OTL et al,
All it means is the job falls outside your specified preferences. You can either respond or decline. If you respond, you will be charged as you normally would. If you decline, you are charged nothing. It is pretty simple. There is nothing unfair about it really.
All you guys saying TT should charge you if you seal the deal, head on over to Fiverr and Freelancer (depending on the business you offer, of course). See how you like it there. Because that is the business model they work with. At TT, their business model is to charge you for the lead. I for one don't want to work with the other type of platform. Leave the deal-closing up to me. There is always a bunch of fine print people have no idea they're signing up for when they deal with these other types of platforms. TT does well by me in that regard.
TT has its moments, but it's light years ahead of the other guys.
My problem is, that in my line of work especially, clients will call fo FREE information, without telling you that is what they want. So if I respond to a "Chose You" post, I pay $50 or $60 for someone to call and ask me questions that might help them to do the job themselves. Or in criminal matters, they have a public defender, have NO though of hiring a private attorney, and just want to get a free second opinion. While they probably can't get your services over the phone, they can get a lot of my services or knowledge just by asking me questions, when they have no intention of hiring me.
I understand their business model. I don't think anyone should only pay when they "close the deal"; that's ridiculous. But the original plan put the onus on the person who needed our services to pick up the phone and give us a call; or email us. Now, they might be choosing 8 or 10 of us, and all of us who respond are paying the same amount each to maybe never get contact with that person. That is a of a business model for TT: basicallyl it gives them a money multiplier, and it rewards those professionals who are potentially lazy and wouldn't get back to people as much as I did.
I'd be completely fine if TT simply went back to its previous plan, where we could try to convince the client to hire us (without any cost), and then if the person showed even the minimum of interest, we were charged. I know if I can seal the deal myself, and wouldn't put that responsibility on TT.
@PureConstruct To clarify any time you're sending a quote to a customer through the Jobs tab it will be an instance where that customer has already directly but it's a great opportunity to express interest if you feel that you may be a great fit for the job as well.
There are a few things that you can do to get more direct contacts and responses from customers.
After checking your Insights I found that your response time is a bit high. Working to get these down over the next 30 days will be a big help as responding within the first 5 minutes shows customers are 50% more likely to respond, and 20% more likely within the first hour.
As well I recommend working to gather as many reviews as you can. This is the biggest deciding factor when customers are choosing which pros to reach out to, communicate with further, and hire. Right now you're sitting at 5 while the average in your area is 13. You can have up to 10 total reviews from customers that were not from Thumbtack by sharing your public review link with them. You can learn more about this here: https://help.thumbtack.com/article/ask-for-reviews
@PureConstruct When a customer reaches out to a pro directly we know that there are other pros that could also be a great, or sometimes even better fit for the job. So we'll send those to your Jobs tab for you to see, and if you're interested you can let the customer know why you think you'd be the best pro for the job and you'll only pay if they respond.
I use the jobs tab alot. We as Pros receive suggested Jobs in our Jobs Tab after a customer has reached out to at least one Pro. If I see a job come through and only one Pro was contacted, and I feel it could be a fit for me, I reply asap. If after reading the customer's profile, etc and you feel that you are a good fit for that customer, then reply as quickly as you can. More often than not, you will get a response. Sure, there are times that you don't get a response, but in my category, I do get several bookings per month using the Jobs Tabs. Secret here, I can be personalable in my message with the customer along with @Kameron just said explain and sell yourself as to why "you think you'd be the best pro for the job and you'll only pay if they respond." Hope this helps a bit.
It is a great opener! You may have to follow up a few times with customers as they are probably reviewing your profile, message, prices, etc along with reviewing other Pros information. At times, customers don't reply back to me for whatever reason. Only you know how many times you can reach out to a customer before you say enough is enough. Same time you don't want to be a pest to them. I had one customer the other day, reach out to me saying she wanted to know if I still had the date for her wedding available. Whether it was my message, pricing, website, or anything else that caught her eye, she remembered me and got back to me. Can't give up, Yes it is frustrating at times, sometimes I get bookings like crazy, other times I don't.