I don't like the "surprise" pricing and fully agree that the cost-per-reply should be stated up front (BEFORE the "pro" decides to submit an offer), but what drives me up a wall are is the increasing number of mysteriously-disappearing "leads" -- I had TWO of them this morning.
When Thumbtack sends me an email (or notification) for a suitable request (and a time indicating that it is new), there is a link to submit an offer. (Usually, I must log in first, or log out of one account and log into another, in order to respond). Then, the link takes me to a page that says "Not found." and I must contact TT to find out what's going on -- is the site broken? Is my browser broken? Is there a correction in my spam folder? . . . Usually, TT replies that the student has withdrawn the offer -- which I'm finding harder and harder to believe.
WHY DOES Thumbtack SEND EMAILS WITH LINKS THAT POINT TO THE WRONG PAGE? If the offer is gone, then the link that points to a page which says so -- not to a mysterious page that provides no explanation!
I also hate the new TT policy that starts blocking replies after the fifth one and which denies the client the option of recieving more than FIVE before choosing to send a reply. There is no good reason for TT to deny the client the OPTION of shopping around and choose from among more than FIVE offers.
I am now ready to shut down my Thumbtack account, for several reasons:
1. the recent increase in disappearing "leads".
2. the advent of "surprise" pricing (with no advance notice of actual charges per reply).
3. my inability to set an overall "budget". (Thumbtack now requires that I set up a separate "budget" for each and every subject that I tutor, with consequent exposure to excessive costs if responses come in from too many different subjects)
4. the inability of clients to receive more than FIVE offers. (Especially when first five replies are likely to come from desperate "tutors" who have nothing better to do than desperately watch their emails, then quickly pounce upon whatever crumbs come in.)
These problems are not very difficult to fix, but unless remedied soon, I'm done with Thumbtack.
P.S. A couple of years ago, Thumbtack reached very few if any students/parents in my area (Long Island). Then, things changed (probably due to better marketing by Thumbtack) and I was very pleased to see a significant increase in nearby leads. However, since these new policies came in and everything went down the drain. I'm ready to bail out unless this is fixed, soon.
P.P.S. This reminds me very much of what happened to tutors after Wyzant got its capital funding: suddenly, responses were arbitrarily blocked by new "algorithms" and the tutor has no way of knowing which offers actually reach the client! Business plunged after that, and I hardly use Wyzant any more. I'll miss Thumbtack, too, but both have become a great waste of time, with little or no return.
I agree with everyone who says they're paying too much for too few actual clients. Somehow the changes have made the bidding process more expensive while reducing the number of real, viable leads. Add that to the fact that as soon as a good request comes into my inbox, and I click on it, it's already filled. I don't know how you would fix it, but others have good ideas.
Thank you for reaching out to the pros. Really appreciate your genuine interest in what might work for the pros. I hope it's clear to Thumbtack by now that fair pricing policies will retain quality pros that will worth the customers' time. If we can't sustain the pricing and leave Thumbtack, the quality and quantity of customers coming to Thumbtack will dwindle in time.
What's confusing about pricing: the fact that Thumbtack gets to decide the value of each job. Sometimes even we as pros don't know how much it'll be just looking at the request, because most people don't put in enough details for us to determine the cost (at least in the writing/editing category where there are a lot of variables). Sometimes it's because not even the customers know exactly what they want. This pricing structure is arbitrary at best and mostly plain unfair. At least discuss with the pros in the category about what might be a sensible way of estimating the value of jobs.
What would be a fair price: perhaps a flat fee or a percentage of project fees upon hiring. This is important because so often customers make a "contact" with no real intent of moving forward but just to "get a feel for" what they might need in some distant future, or after talking to the pros they realize what they need is different from what they put in the request. Their mistakes shouldn't be our burden to pay.
How to make Thumbtack worth it: please try to understand different industries before you make pricing changes; what might work for some categories can be outright exploitative for others. I understand Thumbtack's need to make a profit too, so I'm not asking that all costs to pros be kept at a minimum. Try to understand how the pros work, how customers make requests, and it should soon be clear why so many pros are unhappy. One bottomline is that many of us are solo professionals with limited means to spend what's becoming an exorbitant amount of money on TT quotes. TT is definitely among the most expensive lead-generating services I use, if not the most expensive. It really helped me get my freelance career off the ground, but it's been almost unsustainable for the greater part of the past year.
Since you asked .... there was a quote the other day to repaint a house. If that woman asked me ONE QUESTION!!!, I had to pay over $65. I deleted immediatly.
Way too much.
I think the most frustrating part of pricing is that it is not consistent and its much pricier than in the past. A few dollars to $30 dollars a Job! I pay often for people who do not want my help at all. In addition, when thumbtack encourages you to follow up on a bid to the customer and then they ask a question and say no means I lose even more money. I am listed as a local mover but I deal in only small local moves, 1 item to a truckload. Most of the time my cost is up to 30% of my price. I am also an Top Pro so it would be nice for the people who are doing the extra work to help the business grow to also receive some sort of benefit for representing you well. Discount pricing, free jobs etc.
It has been very interesting reading all the concerns. I'm a bit unusual from what's currently being written. I was happiest with the flat rate credits to quote as far as my analysis of cost and return.
BUT - so far, this cost per contact hasn't been a lot worse. Yes it is turning out to be more money spent per dollar earned but I am still making enough to be worth the fees.
I do believe, in my business - Independent Ballroom Country Dance Instruction, that it is very valuable to find leads and contacts.
I suspect that if the customer were paying for quotes it would reduce the valid inquiries as well as the invalid searches.
One reason I know I am winning some of the bids is that I have been on Thumbtack lots of years and have 70+ reviews (the most I've seen in my region and cateory) and so some of my worthy competitors that have significantly less reviews would be getting contacted but not winning as many and thus feel the contacts are less valuable.
I also respect Thumbtacks right to make some money on this service. It has value and I do expect that they are NOT trying to rip anyone off but to profit - as we all are - and are trying different ways to find the proper equitable balance for all concerned.
My suspicion is that different industries will need different analytics and algorithims and that a flat equation for scaling the value is not going to be a possibility.
Not sure if this is helpful to anyone but I have found Thumbtack to be a valuable partner and I do hope that they will make appropriate adjustments to our concerns.
Maybe Thumbtack could select a few customers from each general category to assist in some guidelines by giving some real quote, contacts, cost vs earnings figures for analysis.
Good luck to all! Flourish and Prosper!