Recently, I received this email from Thumbtack (a site connecting small businesses with individuals and companies seeking all sorts of services, from painting their home to help with social media):
We are reaching out because we have found an association between your account and another that was removed from Thumbtack.
While we truly want to help you be successful in your business efforts, because of this connection, we will be unable to continue listing your service with us and have closed your account. We understand the impact this can have on your business, so we reviewed and verified our information before we closed your account.
If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call.
After trying out the platform for six months and working with a handful of clients, the email caught me by surprise to say the least.
I contacted their Support team and spoke with Eliot, Ethan, and Sam – all who gave me (roughly) the same answer: my account had somehow been “associated” with other profiles who had also been removed from Thumbtack according to some of their approximately 150 internal data points.
What “association” was there? Due to their internal policy, they couldn’t tell me.
Their terms of service are similar to many online companies:
“We may, in our discretion, with or without cause, with or without prior notice and at any time, decide to limit, block, suspend, deactivate or cancel your Thumbtack Account in whole or in part.”
They can deactivate accounts at any time for any reason.
While the support team was polite and said that my case would be re-reviewed in the coming days, I was not optimistic that my account would be reinstated – nor was I confident that I would get any explanation for how this happened.
A day later, I received an email saying the following: “Welcome back to Thumbtack! We reactivated your account”
What confidence do I have that this false positive won’t happen again? How many other businesses have faced similar issues? Plenty, according to PissedConsumer.com.
Other Online Lead Sources
There’s no shortage of locations to connect with potential customers, but just like our experience with Thumbtack, tomorrow you could wake up and not be able to use a platform you’ve successfully used just the day before.
What To Do?
Don’t be caught off guard by a sudden deactivation of an account, which leaves you with no access to the work you’ve done to establish a reputation on that platform.
If your entire online presence is on such a platform – and you haven’t put any effort into a website, social media presence, or an email marketing campaign – you could be left in the dark with no means of communicating with your prospects and clients.
Control What You Can Control
Building an attractive, easy-to-use website is a start. From there, make sure to establish a presence on the social media platforms most frequented by your prospects and clients.
Social interaction is a great way to begin building your email database. Even if one venue is deactivated or your access is restricted, you will still have a sturdy foundation of platforms to continue interacting with the people who mean the most to your business – your clients.
Don’t be reliant on others to keep your business afloat. All it takes is one misunderstanding, one miscommunication, one wrong click to bring everything crashing down around you. Or it could take nothing at all – as you’ve seen from this situation.
The takeaway? Expect the unexpected. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – diversify.
And certainly don’t expect an explanation.