Bait and switch is nothing new under the sun, but spammers and scammers seem to always lower the bar even more. Thumbtack.com does a good job of lowering it as far as legally possible, it seems.
I never really complained about them very loudly in the past, but that is about to change. While several of their practices are shady, including their “free” service with hidden fees, I just researched them and added them to my junk filter – or so I thought. Just like only a true spammer would do, though, they keep changing their email addresses so as to get around the filters.
Spamming is an evil practice, and no legitimate business engages in it. It takes up network resources to process and filter, and even then far too much of it ends up in a user’s inbox and fills it with junk. When this happens often enough, the email account becomes worthless.
Bait and switch is when you offer someone something, then you proclaim it is no longer available and offer something else. In this case, you are enticed by being top in your area and/or by a free referral. Of course, that “free referral” might have already been filled. What they are looking for is for you to sign up so they can pitch their paid products at you.
So, if you do business with Thumbtack.com, just remember you have been warned, and you should not assume their scummy business practices won’t bite you in the end.
BTW – they are a BBB accredited company, so feel free to file a complaint and tell them how you like your spam cooked.
PCWorld did a write up on them noting their less than stellar ratings around the web.
DonsDeals also did a nice summary of some of their other less than ethical practices.
I originally complained about their shady practices on the DarrenSlaughter blog, and there’s an in-depth discussion there about some of the side-effects of doing business with them (apparently, they scrape the web, which can do odd things to Google Places and such).
Frankly, they are thieves on more than one level, and they really should go to jail.