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Remote Computer Repair

When I started with Thumbtack it was just a few jobs a month for me, local repairs around Indianapolis. I’ve been a Thumbtack pro for about 4 years and have received 106 reviews (4.8 avg) out of 157 hires. I consider myself a high-quality technician and work very hard for my clients.

I began to transition to a remote computer repair format last year, and my launch coincided with the launch of the instant match system. For the first couple of months business boomed, but over the last 5-6 months or it has come down to a trickle of instant matches and even fewer actual jobs.

Even though I mark myself clearly as a remote repair tech, a large portion of the instant matches I pay for end up being folks looking for a local repair tech. Another large portion of the matches are people who never respond in any way.  Maybe 30% of the instant matches are both a real person and also looking for a remote technician. I am not happy about this, but am doing my best to roll with it.

However, a few days ago I got a message from TT saying I’ve been listed in search results or something, I dunno. What interested more was the example listing they showed which presented my pricing against like 8 other techs. I HAD NO IDEA!

I am competing against $15 computer repairs, $20 repairs?! I was always a reasonably priced tech, maybe even on the cheaper side, but I have a well thought out pricing structure that works. I can’t compete against pricing like that, and who could run a business like that anyway?

I saved a screenshot of the listing and researched the insanely cheap competition. I traced one to a call center in Lima Peru, and traced another to India but couldn’t prove it’s a call center. Several other weren’t listed anywhere online except for thumbtack (I have 150 other reviews sprinkled around the web, not just on TT)

Doesn’t thumbtack advertise as a service that connects you with local pros? I just checked thumbtack.com and its right at the top of the page. I feel this is very disingenuous on the part of TT. While I myself am no longer a ‘local pro’ in the strictest sense, I started that way, and I am definitely a freelance pro based in the US, not some overseas call center.

I think this is not only disingenuous to thumbtacks customers, but I’ve heard absolute horror stories from my clients about some of the ‘computer repair mills’. I bet those poor people will never use thumbtack again. $15 is just a sucker price.

Are there any other US based techs who’ve had a similar experience? I’m open to any input, am trying to find some perspective about the over all situation.

10 responses
Moderator Kameron
Moderator

Re: Remote Computer Repair

@jasongarrison thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on these things with us. First I wanted to congratulate you on seeing so much success on and off of Thumbtack. The amount of hires and reviews you have on Thumbtack is definitely something to be proud of. 

In regards to the jobs that you've been seeing recently, I found that on your Services page under Advanced Settings that "Suggest jobs related to my services" was on. I turned that off for you and it should help you to see jobs closer to your preferences. It may also feel like your seeing fewer jobs because now you're only notified of customers responding to your pricing and information. Instead of like before where you saw every new job that was created decided whether to quote on it.

As for your concern with other pros and much lower pricing. If you truly feel that your pricing is fair compared to the rest of the market, I don't think you'll have much to worry about with the very high standing you currently have on Thumbtack. Sure people will be looking for cheaper prices, but there are also those people who will feel more comfortable paying a bit more for a higher quality experience, which is what you offer and have proof of. You can learn more about the new Search Results experience HERE. If you have any other questions about it feel free to ask them. 

0 Kudos

Sunday night stacking

I've gotten a total of 6 requests for computer repair over the first 6 days of last week, only two of them were legitimate requests (I am used to this 30% ratio).

No requests all day friday, none on Saturday, not aallll day Sunday- until about 9pm eastern. (I close at 9pm eastern)

Then suddenly between 9pm and 1am I get 3 instant matches for remote computer repair. All 3 of those requests should have gone to a local tech - one was a liquid spill, another was a dead laptop screen, and the last was also a hardware replacement.)

So these requests came late after i close, on a Sunday evening, and none of them were looking for a remote repair. I am dubious that all 3 of those people would make the same mistake on thumbtack (remote repair), and that all 3 were looking for hardware replacements in the middle of the night on a Sunday.

This is not the first time this has happened, I have noticed this pattern over the last couple of months.

End result? After a very slow week on TT, my bill jumps by a full 50%, in the middle of the night, and in the last few hours before they charge for the week.

Coincidence?

Moderator Kameron
Moderator

Re: Sunday night stacking

@jasongarrison I'd like to see if I can help clear things up here. The first thing I noticed is that on your account there currently there is no distinction between remote computer repair and regular computer repair. Are you looking specifically to get only remote repairs? If so then you'll want to turn off the other two options for travel HERE

As for more contacts coming in for you specifically late on Sundays. I took a look at your contact history for the past month and found that yes while you have had some contacts come in on Sunday there hasn't been any irregularity and that you've been getting a consistent amount of contacts throughout the workweek from Monday to Sunday. The most frequent days that you've seen contacts have been on both Fridays and Saturdays, which is normal across the site as customers usually submit more jobs around the weekends. 

0 Kudos

Re: Sunday night stacking

Kameron, why did you move my new post into the comments for this old post? I am looking for feedback from other pros, not more excuses from TT reps.

Seems like a good way to bury my new post.

Re: Sunday night stacking

Kameron, my new post had the same title 'Sunday night stacking' but had entirely new content. Please restore my post.

Re: Sunday night stacking

@Meckell

Any response to what Ive written above?

0 Kudos
Moderator Meckell
Moderator

Re: Sunday night stacking

Hey @jasongarrison if you look above here, you'll see Kameron's response regarding your concern. He looked into your account and gave you all the right info regarding these concerns. If you have any further questions about this, please let us know! 

0 Kudos
Highlighted

Re: Sunday night stacking

@Meckell@Kameron

Why was this post about sunday night stacked up charges moved under a post about overseas competition?

0 Kudos
harry
Level 4

Re: Remote Computer Repair

Jason, I am a competitor of yours.  From what I understand, those search results are being rolled out in waves -- by the end of November, the search results in your zip code will start showing only the best pros or those paying to be "promoted" (another brainchild of TT).   Currently, for example in TX, computer repair search results do not show me but show you and then a bunch of motley, mediocre wanna-be computer professionals.  You stand out as the best so enjoy it while it lasts -- in a few weeks others will show up perhaps like me if the customer sends "can be done over Internet".  Now regarding those $15 to $20 folks, these (in theory) should be folks who were vetted by Thumbtack -- these are probably pros who have very low number of reviews and will maybe do a bait-and-switch on customers and end up telling them things cost more $.  Or maybe they are just trying to build up their profile to have more and more verified reviews.  Then they can raise their prices.  ***But*** maybe, as you suggest, they are foreign invaders.  Thumbtack likes to pride itself on making sure there are no fake professionals but as a security expert I already know the bad guys are always one or two steps ahead of the good guys.  The bad guys can easily fool TT and it would prideful for them to think they can stop that.  For example, a pro in foreign country X can always use a surrogate in the US who takes a commision for just being a surrogate.  The $15 work does not violate TT policy but the customer immediately gets someone from a foreign country to remote in.   In this instance, a Thumbtack Pro is really a virus, a form of a "scareware" ad.

The new privacy policy and terms of use policy coming into effect shortly is confusing and there is a blog thread about the possibility that to determine fraud TT will look at everything you do on your PC (they call it "off Platform" activity and imply emails, text messages, etc.) but they do not define "off Platform").  So maybe they will catch SOME of those guys then.    But if they are looking at EVERYTHING to catch these guys, this is an egregious violation of policy NOT subject to sanctions (see 60 minutes note below).  On your PC, if they don't add an extension to your browser, they can do this exploitation by leveraging what information Google can provide them since Google is a heavy investor and Google knows everything (did you watch the 60-Minutes piece last Sunday 11/11/2018?). 

You'd (the surrogate or the repair person in foreign country X) have to very carefully manage your browser and PC privacy policy, use a VPN service, etc. but even then TT may detect that and suspend you without notice.  But how will the new policy stop a surrogate helping them in the USA?  Perhaps they will see the surrogate in USA is chatting in personal email with his partners in foreign country X and then suspend/block them.  That in itself will keep TT endlessly busy chasing it's tail. 

The new privacy policy is frightening until they clarify.  I am assuming the worst, namely that in order for them to detect fraud, they must invade EVERYTHING about you especially emails and somehow text messages and perhaps Facebook as well.  But even if they clarify and confirm they don't do this, you can be sure they will do everything they deem necessary to try to catch fraud or foreign country members because the 60-minute piece reminds us that there are no laws in the U.S. to stop a company from violating their own privacy policy. 

To summarize, we are the victims of TT doing whatever it thinks is necessary to catch them, perhaps getting Google to tell them about email communications between the pro hired and the customer doing the hiring or a surrogate Pro farming work off to foreign country X. 

Separate from all that, we both know we do TT computer repair work for fun or a ministry of service (in my case) because no one can make even a pittance of a living solely from TT computer repair work.  I would make more money flipping burgers at McDonald's and I am the top computer professional in the country, plain and simply.

Take care!