Beware: Thumbtack.com will steal from your small business. If you're a business owner who is considering marketing on Thumbtack.com read this first.
Theft is an integral part of Thumbtack's business model. While it wasn't always that way, a few years ago they made drastic changes. Those changes resulted in small businesses needing to pay for leads before responding. Previously you only paid for a lead that was worth replying to. This change resulting in them being able to send potentially fake and wildly mismatched leads and to charge your business for them. They then refuse outright to refund you even for causes they list as refundable. On the rare occasion where they do offer what they term a refund the money isn't returned to your bank account. They keep your money no matter what and only offer you credit.
If you have not signed up with Thumbtack.com do yourself a solid favor and DON'T. Keep reading to find out how they will steal your money and outright refuse to give it back.
How Thumbtack Steals From Your Business
Here is more information on how thumbtack will steal from your business. When you sign up for Thumbtack you need to choose from a list of services you'll provide. While that is sensibly, here is how they manipulate things in order to steal from your business:
- Thumbtack groups unrelated services together, these services usually cost vastly different amounts.
- They insists that you list prices (by the hour, with no exceptions).
- Thumbtack doesn't allow you to price these services individually only by the hour and only one set of prices for these very different services.
- They send you tenuously related leads which they charge you from $10 upwards of $50 for each time.
- These leads will naturally be seeking the most expensive service in the Thumbtack created group. Their budgets are nearly always at or below the lowest price you've listed as what you'll accept. In other words these leads are worthless and Thumbtack knows it.
- They absolutely refuse to refund you for any lead even if that lead is listed as being for the service you offer but the description clearly says it's for something wildly different.
The way in which Thumbtack groups these services doesn't make sense for your business. This is clue number one that they've built a system designed to steal from small businesses. Theft is integral to Thumbtack's business model. By grouping services that are very low cost with those which cost a great deal they're maximizing the number of requests they can say are legitimate. If you want clients for all of these services you're likely to list a price that fits the lower cost service. This will result in leads for the higher priced service being sent to you with a budget that doesn't make any sense. Again, Thumbtack's leads are worthless but they're charging you despite them being aware of that fact.
Theft Is Integral To Thumbtack's Business Model
Theft is integral to Thumbtack's Business Model. Thumbtack's previous model worked well for small business owners. Perhaps their original model, like many tech companies, was not at all profitable. However Thumbtack appears to have gotten very greedy. In order to maximize their profits they made drastic changes that come at your expense. They're unwilling to work with you or refund you knowing that the small-ish fees are likely not worth you making too big a fuss over.
Thumbtack's Old Model
Thumbtack's Old Model worked for small business owners. They would send you leads that possibly matched the services you offer. Only if and when you contact the lead you needed to pay a small fee. If the lead didn't match, (their budget was too low or for any other reason you passed on it), you didn't pay anything. This model worked well for businesses.
Many leads were and still are very low quality. They have no budget, their budget is far too low for the job they want done, they're not serious, etc. As a result many business owners wouldn't reply to these leads. Presumably that's what lead to Thumbtack creating their new model which allows them to take your money while failing to deliver what they promise.
Thumbtack's New Model: Fraud
Thumbtack's new model is fraud. They no longer let you decide if a lead matches your business. The garbage leads which you would never respond are categorized as "exact matches" based on the terribly inappropriate criteria that they insist you use to list your services. Their rigid pricing model, their grouping of unrelated services, and their refusal to refund you for misleading leads makes it clear that they're committing fraud.
How Thumbtack Keeps Stealing From You
On occasion they do deliver decent leads which is one part of how Thumbtack keeps stealing from you. Despite their tedious request process they don't appear to filter their leads. They send any and every lead no matter how tenuous. With that model they're bound to occasionally send you a few that work out. Some providers consider it worth being stolen from as a "cost of doing business" but it doesn't need to be that way.
Thumbtack's Fake Leads
If you search for Thumbtack's fake leads you'll see just how problematic the company is. There are a lot of accusations about Thumbtack possibly making up leads. I can't say if this is true but it wouldn't surprise me. I've also read horrific stories of the difficulty some businesses have suffered asking for refunds from phishing scams or other similar activity. Many of those report problems with Thumbtack's slow response to the problem of these types of leads.
Thumbtack Scammers and Phishing
As with many other platforms Thumbtack is full of scammers and phishing attempts. While these are easily identified some report that Thumbtack has refused to refund them money that Thumbtack itself has taken in relation to these scam leads. A quick Google search will turn up thousands of complaints from business owners about the time and effort it takes to get money Thumbtack has stolen as part of these fake leads.
Thumbtack's Broken Promise
Even if you're seeing a profit from listing your business on Thumbtack they are still breaking their promise to you. Thumbtack promises to deliver what they specifically term exact matches. They promise that you will only be charged for leads that match the services you provide. Thumbtack breaks their promise to refund you in situations they claim they will. They also refuse to actually refund you. Instead they only offer credit towards future leads. They otherwise completely refuse to return the money they've stolen.
Thumbtack will send you leads that don't match even in the slightest. If you request a refund of the money they've charged you for these bogus leads they outright refuse. They will lie to you. Thumbtack will say the lead matches according to their criteria. That TOS criteria, like their entire process, is designed to allow them to take your money and break their promise to only charge you when they send you an exact match.
Thumbtack Isn't Worth the Time
For many fighting Thumbtack isn't worth the time or money. Since they charge you between $10 and $50 for their garbage leads many business owners will quit the service after a few days having lost a few hundred dollars at most. Sure you could take them to small claims court to recoup this money but many entrepreneurs will recognize how much more time and money that will take so they don't bother.
Too many people walk away from the money Thumbtack stole from them. After a few days and nothing but fake leads I left. I managed to get out before they could take more than $50. Would you bother going to small claims court for less than $50? This is why Thumbtack continues to get away with stealing from small businesses. Most of us walk away and say forget it. Anyone who stays because of the occasional good lead keeps allowing Thumbtack to steal from them.
It's imperative that we stop Thumbtack from stealing from small businesses. I've begun to contact other business owners who Thumbtack stole from. If they stole from you please contact me. I would like to find an attorney who could bring a class action lawsuit against Thumbtack.
Thumbtack Owes Us All
Thumbtack owes us all for the money they've stolen. No matter if you're still using them or stopped after they sent you a handful of fake leads. We will see Thumbtack stopped. Together we will make sure they refund everyone what they've stolen since switching their process. We will see them close or make drastic changes to their terrible fraudulent business model or at the very least to stop falsely advertising how their system works.
Stop Thumbtack From Stealing
Stop Thumbtack from stealing from you and other small businesses. Together we can insist that they refund us the money they've taken fraudulently. Please contact me so we can stop Thumbtack from stealing from small businesses. If you're a small business owner and you've been a victim of Thumbtack's theft please reach out. Together we can stop them.
There are ways you can act now to stop Thumbtack if they've stolen from you. Dispute the charge with your bank. Thumbtack has broken their agreement with you making their theft an unauthorized withdrawal. Many banks will allow you to dispute unauthorized charges within 30 days. Find out what your bank will allow and you can stop Thumbtack from stealing your money.