Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thumbtack.com Struggles To Keep Their Head Above The Waters


After the acquisition of Redbeacon by Home Depot, it seems that there has been a flood of new startups going after the local service market. But like many founders in that industry, Mark Zappacostas, CEO of Thumbtack, had no idea the challenges and pressure he will be facing. Even with 5.7 million dollars in funding, Mark Zappacostas did not have an easy time acquiring new customers. The 5.7 million dollars in funding just added more eyes over his shoulders and people breathing over his neck pressuring him to succeed and pushing him into making desperate decisions by turning to evil practices which involves spamming and charging their users hidden fees.


It all started with this email from one of their worker "Heather"

Hey XXX,
I'm reaching out to you because Thumbtack is getting a lot of job leads for handy mans, and I'm looking for another handyman who is interested in taking on more clients.
After checking out your website I think you are a great fit for Thumbtack and I'd love to start sending you job leads. Please fill out a few details about your skills and rates, and I'll start forwarding you potential new clients.
If you have any questions about what Thumbtack can provide, please don't hesitate to ask.
Thanks,
Heather
--
Unsubscribe Link: One-click unsubscribe.
1001 Page St, Suite #45, San Francisco, CA
This message is an advertisement.


Then again... but on another account


Hey XXX,
I'm reaching out to you because Thumbtack........

 How is this company getting my email addresses? I've never submitted any email addresses to this company before.

After doing a quick search on Google, it turns out that many other people have the same questions as me in regards to how this company obtains their email addresses. 

Here's what some people said about them:

 "The spammed me too. Said they have image consultant work and needed help. Wanted me to fill in their form and name my prices. I’m not an image consultant. It was clearly a fishing expedition…SPAM"

 "I just got one today, in which they let me know they visited my website and found my credentials as a Home Inspector very Impressive! They want me to fill out some forms and take on new clients for my Home Inpection business. Trouble is…I’m neither a Home Inspector NOR do I have a Website! Spam is just another word for SCAM…and that’s what these people are doing. No legitiate business would tell such flagrant lies to try and get your attention, and they ALWAYS depend on the greed (or financial need) of the recipient. Be careful out there."

Through about a hundred complaints, it is obvious that this company has been scraping emails off the web and mass sending them. Emails are listed on my contact pages were scraped by Thumbtack and added to a list that would be mass emailed with a generic message. Spamming is an evil practice and to have a well-funded start up in the Silicon Valley do it is embarrassing. No legitimate business SPAM! You only see that with Nigerian scammers or affiliate marketers. 

 But what happens if someone responds to this free service?


A few people responded to the ad and became a victim of what we call bait and switch.  A bait and switch is when you offer someone something, and then you proclaim it is no longer available and offer something else.  In this case, they get you to enter your company information, you’re offered a free lead then you are told the lead is no longer available. They will then pitch to you that you will have a better chance at landing the job if you get a background check with them for $7 dollars. They will then notify you that you have potential customers and try to sell you leads.  The leads cost anywhere from $3-$7 dollars and you don't get any contact information such as email addresses or phone numbers and when you do, the phone number will be disconnected or a Google Voice number that no one will ever answer.

Here's what people had to say:

"So I very uncharacteristically signed up and paid for a few “leads” totalling $6. I can tell you unequivocally it’s a scam. The “leads” turned out to be to one phone number that was disconnected and when it was listed belonged to someone different than the name they sent me, and
another phone number which goes straight to voicemail with no callback
and is registered to a “business consulting” firm which has listings all over the internet but no description of their services and no reviews(until I posted on this morning.) Do not give these people any money! I am not usually so gullible."

"Thumbtack is a total scam. They started out free, then started charging up front in order to bid on any so-called lead. The leads are phony, and Thumbtack is a racket, taking your money under false pretenses. You don’t need Thumbtack to post on Craigslist, people. Post your own ads — and you don’t have to pay for false leads!"

"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."

"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!"

Wait that’s not all! If that’s not bad enough, we learned that Thumbtack also hijack these company's Google Places Pages and upload pictures that include their watermark and direct users to their website to fill out request forms!

"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 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."

"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!"


But why is succeeding in this market so difficult? This business is very simple right? A user submits a form describing what jobs they need done and it’s then sold to a bunch of professionals. It’s a Win-Win situation. Nope! Here's why. There are too many companies out there offering the same service and not enough people requesting services from professionals. There are already two major players in the market and that’s more than we need. With Service Magic and RedBeacon as the main player, leaves only a few users for Thumbtack and rest. In order to satisfy just the professionals alone, thumbtack has to send quality leads. Now quality leads are hard to fine, because most people requesting service are not actually looking to get jobs done anywhere in the near future and if they are seriously thinking about getting something done they will request proposal/bids from multiple professionals leaving the others unsatisfied. Thumbtack could not generate leads thus forcing them to scrape emails, spam users, and gives struggling small businesses and professionals false leads and upselling them.

Source:

More comments regarding thumbtack.com
http://donsdeals.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-fees-does-thumbtack-charge-when-i.html 
Thumbtack CEO responses to comments
http://darrenslaughter.com/review-is-thumbtack-an-answer-to-google-instant-for-contractors/ 

17 comments:

  1. Tu Tran, Thanks for the comment. Interesting Article. Keep on writing!:) And Please Always Remember to Link Back to your Sources. Such as for the Quotes from my DonsDeals Blog at, http://donsdeals.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-fees-does-thumbtack-charge-when-i.html

    Don

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    1. Hey Don! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and thanks for the feedback. Really means a lot. I've added my source!

      Delete
  2. Its amazing that I was on a subscription plan for unlimited leads and the lead were few and far between. As soon as they changed over to their "CREDIT" System I got FLOODED with leads. Unlike many others, I have won many jobs from Thumbtack. We do wedding photography and video. www.gmsphotos.com, However, they can not justify the cost of their credits....Ridiculous. I know so many vendors that are walking out due to this. Bait and switch at its best!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sidejobr.com just launched and was built to overcome the issues people have with Thumbtack, Craigslist and other lead generating websites. We offer your public Business Listing and you get Free Webpage. Everything is accessible direct to customers without paying for leads and we get you direct search results from the search engines.

      We are free until 2015 and since we connect you directly with customers, no paying for fake leads or tire kickers. I would love to get you listed on our site. Let me know how we can get your business listed for free. - Michael mj@sidejobr.com

      Delete
  3. I used them for two packages of leads and not a single reply. We also had somebody test out the service by posting a job request and NO REPLIES TO THAT EITHER. That would make me believe that if BOTH ar going unanswered than the "leads" on the site are made up...

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  4. If you look on sites like careermarketplace.com for say "Web Design" there will be a flood of Thumbtack postings. I'm guessing that Thumbtack pays to have their fake leads posted to job listing sites. Compared to the number of actual individuals looking for services on Craigslist, it is easy to see that they create bogus postings to try to lure in new people to bid on jobs.

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  5. Instead, go to http://www.onforce.com - they do it RIGHT! ZERO up-frong CHARGE! They take a 'percentage' AFTER you do the work! None of this "fake lead" crap! ThumbTack SHOULD BE AUDITED BY ATTORNEYS GENERAL! There is TOO MUCH GREY, SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY!!!! They are scamming service pros out of MILLIONS OF DOLLARS USING FAKE LEADS! Otherwise, please SHOW US any "audit trail" showing that those leads are "real."

    You are SO RIGHT! Easy for ThumbTack to "Post fake and VAGUE" job descriptions from "ghost accounts." And have people or "bots" reading any submitted bids, with NO INTENTION OF ACCEPTING *ANY* BIDS, because ThumbTack CHARGES FOR *EVERY BID THAT SOMEONE READS!* What the Eff kind of "shill system" is THAT?! Do like onforce.com - let us click to 'accept' a job and THEN take a percentage AFTER we do the work! That is the ONLY LEGIT BUSINESS MODEL in this type of scenario - because it is 'self-auditing' and no way to 'cheat' the service pro!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sidejobr.com just launched and was built to overcome the issues people have with Thumbtack, Craigslist and other lead generating websites. We offer your public Business Listing and you get Free Webpage. Everything is accessible direct to customers without paying for leads and we get you direct search results from the search engines.

      We are free until 2015 and since we connect you directly with customers, no paying for fake leads or tire kickers. I would love to get you listed on our site. Let me know how we can get your business listed for free. - Michael mj@sidejobr.com

      Delete
  6. But the only problem with 'onforce.com' is that they now REQUIRE insurance! You MUST have liability insurance, errors & omission insurance and some 3rd insurance - they supposedly allow you to "let them handle the insurance" by charging an extra 3% off your jobs that you do, but that option does NOT WORK. So, they FORCE you to buy insurance; and they direct you to THEIR choice of insurance agent, if you don't have it - so, this may be a "back-end" scam also, since there's no way to choose "Allow Onforce to cover my insurance by adding X% to each job I perform," even though they SAY that they have that option - it just does NOT exist. But overall, before that insurance requirement, I got nothing but quality leads - then they randomly 'canceled' my onforce account, because they said they had enough service pros in my area and that I had not accepted any tickets/job - at the time, I did not have a 'smart phone' and, in order to click "Accept" quicker than the other people reading the job, you MUST have a smartphone, that signs into your Onforce account, so you can read the job and click Accept.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was always suspicious about THUMBTACK. They are professionals at getting your hard earned dollars and use classic bad business practices on many levels to do it. There is great thought behind this SCAM company. I was contacted about a lead for someone spilling water in their Macintosh Computer(twice) - and I charge half of what apple charges. Never heard back from anyone with a highly competitive price. SO BAD ON SO MANY LEVELS.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I am confused with all the negativity about of thumbtack.com. I was simply searching to see if there are more websites out there like thumbtack and I found all of your posts.

      Maybe things were different 4 months ago, or maybe the benefit is more related to the specific industry of service it is being used for.

      Or maybe people expect too much for nothing and don't put forth the effort it takes to create a professional profile and quote.

      Phillip ProctorJuly 16, 2014 at 9:02 PM
      "I was always suspicious about THUMBTACK. They are professionals at getting your hard earned dollars and use classic bad business practices on many levels to do it. There is great thought behind this SCAM company. I was contacted about a lead for someone spilling water in their Macintosh Computer(twice) - and I charge half of what apple charges. Never heard back from anyone with a highly competitive price. SO BAD ON SO MANY LEVELS".

      You are obviously not in sales...PRICE is the very last thing considered in a trust sale...and trust me, as a computer user, getting someone to let you do surgery on their computer is all about trust, no matter the cost. Most all sales is all about trust. Most people will throw out the most expensive and least expensive prices right off the bat. So, sorry to say, but you probably don't win business in that type of quoting process simple because you are priced too low. I would recommend quoting a higher price and then after you win the job offer them your discounted pricing for whatever reasons you want to give them.

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  8. Thumbtack are liars. They lie to the businesses about how "only 1%" of companies in your industry are accepted into Thumbtack! In other words, they're misleading people into thinking Thumbtack is some kind of arbiter of quality. It's not. It's mere advertising. Plus they lie to the consumer everytime a link of theirs comes up in a search engine that hypes about "top-rated businesses" and "the Top 12 interior designers" or whatever. Thumbtack does not rate businesses. They are liars, lying to both the companies dumb enough to sign up with them, and lying to the consumer.

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  9. Do you still feel Thumbtack is a scam now that they have made a name for themselves?

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  10. Do you still feel Thumbtack is a scam now that they have made a name for themselves?

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  11. they have made a name of scamming people so yes.

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  12. I tried Thumbtack out of curiosity. I tried to send a message to a prospective client for clarification (how long have you been in business, what SMM strategies have you already tried, do you already have profiles on FB, G+, Twitter) and Thumbtack expected me to PAY THEM for the privilege of more accurately understanding the prospective clients needs. Amazing.

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