Saturday, February 15, 2014

Update on Review

I submitted a review of the website a little while ago.  I have an update to my previous review which has just taken place. I received the following lead in email yesterday.  It seemed like another one of those non-leads containing no useful information.  The message at the bottom caught my attention enough for me to inquire further using the public forum questions.  If this is a serious lead, then it could potentially be a good deal.

Time stamp: Feb 14 (1 day ago)

Courtney O.
Event Photographer Needed Submit Quote
Profile Consumer Location
Event type
Number of attendees
Indoors or outdoors
Photo products
CD / DVD: No,
Online or digital proofs and prints: No,
Physical proofs and prints: No,
Ability to purchase prints online: No,
Album: No,
I'm not sure: Yes
Total budget for photographer's services and images
I'm not sure yet
Need engagement pics asap after Feb 21

When Date: Tue May 27 2014
Where Idaho Falls, ID 83402
Service professional must travel to my address.

Having no studio to work with, I naturally asked if the client Courtney was interested in a studio or an outdoor location for engagement pictures. This question was not against the guide lines, as listed below, so I thought there might be a possibility of an answer, though I was doubting it.


"It is of the utmost importance to us that we maintain a fair marketplace for our community of Service Pros and a positive experience for our clients. For these reasons, you may not use Public Questions as a way to offer quotes on jobs or otherwise circumvent the Thumbtack process. With that in mind, if you fail to follow these guidelines your question may be edited or deleted entirely.
Things to avoid when writing your question:
  • Writing anything inappropriate
  • Making significant grammar or spelling errors
  • Sharing price estimates
  • Using your full name or sharing information specific to your business
  • Requesting to have contact with the client outside of Thumbtack
  • Asking about the client's budget
  • Asking for pictures from the client
  • Requesting the client's contact information
  • Asking if the client is still interested
  • Not including a question
  • Asking if the consumer is willing to take a specific action (e.g., "Are you willing to drive to the northern part of San Francisco for this service?")
  • Asking questions more appropriate for Thumbtack support
The ideal Public Questions are those that ask for specific details, such as the client's desired date or what size of crowd they are expecting. You should remember that your questions and the client's answer will be visible to other Service Pros competing for the client.

Once you see the client's answer, you send a quote tailored to their needs. Good luck!"

I was not at all surprised when I received this email less than an hour after submitting my question.  I was predicting that this would happen.  It's a rarity these days to not have a question deleted for reasons having nothing to do with the information above.  Below is the email containing the text of the exact question I asked.

2:19 PM (23 hours ago)

"Hi Audrey,
A public question that you asked did not meet our guidelines because it asked for information that was already included in the request. Your question was not sent to the client.
Courtney, I see you need engagement pictures along with wedding pictures. Do you have a preferred location for the engagement pictures like a studio or outdoor setting?
You are welcome to submit another public question that is within our guidelines.
If you have any questions about this process, please contact support by replying to this email."
- Thumbtack

A reasonable person, would say, "wait a minute, that question had nothing to do with the information contained in the lead." This person would be correct in that observation. I was not asking anything about the wedding that Courtney was listing. I was asking about the engagement pictures she mentioned in the additional message. There was no reason to delete that question.

Please also note that the email says the "question was not sent to the client."

Naturally, I challenged the moderators on this decision. I have included the text of my reply email below.

 2:45 PM (23 hours ago)

"I know you don't really care and you will try some fake line of apology and empathy in an attempt to try and make me feel better. Save your time, it will not work. I submitted a question about information included in the message attached to the lead. The message request had nothing to do with information contained in the lead. That was a separate request entirely. My question had to do with the message request not the event request.

My business model currently does not include a studio or other indoor location. I must ask these questions or I will not be wasting my money on a lead bid only to learn that the client wants a studio: something I cannot provide. It is a waste of my time and money and also the customer's time.

I am now declining quotes where your company deletes my legitimate questions. I have declined this quote. My spouse is encouraging me to cancel my account with you. I'm beginning to seriously consider it based upon the repeated behavior like this which your company is displaying."

Thumbtack has started sending out these auto-generated email responses when I reply to a question removal email. That started in January. Given their response below and their previous track record of finally sending a reply at least a week late, I expected no less than to have to wait till I had forgotten the matter for the reply to arrive.

"Hi Audrey,

Thank you for getting in touch with Thumbtack Customer Support. 2014 has started with a bang for Thumbtack - we've experienced a significant increase in support contacts, and it may take up to 5 business days for us to respond. We thought it was important to let you know about our current delays and to tell you that we're doing everything we can to get to your email as fast as possible. In the meantime, feel free to check out our help center at - it contains lots of useful information and it's likely you'll find the answer to your question.

Thank you for your patience.

Thumbtack Support"

I was highly surprised to see the following email in my inbox this morning. Note that the name is exactly the same as the previous lead and that it addresses my concerns voiced in my protest email. No preferred photo location is given either, it is listed as "As recommended."

10:48 AM (3 hours ago)

Courtney O.
Portrait Photographer Needed Submit Quote
Profile Consumer Location
Photo type
Couple portrait
Photo shoot location
As recommended
Photo products
CD / DVD: No,
Online or digital proofs and prints: No,
Physical proofs and prints: No,
Ability to purchase prints online: No,
Album: No,
I'm not sure: Yes,
Other: engagement/invitation photos
Total budget for photographer's services and images
I'm not sure yet

When As soon as possible
Where Idaho Falls, ID 83402
Service professionals may travel to my address OR I will travel to the provider up to 25 miles.

Now I might be all wrong about this, but something smells very fishy to me.

I suppose that Thumbtack could have informed Courtney that she needed to submit the engagement job as a separate lead. I have seen listings about engagement photos needed too on a wedding lead. This is the first time that I have seen someone deliberately submit a wedding with engagement photos needed THEN submit the engagement photos as a separate lead. This is also the first time that I have declined a lead.

People don't usually keep THAT on top of their email. Vendors get a 72ish hour window in which to submit a bid. This is a mighty quick turn around for a public question which was not submitted to the client. How would she know that I had a question unless she was, perhaps, a moderator herself? I'm still not declaring that is submitting fake leads, as I still don't have absolute proof, but this evidence is pretty strongly implying that those kinds of actions are taking place.