitting your images to Google with a link to their page. GOOGLE is scraping websites for content, and then RIGHTFULLY attributing the image to the site that they found it from . The second YOU decided to upload images to Thumbtacks profile, accepted their terms of service, and agreed to let them submit your profile page to Google – your information (pics) became public. Google, or anyone else can use it, as long as they attribute the source of the information (pics).
Hope this info helps.
FYI – I am not an employee of Thumbtack – I am a believer in putting out accurate information.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these comments. I think that thumbtack.com is great in many ways. There are two things that concern me. First, when a customer clicks on our link for a quote Thumbtack also gives them quotes automatically for other cleaning companies. Second, my images on Google places are copyrighted and I never gave authorization to put thumbtack.com link on them or the name thumbtack.com. Please remove them from our google places site. Here is the link. http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=en&gs_upl=1141l2703l0l3766l14l11l0l5l5l0l187l796l2.4l6l0&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=house+cleaning+madison+wi&fb=1&gl=us&hq=house+cleaning&hnear=0x8806536d3a2019ff:0x4e0cfcb5ba484198,Madison,+WI&cid=6438079431515845981. I appreciate that because my attorney said that is not legal and we do not want our customers going to your site to find other cleaning companies. I do however love your site and I want you to know that if you take care of removing the link to your site from our google places page we will still recommend you and stop further action. Thank you Marco! Have a great day!
Looks like our support team is on the issue.
Thanks again for your business!
I’m amazed that Thumbtack is doing this. It’s blatantly sleazy to upload an image to someone else’s page and link to your own company. Especially if your company then sends potential customers to competitors.
And to hear it from two people on this little blog is astounding. You’ve broken the web of trust that stops me from linking to my page from my competitors places page or in their comments section on their website and them refraining from doing the same.
There is a clear lack of morals from someone in your company.
I understand the desire to get the word out and build back links to your site, but this is not an acceptable way to do it. Did you hire a black hat SEO expert? If so, they’re brilliant and maybe they can share this technique with Yelp, RedBeacon, and ServiceMagic. Then all of our Place pages will have lots of back links.
As of today, the image with the back link has still not been removed from Wendy’s place page.
It is crazy that after the Thumbtack CEO is here so fast that the photo with Thumbtacks link is still up on Wendy’s places page.
Thumbtack is a scam.
Hi Joe & Jake,
There seems to be a misunderstanding. As we’ve communicated privately with Wendy, here’s a breakdown of what happens with Google Places:
– Google scrapes our site to see if any of their listings match our listings
– If any of the listings match, they scrape the content from our site and integrate it into their listings
– They scrape any photos that are uploaded to Thumbtack and post them on the Google Places listing
– They attribute the source of any photos that they post on Google Places with a caption on the photo. So that’s why Google puts the ‘Thumbtack.com’ caption on photos that they found uploaded on Thumbtack.
– You can see that Google does this for other sites they trust. For example, you can see captions from other sites on the photos in these listings:
– We have no control over any of this!
In Wendy’s case, we’ve submitted a request for them to remove the content, but they say that it can take up to 120 days for a request to make it through their system.
Unfortunately, this is an issue with how Google populates its place pages and something that we can’t control.
Hope this clears things up!
I wasn’t going to approve this because it didn’t add any value to the conversation…but I did because I want there to be a healthy dialog about the service. But…please everyone keep it civil and constructive. There is a lot of traffic that goes to Thumbtack from this review, and I know a lot of people are helped from it, but I will turn the commenting off if it gets crazy…so play nice people! 🙂
That shows/says tons about you and your blog. I know I was pushing it but am glad to see that you are keeping it unbiased and unedited.
I am sure that people get leads through them but that there are far more that are deceived and misled as I was and a few of my colleagues.
In my opinion; Marcos is full of it and has been all along. It is extremely clear that the site uses deceitful tactics.
Keep up the great work Darren!
Thanks Joe…and I am sure the guys at Thumbtack will do whatever they can to make it right. There are too many bad lead services out there. Talking always helps. These things breakdown when the communicating goes away.
We work hard to communicate everything as transparently as possible, but obviously we’ve still got some work to do!
Feel free to give me a call at (415) 868-5390 if you want to discuss any of these issues.
Thumbtack is not free. This is a misleading idea they promote. It’s certainly not very expensive, but after adding your profile for your business, you get one free lead and then every other lead they give you is about 5 dollars. I didn’t read the fine print, apparently!
Thumbtack does have a free component, I have a listing on the site that I have never paid for. But if you are able to buy customer leads for $5, that isn’t bad is it? I mean, how much are your lead generation costs from the rest of your marketing? Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
It’s pretty clear the search function on Thumbtack is worthless — totally irrelevant results, meaningless to potential customers. Searching for a dentist in my area gets me a janitor service hundreds of miles away and a water purification company in the Midwest. Might be useful as a citation point for local search optimization, but that’s about it.
I totally agree! Our search needs *a lot* of work!
A search overhaul is definitely on the list, but our list is very long. There’s so much to do to make Thumbtack better still!
Been on thumbtack for probably close to a year now. I have never received a single legitimate lead from them. I have two separate businesses on there. One of the leads that did seem good had over 15 people pounce on it within a day. Seems like there are more service providers than clients actually using this site.
The one thing that sucks is they don’t have a section where you can browse potential jobs. Doesn’t it make sense that a lot more people would be using the site if you listed the jobs publicly like on Craigslist or Wyzant or every other site? I don’t know if this doesn’t exist because you want to control and secure your commission or some other reason, but it makes the site terribly lopsided. As a service provider I have zero incentive to use the site to try and find jobs.
But I don’t see how they are going to compete with Craigslist, where I get regular clients FOR FREE. I don’t have to pay a commission or a lead fee. Everyone is still using CL; that’s where all the juice still is, even after all the spammers and assholes have nearly ruined it.
You guys really could compete well with Wyzant, the tutoring company. Their business practices are quite horrendous and they gouge their service providers (tutors) wayyy more than you guys do (35% of every session). Only high school students and lowly college grads would accept such egregious terms.
Well I’m done with this site until you guys pull your heads out of the sand.
Well Yosh, I posted a while back (to which I never received a response) that Craigslist is the site to beat, yet people seem to go back to leads services like they’re hooked on gambling.
I do believe that leads services are going down the tubes, especially in this economy, unless they think outside the box. It would be best for leads providers if they could somehow harness the idea of quality vs. quantity, and provide two types of leads: one for high-end clients that are more concerned with quality than price, and one for not-so-high-end clients that are simply looking for the best deal.
Even though in my opinion Craigslist beats Thumbtack, it is still a “garage sale” type of service. A good example of what I’m talking about is “The Ladders” website; it places prospective employees at a salary of $100K or more, so why not have the same attitude towards providing leads? To me, if you’re not doing this as a leads provider, than you are just another “dime-per-dozen” service.
Hey Thumbtack – I’ve fully outlined this idea already, so if you’d like to explore this further feel free to contact me for a comprehensive plan.
I would love to get more of your feedback. I plan to enter the lead gen marketplace for contractors and am completely in line with your type of thinking. It is all about quality. Would love to see your comprehensive plan if that is something you share.
My advice, don’t get into the lead gen biz. It is a thankless gig. Most of your leads will always “suck” and if any do pan out, they were supposed to anyway, so all you did was your job. In the meantime, you will bleed cash on refunds. TRUST ME ON THIS!
Geez, a real easy solution to not having Google grab photos from another site like Thumbtack is to just load 10 photos onto Google Places of your business that you want on there. Google does not replace your photos if you have a completed listing.
Personally, I wouldn’t do business with anyone who spams you. After reading this article the first time, that was the conclusion I came to. I blocked the domain in Outlook so I would not have to read their spam any longer.
So, to my surprise, this morning in my Inbox is a message that starts out “Hey there, We just received a request from a customer on Thumbtack who needs a ….” I pondered how it got past the Junk rule, and it looks like they intentionally changed the domain to “thumbtakleads9.com” in order to get around filters.
Not only do I not do business with spammers, but I complain on the web when they are sleazes.
I get occasionally a text message with a link to a customer price request from Thumbtack. So far so good. But if I try to make an offer or answer further questions to the customer through Thumbtack website, I have to pay “$14.99/month subscription” or “$2.99 up-front charge 50% off your first fixed lead. ”
I think it is unfair and unjustified because:
1) I don’t know if there is really a customer behind this request.
2) There is no guaranty that I get the job or at least to have a chance to communicate with the customer about details or price negotiation.
Welcome to the world of internet leads. Like Service Magic and Angie’s List, with Thumbtack there is also no guarantee that YOU get the job. There IS the guarantee that THEY get paid from multiple people for one request – even if NONE of those referred get the job.
Here’s yet another idea for Thumbtack: We as users will pay you once we get the job. This is the ultimate form of trust when it comes to providing leads. But this will never happen. They always win, and you may win a couple of times, but ultimately you’ve put in way more than you get out – like I said before, it’s like gambling in a casino.
Here’s my professional opinion based on experience with leads services:
1) Hire an agent to find you jobs related to what you do (they are all over the country)
2) Buy mailing lists. Letters ALWAYS work. Potential clients/customers usually contact you right away, and many clients hold on to your letters literally for YEARS before they contact you.
Thank you for the information. I have responded & responded and hadn’t received any actual jobs. Felt like I was throwing my money away on fake leads after giving special discounts to Thumbtack loyal customers.
There’s a real consumer behind every request. Obviously, not every consumer goes on to hire one of the professionals that we connect them with, but the requests are completely genuine.
We stand behind that fact with our generous refund policy for bad leads.
We will fully refund your payment – no questions asked – if you don’t hear from the potential customer within a week after sending your message, if you learn that they never intended to have the job done by anyone, or if you learn that the job was done by someone outside of Thumbtack.
We would never keep a charge on a job that turned out to be a bogus lead.
Hope this helps!
I haven’t heard back from any of the leads after replying. I have 2 that are in the request mode but am hesitant to reply because of previous experiences. Am at the place where I feel I should just close my account.
I would like to add that this is NOT an official policy on Thumbtack’s website, and nowhere did any user agree to it in the TOS.
The refund policy is two-fold, and as follows:
These are the two terms of the refund policy:
“Thumbtack will refund your payment if either:
The customer did not respond to your quote either by phone, email or Thumbtack message 7 days after you send it
The consumer was not serious about hiring any service professional”
Nowhere is someone else on Thumbtack getting the position mentioned, nor is it said that it would constitute a denial of a refund.
The operative word here, Marco, is EITHER. Not BOTH, EITHER. If someone doesn’t get in touch with you, whether they hired someone else or not, you deserve a refund.
You need to quit spouting off terms of service that don’t exist before it gets you into trouble. I can’t believe how dishonest Thumbtack is, citing one thing in their refund policy and then telling another on forums and when customers request a refund, attempting to deny them.
To Mr Marco Zappacosta
I would like to thank you for answering everyones concers. As a small bussiness owner myself my #1 concern as Vice President of Southern Touch Cleaning Inc is to address everyone of my customers concerns and make things right to the best of my ability. I have signed up for Thumtack for my cleaning company here in Orlando Florida but my only concdern is that when I get a lead they want service “NOW”. Well that is how I am reading it. When I see that it states that the customer wants service the same day as they put in the request I hesitate to respond due to my company will only do work when we do a estimate that is of course free to them but it seems that though there is a place for this option I would think that as a company I would not have to pay for a lead that I can not accomodate due to this. A tought for the future upgrade design maybe… Thanks again for listening to our concerns. It’s nice to know that some companies still listen to thier customers and also respond. It may not be always what they want to hear but I feel it is better than a “Blow Off”.
Hi Marco, I have been on Thumbtack for two months, and I have received 13 leads but not one has been a hit. I thought like everyone else, SCAM! There is probally no one really behind the lead, Thumbtack just makes them up. Then, I actually got a call from someone and it had given me new hope. I am a struggling business man trying to survive in this economy drop. So finding something like Thumbtack gave me something else to look at besides CL. I have been with CL for about a year, actually get to talk to real people. Even though they try to low ball you, they are still real. Back to the point, I talk to a real person for once but never heard back as well as with the other leads you send. If I could get one lead, a real job, out of this or even hear ONE positive thing about this site you might convince me to stay on. I have paid for a BG check a few 7% leads and a Monthly fee of 14.99 and if I do not see my money turn something around. Then I will have to be on the side that seems to be where everyone else and shout out SCAM! I have even called the # you posted and it said the Google voice subcriber is not availble (more than once). I have had some leads say that the customer is no longer in need of my services and that the customer is “not performing” yet you also state we will be reimburse for any bad leads. Can you show me anywhere where people have actually gotten any work from this site, a praise report of some kind. One other thing can you guys post leads for all to bid on even if you only allow access for those that pay the monthly fees. I reply once for a lead and then never hear from them again with nothing that says they found someone else or any kind of closing. Please help!
Thanks for the comments. However, I am not sure calling a service that provides prospects for free would be considered a scam. Marco and his team can’t qualify how that call is answered or responded to at all. Maybe you could shed some light on how you handle or respond to leads that come in?
If you read my post. This is not a free site it cost me 14.99 plus and additonal 7.00 for a background check and additonal 14.00 dollars for two leads that I paid a percentage on. I know 35.99 is not a lot of money but I have not seen any return. If you know the site. I try to avoid going into a job blindly so on a few leads, I have ask for an on-site visit and then I get a “not perfoming” with no other quotes given(it tells you 2 quotes given if more then one person bids). I have even tried to low ball a bid and submit a 100.00 roof repair on a 2 story leak and fix a ceiling stain. and the next day “not performing”. I just want to hear something positive from the Thumbtack link. And as you can see from yours, no one is shedding any real light on this so called free site! and I have not called it a scam YET! When I stop paying my 14.99 for this free site then I would be calling it a SCAM!
I did read the post, but maybe my point wasn’t expressed well enough by me. I was simply saying that all directory sites should be taken with a grain of salt and any lead dev from them should just be considered gravy on top of other marketing efforts.
We do our very best to keep our lead quality high. And we stand behind that commitment with our refund policy:
We will fully refund your payment – no questions asked – if you don’t hear from the potential customer within a week after sending your message, if you learn that they never intended to have the job done by anyone, or if you learn that the job was done by someone outside of Thumbtack.
We work hard to create value for our community of users. Every single one of the consumers we connect you with is genuine. That has always been the case and will always be the case.
We know that consumers don’t always go on to hire someone that we connect them with which is why we have such a generous refund policy. We’re only happy when you’re happy.
Happy New Year everyone! Thumbtack is excited to continue to serve you all in 2012!
Thank you for coming here post after post to do what you do. I know it is in Thumbtack’s best interest that someone does, but the CEO doing it goes along way. Thanks for stopping by all these times and have a great new year!
My husband and I started a business. Decided to use Thumbtack.
I just deleted my account with them. Why? because they hijacked our BUSINESS FACEBOOK PAGE!. I am no longer able to administer the facebook page for MY OWN BUSINESS!.
Real joke. not to mention the worthless leads.
Maybe someone from Thumbtack can shed some light on this, but it doesn’t sound like it should be possible. Not that it didn’t happen, just that it SHOULD be impossible.
This is my first visit to your website. I actually arrived here while doing a search on thumbtack reviews. I first learned of thumbtack a couple days ago, when I received an email from Heather Madison at thumbtack, about a customer in my area that was looking for a website designer. I thought “who the heck is thumbtack”? ha .. and I have to quote you here… “I hope these guys have the marketing chops to get the word out.”
Well, maybe I just missed them somehow along the way, but I have a feeling a lot of people are in the same boat, and haven’t heard of thumbtack. This has been a very informative thread, but what really impressed me was Marco showing up and addressing the comments and concerns personally. Kudos to Marco!
I have since gone to the thumbtack website and set up my profile. From what I see so far, I think the site is outstanding, and is leaps and bounds above the average local search directories. Perhaps they still have some of the problems mentioned in this thread to work out, but I’m sure they are in a constant state of change and improvement, and with that comes some growing pains.
I love the depth of information that can be provided and the look of my profile so far. I’ve spent a good bit of time there, but still much more information can be added. I also did a few searches on other business services in my area, and I was quite pleased with the results. I don’t see how anyone can complain about not getting a free service here. Just because all the services offered by thumbtack aren’t free doesn’t mean they aren’t a free directory service. I suggest that anyone wanting to get some more internet exposure for their local business, create a profile. If your not sure about how the fee’s work regarding their paid services, or if it’s a good fit for you, then hold off while you learn more and can make a more educated decision.
I’m looking forward to learning more about thumbtack, and if they are anywhere as good as they look to me right now, I’ll definitely be getting the word out.
I have recently got on with Thumbtack. I of course received the first lead free. The following two leads I have received have had the status of still planning. I have run into times in the past where “still planning” is literally I am just get started and have nothing secure. It means that (in my experience) that they are not looking to book a DJ for quite some time and just want to feel out the market. So that means I am paying $3.99 for window shopping. I don’t bother with those leads as a result of that, I just don’t feel like “still planning” should even be an option. My favorite lead service has a nice big disclaimer stating that this service is free to use but please respect our advertisers and their money as they have to pay to use this service.
I have been on Thumbtack for a few months and I too was not impressed received 13 leads got the first one free and got a response “did not performed” had two pay for two leads and got the “still planning” forever as a matter a fact, they are still planning as we speak. Tried to boost my page by adding more pictures, answering questions, paid for a background check 7.00 so I said this is far from free. Never got one hit after that. Told my wife I think this is a scam. She said why don’t you just pay the 14.95 and just go all the way. I was like going all the way is what got me married in the first place..LOL But I listen to her and I must say. Men we should listen more! I got my first lead after paying and I got the job. it paid off all the money I invested and then some, so I will keep trying and I just want to add as a wise man once told me “Check your approach”! Thanks Darren..
Thumbs up to thumbtack!
I hear that Darren. My most recent lead was “still planning” not until sometime in 2013 was the time frame. To me that is completely useless. I do appreciate the input and will keep that in mind, however I am not in the business to pay for a lead that may or may not happen sometime in the next 24 months.
I think thumbtack.com has also many technical issues. Long ago I have set up my account to get “only” emails and not text messages. But still I get text messages from the website and generally I don’t check and don’t care about any text messages.
I use both Thumbtack and Service Magic.
I have got two jobs out of 4or 5 estimates.
Their conditions are very reasonable and much better than on Service Magic. Customers service is good . The only problem is a very few leads . I have received just a few leads per half year.
I hope you are still monitoring this thread. I see no SCAM in what you are offering, and after reading all these comments, it looks like your company has taken steps to improve based on feedback.
I have a question (before completing my free listing):
On the page where I fill out my company information it states “We’ll list your service in all the major search engines (for free). There are millions of searches in Google for local services every day – don’t miss these potential customers!”
My Question is – what does this mean? It sounds like you create a Google Places account for me, and other accounts – I definitely don’t want that. Please explain.
So it’s becoming ever more clear that Thumbtack is a more passive way to generate leads, but it’s less money than the other lead generating services so that must make it OK. Lead generating services are a CROCK. You pay them because you think that someone is working hard behind the scenes, but in reality you just don’t know. You’ll never see a pie graph statistic on average bids vs. awards.
I have talked to many people, actual users of lead services, and not ONE has stood by these services saying that they were the proverbial “god send”. The best response I’ve gotten is, “Well, I’ve gotten a couple of calls, maybe a job or two…..I guess they’re OK” – and this is from a rare couple of people.
Does anyone else have the answer to my question. What do they mean by they will list my service in all the major search engines?
I handle my own Google Places listing, and Yahoo Listing. I don’t want a 3rd party submitting my info anywhere.
If they just mean they will submit my profile page – no biggie.
Really would like an answer on this.
What I really want to know is this… How the heck did Thumbtack get my email address?? Last week I started receiving emails from “Heather Madison” letting me know that someone was interested in my bookkeeping services. I am a bookkeeper but have not advertised anywhere (except on Craigslist which was six months ago) so I am wondering how Thumbstack got my email address in the first place. Since I never signed up for Thumbtacks services (I’ve never even been on their website) I had no interest in what they were selling and was very annoyed to start getting emails from them in the first place. I clicked the “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email and thought that would be the end on it. Unfortunately that isn’t the case and this “Heather Madison” keeps sending me emails about potenial bookkeeping jobs. A company that sends out unwanted spam emails is not a company I would ever trust.
Thumbtack is a business just like everyone else and has to make money. If they give you leads then PAY FOR THEM, it’s just like Service Magic. It’s lead-gen fees. They spend money on advertising and we as small business owners spend money in lead-gen fees, THIS is our advertising. Everyone wants a free lunch in this country!!! My goodness! Keep up the good work Thumbtack, I’m happy to pay the fees if you have sent me the work and the customer hasn’t contacted me directly.
Hey! This is Darren. Marco, the CEO of Thumbtack has asked me to post this response as there are some tech issues on someone’s side preventing him from responding, so here goes:
We don’t automatically create Google Place pages or Yahoo listings for our users. The only thing we submit is a sitemap for our domain that includes your Thumbtack profile.
We just wanted to communicate that we work hard to insure that your Thumbtack profile will get indexed and ranked well in the search engines without using any SEO jargon, but it can definitely be said more clearly.
Thanks for helping us get better!
I have not had a great experience with the leads which Thumbtack.com provides. So far, I’ve been paying $3.99 per lead and getting ZERO response. They do have a good refund policy but the failure to get even 1 response to a quote saying “NO”, raises questions in my cynical mind as to whether they are real leads or ones generated by competitors to drain other companies resources or by someone associated with Thumbtack.com to generate revenue or to keep themselves employed.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I will say that you need to have a solid beta to work from. In other words, 1 no out of 1 lead does not a good network make. If you got 100 no’s from 100 leads, then maybe. Maybe you are a bit too cynical? And I say that in a nice way! 🙂
I have a successful service business and have experimented with numerous ways to generate new customers. Some very successful, most not so much. While Thumbtack does seem to have an apparent advantage of letting clients directly contact you, I have found ZERO success with the leads it generates… The problem, I think, is that it creates a layer of anonymity for the customer in which they do not feel they have to treat you like a “real” entity. Specifically, ALL of my other ads are setup to act like a funnel to get potential customers to contact me at my website. My contact page on my website is specifically setup to ask customers basic information so I know how to contact them, if they are in my service area, and specific details that explain how my estimating process works.
The Thumbtack response feature removes all of this necessary information and leaves me literally dealing with a completely anonymous cyber avatar of someone who may or may not even exist. But certainly they don’t treat me as a real person who is spending my time and money trying to mine all off this missing information from them. They on the other hand, can just simply decide to not give you the information you need or just ignore you all together… very frustrating. I believe it’s a side effect of this “Facebook world” we live in now where people don’t have to follow the basic foundation of respectful human interaction and can just ignore you because you are not real… you are just words that pop up on a screen.
During the 2+ years I have had my profile with Thumbtack, I have only ever had ONE realistic lead, which I scheduled and rescheduled appointments for them, only to have them drop the ball at the last minute, while never once telling me where they were located, even though I asked 4 times. And of course I had no way to contact them other than through the Thumbtack site.
In the ranking of my how successful my marketing strategies have been, Thumbtack is grouped in the “ZERO club” of failed strategies. I will keep my business profile simply because it is better to have it there than to not. But I do not take it seriously.
THUMBTACK ISNT FREE TO CONTRACTORS…WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT? THE REASON I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE IS WE USE IT AND WE PAY A MONTHLY FEE FOR IT. WE MAY CANCEL BECAUSE NOT ONE LEAD HAS PROVEN TO BE SUCCESSFUL..HOWEVER ONE THING I WILL PRAISE THEM FOR IS EVEN IF ONE PERSON DOES NOT RESPOND TO YOUR LEAD ( YOU CONTACT THE CUSTOMER AFTER THEY REQUEST THE CONTACT) THEY REFUND YOUR MONEY INSTANTLY…SOMETHING I CANNOT SAY FOR SERVICE MAGIC AT ALL…THUMBTACK GETS OUR TWO THUMB UP FOR HAVING INTEGRITY…
The profile is free. Have one, haven’t paid a thing for it. If nothing else, it is a local citation your site needs to help it rank better.
I’m listed on Thumbtack and have received several “leads,” however, most of the leads have little to no information about what they need…but they do want a QUOTE. But how do you give an accurate quote when you don’t know the scope of work?
And then…there is a text field where I can ask the “lead” for more information…but THAT feature is part of the response tool and must be PAID for. So…you can’t give a quote, and you can’t ask for more information.
I’ve probably received 20+ so-called “leads.” Not one generated an actual, meaningful communication between me and the “lead,” let alone an actual, paying job.
Yes, they did refund my fee when I got no response from the lead.
But I will never get back the TIME WASTED on Thumbtack’s site!
I have read all the post from start to finish and I now feel like I have entered a lot of my business information into the hands of another company that will be wasting my time. I probably should have done this research before filling out my profile with this company.
I didnt really know how this one worked until now. If I had known that it was anything close to service magic I would not have touched it with a 10 ft pole.
What was I thinking?
I just showed up here after searching for reviews about Thumbtack. I thought it was a decent service until the option to pay commission for leads disappeared. Now the only way to get a lead is to pay a monthly service or a flat fee. The big problem here is that I got an email from the people at Thumbtack telling me this and directing me to a link to sign up for monthly subscription to leads for $14.99. No problem, I thought. So I went to sign up ONE DAY LATER and they wanted $34.99. When I wrote to the people asking about the discrepancy in one day’s time they sent me back an email citing website issues and a new link, but there it was again, $34.99. So I won’t call them scammers but I will say I have lost my faith in them and my interest.
I don’t trust them to keep me locked in at any rate since they have proven since day one that the one consistency in fees is that they are constantly changing, and by constantly I mean every month if not more often.
It is a struggle finding decent marketing tools out there, especially in a landscape flooded by leeches.
Just signed up with these guys and thought it was free also. REMEMBER NOTHING AIN’T FREE ANYMORE unless you crash weddings or church dinners. Got first lead and they never responded. Got second lead and guy said his lawn was 10,000 square feet. I sent a quote for the appropriate price. Guy calls me back and wants me to do it. He then said he wasn’t sure if it was 10,000 square feet, then I said my price is based on that square footage. I tell him I will come out and take a look at it the next day. Mind you it’s 15 miles from my buisness. I get there and it’s 26,553 square foot, quite a big difference. I told him the new price and he laughed in my face. I wanted to laugh at how stupid he was for not knowing the difference between 10,000 and 26,553 feet. I turned and walked away. I suspect he was in on the whole thing. The intial contact seemed fishy. After a number of years in the industry you pick up on the bullshit. I gave it a shot and lost. I will cancel after month If I don’t get a REAL lead that pays me.~BUYER BEWARE~.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. The service itself seems to have little to do with the prospect being a knucklehead. Maybe qualifying better over the phone would have saved you the 30 mile trip?
I tried to talk to this guy over the phone. He called me and I said I could do the job Monday unless it rained. The price was set if it was indeed 10,000 ft. He then called me back right away and said I needed to come out Sunday and he would pay me cash. I usually don’t work on Sundays as my guys need a break. I said I would personaly come out and look at it and then all of a sudden he wasn’t sure it was 10,000 ft all of a sudden. He then said I would need two people. That’s when the red flag went up real high. I do 5,000 square foot lawns all day long no problem and 10,000 would give me some much needed exercise. I looked the lot up on Google maps and sure enough it was 26,553 square ft minus the 3,500 square feet for the house and driveway. Once I arrived I tell the guy in no way does the lawnn need the service he asked for and told him it was a waste of money. I offered a more appropriate service for more money of course because the lot was over twice the size he said over the phone. I never quote anything over the phone unless the individual knows what the measurements and size are. I then tell them if it’s different when I get there it will be more. the guy says his brother does what I do as well. Maybe it was a competitor feeling me out. Can’t rule it out. I would also like to point out that I got my two shit leads after I signed up for the monthly service with Thumbtack for 19.99 a month. The first lead never responded to me. I have not gotten any leads since and will cancel after one month if no good leads create cash flow. I’m pretty established and it won’t kill me to drop my ad from there so called service. If I start getting good leads than I will come back and let everyone know. It’s to early to tell right now but flags have gone up to say the least, been doing this for over 20 years.
I also have my gripes with Thumbtack. I run a fairly successful DJ and Band booking company and book consistently using Gigmasters, Gig Salad or other lead generators. i have not had a single success from Thumbtack. Here are my major gripes:
1. Like others have said, the commission option disappeared. why it even appears greyed out is even more annoying. I would happily pay a healthy commission for a successful booking, but I can only assume this was removed for the same reason I mention above – the leads suck. Since nobody actually books, Thumbtack no longer offers a commission option.
2. I decided to try the monthly pay option and as I started to respond to leads I was constantly bombarded with a failure and that the lead was closed because it had reached its maximum bids. On some leads this was as low as 2 people had bid on it and now it is closed. So, Im paying for unlimited bids but only 2 in 10 was I actually able to bid on. This is completely bogus. This is the kind of BS the wireless crarriers were pulling with data plans.
3. I never get an actual email or phone number for the lead. im forced to communicate through Thumbtack, even after I paid them for the lead. I can’t continue doing business this way.
So, great concept – horrible execution. Just look at the comments above. The vendors are overwhelmingly complaining about this service.
my main gripe with Thumbtack is – im a service provider – makeup artist – and i get these “leads” that are either phoney or without a date – and i respond and half the time it’s a competitor just jerking my chain i do believe. these “leads” go nowhere. i doubt the potential clients are vetted at all. we have no confirmation from our end because there IS a fee structure. it’s not worth it to me now. and it is NOT free – the problem with paying for these “leads” is ripe with potential by competitors and jerks to just yank our chains – it costs money.
I know for a fact that these leads are not vetted. I did a test and sent out a request for an entertainer for a party. In the request I used a fake name and phone number. So the person did NOT exist at the number given.
I received the following message from Thumbtack.
I spoke to Michelle about her request.
She is planing her sons birthday party and she is looking for an awesome magician to wow the kids away.
Michelle would like to stay in the $100 range for this event.
Please contact Michelle with estimate of cost and availability.
Lets make the kids think there seeing things.
Tell me — how did they VERIFY the number and talk to Michelle, when she does NOT exist? This is an outright lie. Even the text of the message is a lie. It says she would like to stay in the $100 range. Really? Trust me, that is cheap cheap cheap. They just made up a number and put it in. Very sleazy if you ask me. I am not a fan of this company.
UPDATE: Well it’s been close to a month and I still have not landed ONE job. I’ve responded to every job within minutes and only had one guy call to set up an appointment to look at his yard out of 20 leads or so. I never quote over email and requested site visits for all the leads and got one call back. It very well could have been competitors, but what pissed me off was this guy from Thumbstack said I was not responding properly after a month and charging me the monthly fee when it was a problem on there end. Even though this Heather Madison person said prior that I was responding perfectly fine. I think these folks are trying to make it work, but it’s not. They have alot of BBB complaints within the last year. Not that the BBB is worth a damn, but it’s something everyone should think about. I repeat do not use this service until they can perfect it or you will lose alot more than the monthly fee I promise you that.
I tried Thumbtack for a period of time. I was early to the party and only had to agree to pay them a commission if the job was booked. Later they changed that to paying for leads. I responded fast to every possible lead I could on Thumbtack and never got one response back from a potential customer. Unless something has changed, I am a “No-Go” on Thumbtack
Major thumbs down from me. No way I’m paying for a lead from ‘craigslist mentality’ folk who expect you to do $1000 worth of work for $10. IF they went back to taking a percentage from a job I might consider it, but as it is now it’s a TOTAL RIPOFF, FAIL AVOID etc..
I responded to a lead and it was accepted. After agreeing on a price and doing the work I invoiced the client. I waited. And I waited. 2 1/2 months have passed after sending the invoice twice and contacting Thumbtack numerous times. I have not YET received payment. Thumbtack FINALLY sent me an email saying they were having a hard time connecting with the client. All they said was that they have disabled her account because she hasn’t paid. What recourse do I have? I’m at their mercy! I cannot trust Thumbtack and therefore will do no more business with them.
Is Thumbtack responsible for a clients non-payment? Is that somewhere in their EULA?
I’m the owner of a small service-based business and have been giving Thumbtack a trial run for the past few months. Unfortunately, my experience has not been any better than what others have posted on this site. The problems I’ve experienced are:
1) I get a few “leads” a week, but almost none of them have anything to do with what I do for a living, thereby making them completely useless. (I e-mailed customer support about this issue thinking there was something I could change in my settings, but alas, there is not.) The lead emails offer the chance to respond with feedback, and I always check “I don’t perform this kind of service” yet they KEEP SENDING ME LEADS FOR THAT SAME SERVICE over and over again!
2) For the few leads I receive that could potentially turn into jobs for me, I always respond with a quote (and pay the required commission fee, usually in the $3-$6 range.) So far I have not had responses to ANY of the quotes I’ve submitted, nor have I booked a single job.
3) Thumbtack promises a refund on their fee if the job doesn’t pan out. This is true. However, what they don’t tell you is that it is the responsibility of the business owner to call/e-mail and ASK for a refund. They give you an option on the page to check whether or not you’ve booked the job, and the first few times I selected “never heard back” thinking that would trigger a refund, but no. They won’t refund the commission unless you call directly and ask for it. I’m pretty sure this is to make a few extra bucks on people who don’t realize that they need to ask for a refund and/or forget to do it. That part seems a tad shady to me.
Overall, Thumbtack seems (at least in theory) like a good idea. However, they need to work on the way leads are generated and distributed to business owners in order for it to be a useful service for anyone involved.
I don’t understand how people get indignant about paying less than a pack of smokes for a lead then get pissed it didn’t pan out. Leads and biz dev cost money or time, and most often both. If anyone thinks they are going to get rich on $3 leads…well, I guess that says it all.
Tried the site however, after multiple leads and paying the $24.99 monthly unlimited lead fee I have yet to book a client. I’m not sure how cheap my photography prices need to be to get a client but I’m not willing to do a gig for free or as cheap as other people may.
Sorry Thumbtack.com…its not your fault your consumers are looking for freebies.
This site is terrible – they lead you in, provide no customer service or support, and won’t let you contact leads directly. They also are pretty deceptive about their services, they make you pay a insane amount for a lead if you buy them individually and if you enter into a subscription there isn’t an easy way to get out of it.
I had a suspicion that something was up so I created a customer account and put in what should give me a quote from my business page and the results were interested. I teach guitar lesson and I was initiated with “price quotes” from people all over the country (even though I selected only a few miles from me) for Skype lessons. I never even received a quote for anywhere in my own state!
I figured I’d try a month subscription (it was $15/month for unlimited leads) and after responding to leads every few days I never got a single response. I replied to at least 15 of them and it seems odd to not even get a reply back (I know I am priced well for where I live). I really don’t think they leads are real as other people have said.
All in all this place is worthless and sketchy.
I am a little apprehensive about Thumbtack. Why can’t they provide a successful lead as proof it works? Seems like anyone could make a request for something, either legitimate or phoney, and boost the revenue of the company. Other companies are closing in on the competition by only charging a commission on the actual booking. Granted it’s a little higher, 20%, but you don’t pay it until after the job is complete. Competition will make this type of marketing model interesting for the talent. Finally, talent will not be undermined like it has in traditional negotiations. Thumbtack’s current model will not survive unless they “Wine and dine the talent”.
Here’s an interesting article about Thumbtack. This company has 5.7 million dollars in total funding and has Jason Calacanis as their investors. They must be pissed. Shame on you Thumbtack
I’ve tried submitting 15 quotes. I haven’t heard back from A SINGLE LEAD. Recently, I got a request to do an event for someone with a terminal illness, so I submitted a quote to do the job for FREE, and never heard back. I am highly suspicious that Thumbtack may actually be a fraudulent site that creates false leads. I could be wrong, but how many people wouldn’t at least contact someone offering free service? Be careful.
I’ve submitted lots of quotes over the past few months, and I haven’t heard back from any of them, either. This even applies to the quotes where they said a Thumbtack representative spoke with the customer and verified the information (and that, apparently, they were looking for exactly the type of service I offer). A month or two ago I wrote to customer service to see if they could give me some tips on improving my experience on the site, and got the following response: “Unfortunately sometimes a consumer is less responsive than we’d like them to be even flaky at times. In your case, it will probably help if you make your quote as catchy as it can be by offering freebies, discounts, etc. and by following up with the customer.” I’ve tried offering discounts (“freebies” aren’t really an option–I’m trying to run a business!) but no luck. And as Anon pointed out, even “free” doesn’t seem to warrant a response!
(“freebies” aren’t really an option–I’m trying to run a business!)
How ironic!!! Thumbtack is trying to run a business as well but people expect them to give their service for free?
I could have written this letter word for word!! I’ve been involved with Thumbtack for several years now and have only actually booked one lead for $75. With all the paid quotes I have submitted, I’m in the negative! My photography business has always worked by word of mouth and the other free areas of the web where I can showcase my images. Within the last six months the leads have gotten more expensive and I only gotten one response, which is highly questionable. It would be very easy for them to create bogus leads and I believe that’s exactly what they are doing. I belong to another website where I am given photography leads and only pay when I am booked and paid by the customer. Much better way for me!!
Thumbtack is a real honest business that makes thousands of calls a week to verify requests. There are real people working full time 7 days a week behind the scenes calling customers to verify that each request is legitimate. They are very generous with their refund policy as well. Unfortunately, they cannot dictate how a consumer will respond to quotes but that does not justify calling them a scam. Thumbtack cares about the safety of the customers thus the background checks. The fees charged for leads are minimal compared to spending hundreds of dollars advertising and sending out flyers that hold no more of a guarantee for job conversions than the quotes that you lose against your competition in Thumbtack. People need to stop slandering a business unless they have solid evidence to backup the accusations. Enough said!
I wish I had read this before I started paying for leads. Two of their leads replied but did not give me any impression that they were serious about booking my services. I requested my refund and got it the first time. Then I started getting more leads, I quoted them, and no one replied or contacted me. It seems as though they do not exist either. I have emailed them two weeks ago about getting a refund for these leads but no one answered my emails. I hate giving my money to somebody who does not have a contact number, and do not even answer your emails for weeks. If I pay for the service then I expect better customer service. I am completely disappointed .
I read your ad and i just wanted to let you and other unsuspecting people know my story. I put a link from thumbtack onto my website, which is now cancelled, and all of my customer leads were gone. Not only from my website but frommy entire computer, even after factory restore on this asus… which tells you something about asus, it wasnt until i got a new comptuer that i recovered my clientele, but the sad thing is i still test this computer and sure enough no responses no matter where im being advertised. they are common crooks. Im surprised the new york times writes about them!
I am a web designer, and I’m receiving “leads” every day or so, but the problem is that the requests are SO generic and so lacking in detail that bidding is impossible and I’d have to pay just to find out what the potential client is really after. For example: “I need a website” is not a valid lead. That could be anywhere from a single page to a full shopping cart and database.
My hesitations are twofold: Back in the late 90’s there were sites that tried to connect web designers with clients, and you bid on projects. The problem was that every job was flooded with bidders and many times, they were being bid from India for a few cents on the dollar. You couldn’t earn a living in the US on what the competitors were bidding.
The second reason is I cannot tell from the lack of information on the initial request how serious the inquirer is. I don’t want to pay $3.99 a lead to find out someone is just price shopping out of curiosity. I assume it is free for people offering jobs.
Totally agree Jefferis! The requests are too generic. If I underbid and the job takes months that’s a problem. Too easy for us to be burned. I actually talked to a live client the other day to follow up on a bid. Really thought I had it. But no follow-up. She did not even have the courtesy to call me back and say no. Odd.
Also – I noticed there is a company saying that they are in my town and they are not. They have an 800 number and no address on their website. I brought this up to the Thumbtack people and they said IT people can be located anywhere it does not matter. Really?
I told them ok then, it’s fraudulent to give someone a result in a specific town and then they find out that the business is located in Ahetliput, India (I made up that name) anyways…..I told them that for this and other reasons I will bail. You are using BAIT and SWITCH tactics.
so – bye, bye thumbtack for me…..
Plus, I’m kinda busy now….
Tomorrow will mark the 1st month anniversary of using Thumbtack.
I was pretty skeptical at first mostly because in the first 1-2 weeks of signing up with a free account I was getting tons of leads but couldn’t respond because I didn’t want to pay. I finally did the math and decided to try the 1 month/$40 unlimited leads and communications. I figured mathematically it’d be better to be able to NOT have to hassle with a refund if I didn’t get the job, nor would I have to worry about if I buy this lead, what if I like the next one more? I calculated X leads a month = and decided the monthly fee was better, especially based on time management.
First, the info the leads give has been very generic as indicated in another review. This has actually worked to my advantage because it allows me to contact the person and build a rapport. I’m a service professional who happens to be an artist so when I can actually find out the specifics of what a person needs and wants then not only can I give them a truly accurate price, but also am able to deliver a product that matches what they need. Finally, I DON’T ever go into the conversation like I NEED the work. I want to make sure we are a good fit and that I can truly help them. If I feel this customer isn’t right for me, I kindly refer them or let them know honestly that I feel I cannot help them (that’s my policy anywhere but I use it on Thumbtack too).
I’ve found that in my industry (photography) there is a lot of misconceptions. I’ve got to continually enlighten people that photography is not a commodity and that no two photographer’s are alike. Your $200 with X photographer will be different than $200 with J photographer, ALWAYS. So for those shopping based on price, I always try to let them know that they should shop based on a photographer’s artistic style, expertise and finally professionalism as a business person.
All that aside, I’ve performed now 2 jobs and made a little over $1000 which makes my initial $40 investment for the month paid for. By the way, that’s 2 out of 6 or 7 leads that I actually responded to. In fact, those two were higher paying and more along what I wanted to do anyway than the others who didn’t respond or have communicated an intent to “get back to me”.
What I particularly like is that the leads are people who are looking for the service you perform, so there’s no cold calls or tacky salesman stuff going on. It becomes a matter of, “how well can you handle the lead”? Anyway, at this point it’s well worth the service. And yes I am going to keep using it. Just based on math the ROI is great.
I suspect that your experience as a photographer may be easier than for a web designer because your focus (pun intended) is much narrower. My interview with clients usually takes 1/2 hour or more to discover their needs, objectives, how realistic their expectations, and their budgets. Plus, someone from India will promise to do the whole thing for pennies on the dollar; and I’m competing with the cookie cutter websites for cheap like Intuit, etc. People get what they pay for, but when shopping for the lowest cost, that really isn’t where I can compete. I don’t suspect you can either, but photography is a physical, on site, project, where they have to have someone in flesh and blood and can’t farm it out to India… Just my thoughts.
I agree that it can be very tough to compete. In my industry many photographers are competing with the fact that everyone and his uncle has a camera and “is a photographer”. It’s demystified and devalued. People come looking for photography based on a price. I point them to my blog where I wrote out the correct way to shop for a photographer and pricing is LAST. For me and maybe for you it’s a point of having to continually educate your potential clients on how you are different and what you bring to the table that cannot be contested.
Thumbtack is like the yellow pages of old, or any other business listing directory. You will get warm leads of people shopping for your service (which beats cold calling to find out if someone needs your service) and many will shop based on price. If you just respond with a price, you may lose every time. If I did I would lose every time. Why? Because they have nothing to compare me or my services to the next photographer except a number and I don’t target the low end. So naturally I am higher priced. (This is why I choose the subscription, I can communicate with everyone for 1 monthly cost).
I asked a guy once who went with another photographer what it was that made him decide to go with someone else. He responded location and price. He received three other bids besides mine on headshots, $45, $80 and $80. Those were less than half mine. If he goes for any of those pricing points AFTER I’ve educated him on my value then I know he isn’t my type of client. Conversely, I did one shoot recently that lasted about 45 minutes, mostly to set up the shot. Took 35 photos and we used 1 photo and I walked away with $400 and a VERY happy customer. There is ALWAYS your type of client but admittedly some need to be made to realize that, ie they are disguised behind the misguided concept of shopping services like commodities.
That’s why I take the time to actually stress my value points, skillsets and build rapport right there. I weed out low end clients and pass them to the other guys on Thumbtack doing $45 headshots. Those clients are not for me.
I am sure you can come up with a list of how you are different than those cookie cutter sites out of India? And those are the points you need to enlighten your clients on. That’s why they pay more. Because you can “SOLVE” their problems better, faster, prettier, more … than those guys in India. All we are doing is solving problems and adding value. So now I ask, why would I go with you instead of a guy in India? How are you different or better? How can you solve my problems and add value to my life better?
The value of Thumbtack, Manta, Angie’s List, Yellow Pages, you name it, is in having the opportunity to enlighten the client on You, your services and value. They are a warm lead in that they are looking for your service. The rest is up to you to distinguish yourself from the competition. I’d think that with these points in mind location shouldn’t matter whereas location costs me jobs. Just food for thought. I would be interested in hearing what you have to say. Am I totally off base here?
The problem I have with inquires like that is that for me to explain the differences between my services and cookie cutters, aside from a few quick facts, is that in order to explore their needs, features they need, objectives, and expectations to get a real ball park price, I have to spend 20 to 30 minutes on the phone. I have so many looked-loos that are interested but don’t have realistic budgets or who are looking for an education (or need one) about a website and what a website can do, that it is not cost effective to throw my hat into a price competition on a site like Thumbtack where I’m getting a lot of inquiries but people are getting 10 offers from other developers perhaps and then it is just who is cheaper. Almost all my business comes from client referrals from my existing customers.
I have to agree with most comments on this site in terms of a negative impression of thumbtack. I signed up, thinking it was all free, added the logo link to my site and started receiving the very vague, made up looking first name and initial client requests. I didn’t respond to any of them and after a couple weeks the invites to bid stopped. Still curious about the service I went back just to visit the site and re-read some of terms and more about Thumbtack and immediately started receiving more leads. It would appear they have your IP address ready and available to market to you. As one of the few graphic designers, probably one of three on the Thumbtack site for my area, I got rated in the Top 3 for logo design services and did nothing to earn it. I’m good at what I do but Thumbtack didn’t have enough information to know that. So, if you’re wondering whether they are a legitimate service you’d have to pay the fee, but my impression is to avoid it.
At this point I have to say that I would *not* recommend Thumbtack.com as a good way to generate work. To be sure, you will get *tons* of quote requests – there’s no doubt about that. I think I average about 10 a day. The problem is, it’s difficult to weed out the serious requests from the “are you kidding me?” type requests. I am *very* selective about which requests I am willing to pay to respond to (usually about $4.99 a quote, if paying per quote). If the potential client seems shady, difficult or otherwise clueless, or the project seems in *any* way problematic, either technically or ethically, I immediately “pass” on the project. Even being super selective, so far, I’ve only gotten a response to one or two quotes, and out of about $130 I’ve spent on credits for quote responses, I’ve seen one job for $50. The biggest problem is, while they make their vendors jump through many hoops to verify that they are serious and on the up-and-up, they do next to nothing to screen the people making the requests. So far, it would seem that most of them are either design firms looking to outsource work for super cheap, are private citizens who don’t have any understanding of the going rate for design work, or in some cases, are even students looking to outsource their school work (read: cheating). Probably going to see how my last three quotes play out, and if they end up like the rest, I’m closing my account. I spend way more time hitting “pass” than I do actually responding to quotes.
Hi – I just had to comment on this. I had signed up with them awhile ago…just as a home stager (although I do decorative painting and interior design work as well). I would only get a few leads per month in my area…then in the last month or two I got so many (and not just home stager leads, but interior design and organizing leads as well – which I didn’t sign up for). Only one person called me – and I met him (for a home staging job). I have submitted quotes for two other jobs…but no emails or responses from these people.
The amount of leads I have been getting seems so suspect. I just stared getting leads for people wanting interior design jobs (and that is not what I signed up for!!). I get lots of leads – at least about 20 a day. In reality – I don’t think that those leads are accurate…I can’t imagine that many people in my area needing the kind of assistance that Thumbtack says.
I don’t think that the company knows how to weed out the ridiculous ones from the real. You (the contractor) have to do that by reading what they describe their projects to be and the $ amount they are willing to spend. Most times it’s ridiculous. A multi room renovation for under $10,000 including the cost of furniture and the designer fee. The company has started a “client has answered questions” part of the lead – but I really don’t think that will help. I wish that there would be a site where you could submit a quote to someone who wants something done…and then pay a percentage of the job to the lead generator – just like it works in real life!!
i know what you all venders are talking about. i used thunmtack before they started this new system of paying up to 18 and 20 bucks per lead, i got out just as they started that. Number one is we always got little info on what was needed, but after making contact , we found they wanted a whole day for little money. ( keep in mind this is when we paid a flat fee per month for all leads, but you had to be the first 5 vendors to take the lead and then follow up with client, even then this was pushing the limit of how many really booked verses just checking to see what prices are when theres no wedding date in place !!!!) 2. we always had folks wanting a 7 hour wedding for around $500 bucks, 3. These new way is great for thumbtack, they make alot more money but we are the venders who are doing the work !, 4. When i saw how they were advertising the new system… it sounded good but in reallity, the circle is not really how it works in real life ! ! they show the circle as creat ad, people contact you , you book the job and you start all over , BOY IS THAT MISLEADING !!! BUT IM SURE LIKE WEDDING WIRE.COM they are showing you the mercedies and delivering the KIA !!!! ITS ALL ABOUT THEM MAKING IT SOUND GOOD TO US AND ONCE YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY IS IN THERE HANDS….OOOOOO WELL !!!!!!!!! ESPECIALLY weddalert.com they are the worst.
Just caught this thread by chance and wanted to chime in. I do cabinetry for a living and have been using Thumbtack for at least a few years. I sometimes have doubts, but I do land good jobs from some of the leads. Far more than I cry about the money I toss at responding to leads and don’t get a reply. One decent job pays for more than enough of the money I spend on the leads. It’s also a business write off. Der! Some advice; Write professionally and intelligently and you will land more gigs. After 3 days of sending a reply to a lead, follow up. Ask if they are still looking and/or to inform if the position/job has been filled. Also realize that people are ignorant and rude and simply won’t reply if they filled the job. Reality. I still use it and still get work from it. I pick and choose which leads to reply to. Yelp however…tons of business there for FREE!!
I really did try to give it a whirl. I do interior painting and a few other fancy things. I made a real pretty home page there. I got lots of requests for service on my iPhone via text and emails. I got a bunch of no return phone calls and what I would describe as those people that don’t have any money and are dreaming of having something done in their home. I cancelled my account today. This is way to much back and fourth with no face to face contact.
Hey guys, I saw an advertisement for TT on my facebook page and decided to give it a shot. My business is a little bit different than alot of whats going on in this thread: I am a personal trainer.
ANYway… Long story short, I’ve been in the business for almost a decade straight. Let me tell you that for a trainer to receive as many leads as i would per day is pretty much ludicrous. Obviously, the large number of leads raised a red flag. Secondly, (as most stated here) the leads were COMPLETELY vague. “toning”, “weightlosss”,and other generic fare..Most of these leads would come with VERY STRANGE first names. Third, a TON of the leads were from 18 to 22 year olds. I tried to rationalize that these kids had the money for a personal trainer through parents but i’ve been in the business for years and i’ve trained MAYBE 3 people in that age bracket. They simply dont have the financial capability..Yet magically, thats the age group of MOST of my leads? Fishy. Last, and most troubling, I recieved leads from an area code that is quite small near where i grew up and is primarily comprised of fields and industrial warehouses. The neighborhood is like 3 streets and its as working class as it comes…yet magically, I have like 4 leads from this TINY area of empty roads,fields,and warehouses…..My take: Everyone can pretty much figure this out. Most of the leads are fake. generated by the company no doubt. they drain your money to submit and entice you to purchase more. A few (quite a few) are real. I’m meeting with a woman tomorrow from the site. Honestly though, its not worth it. I feel i got lucky and plan on discontinuing my service. It seems pretty obvious that they are making up fake leads. i mean, they pretty much can’t be caught.
Hi, I have read a few of the responses. I don’t mind paying for leads myself…but the leads never get responses for me neither. I paid probably $100 in a couple weeks if that and thought, yay, this is awesome. It didn’t take long to realize, it is a barrel of poop. I have complained a lot to this company on the non-leads and also on the text option…I could never get it to update so I was receiving a LOT of leads…a LOT of had to be fake leads. I was able to post photos/as I’m a photographer and they are excellent….I rarely do not get the job. I give a free 11X14 which is a rarity as well as excellent prices. I call this completely fake and will respond to BBB, I could care less to get refunded, but I think of all the other people out there like me…they are killing it financially…have to be!!