I am a music teacher and I teach online lessons as well. I have been getting requests where the students misunderstand that I am not local and reach out to me. Since I teach online, I think "oh, awesome, they want remote lessons!", but they don't actually and then I end up paying for a lead only to have them say "oh, sorry, I thought you were local, no thanks.". I feel like thumbtack is not doing a good enough job making locations clear. A simple reminder to the customer before they reach out to me asking if they are sure because I am not local would do a lot to save my time and money and their time as well. I would hate to just decline these leads because I am also an online teacher and it is a big part of my business, but it feels too risky now because I am wasting money.
I also dislike that when I decline a lead there is no way for me to explain myself to the customer and give them a reason. It seems rude to tell them no without being able to say why and I feel like it reflects badly on a business to just turn someone down with no explanation. I use another website called lessons.com and you buy packages of quotes that you can send out. I buy 20 quotes for $30 and every time I pay for a lead it deducts from that. If the customer never even views my quote because they were sold on someone else by the time I got there, I am refunded for that quote because why should I pay for something that they never even see? Thumbtack should really have this policy and refund quotes that are never opened.
@loraleew I can see how it would be frustrating to have a number of contacts from customers that didn't realize you weren't local. If you haven't already I suggest maybe adding something in your introduction about your location for those looking for in-person lessons over remote lessons. I know it may not solve this directly, but it could help. Aside from that, I'll make sure to pass along your feedback and examples to further distinguish the pros location for customers. When you do receive leads like this be sure to submit a refund request explaining the situation, since the details of the job changed from remote to local.
When you need to decline a lead there's no need to worry about how it may reflect on you and your business or it seeming impersonal. Thumbtack will kindly inform the customer that you are simply unavailable. Keep in mind as well that all pros are on a level playing field and all customers will have the same experience when a lead is declined.
We actually just announced an update where pros will receive a refund for an exact match lead where the customer didn't view the pros response within 48 hours. Be sure to check that out along with some other ways we're working to be more fair when it comes to paying for leads here: Introducing Price Assurance!