I was charged $20. for a lady who called me from her doctor's and said she would call me back when she got home. Well she never called back I do not consider that a contact ....
I really don't like this system at all. I also think you should either go back to the set price, under $5 per lead or the point system. Compared to other sites like this, yours is the most expensive, especially when the customer has nothing to lose and I'm out almost $20 per lead. I can't simply afford that. We all have to make a living, but those of us on this end don't want to be gouged for leads.
Problems I have with Thumbtack
This criticism comes from the perspective of a photographer who offers a wide range of services. If the Thumbtack Experience has been this bad for me, I can only imagine how bad it is for service providers in other industries.
1. Moving Goal Posts
It used to be that only 5 professionals could bid on a job. That was an arrangement that offered excellent odds. Now I have seen notifications stating that I could no longer bid because 15 professionals had already bid on the job. By expanding the number of people who can bid on any given job, you have completely deflated the value of any given quote from Thumbtack. This was done, I am quite sure, to enable Thumbtack to get money from more service providers at once, with little concern for the experience of those providers. At this point I have lost all faith that Thumbtack will serve as a reliable source of new revenue.
2. Inaccurate Instant Match
I just received an accepted request in the category of "Portraits and Headshots" from a client who was asking for Product Photography. Not only was this a complete mismatch of services, but the rate that he "accepted" through Instant Match was far below what I will have to charge him for the product work. I wish I could explain to you how difficult it is to negotiate an equitable arrangement when the interaction starts off with an inaccurate expectation. It makes me look bad for having to ask for more money, and it makes Thumbtack look worse for causing the problem.
3. Abyssmal Working Knowledge of the Industry
I don't understand how Thumbtack could possibly design an interface suitable for every possibility, if they don't understand the industry they are attempting to promote.
By trying to be a catch-all for many different types of service providers, Thumbtack has the task of getting the specifics of many different types of arrangements to fit into a very narrow user interface. Frankly, there is no way to set a standard price for much of what I do, because the details and requirements can change so much.
Most of the headshot and portrait sessions I provide are for one on one sessions, an hour long, resulting in 5-6 retouched photos. Yet I get many requests for people expecting 10-15 photos, or photos of up to 20 different people for the same price.
Product photography is the worst, because it falls into the premium category of "Commercial Photography" and there is no way to promot the customer for details that will greatly affect the price. Depending on the nature of the product and the end result desired, the amount of work and hours involved could be vastly different.
In each of these situations I have to explain to them why that will cost more. Thumbtack seems to be incapable of setting up a discussion that doesn't start off with a lengthy explanation of why I can't provide what Thumbtack said I would for the price they set. Thumbtack simply does not care what that does to our reputation or our experience.
4. Terrible User Interface, Terrible Grouping of Services
Not long ago, Thumbtack merged "Wedding Photography" with "Event Photography" as a category to choose from. As a result, now those seeking service providers are prompted to use a single category whether they need wedding or engagement photos, or whether they have a corporate event or birthday party. I cannot begin to describe how vastly different those types of jobs are. Further, the Wedding category was always set at a premium, because the quotes for those jobs typically ran for thousands of dollars. Yet the other events might only cost a couple of hundred dollars. So if a photographer now wants to bid on a quick 2 hour birthday party, they are paying for the same premium that it would cost to bid on a $3000 all day wedding gig. It's like Thumbtack doesn't realize that these jobs will generate a different level of revenue.
It all comes down to the fact that your user interface is terrible at prompting people to choose the right category. This is a design issue.
The other problem with the Thumbtack Interface is the messaging capability. I have had so many requests from clients to speak via email, outside of the Thumbtack interface because it works so poorly. Clients could not upload additional images when they wanted to. The chat window lags when you type, and accidentally sends incomplete messages. There is no confirmation check before sending a message. This is a terribly bloated and badly designed interface that ultimately wastes time and adds frustration.
5. Paying for Rejection Notices
I for one think it is patently unfair that we have to pay every time a prospective client communicates with us. Many times this is just to let us know we were not the one chosen. Why should you get paid at all if there is not a successful transaction? This is just plain dishonest on Thumbtack's part.
6. False Promises
For all of the hooplah you made about the nature of Instant Match, and implications of what that would mean for our bottom line, I have had to reject a lot of jobs because your system did such a poor job of matching clients to my business. I have not seen my profits go up as a result of the Instant Match system, rather it had more to do with where I sat in the standings of those businesses you list for any given job. And meanwhile you keep profiting, blissfully or willfully ignorant of what this change did to our experience.
For all of the requests I've been matched with, I have not see a higher number of acceptances and successful outcomes than the previous system has. The only difference is that now I'm paying more for it. I just wish that if the profit for Thumbtack was the priority, that they would have just come out and said so, instead of introducing this incredibly flawed system to cover for it.
I will conclude by observing that I have now wasted an entire hour drafting this response, knowing full well that all of this criticism will be ignored. If Thumbtack implements any changes based on my criticism, I should get paid my hourly rate of $60 for it. Frankly, I won't hold my breath...
I don't care for the new pricing model. It is at least twice what I was paying. Granted the $3.33 per lead (when the customer "viewed" the quote) sucked because you didn't know if the customer would talk with you or not. Being charged $7.17 - $7.99 for when they do talk to you is better because it is better qualified, though some customers are just shopping price. To make this worthwhile, I need better quality information on the job to determine if I want to bid the job or not. A generic "printer or copier service" gets me nothing. I have to send a quote blindly just to obtain which manufacturer, which model, what is the probem information. There are a couple of dozen manufacturers and hundreds/thousands of models. 70-80% of them aren't worth repairing at all; they are throw-away/dispoable. Make this information mandatory. My evaluation fee is $25.00-$35.00. That is what the market will bare (for the type of customers that would use Thumbtack's services). A $7.00+ per lead eats all the little profit I had hoped to make in the first place. I'm seriously considering discontinuing using Thumbtack.
Reply to rawphasephotos
i have to take issue with you.
You said, “You need to cater to the amateur pros that are starting off their business and taking lowball jobs”. Are you an amateur or a pro. You can’t be both.
It is this mindset that lowers the bar for those of us that are actually professionals. Rethink your role and quit selling us all short.
And with regard to Thumbtack and their ever-changing pricing model, I’m pretty much done. Too many tire kickers and people like "rawphasphotos” (“amateur pros”...sheesh) who dilute the market and set a low standard of service, ie: expectations from the clients with regard to pricing and quality of service.
Thumbtack, a couple simple suggestions:
1. Require more information - I cannot bid on projects that I have minimal project requirement specs for.
2. Charge the “tire kickers”. That will help keep this a professional community and service.
3. Charge either a flat fee or better yet, a percentage of the project.