My name is Tom, professional social event videographer and transfer specialist (I convert family home movies on videotapes, old film reels and color slides to DVD and if also desired to usb flash drive.
I have been with Thumbtack (henceforth "TT") for quite a while now but just today I learned about the Pro Community enabling service providers to express themselves and communicate and share with one another.
I am sure that what I'm about to say has been the topic of previous posts and discussions and please forgive me if I'm expressing redundant concerns.
So I became a non-user of TT...but then I decided that I was denying myself some potentially profitable opportunities so I, like the prodigal son, returned to TT (but am much wiser and cautious now).
I do not know what the latest developments are nor if there have been any favorable changes made to TT lead charge and refund policies but from recent conversations with Customer Service people I'm being told that "TT is looking into it" or some such wording so correct me if I'm wrong but the same unfair policies are still being enforced.
These are my top 5 grievances with TT:
If ANY have since been addressed and made better for us service providers please let me know ASAP.
1. Being charged for leads that I stand ZERO chance of being hired for simply because the prospect "responded" to my quote, regardless of what the prospects say in their response including telling me outright that they DO NOT NEED my services. Example: This lady inquired about videotaping for her son's social event. Then she tells me that her husband's best friend offered to do it for FREE instead so she does not need me now, yet I was charged anyway and denied a refund simply because (and this one really gets my goat) "She may use me in the future!" Now I don't know about you others, but since 1985 (that's nearly 40 years) of my providing videotaping services, not one person with whom I ever spoke with initially, which did not result in a hire, EVER contacted me again with "future needs". Another one: This bride to be needed a wedding videographer so I quoted her. Her one and only response was "Do you also do still photography?" Note: Wedding photography and videography are NOT the same things. I told her that I do NOT. I never heard from her again yet I was denied a refund because "the connection was made between me and the prospect" and "she may still need me in the future" and "I still offered a service she needed"
2. Prices for leads. TT tells me that charges are based upon stuff like: a) value of the job, b) number of service providers offering the same service, c) market demand (or some such wordings) That being said I'm told that the maximum I will ever be charged for a Transfers to DVD lead is $14.00 regardless of the size of the job. So I get a lead for a person needing 51-100 tapes converted to dvd. She actually had 88 tapes. At $15 per tape it comes to $1320 plus I then export the dvds to usb flash drive @5.00 per dvd = another $440 plus cost of sandisk flashdrive $22 and fee to convert .vob files to .mpeg4 to make the flashdrive compatible with all computers and smart tv's $25. Total $1807 job value. TT actually charged me LESS than $14.00. Now for a videotaping lead with a job value of $595, I was charged $42.50 for the lead, not to mention that this was the lady who told me she didn't need me anymore, but TT refused to refund me based upon the same refund policy reasons stated above. Somebody from TT PLEASE explain to me how such discrepancies in lead charges for such a big difference is job value is justifiable and how I can be denied a refund in cases where I would NOT get hired?
3. No suggestions from me ever implemented. Besides converting tapes to dvd, I also convert: old film reels 8mm and 16mm, color slides, still photos to dvd as well as : audio cassettes, reel to reel audio tapes and vinyl records to CD. I make thousands of dollars a year on transfers OTHER THAN TAPES! TT only has a category for TAPE transfers. I don't know how many other service providers there are "out there" who also convert as many media as I do, but there is an entire market of people who have precious memories on all these other media who really want them converted. How do i know this? Besides my own geographical area: NJ, NY and PA, I extended my service area to the entire USA and literally got HUNDREDS of leads (but I don't have promote turned on THANK GOD and I simply declined them all because folks in Idaho and California and Florida are NOT about to send their irreplaceable memories to me where they could get lost in transist. I suggested to TT that they expand the category to include all of these other medias and that it would increase their profits immensely as well as make money for the other service providers who do what I do. TT did nothing about it. All I get from the robotic CS is: "I'll forward your suggestion on!" Okay, not all CS people are the same. Some actually have been very understanding and compassionate, but others who simply parrot rules and policies without any care or concern is reprehensible.
4. Number of service providers who may quote on a single lead! When I first started with TT I was told it was a maximum of 5 (which is pretty much in keeping with any similar lead service) then it grew to 10 and then as many as 15. Are you kidding me? Lord only knows how much money TT made off of the 14 who did NOT get hired but "were responded to, connection was made, could get hired in the future"
5. Terminating the window of time within to quote. So I get leads which explicitly state: lead will expire in 24 (or 48 hours-whatever) but when I quote, well within the window before expiration, I get a message that "6 pros already responded to this lead" so now I cannot quote. Explain that one to me.
If TT were to actually revise their lead charges and refund policy to be FAIR, many former service providers would return. I would be more willing to respond to and quote on leads if I knew for a fact that I would NOT get automatically charged because of some unfair justification". i should be in total control of whether I want to accept or decline a lead with promote turned on.
I hope I don't get barred from using TT because I've expressed myself honestly here.
Thanks for reading this. All responses welcome whether pro or con.
I selected New Jersey below, but this topic affects service providers in many of the other states in the USA.
@tr8theta first I’d like to welcome you to the pro Community and thank you for taking the time to write up and share your experiences and concerns. There’s a lot that you’ve covered here and much of it includes previous discussions with our support staff along with our policies. Because of this I’ll do my best to touch on some of the higher level points you’ve addressed and any clarifications I feel may need to be made.
1. On Thumbtack what you pay for is the connection with a potential customer and not the hire. We’re always striving to improve the strength of those connections in how a customers project will relate to the pros they contact. Once the connection is made it’s on you to close the deal and unfortunately, after reviewing what you have to offer some customers may choose to go another route. This page explains when the cases where a contact may be refundable here: https://help.thumbtack.com/article/refunds.
2. We’re always working to learn more about each service that’s listed on the site and the potential amounts that pros can earn from a job, which can have an effect on the price we charge per lead. It sounds like you’ve let us know about this instance already which will be great feedback for our teams that work on pricing.
3. I recommend reading two of our recent posts about pro feedback and how they relate to changes that are made on the site. Keeping you in the (feedback) loop and Why does change take so long?. In the first link be sure to check out the video webinar attached about how feedback is processed.
4/5. The site no longer primarily functions based on pros sending quotes to customers. Instead, customers now find and reach out to pros directly based on which ones show up and stand out to them in the search results. You want to be one of the pros a customer reaches out to directly. If you’re not, the Jobs tab is where you get a second try to catch the customer’s attention. If a job is listed here, it means the customer already reached out to other pros first in search results. But you could still be a great fit for the job. An opportunity found in the Jobs tab will allow up to 5 pros to manually quote on it in addition to however many pros the customer reached out to.
Thank you for responding so promptly to what I posted today. Don't get me wrong. I do appreciate the few hires I have gotten as a result of using Thumbtack. I do realize that it must be quite a challenge to satisfy all service provider's requests or demands or resolve all grievances but some of these grievances are upsets about common business sense which TT does not practice. I don't think that any of my grievances expressed are unfair to TT.
re: making a connection - If I quote a potential customer based on my clear understanding of their needs i.e. their request specifically states that they want Wedding Videography (which is a service that I DO provide) and then they respond with one question: "Do you also do PHOTOGRAPHY (which is an entirely different service which I DO NOT provide) and I never hear back from them again. THAT to me is NOT a connection. If I knew BEFORE quoting her that she also needed a PHOTOGRAPHER and would be making her hiring decision based upon a person that offered (or could provide) BOTH services...I would NOT have quoted her in the first place. Therefore her request was NOT clearly stated. It "hid " the fact that she was actually looking for TWO services from one provider. My impression was that she needed Wedding Videography ONLY! To be told by TT that "she may need your services in the future" is an extremely highly unlikely probability as my extensive experience has shown me. If I relied upon earning a living from the prospects who "may need my services in the future" When by the way? Perhaps In 2023, 2025, 2037? I would wither away to nothingness WAITING for it.
I totally agree that I may lose a hire to another service provider who offered better pricing or more for their money...well THAT is how competition works and I have no complaint there, but to allow up to 15 providers to quote on the same lead sometimes is very unfair and then to CLOSE quoting on another lead only after 6 providers have quoted and the window of time that the lead was to expire wasn't even reached yet thus disabling me from quoting on a potentially profitable job (if I was hired for it of course) is likewise unfair.
To pay $42.50 for a lead with a job value worth $575 and then be charged less than $14 for a job value worth $1200 or more does NOT make sense to me. This is why I have STOPPED quoting on Videography and especially why I did NOT turn on promote for the same service I provide.
I highly doubt that you have any executive TT staff who have 40 years of providing videography service or transfer service (converting tapes to dvd) that I do, yet my suggestion to TT to ADD transfers of: old film reels, color slides, still pictures to DVD and audio cassettes, reel to reel audio tapes and vinyl record albums to CD which TONS of people all over the USA need to have done and which some of us service providers are capable of doing was NOT implemented, nor have I ever heard any feedback as to whether my suggestion was ever even brought up at the table where suggestions are discussed by TT staff or execs. A suggestion which by the way would result in much more profit for TT and the service providers who can do it. Why wouldn't TT want that?
@ChefOfAllSeason if customers decide to go another route, that's not something that's refundable. However, if you quote on a job through the Jobs tab and their first response is "I'm going another route" you shouldn't get charged.
@MLCC Thank you so much for this thoughtful email/post. You have come to the right place - we are here for a continued conversation and an open dialogue.
For a little more detail about how we price leads, check out this post from one of our Product Managers. Once you have read that, let me know what additional questions you have about pricing.
While reading this post and a couple of your other posts, it's obvious that you want to see Thumbtack work for you, and that you are here to be productive and constructive - I appreciate that so much (we all do). I can assure you that we are working on improvements right now, with our pros in mind. Keep watch here in this forum for product improvements as we roll them out. In the meantime, please keep your thoughts coming. We are here to listen.
I still have a problem being charged $5.13 for a $15 pet sitting job.
Even though I may visit 2 times over a weekend (possibly earning $30), then maybe not again for 6 months or so, if, and/or when, the client takes another vacation, just seems incredibly ridiculous to me. It used to be under $2.